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midlife women

Women in Midlife: Strategies for Growth

Are you a woman in midlife? Hold on tight: there’s a wild ride ahead. It’s not good and it’s not bad. It IS whatever you choose to make it.

It’s true. The journey through midlife, often defined as the period from the late 40s to the 60s, presents a unique set of challenges and opportunities for women. This phase has historically been labeled as a crisis. However, it’s more accurately a pivotal period of growth, introspection, and transformation.

Theare are many complex layers to this life stage, from aging, menopause and empty nesting, to changes in relationships and career stagnation. There is also the quest for deeper fulfillment as we begin to face our own mortality. It sounds like a lot. And it is. But consider these words from Maya Angelou to Oprah Winfrey:

“When I turned 50, my dear friend, Maya Angelou was still alive, and Maya said to me, “Babe, the fifties are everything you’ve been meaning to be. It’s everything you thought you might do. This is it. It’s coming in. You’re not even there yet.” – Oprah Winfrey

The Midlife Landscape

The midlife transition encompasses a broad spectrum of experiences, from the physiological changes brought on by menopause to the emotional adjustments of an empty nest. As estrogen levels fluctuate and eventually decline, we may encounter a variety of symptoms that affect our physical and emotional well-being, such as those good old hot flashes. At the same time, our children are growing up and may be ready to leave home. It’s a big transition for everyone, and for moms it can lead to a profound sense of loss and identity reevaluation.

As family roles and dynamics shift there’s more space to looks at our long-term partnerships or marriages and we may undergo a period of reevaluation. The initial passions that once fueled our romantic relationship have often a distant memory, leaving us questioning the depth and vitality of our connections.

And then there’s our careers. Many women in midlife find themselves questioning their career path, feeling unfulfilled or stagnant, and yearning for a renewed sense of purpose. For those reentering the workforce after a hiatus to raise children, the challenges are even more pronounced. These women face the daunting task of navigating a job market that has evolved in their absence. Technological advancements and new industry standards require fresh skills and adaptability.

Another profound challenge facing women in midlife is the phenomenon often referred to as the “invisible woman syndrome,” where society begins to overlook and undervalue women as they age, particularly those over 50. This societal trend manifests in various spaces, including the workplace, media representation, and social dynamics, where the contributions and presence of older women are marginalized or ignored. This invisibility is not just a matter of perception; it has tangible effects on women’s careers, self-esteem, and social status.

Addressing the Challenges

Faced with these many challenges, it is no suprise that women can become depressed and feel stuck. So what do we do about it? How do we navigate these road blocks with hope and a sense of fulfillment?


Menopause is still not well understood, even within the medical system. Women are often encouraged to seek support from healthcare providers who can offer guidance on managing menopausal symptoms, yet the commonly held complaint is that doctors seem to know so little. Unfortunately, this leaves a woman with no choice other than to equip herself with the resources and knowledge that allows her to be proactive in making good health choices to support her body through menopause. But this can be good news. We take our health and our futures into our own hands, rather then relying on a deficient medical system to do it for us. This is one of the beautys of our advanced technological world: the information is at our fingertips.

The Menopause Manifesto by Jen Gunther is a great place to start.

The “Invisible Woman” Syndrome

The sense of having been discarded around midlife occurs through the felt sense of being invisible. Women may notice that men no longer turn their heads, that the only women represented on social media are under 40, and that jobs will often go to the thirty something woman who showed up in kitten heels.

But feeling invisible doesn’t mean we have to BE invisible. Sometimes when we notice a shift in the way we are percieved, we beging to perceive ourselves that way too. So ask the question, how do I see myself? Who so I want to be at this stage of life? These are questions that society doesn’t get to answer for us.

Empty Nesting

For those women who have become strongly identified with their role as a mother, especially those who may have stayed at home to raise children, the transition to an empty nest can be full of grief and sadness. It is important for us to do some personal growth work around this transition, looking at who we may be beyond this identified role, as well as accepting the need to grieve this season of life.

A therapist or coach may be helpful in exporing feelings and helping us shift from a midset of loss to self-discovery. We can also benefit from pursuing interests and activities that were previously sidelined due to parenting responsibilities. This period allows for the cultivation of new hobbies, travel, education, or career pursuits, serving as a springboard for personal development.

Relationship Malaise

Open communication and new shared experiences can breathe fresh life into worn out relationships. Couples may find value in exploring new hobbies together, seeking couples counselling to navigate this life stage constructively, or simply dedicating time to reconnect and rediscover the foundation of their partnership.

The midlife period can strain relationships, as individuals reflect on their unmet needs and desires, potentially leading to conflicts or feelings of disconnection. Investing time and effort into revitalizing relationships can help partners find common ground, renew their commitment, and discover new aspects of their relationship to celebrate.

It is likely that several decades have passed since you first met your partner. They aren’t the same person and nor are you. And yet we can make assumptions that there is nothing new to learn. A fantastic way to get to know your partner all over again is through this wonderful book by the Gottmans: “Eight Dates: Essebtial Conversations for a Lifetime of Love.”

Career and Purpose

Midlife can prompt a reevaluation of career goals and aspirations. Exploring new professional avenues, furthering education, or embracing entrepreneurial endeavours can provide a renewed sense of purpose and fulfillment. Mentorship and networking can play pivotal roles in facilitating career transitions during this period.

The challenge lies in overcoming the fear of change, societal stereotypes about age, and the potential financial implications of career shifts. Identifying transferable skills, leveraging our networks, and embracing lifelong learning can empower us to pursue new opportunities that align with our evolving interests and values.

Reflection and Exploration

Journaling and reflective practices offer avenues for us to articulate our thoughts, fears, and aspirations, serving as a tool for self-discovery and clarity. Engaging with stories of other women who have successfully navigated midlife transitions can also provide inspiration and courage.

Incorporating mindfulness practices such as meditation, yoga, or tai chi can enhance our emotional resilience and well-being. These practices foster a sense of presence and acceptance, crucial for navigating the uncertainties of midlife with grace.


There is nothing more helpful about navigating a complex and often challenging season of life than to do so in community. Women all around us are facing the same issues. Through through the formation of support networks, advocacy for broader representation and rights, personal growth initiatives, and mentorship we can find a new zest for life and actually enjoy who we are more than ever before.

Supportive networks, both online and in person, offer vital emotional support, advice, and a sense of community, enabling women to share experiences and navigate midlife challenges together. Advocacy efforts can be included to change societal norms, promoting a more inclusive representation of midlife women across media, and workplaces, challenging ageism and the undervaluation of women’s contributions as they age.

Embracing the Journey

The midlife transition, while challenging, is not a crisis but an opportunity for profound personal growth and renewal. It’s a chance to reassess life’s priorities, explore new possibilities, and redefine what happiness and fulfillment mean on an individual level.

By approaching this period with curiosity, openness, and proactive engagement, women can navigate the complexities of midlife with confidence and emerge with a deeper understanding of themselves and their place in the world. The key lies in viewing midlife not as an end but as a vibrant new beginning, rich with potential for personal and professional growth.

For some,reaching this place may require the support of a therapist specializing in this life stage. Professional guidance can provide personalized strategies for managing transitions, fostering personal growth, and achieving a sense of balance and fulfillment. If you are seeking support through this stage of life, book your free consultation here.