The Privilege of a Long Life

The Privilege of a Long Life

The Privilege of a Long LifeCharlie Rose asked the actress, “But why would you want to do a television series about a woman with cancer?”  She answered, “For all my friends who have not had the privilege of a long life.”

She was talking about all the friends who had died of cancer at an early age.

Then she talked about “the privilege of aging, the privilege of growing old.”  And about how she couldn’t understand the “anti-age thing” in America, how it made no sense.  And how it was all about what you did with that time.

And I have to agree.

As I look around, I don’t want to be twenty and I don’t want to look twenty.

I wouldn’t trade the experiences I’ve had … the ones that probably brought on half the wrinkles on my face and half the white hair that snuck onto my temples when I wasn’t watching.

Those are exactly the experiences that taught me life’s lessons and made me wise.  Over the years, they added richness and contour, in the form of hills and valleys.  Without them, life would have been one boring continuum.  Instead, I can flash back to one decade or the other, zeroing in on whether at that time I was struggling to build a new business, hiking across the Andes, or gathering up the pieces of a broken heart … again.  Whether I was playing in Paris and staying at its finest hotels, or wondering how I was going to make my next mortgage payment.

And with all that, somehow the years slipped by.

Yet by my early 50s, the idea of saving for retirement was still a distant concept.  Both my parents had died young, so I had no model for what retirement meant.  Besides, I was having so much fun I figured I’d work (and play) until my time was up.  Whatever that meant.

Then in 2001, when I was 53, the economy came to an abrupt halt after 9/11.  And no one knew how long that paralysis would last.  Because some of my largest clients went bankrupt, leaving my invoices unpaid, it really didn’t matter how long it lasted.  They had already pulled me under financially.  My business went under, too.

It was the wake-up call I needed.  As I started piecing my life and career back together again, I realized that my energy level was different … and that I wouldn’t have the energy level to keep starting over again and again, forever.

Suddenly it was time to start thinking seriously about how I was going to pay for my later years, whether we called them “retirement” or something else, whether I stayed active or not.

My first step was to understand my relationship with money.  It was time to get that relationship healthy, rather than continue to react to events with the messages and beliefs I had carried forward since childhood.

And the second step was to decide how I personally defined “quality of life.”  What was important to me?  How did I want to spend the years that were left?  (And that could easily mean another 30 or 35!)  What were the elements that would make up the quilt of my everyday life going forward?

I knew that having a very clear vision would be necessary if I was going to make up for all the years I hadn’t saved a penny.  And unless I knew what I wanted my life to look like, how could I know how much money I needed to be able to afford it?

That process … of getting clear on my relationship with money, kicking out old “gremlins” from my mind, getting brutally honest with my money, knowing exactly where I was headed, and calculating how much I needed to get there … is what has prepared me for financial freedom.  It has prepared me to play out the privilege of a long life, the privilege of aging, the privilege of growing old.  With gusto.

What about you?

Leave a comment below on where you are on your path, and where I might be able to help you along it!

xxxxxxx

Sharon O’Day lost everything at age 53:  her home, her business, everything.  But how could that be?  She’s an expert in global finance and marketing with an MBA from the Wharton School.  She has worked with governments, corporations, and individuals … yes, she was the secret ‘weapon,’ if you will, behind many individuals in high places.  But yet she did!  Since then, Sharon has interviewed countless women and done extensive research to understand how that could have happened, especially with her strong knowledge of numbers and finance.

The surprising answers will be shared in her upcoming book “Money After Menopause.”  Today her mission is to show as many women as possible how to become financially free for the long term, through her “Over Fifty and Financially Free” coaching programs.  She has developed a step-by-step plan to get past all the obstacles that keep women broke and scared … and from reaching the financial peace of mind they so deserve.

  • Christinalee1

    Looking forward to the book, Sharon.

    • Thanks, Christina, I’m working as fast as I can! 😉

  • What a story,  Sharon! If it could happen to you, it can happen to anyone. It’s also good to know that there is still hope after 50 to get back on track. I too look forward to your book! ~Pam

    • Trust me, Pam, there IS hope after 50.  But it does take perfect clarity … and understanding about money.  In fact, that lack of understanding is what gets us in our messes in the first place!

  • Denny

    Through your wisdom and experiences Sharon you are bringing to the forefront a subject that needs to be addressed. As a grandmother raising teenagers, obviously over 50, I am concerned about finances down the road…Looking forward to the release of your book! Thanks for continuing to share!

