The Value in Mentorship After 50Nov 20, 2023
As we live our lives on this side of 50, we continue to forge ahead and navigate new paths along the way.
Those of us who are parents often become empty nesters.
Those of us who worked, often retire.
We may find ourselves dealing with aging relatives and loss, along with increased health challenges of our own.
So many in this community are wondering what's next for us as we move forward on this side of 50. We have spent our entire lives caring for others, and although many of us are continuing to do that in the context of our current roles, we may find ourselves wanting to take time and do something that brings us joy and gives us purpose.
Many of the amazing women who have become part of Life Balance After 50 have reached out and said that they have no idea what that thing might be or how to start figuring it out.
For those who decide to work on figuring out their next steps, there is one thing that absolutely must happen. And another that might be helpful along the way.
The One Thing That Must Happen in the Journey
It's quite simple: making the journey a priority and carving out time on your calendar each week to do it.
And treating that calendar entry as you would any other important entry. Not allowing other people's needs to interfere with your own unless it's a true emergency.
There are an infinite number of ways that this time can be used, depending on where you are in your own individual journey. Some examples are:
- working on your workbooks or journaling;
- taking a course;
- networking in a community of like-minded people;
- doing a habit that is embedded in your goal (i.e. carving out time to walk and listen to a book if your goal is health related; writing a certain number of words each day if you are writing a book).
- volunteering with a group who does something that may be of interest to you.
No matter where you are in your journey on this side of 50 (or at any age, really) taking action steps and treating them as a priority is essential to making anything happen.
The Step That is Often Helpful
Simply: Seeking help or support along the way.
This can look different, depending on your goals, your core beliefs, and what other background or sometimes even trauma that you may bring to the journey.
Support Can Take Several Forms
Mentorship is a relationship in which one person is guiding another, often in their personal development. They are sharing their skills and expertise to help another.
This is how I define my role with the women that I work with in this community. I am able to utilize my background in behavior analysis along with counseling to move people forward as they:
- find that thing that brings them joy on this side of 50;
- reach any goals that they might have;
- change or add any new habits along the way.
Coaching or life coaching has become very popular these days. According to Mirriam Webster, a life coach is someone who helps people make decisions, set and reach goals, or deal with problems.
The main difference between a life coach and a mentor is that a life coach does not necessarily need to have personal experience in the client's particular situation. For example, I work with women over 50 who are looking to redefine themselves in some way, create a new habit, or get unstuck. I am able to do this because I have experience as a woman in this demographic, combined with the background to be able to help. I would not feel comfortable mentoring a 35-year-old business professional who is looking to make a career change. I have no experience in that niche.
The other issue with life coaching (and mentorship, as well) is that there is no licensing or "overseeing body" that governs the field. There are certifications in life coaching, but they also have no requirements or guidelines by which they would "qualify" as a life coach certification program.
You can have zero experience or training in coaching and still call yourself a life coach which, in turn, allows all kinds of people to market their services as coaches. Many are well intentioned, and others are motivated purely by money.
A counselor is a licensed professional who helps people work through emotional issues, trauma, interpersonal relationships, etc. People generally seek out counseling to help with mental health issues while they seek out life coaching or mentorship to help work towards goals.
Unfortunately, many women and men who are over 50 hesitate to seek counseling. They may feel a stigma attached to getting therapy. They may come from a place of wanting or needing to be strong enough to manage whatever the issue is on their own.
Many feel that whatever feelings they're having are just a part of aging and something that they need to just get used to.
I am a huge proponent of counseling and of doing it proactively. I first sought counseling at the age of 24 when my husband died. I did it for myself and so that I could be the best mother I could to my two boys as I moved forward on my own.
I went again in my 30s when my anxiety was running rampant. And again, in my late 40s to get the tools that I needed to end a toxic relationship.
At the age of 61, I thought I was done with counseling. And then my mom got sick, and I was thrown into the role of caretaking for someone with whom I'd had a rocky relationship. So, I decided to go again so that I'd have that in place during a tougher time in my life.
Counseling can be done in conjunction with life coaching or mentorship, as well. A good life coach or mentor will know when to recommend counseling to their clients in addition to other resources that they might be using.
As you move forward on this side of 50, take those action steps along the way to add to your quality of life - whatever that might look like for you.
And don't be afraid to ask for help along the way.