Welcome to The Right Side of 40 Blog. You are not alone.
Content by Caroline Annis and Eve Toomey
All too often we talk about the post-40 watershed for people’s careers - especially women - as the wrong side of 40.
Deciding if we’re on the right or the wrong side of 40, or somewhere in between, is up to us to decide for ourselves and nobody else.
It’s really just a different phase of our working lives. It does come with some physical changes like menopause, or illness. However, in our 40s, 50s, and beyond our minds are full of information, knowledge, and expertise. There was a big investment in time and energy to learn it, so why not continue to use it?
The real question is: how do we want to use it?
Eve and Caroline - how did we get here?
We have been friends for a very long time and despite our choices, experiences, and perspectives being different - one of us gave up a full-time career to raise a family and the other stayed in full-time work in the corporate world - yet we found ourselves feeling similarly at the same juncture in our working lives.
The idea for the blog and podcast grew naturally from conversations we were having with our friends, families, colleagues, and peers (sometimes even random women on the bus). We realised we were mid-career, having worked for 20-ish years already, and yet we were still struggling with some aspects of our working lives when, by contrast, life was pretty locked down in the domestic sphere.
Say hello to your inner mofo
Some of us have older teenagers about to head out to university, whereas others are still managing the exhaustion of juggling a career and a young family, and yet at home many of us are confident in our roles, capabilities and in charge of marshalling our resources (that’s code for assigning which teen does the dishes or mows the lawn).
So many women rule with an iron rod at home but can be walk-overs at work. People-pleasers, passed over for promotion, working long hours with little recognition, yet at home one raised eyebrow will have everyone quaking.
What we realised is that we’re not alone. For the first 20+ years, work was something we did because we were just ordinary people. Long-term though, work becomes more than that. Many of us struggle with the same things and are looking for insights to help us have a more fulfilling second half to our careers.
Our aim is to awaken the 'inner mofo' in all of us to go get the respect and fulfillment we all deserve from our work and life.
Where is the finish line?
Realistically in today’s economic climate, we will all be working much longer. We’re facing 20+ more years of working life and still have things to contribute. We may have been brought up by women who either dropped out of the workplace when they were young to raise children or by women who retired early. We don’t have enough role models of what an older woman at work looks like and yet so many of us will work until we are much older than our mothers did.
There was a stark reminder in 2020, the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act in the UK, that planning our run-up to retirement is really important as our salaries determine how much we can save or how our final pension will be set.
The Office for National Statistics reported that “Among full time employees the gender pay gap in April 2021 was 7.9%”*
For those of us who want to retire early, more power to you. For the rest of us, we’re not done yet and we’d like to be braver about making choices that work for us and that allow us to do our best work (with or without role models!).
At the end of the day, no one else is responsible for our careers so we need to remember to take charge.
You are not alone
Each podcast episode will be dedicated to looking at a single topic from a number of different angles. We will share our experiences and what we’ve learned along the way, give you strategies to think about how you might want to deal with your own situations, and look at other resources for insight and inspiration. We will also be talking to guests about the careers they've begun or new purposes they've found since turning 40, 50, or 60. We hope they inspire.
The blog is going to be a bit more eclectic as we draw from different places for inspiration with the same goal of building up a resource of material to help you practically, spark new ideas, or connect you to something new.
No doubt you will find plenty of things that we say in the blog and podcast that you already know, that seem like stating the bleeding obvious. Most women our age know what to do, and have counseled others on what to do, but we don’t always act on the same advice ourselves.
Most importantly we want all of us in the second half of our lives to feel that we’re not alone. We're all figuring out what our post-40 work and lives are all about even though our personal circumstances are unique and different. It’s really important to celebrate those differences and help each other because there is no one ‘correct’ answer or solution to a problem. You have to decide for yourself what’s going to work; our hope is to equip you with some tools and some resolve and provide support to cheer you on to making the best decisions you can for you.
If we can help you in any way through some mid-career angst to feel that you have an empowered, interesting, and worthwhile second act in you, then we can feel good that we contributed too.
Links and references