What are the most common complaints amongst women in midlife? While you may think the first answers proffered would be hot flashes, wrinkles, and weight gain, the most common responses according to The Seattle Midlife Women’s Health Study that released their findings in 2018, were not related to the physical symptoms of menopause at all.
The study, which spanned a 23-year time period, showed that menopause symptoms were not the first thing on the minds of women at midlife. Far more common were issues relating to relationships with significant others, offspring that have just left the nest or were about to leave the nest, caring for older family members, and illnesses and deaths associated with those family members, and other personal later-in-life health issues.
Another matter high on the list were new or unresolved feelings associated with a sense of self. As noted by one woman in the study, “Becoming more comfortable with myself. Accepting myself and having better self-esteem…” was most challenging. Women transitioning out of old roles and into new ones, especially where it relates to the job/career aspect of life, can be especially difficult.
If you are currently experiencing these issues, or have already left the traditional workplace behind, you may be well aware of how significantly your new lifestyle can affect your sense of self. Re-establishing a sense of purpose is essential.
This next stage in life need not look dreary or full of question marks. One answer to the question of purpose is mentorship—and there are ample opportunities and approaches to mentoring in your workplace and in your community.
How mentoring can help perpetuate a greater sense of purpose and address midlife self-esteem issues:
Mentoring can help re-establish your career. It is easy to become frustrated and maybe even a bit intimidated in the workplace as younger co-workers join the team. Re-think this narrative. Instead, think of the benefits that can be gained by tapping into that energy at work. Look at building a reciprocal relationship whereby viewpoints are shared, new technologies are introduced, and new perspectives are welcomed. By doing so you maintain and enhance your relevancy in your field, which keeps you winning at work.
Remember, the wisdom you have gained in your work life is valuable; what you share in return has merit for your younger counterparts. Sharing what you know can help you build confidence and reminds you of the place you have earned in your professional life.
Mentoring makes you a sharper problem-solver. As you help others navigate their way toward their personal or career goals, you will not only have the opportunity to use constructs and solutions that have worked for you in the past, you will be exposed to new problems that you have not encountered before. Being able to address problems in the context of a mentoring role opens the door to less-stressful, less-emotional and more creative problem-solving scenarios.
Mindful mentors feel good about doing good. Giving back not only helps others, it supports your sense of self-esteem and can counterbalance your stresses at midlife. Mentorship is, in a sense, a manner in which you can serve your community through volunteering. Studies have shown that volunteering is good for both body and mind. Also, few things perpetuate a sense of purpose more than exploring something you’re passionate about within the context of giving back. By taking a mindful approach to your choice of mentorship you’re benefiting the community at-large and your little piece of the world.
How finding the right mentor can help you address life’s changes
Perhaps you are on the other side of the coin at this time in your life’s journey where you could use the guidance and support that mentorship offers. If you’re hoping to create your second act, finding a mentor, or life coach, can be a valuable resource to help you transition into your new endeavor by helping you assess your needs, develop your goals, and be a beacon in your new life’s landscape. Indeed, a mentor can help you devise a midlife roadmap of sorts, get you on a path, and ensure that your questions don’t turn into road blocks.
Whether you are interested in being a mentor or finding one, stay tuned. We are going to take a deeper dive into the opportunities and aspirational aspects of mentoring in a multi-part series as we continue to develop content that addresses the issue of purpose at midlife.
Want more? I’ll be addressing how mentoring was influential and essential in my life in this week’s blog.