Here’s a huge question: What does success mean to you? And here comes an even bigger question: Have you achieved it?
As you know, we’re cool with aging and all that getting older brings. Sure, we’ve been known to smooth a few lines and tame a few greys and to have the odd hissy fit when we’re sweatier than we bargained for. But there’s no doubt about it: There’s something very empowering about the wisdom—and success—that comes with years.
More and more these days, we are feeling successful, and patting ourselves on the back for our accomplishments. I mean, look at us. While one Brazen editor was a lawyer who reinvented herself as a journalist and content creator, the other started as a corporate trainer and ended up a social media and communications expert. And together, in our spare time, we run this lifestyle website.
That’s why we were so intrigued by a new report that uncovers insights about how women across the country perceive the challenges and opportunities in advancing professionally.
The report, created by TD Bank and University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, is called 10 Lessons: Women @ Work Managing Career, Family & Legacy. It’s the result of a year-long research project and essay competition that invited women from all across Canada to describe their experience navigating family, career and legacy aspirations.
How can we be sure to achieve the success we want? In the report, 10 key themes emerged. Here are three that really caught our attention.
3 Key Ways Women over 40 Can Achieve Financial Success
1. Expect the Unexpected
Everything may be hunky dory right now, and we hope it is, but no more wearing blinders. As we get older, the realities of what life can bring come into focus—whether we like it or not. That means we need to protect ourselves against what could happen—financially, at the very least. Not to be alarmist or anything, but how many women do you know whose bank accounts have been blindsided by unexpected events such as illness, divorce or unemployment?
Money planning is scary for many women but it’s time to get real and get over the fear so we can ensure our own success. All financial preparedness means is creating a clear picture of three things:
- Your current state of finances: what you own, owe, earn and spend
- A solid long-term financial plan: appropriate insurance, estate planning and investing plans
- An appropriate emergency fund: putting away at least six months of expenses, just in case
That’s not so hard, is it?
2. Don’t Stop Learning
No matter how old you are, it’s never too late to reinvent yourself. Bouncing from one career to another is common for women, especially after a break in the job market. We can’t count how many women have asked us for career advice on new paths to success.
These days, it’s easier than ever to learn. Whether you’re the type who’s constantly taking courses or you’re not exactly an academic, you can develop your business acumen in so many ways. At your fingertips, there’s everything from formal education, on-the-job experiences, self-directed learning—or even all three.
Most importantly, it’s time to own your personal development. Start by actively seeking out opportunities to hone your ability to make sound business judgments. How? Start networking with people in your field. Grow your online presence, whether that’s on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. Join groups and learn from others. Ensure your business acumen skills are well developed and use them to make decisions in both your professional and personal life.
3. Understand the Trade-Offs
Many, many women take a break at some point in their careers and that’s more than okay. For some of us, it’s necessary. Whether you’re carving out time to spend time with family, to care for an aging parent, or to redefine career goals, the key to success is to appreciate the trade-off you’re making by opting out of the work force.
Bottom line: You’re likely to have an easier time reentering the work force later if you take a realistic look at the past, present and future. Carefully considering the true cost of the break, and planning for how you’ll deal with it, will help ease the transition.
Here are some questions to keep in mind:
- What are the long-term financial and skills implications?
- How long can you realistically afford to be out of the work force?
- What will you need to do in the meantime to keep your skills and talents fresh?
- Will you reenter the work force in the same job or not?
- How will you continue to network while you’re not working?
- What can you do to stay marketable in a changing career landscape?
- If you want to change direction, how can you start to make that happen in the meantime?
Although this post was sponsored by TD Bank, all opinions, as usual, are ours. Want to learn more about women and success? Keep the conversation going on Twitter with the hashtag #YourStoryYourFuture.