I’m very much about helping connect with women from different age-groups.  Our world has become one it seems where less and less we rely on the wisdom of the elders; where they sometimes seem to drift off into the sunset.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not drifting (and maybe not wise lol) but I feel I have much to offer young women after all, I WAS you not so long ago (and sisters from another era….you’ll understand when you “get here” how fast time flies, how 40+ plus really isn’t old and how vibrant you can be when you age)….so read on and hopefully something resonates.

As we age, or personally for me anyway, I’ve found a few things: there’s an urgency to things as well as a totally relaxed state.  Urgent, since you start to really understand what is important in life….and relaxed since with this understanding comes the ability to toss aside what is useless, not needed, doesn’t make you happy, not right – and many other feelings that bubble to the surface.

I’ve worked and spoken with hundreds, if not thousands of women over the past 30 years. And today more than ever, I ask women what they wish they’d known when they were younger. Like parenthood, being young we aren’t given a road map.  It seems we finally figure out how to get there – and what “there” even is…..as we age.  So I wanted to offer some things I’ve found to be important….found other women to echo….and want to share them.

If you can take the to heart; truly embrace some or all of them….you’ll be well on your way to finding that right “road” on your journey.

Make YOU your number one priority.

This doesn’t mean you are being selfish (if done the right way), but it does mean you feel you are important enough to yourself to be healthy, happy and the full of energy.  Too often, we go through life saying yes to others at the expense of our energy, or happiness, or love.  If you can do this ONE thing – much more will fall into place.

No is a complete sentence; get used to using it.

Following the above point, this is how you make yourself a priority.  If you are anything like I was, I said yes to most things asked of me. If I “had” to say no…I droned on for 5 minutes with a massive explanation which at the end of the day was useless and just wasted air.

Get used to saying to saying no. Just no.  No explanation. No why. Just. No. Do you question people when they say it? I’ll bet the odds are you don’t and what you’ll find – is very few will question you! I’m talking about the no for things you say yes to and after regret. You aren’t going to say no to everything all of a sudden. But we tend to bend toward saying yes to friends, co workers, etc…and so often it’s at the expense of our health, stress, etc.  Say YES for those things that sing to you. Avoid saying yes to others if it’s saying no to you.

Learn to de-stress/ live mindfully.

Can’t stress (excuse the pun) this one enough. I get it; life is rushed, full, hard. Assignments due, work commitments, friends, parties – much to do. So create a de-stress program for yourself. Something so small as sitting back and deep breathing for a few minute with your eyes closed. Going for a walk around the office or campus on a break. Meditation. Whatever it is for you – do it.

Y’know why it’s especially important? Stress is a huge player in alzheimers and dementia. Without going into the details the symptoms of alzheimers and dementia tend to show up 15-20 years AFTER it actually begins.  So…start young; put mindful practices in place now. Learn to de-stress NOW. It can help you as you age and that’s too important to ignore.

Create a healthy lifestyle

Following on from the point above, this goes hand-in-hand.  Create a healthy lifestyle now and better yet, COMMIT to it.  It doesn’t have to be much….just make it something. I’ve almost died as a young woman. It drilled it home to me the importance of good health; the opportunity to give yourself the best “kick at the can” if your body and health calls on you.  It’s no laughing matter and you don’t want to become older and realize something so simple as some healthy practices, could have made the difference.

Research shows that if you have a high cardio vascular function in MIDDLE age….there is only a 5% chance of alzheimers/ dementia (and that 5%? The women were 90+ years old!). The less cv function the higher the percentage.

I speak with too many women in their 30s, 40s 50s and above – who never made their health a priority and now find it too challenging to implement anything. In turn it decreases self-esteem, confidence, inner strength (and outer strength).  Do this for yourself now. Health has been a priority my entire life and now I’m reaping the benefits. At 50…I feel the BEST, most confident, strongest I’ve ever felt.

Create your Sparkle Circle.

Loneliness is a huge health issue if you can believe it. Worse than obesity (although, I don’t promote focussing on one over the other). Create a supportive group around you of friends, family, co-workers. Positive people, people who lift you up, who you can talk to about anything. Cheerleaders, supporters…..this contributes to positive mental health.  Nothing like building an incredible community around you.

Create self-care habits.

From bubble baths to walks. Reading to dancing. Whatever this is for you – create habits, actions that lift you up.

Be Grateful.

Incredibly important. Be grateful for it all; for every breath; for the fact you live in a safe country; can drink water.  There is SO much to be grateful for and this can do wonders for our mindset and mental health.  Everything comes into perspective with age and wisdom. We are ALL young at some point. Will ALL be old at another….and…I don’t have to say the last one. Honour this. Understand that we all get out of here with nothing but the loving life we created. So …. be grateful for all you have; who you have. All you can do.  It allows you to live a truly fulfilled life.

