Do you ever feel like there ought to be … I don’t know … more? You’re a high-achieving woman – great at your job and “successful” by modern measures – but you still feel like something’s missing, there’s something you haven’t accomplished yet.

Welcome to midlife.

It’s ME time! Women in their 40s and beyond often experience a pretty fundamental shift: it’s time to stop worrying what others think of me and concentrate on how I feel about myself, my place, my work, my creative side, my spiritual soul.

Great! Also … dangerous. Frustration with finding yourself where you don’t want to be can lead to impulsive decisions.

How do you honor that part of yourself that’s ready for new challenges and new horizons without disrupting everything you’ve worked so hard to achieve?

Dr. Barbara Mark has some very good ideas for you. Dr. Mark is an elite leadership, career, and life strategies coach, advisor, and confidant to senior executive women. Trained in clinical psychology, Dr. Mark has great insights into human thought and how thought translates into action (or inaction). She focuses on working women in midlife, helping her clients find clarity during an often very challenging time.

We had a few questions for her. Listen in for her very good advice on discovering your rich, fulfilling midlife.

1:12 – What is an “executive coach”?

Executive coaches provide the opportunity for their clients to accelerate in their performance, Dr. Mark tells us: develop team rapport, increase confidence, develop work/life balance. And because her clients are women in midlife, they’re assessing where they are and deciding if they need help with impulse control

2:52 – Why did you choose to work with women in midlife in particular?

Dr. Mark says she has a lifelong passion for adult development, and women at this stage and interesting, powerful, and often impulsive, which makes them fascinating clients and people.

3:58 – What makes midlife “prime”?

Midlife can be a rich, exciting time, says Dr. Mark. Priorities are shifting, women are changing to be more “me-focused” and looking for new opportunities.

(Midlife really IS primetime, says author Juju Hook. Check out our review of Hot Flashes, Carpools, and Dirty Martinis)

5:18 – What’s at the root of wanting change at this time of our lives?

Dr. Mark says midlife is a developmental moment that happens. We start turning away from worrying about other people’s thoughts, opinions, and expectations to take a deep dive into “who do I want to be?”

7:07 – Is there a link between this change and societal expectations at this point in our lives?

Yes, says Dr. Mark, because finally we get a chance to look inward and observe how expectations affect us. But in addition, the developmental stages of adulthood also have an impact on both women and men.

8:34 – “Developmental stages of adulthood”? Do tell!

Listen in and find out! According to Dr. Mark these stages start in the 30s for both men and women and stick with us for many years. But what does it mean to “be out of sight of land” … ?

11:17 – How does the workplace add another dimension to all this transition?

The workplace has it’s own demands, and in midlife, there are a lot of new decisions to make: Am I still in the right place? Or am I done and ready to move on?

(what’s it like to have menopause in the workplace? Anne Loehr talks risks and rewards of “coming out” as menopausal)

11:52 – Tell us more about the creativity that comes with midlife?

Says Dr. Mark, midlife is a moment where we’re left alone with ourselves, a time of deepening our connection with our inner selves. We’re often inspired to find ways to express our experience of that process and the woman we discover.

13:51 – Do women find new (and unexpected) ways to express themselves creatively?

Absolutely, Dr. Mark tells us; women in this time often find themselves more open to new avenues of expression, trying on lots of possibilities.

15:43 – How do you help women deal with the regimen and competitiveness of the workplace and still come into their own?

That depends on the age of the woman and where she is in her career, says Dr. Mark. Younger women are still building their career and reputation and looking for ways to participate that feel authentic. More mature women who have visibility and influence are asking, do I use my power to initiate something meaningful that’s wholly mine within my business? Do I start looking outside work for fulfillment? Or am I done here and ready to move on?

18:31 – Tell us more about impulse control.

In the midst of perimenopause, emotions can be a little heightened, and frustrations with life may lead to making hasty decisions. Some women need help understanding the impulses driving them so they can make the right choices.

20:27 – Is a desire for change pervasive among women at this time of life?

Oh, yes, Dr. Mark tells us. Women are different in how they show their restlessness and impulsiveness, but it is common.

22:40 – What are some things women need to watch for or be aware of in themselves?

According to Dr. Mark, to avoid over-hasty decisions, we should try to tune into our moods daily: how’s our satisfaction, our tolerance of life’s little frustrations?

Midlife can be a wonderful, freeing time – a chance to finally pursue your passions, old and new. Get the best, most fulfilling midlife you can have by entering into this time awake and aware of all the changes happening in your body, spirit, and life. For some, that may mean taking up poetry or pottery or dance; for others, it may mean launching a new initiative to take their workplace by storm. If you’re not sure which path looks right to you, a coach like Dr. Mark may help you sort out your priorities and move forward with confidence.

If you’ve made changes after 40, we’d love to hear the story. Please share in the comments below, on genneve’s Facebook page, or in Midlife & Menopause Solutions, our closed Facebook group.



Shannon Perry

Shannon is a celebrated author and global educator. Whether she’s interviewing a physician or producing a podcast, her appetite for research, facts, and truth culminates in credible health education and programming that women can rely on. An avid runner, cyclist, and climber, Shannon knows a thing or two about thriving in midlife and lives in Seattle with her cat, dog and boyfriend.


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