Achieve a Fit Life That Supports Your Evolving Work Life
“Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life." —Dolly Parton
It’s more common than ever for women over 50 to consider rethinking their work-life. Many of us are so passionate about what we can contribute that our planned retirement could easily be 25 years away — or more. But after the first 30 or so years of work, it might be time for a change.
Maybe you’re shifting careers, looking to join a board (or a few), or launching your own businesses. All of these will change your schedule and how much free time you have. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement — and responsibilities — of a new role. But you also have a responsibility to yourself. In fact, ensuring that you get enough exercise and sleep, eat well, and minimize your stress level will help you perform better at work.
Consider: Just 30 minutes of exercise can lower your blood pressure for the rest of the day; and repetitive physical exercise such as jogging and cycling can help you relax and destress. Eating well increases alertness and energy. And, sleeping well is essential to numerous aspects of your health —from managing your stress, to maintaining your weight, to staying alert and focused during the day.
So, how can you ensure that you achieve the fit and healthy lifestyle that’s right for you and meshes well with your evolving work life? Here are seven steps you can take to set yourself up for success:
1. Create a vision:
Envision your future self by describing details of your ideal fit life; for example: how often do you exercise and where, what foods are you eating, what are your sleeping habits, what is your mindset? You can write your vision in whatever style works best for you; for example, as a story of a day in your future life or as a checklist of your attributes (e.g., I am someone who enjoys being fit, so I exercise three times per week).
Use the four Ps of a vision statement to guide the tone and wording:
Personal (use “I” and “me”)
Present (write in the present tense as if what you’re describing is already happening)
Positive (focus on what you are doing; avoid words such as “aren’t,” “not,” and “can’t)
Passionate (put emotion into your story so you can really feel what your future will be like)
2. Find your “why”:
This will help you to understand your true motivation. It’s a powerful force in giving you the staying power to accomplish your short- and long-term goals — and a vital foundation supporting your efforts to make significant lifestyle changes later in life, potentially after years of the same habits and routines. Refer to your “why” anytime your motivation for eating well, exercising, meditation, and the like begins to wane.
One common way to undercover your “why,” is to ask yourself, “Why?” five times; for example, “Why do I want to live a fit and healthy life?” Once you have an answer (e.g., “Because I want more energy for my new business”), ask yourself why again (e.g., Why do I want more energy for my new business?”). Each question and answer will lead you deep to your true, underlying motivation.
3. Set “SMART” goals:
These are the high-level, long-term goals you want to achieve. Less is more because, realistically, you’ll only have so much energy, focus, and time to dedicate to them. They should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. They also should be sustainable. It may be achievable and realistic for you to jog five miles four days a week at a 9-minute-per-mile pace, but is that what you truly want to do over the long term? Perhaps three miles, three times per week at a pace based on how you’re feeling each day is better aligned with your long-term objectives.
4. Prioritize and plan:
Once you have your SMART goals set, prioritize them. Then list the actions you’ll need to take to reach each one. What will do you each week; what will you do each day to take steps toward achieving your goals? This step is especially important because it’s where you’ll decide how best to fit your fitness and healthy lifestyle goals into your schedule.
5. Build a support system:
Find an accountability partner—perhaps another woman over 50 making changes similar to yours — or coach to provide encouragement. Write empowering beliefs and affirmations that you can review each day to keep yourself motivated. And decide how you’ll turn actions into habits. For instance, stack a new habit (such as drinking more water) with an existing one (eating meals and snacks).
6. Track and measure:
At the outset of your fit-life journey, determine how you’ll measure success and write it down. Some success measures are best reviewed over the longer term, such as going from walking three miles in 45 minutes to walking that distance in 36 minutes. Others you’ll want to track each week (number of days you’ve exercised) or even each day (glasses of water you’ve drank). As you track your progress, adjust your plans as needed. For example, morning workouts not for you? Try an early evening power walk instead.
7. Keep moving forward:
Each quarter, take time for self-contemplation. Review your vision and your “why,” and decide if you’re still set on your original SMART goals. Also, if you achieve any of your goals, is there a new goal you’d like to add? Living a fit and healthy lifestyle is a long-term endeavor, so keep adjusting goals and setting new one over time as your life, priorities, and schedule change.
Ginger Conlon, founder and head coach of Fit Life Over 50, is a certified fitness trainer and a certified goal success life coach and transformation life coach. Conlon, an award-winning editorial leader who has covered marketing for the majority of her career, also currently serves as president of DMCNY and as an advisor on the Environmental Defense Fund’s Digital Advisory Council. In her distinguished career covering the marketing industry, she has served as U.S. editor of The Drum, as well as chief editor of Direct Marketing News, 1to1, and CRM magazines. She was honored with a DMCNY Silver Apple lifetime achievement award for her contributions to the marketing industry. For more information on Fit Life Over 50 fitness and healthy living goal-achievement programs, visit flo50.com.