No more “shoulds”

Another word we use far too often. We should do this – we should have done that.  Stop putting the pressure on yourself.  More importantly, don’t let others tell you you “should”.  It’s either a “will” or a “won’t”.   Will implies more control on your part. Owning the action. Should implies pressure.  Take control of your actions; what you are going to do or not. But try to take should out of the equation.

Do have ownership though.

It’s an admirable quality in people who take ownership for their actions.  I remember years ago in my 20’s I worked for a grumpy old professor who everyone was scared of. For some reason I wasn’t. He didn’t intimidate me (at a time when many people did), but he intimidated most others who came into contact with him. I remember losing a massive document I’d been working on for him. I sat there deliberating whether or not to lie, make an excuse. In the end my “wise” self took control and I marched to his office, with tail between my legs and admitted I’d lost the document. His response?

“That’s okay…I’ve got a copy of it”. And he respected me for fessing up.

That right there taught me SO much about ownership, accountability, taking responsibility.  It was my Oprah moment.  I’ve ALWAYS taken ownership/ responsibility as a result.  What’s the worst someone can do? Scream? Shout? Cry? Yes. And they aren’t comfy situations. But….at the end of your life, sitting on your rocking chair are you going to remember that day? Nope.

People are full of respect for those who take responsibility – AND it’s a very empowering feeling knowing you can take anything thrown your way.

Forgive fast.

Don’t hold things in. The ONLY person at the end of the day who suffers is you. We all have the right to be upset, angry with others. You have every right to be so.  But be so and move on.  Forgiving doesn’t mean if someone has wronged you in a significant way that you have to keep them in your life.  You have the right to decide.  Forgiving allows you (and them) to move on. To know where each other stands. It allows you to move through your life without focussing on an event that burns you. That therefore brings up negative feelings and that’s never healthy.  Forgive. Move on. For your sake.

Love yourself.

Love yourself, accept yourself. So many women aren’t satisfied with who they are.  Does this make them happy? No.  I spent many years trying to always lose weight.  From a childhood of nasty jibes from a family member it was embedded in me to try to be that ever-elusive number on the scale.

But you know what happens? You get older, you realize it doesn’t matter. You grow stronger; love yourself mo matter what and it’s SO flippin’ freeing! And then you wonder why you spent all those years wasting time and wishing!

It’s the most empowering feeling; loving AND accepting yourself as you are. No apologies, no derogatory comments about yourself to others. Happily, proudly, lovingly YOU.

Try new things.

We learn by our experiences.  We learn by our mistakes even (they are never mistakes, always pivots 🙂 How can we grow as people if we always take the easy road? Expose yourself to new adventures; try new experiences.  Lean in to fear. Embrace the possibility of discomfort, not quite “perfecting” what it is you are trying.  But go for it.  The people you’ll meet. The confidence you’ll feel!

Know what you have to offer.

You have SO much to offer the world. If you are like many women (compared to men) we wait until we are fully confident before we do something; not quite believing in our abilities, our worth. Believe in all you are. In all you have done. In all you CAN do.  The only person who can really push you forward – or hold you back:

Is you.

Look inside.

Sit.  Be self-aware.  Understand how you feel. Your moods. Your wishes, internal states, intuitions, resources and motivations.  Sit with these and allow to point you in the right direction, so you can monitor your inner world, your thoughts and emotions as they bubble up.

Stop comparing.

Can we just say?  Very very – veryyyyy few images out there are real.  They’re photo-shopped to death – and yet everyone still feels low about themselves.  Stop comparing with others. Stop focussing on what you feel you aren’t or don’t have.  You have so much to offer the world.  Whether it’s the Kardashians or others; women are inundated with images that appear “perfection” and in turn time and again, has them feel less than. Admire others without letting it take away from you. Do all you can to help yourself be and feel the best, healthiest, happiest you….and be happy with that you. Want to change something? Change it. Put the effort in. Don’t want to? Stay where you are and be happy.  The power truly is within you; you can compare and feel consistently low – or you can acknowledge others for what they have; admire them – and still know you rock.

Talk.

This one’s a biggie. Remember that Circle I said above to create? There will be someone in this who you can talk to about anything. And if there isn’t – find one.  No one is perfect. Everyone has problems.  Many people suffer from “imposter syndrome” and wonder when they will be found out. From sadness to elation and everything in between, make sure you reach out and share the good, bad and ugly with someone. Please don’t hold in anything. If something is having a negative affect on you in any way – even if it’s a sore pinkie! TALK to someone. There will always be someone who will listen, never be too proud.

Wait for the love that counts.

You get to an age and it seems everyone has someone. Sometimes it can be hard if you’re the single one. I get it. I was there for a while. But I refused to settle with just anyone. I meant too much to me. Wanted to be fulfilled and truly happy.  For me, the wait was definitely worth it. So …. look at yourself as way too valuable to settle with anyone.  Have someone who makes you laugh; lifts you up. It’s a beautiful thing – when you are comfortable with who you are; when you are okay being alone….you can take the time to wait for that person to grow with.   Take your time 🙂