Formidable Over Forty ~ Meet Alison Green
Over 40 and Fabulous? Sadly not everyone feels that way.
In my role as a 1 to 1 Life and Business Breakthrough Coach I meet many women who have reached midlife and are feeling stuck, at a crossroads, and in need of some inspiration, motivation and support. Understanding they have possibly more time behind them than in front of them they want to break free and claim back some time for themselves. They are tired of making do. Does this resonate with you?
They want to be free to live a life they truly love, not just a life that conforms to facilitating every other persons’ needs.
It is time to reframe their goals!
With this in mind, I thought it would be wonderful to interview a number of women who truly are "Formidable Over Forty" - women who can offer inspiration and show that you are never too old and it is never too late.
I am now delighted to introduce Alison Green and share with you her inspiring interview with me!
Where is home?
What is your day job?
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A deep-sea diver, repairing oil-rigs
Lessons in Life/Business or both!
Many of my female 1 to 1 coaching clients share with me that they hit a block in their forties, they feel that they have lost a sense of purpose, often when their children grow up and become more independent, or they find themselves stuck at a crossroads, many suffering from imposter syndrome which has been a key factor in their selflimiting beliefs. They now realise they are getting older and want to break free. Freedom is a word they crave.
Tell us about life over 40, how has life changed for you?
• I met my husband 2 months after I turned 40. We were married 2 years‘ later, so life after 40 was very different for me.
• I started silversmithing when I was 42 through an adult education evening class, once a week. It was a hobby, but I loved it so much that my husband built a studio in the garden of our new house, which we then equipped gradually over the years. Friends and family encouraged me and told me that my designs were good enough to sell, so I mustered up the courage and finally launched my sterling silver jewellery business in 2019 (https://www.thesoldersmith.co.uk).
I sell through craft fairs and online and will be offering day courses in the studio soon! I absolutely love having a creative outlet and the space in which to do it and would have found a way to do this, even if we hadn’t had the space!
• I had also been working full-time in a semi-virtual role as a PA/EA for about 4 years (after a 35 year career as a fully office-based PA/EA). When lockdown happened, I realised that this was something I really wanted to do full-time. There was no way to do that with the company I worked for, so I did a lot of research and took a course. In November 2020, I set-up my Virtual Business Services company (https://www.rockettvirtual.co.uk), alongside the full-time EA role and the jewellery business.
It’s really, really hard work, juggling 2 businesses in my spare time, but the end-goal drives me – I want to move into self-employment fully, to pursue a life without any ´shoulds´.
• Additionally, in 2016 I reached the best level of fitness I’ve ever had in my life and decided that I wanted to share that experience with other people around my age (50). I wanted to help them to see what is possible, because I was the archetypal couch potato initially.
I still believe that if I am able to change as significantly as I did, anyone can.
I studied in my spare time and finally in December 2020, I qualified as a Personal Trainer, at 54.
I haven’t yet decided whether to turn this into a business or not – primarily because I only have a finite number of hours in the week(!), but the option is there for the future, together with a big dose of self-esteem for actually getting the qualification!
What was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome on your journey?
I think the biggest obstacle was my own perception of what I thought I ´should´ be and how I thought I ´should´ behave, once I was in my 40s.
Looking back, I realise that I‘d resigned myself to being single and staying in a 9am-6pm job, with no future prospects because I’d reached the top of my career tree. I wasn’t unhappy, but I was unfulfilled and very aware that I wasn’t stretching myself at all – I had been stuck in a comfortable rut and reasoned with myself that this was how it all ´should´ be, once you reach a certain age.
That, in turn, led to a belief that I had nothing of any great value to offer and that I’d therefore missed the opportunity to do anything else with my life.
I should add that I wasn’t fully aware of these feelings until things changed. Lots of my friends were in the same position, so it all felt very normal and acceptable at the time.
How did you overcome it?
I never stopped dreaming. Dreaming of having a very different work-life, where there were no ´shoulds´. I allowed myself the dreams and inadvertently (fortuitously!) surrounded myself with people who encouraged them. Gradually they solidified into tangible ideas. I then started believing that I could change something, which became ´I will change something´.
And I moved out of my own way. I realised that the only thing stopping me was me. It sounds like a cliché to say it now and I hated admitting it, but I was my own worst enemy.
I had huge dreams and ambitions – things I was going to do ´one day´...and then I woke up one morning realising that I’d spent 20 years in the same job. I wasn’t living as the person I wanted to be.
The thought that another 20 years could be spent like that was soul-destroying, so I stepped out of my own way, stopped listening to most of the negative thoughts in my head and just got on with planning.
I had so many ideas to begin with but it was important for me to narrow those into 1 or 2 solid plans so that I could do something practical and tangible. I still get ideas now, but I reign them in and stay focussed on my chosen paths...at least for the time being!
What is your greatest strength?
Determination! Once I set my sights on something, I rarely give up. I may waver a little from time to time, but I keep that end goal at the forefront of my mind and focus on the satisfaction and sense of achievement it’s going to bring, once it’s done.
If the first plan doesn’t work, I find another way and I’ll keep going until I succeed (or realise that the idea is fundamentally flawed, in which case, it’s back to the drawing-board!).
Who inspires you?
Genuinely, anyone who has the courage to follow their dreams. It’s never an easy decision to try and it takes real commitment and courageousness to follow it through. My cousin is one of the most inspiring people I know – she’s built 2 very successful businesses, in completely different industries. She has a vision and follows it. She’s bold, courageous, focussed, dedicated, genuine and an all-round lovely person too. She’s a living testament to the fact that if you put your mind to something, whole-heartedly and put in the hard work, you can achieve great things. I’m full of admiration for her.
My husband also inspires me – he’s self-employed and loves what he does. He has bad days, like anyone else, but he works through them because he wouldn’t want to do any other job. He’s rennovated our house, built me a studio and is working on the garden – he is a constant source of amazement to me and never seems to run out of steam and excitement for whatever project he’s working on.
What advice would you give your 15 year old self?
Follow your dreams, however crazy they seem right now. Don’t settle for ´sensible´ or for what anyone else thinks you ´should´ do.
Push yourself to find something you love to do, not something that just pays the bills – life is about SO much more than money.
And, possibly most importantly, surround yourself with your tribe – people you love and who love you – it’s the ultimate super-power!
Finally .....What advice would you give someone who is reading this who is stuck and believes that it is too late to follow their dreams, to grab that freedom in order to live a life they love?
I would give them the same advice I’d give my 15 year old self – never settle for anything that doesn’t make you want to jump out of bed in the morning, full of joy and anticipation for the day ahead!
Yes, there are probably genuine commitments and constraints you have, financially and emotionally, but change doesn’t have to be reckless. It can be a measured transition. So often we feel intimidated at the thought of change and it can seem insurmountable, but you can take it all at your own pace. You don’t have to change your entire world overnight!
I believe that the feeling of aging is a state of mind (aside from the physical changes) and it’s possible for anyone to do change direction, at any age.
One of the goals I set for myself in my 30s was to have a life story to tell my grandchildren. I wanted a story that was exciting, daring in parts but primarily one that inspires them. I didn’t want to have to say that I worked in a nice job for 50 years and lived a nice life with their grandfather and for that to be it (“nice“ is not enough for me!). Leave the legacy of endless possibility for your children / grandchildren / relatives / friends and live that way for yourself.
When I set that goal for myself in my 30s, I didn’t have a partner, let alone any grandchildren, but I had the dream...and now I have 2 grandchildren to tell my story to, which makes it even more important.