I had, in my younger years, a rather preconceived idea about what life after 50 and into my 60s would look like.
I had memories of my mother, who at 50, began planning for retirement, so she could spend more time pursuing her passion for photography and caring for her grandchildren.
Sadly, she didn’t achieve that dream. In August 1985, just a few months shy of her 54th birthday, six years younger than the age I am now, cancer took her from us
At that time of my life, I thought 54 was old.
When I reached that age myself, though, I didn’t feel any different from when I was 30. In fact, I started to question what I was doing with my life. My mother didn’t get the opportunity to fulfil her dream, so I wanted to honour her memory, by fulfilling mine.
I had never been a particularly confident person. In fact, quite the opposite, I had failed high school, and consequently always had a limiting belief about what I believed was possible.
I had wanted to be a teacher, but my high school careers counsellor told me I was not smart enough. So, when I left school, I took on a job as an office girl – a job that I hated.
Years later, I travelled to Canada and met my husband. During my time there I became an aerobics instructor. It was a career I loved, but I was always wracked with insecurity and doubt, and although I did very well in my career, I just never felt good enough.
Later, when my children were older, I was offered a job working at my children’s school running events and overseeing marketing. A great, safe job, but still there was something missing.
Five years ago, I was introduced to an energy psychology technique known as Emotional Freedom Techniques (EMT), often called ‘tapping’, which helps release cortisol and reduce stress, I suddenly felt more confident about myself and what I could achieve.
After much soul searching and believing that if I didn’t do it now I never would, I decided to leave my safe job, with good pay and a great superannuation plan, and follow my heart to start my own business.
The new-found confidence, coupled with the wisdom of life, was the impetus that pushed me to take the leap I would never have considered doing years before.
But, recently I found out that in fact I was not alone.
A recent survey commissioned by Apia Insurance found that Australia’s over-50s have more confidence now than when they were younger.
The survey found that 86 percent of Aussies over 50 feel their lives are more fulfilling now than in their younger years, 84 percent no longer sweat the small stuff, and four in five have shaken off self-doubt.
My life now, at 60, has certainly reflected that confidence and self-belief, even though there have been moments of huge doubt along the way.
I remember driving home one night after a speaking presentation, where only five people turned up. It was cold and raining and our money was running out.
It was one of those moments when I really questioned my sanity. What was I thinking at my time of life to be putting everything we had worked so hard for on the line?
But, each time I was faced with those insecurities, I would tap to release the stress and anxiety and start again.
What drove me most was the desire to be a role model for my three children, and my two daughters in particular. How could I tell them to follow their dreams and believe in themselves, if I wasn’t doing the same thing?
So one day, I made a decision that I was not going to consider a ‘Plan B’, from that moment on everything changed.
In the last six years, I have written two books, become a professional speaker and counsellor, trained as an EFT practitioner and trainer and now run seminars and mentor programs for women in business. Next year, I will launch my business in Canada.
On the night of my 60th birthday, my eldest daughter made a speech. She said, “I am so lucky to have a mother who not only tells me I can do whatever I set my mind to – but she inspires me every day because she is doing it herself.”
I remembered all those moments I was so ready to give up, and was so grateful to have found the confidence to help me, and thousands of other Australians over 50, redefine the concept of age, to a whole new paradigm.
Sally Thibault is a counsellor, speaker and certified emotional freedom techniques practitioner and trainer. She and her Canadian husband Gerry have three adult children. Sally’s written two books, including David’s Gift, about the lessons she and her family learned from her son’s autism.