It takes courage to face up to the fact that life hasn’t turned out how we wanted. Disappointment can make us feel short-changed – or even robbed. Maybe the career’s gone tits up, or we’re just bored and ready for something new. Wanting to live somewhere else, retrain and do something different, find love again, rediscover or reinvent ourselves – why not? If we’re looking at how life has turned out and thinking ‘Is this it?’ well, it doesn’t have to be.

Why should it only be other people that do big, brave and amazing things and have another ‘go’ at happiness? Unlike previous generations, we don’t have to stick with our lot if we don’t want to. Today’s women are giving themselves a shake in their 30s, 40s, 50s or even 60s – reevaluating their lives and making big, bold changes. Following their dreams. We all know women who have. It’s hard not to envy and admire their new-found mojo.

Last year I bumped into a friend and noticed she was visibly glowing with happiness. In the six months since I’d last seen her she’d left her big house and unhappy marriage, moved into a friend’s flat and met a new man. Her face had lost that careworn expression. She was 52 but looked 40. “I’m broke and living out of a suitcase, but I couldn’t be happier,” she told me. It really made me think.

When we’re younger we make choices based on our needs and desires at the time, and there’s nothing wrong with that, But what was right for you before won’t necessarily be right for you now – and if this rings any bells now might be a good time to allow yourself to contemplate what you’d be doing if you had no ties and financial freedom. Would you quit the job, become single again, move house, start your own business or totally reinvent yourself?

Deep down we know what we’d be doing if circumstances allowed, because it’s what we dream of when the going gets tough. But so many obstacles stand in our way – mental, physical, financial and emotional. So that dream plan stays on the back burner, mired in ‘yes but’s. ‘Yes but I can’t put my family through the upheaval. Yes but I don’t have the funds. Yes but I might fail’. Thinking ‘yes but’ whenever our mind strays to what we long to do just gives us an excuse to stay put. But that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. We just need to adjust our mindset, start strategising and taking on all those obstacles one by one.

I’m not advocating everyone divorce at 50, like my friend. But if your life’s not making you happy why not create a new one? The hardest part is taking that first step. We like life to be predictable and change inevitably means pain and hardship will be involved. We’re so afraid of setting foot outside our comfort zone that we end up staying there. Even if we’re miserable.

A year on, whenever I see my newly liberated friend it’s clear she has no regrets. Her life is unrecognisable from the settled, safe one she had before. It’s not all been easy, she told me, but taking that first step has given her the confidence to take many more. I keep meeting women like her, women who are forging their way into new lives. Taking a second bite of the cherry. Grinning all over their faces.

Words: Marina Gask

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