    • Denny, I know the financial challenge you’ve taken on … and, with you being a parenting coach, how lucky those grandkids are.  You’ve taken on another round of responsibilities just as you should be ramping up your own retirement finances.  I also know how aware and focused you are, and how you’ll juggle it all masterfully.  And you know I’ll help however I can …

  • Hi Sharon, we have in common that our parents died very young and when we were young; no examples of retirement or anything. I also was brought up in “the good life” and it all slipped away from us somehow. It is so great to see how you encourage women to get their life together.

    •  Thanks, Olga. Then you know that we all get second (and third) chances to get things right!  We just need the courage to do “do-overs!”

  • Wow, Sharon your heart was evident in this post. Missed you over the past week. So glad to see you back. Borders or miles can not separate friends when connected by life’s experiences and tragedies. Thank you for sharing your life, expertise, ups and downs with us. You inspire me to look long and hard at where I am, where I want to be and who I want to spend it with. By the way…I’m somewhere in the middle.

    • “Somewhere in the middle” is not a bad place to be, Carla, considering all the changes you’ve had in your life.  And, if my instincts are good, you’re doing everything you need to do to move that needle forward … 😉

  • Emm

    You are a true inspiration, Sharon. I’m so pleased I came across you and subscribed to your blog ~ uplifting, totally uplifting!
    I’m in the process of dealing with those gremlins ~ not an easy task, I daresay, but it is being done. I realize that it is the ONLY way forward.
    Thank you for your input – you are more than appreciated!
    Smiles,
    Emm :))

  • Emm

    You are a true inspiration, Sharon. I’m so pleased I came across you and subscribed to your blog ~ uplifting, totally uplifting!
    I’m in the process of dealing with those gremlins ~ not an easy task, I daresay, but it is being done. I realize that it is the ONLY way forward.
    Thank you for your input – you are more than appreciated!
    Smiles,
    Emm :))

  • You are a true inspiration, Sharon. I’m so pleased I came across you and subscribed to your blog ~ uplifting, totally uplifting!
    I’m
    in the process of dealing with those gremlins ~ not an easy task, I
    daresay, but it is being done. I realize that it is the ONLY way
    forward.
    Thank you for your input – you are more than appreciated!
    Smiles,
    Emm :))

    •  Thanks for the kind words, Emm.  And I enjoyed our little back-and-forth on Facebook about the situation in Greece.  As you say, there are as many women 50+ around you in Greece worried about their financial fortunes as we have here in the States.  The “gremlins” and lack of financial education are unfortunately universal.  But glad my writings are making a difference for you!  Stay in touch!

  • Sharon, I agree… I would never want to return to my younger years, even in exchange for fewer wrinkles, aches, and pains! But I do want to increase the quality of my life, and profit from life’s experiences…. and look forward to what can happen in the next 30 or more years! Thanks for the encouragement and faithful support!

    • Susan, if anyone has taken steps to increase her quality of life, by cleaning the slate (except for the life lessons learned), it’s you.  Now it’s time to build on that new, solid foundation and make of your life what you so dearly deserve!

  • So important – I have to admit I haven’t thought much about financial planning while I’ve been building my business, but I think it’s time. Thanks for the timely reminder!

  • Pingback: Wrestling Your Pesky Finances into Submission in Three Simple Steps()

  • love that phrase, the privilege of … such a sobering reminder that we are not promised tomorrow and how we must make the most of every opportunity 😉

  • Living a long life is something that is so easily taken for granted. We assume it’s going to happen and then illness can remind us that we are not as invincible as we might have thought we were! Even though we never know what is going to happen it does make sense to plan for the future. I love your phrase ‘later years’ Sharon as opposed to ‘retirement’!

  • Gertraud Walters

    One of the promises of God is ” Long Life”. And that is a prayer I have prayed that he would grant me long life. I was thinking about 90’ish. We too lost everything a few years ago, but this has not diminished my desire to live long. Business, Pensions, Properties and any other Income were all wiped out within a few months.And what is left will have to go in due course. (meaning the mortgaged Home we live at and the Retirement property in Jamaica). But what I haven’t lost is my faith and zest for Life. I am ready to start again (albeit at a slower pace) and take my Network Marketing to a sustainable Level of Income and Activity. And Thank God the property in the UK has come out of the negative equity so that we can sell and move out of London into a much smaller property without a Mortgage. And the Retirement Home in Jamaica, well that is a Dream we have lived fully, the sale of it will help us to reduce or maybe wipe out all other debts. And then we just live a much simpler but stress free Life. I am getting ready for it.

    Thank you for your most encouraging post Sharon.

  • Susan Schiller

    This is a tough question for me, actually… for in all my life I’ve never looked at longevity of life as compatible with quality of life. It’s only been recently, truthfully, that I’ve thought of the possibility of living into old age.

    Your life is certainly fascinating, Sharon, especially when you consider your biggest turnaround to have happened after age 50… your whole story is a huge statement of hope!