I saw a huge goldfish swimming in the lily pond at my local park the other day. What immediately came to mind was the big fish must have got to that size by being unencumbered by growing up in a goldfish bowl.  It had a huge space to grow and lots to feed on.

It brought to mind my own very recent experience of significant personal growth and development.  For me this was between the age of 57 and 59, as I was training to be and now working as a coach, and also having my own coaching. I had stayed in one career all my working life, had 2 long term relationships and have been in my current one for over 10 years, been through the death of my mother from Covid and seen a significant worsening of my father's dementia.

 My own coaching brought up so many issues that I had never allowed myself to think about. There were issues that I had no idea were important to me. It also highlighted the ways in which I was getting in my own way.  For many people these realisations or aha moments also come when having a really deep heart to heart with a friend.

Having space and time to think and reflect on how you got to this point, and what you really want from life is often considered a luxury or something people, especially women, haven't got time for in their day-to-day busyness. That's a shame, because in my own experience and in lots of articles around personal growth in midlife, pausing to take stock of where you are in your life, what you really want and really don't want any more, and what you aspire to be or do, can be hugely empowering.

By the time we reach 50 we have had a lot of life experience, which might include marriage, long term relationships, children, work and divorce. Personal growth is about more than these things, as significant as they are.  It's about achieving a sense of fulfilment, purpose and intention in your life as you are living it now.  It's about taking time for self-reflection and evaluating what is important to you. It's about education, having new experiences and getting to know yourself more.

Being a woman in your 50's is time of transitions. This could be children growing up and perhaps leaving home, reaching a high point in your career or maybe wanting to change jobs, thinking about retirement, divorce or taking on some of the caring responsibilities for elderly relatives.  For many women, there are issues around health, including the impact of menopause.  There are still many demands on your time.

The quotation below from Ann Douglas, in her book Navigating the Messy Middle: A Fiercely honest and Wildly Encouraging Guide for Midlife Women encapsulates, for me how life affirming taking time, energy and action for personal growth can be.

“Midlife requires a radical imagination: a willingness to tell ourselves new and better stories about our lives. We need stories that reject all the life-limiting narratives that only serve to make life harder and that actively conspire to rob us of joy. We need stories that embrace—rather than erase—the nuance and contradiction that are woven into the very fabric of this life stage. We need stories that allow us to find meaning in all that messiness. And, above all, we need stories that remind us that we don't have to journey through this life stage—or any stage of life—on our own.”

Personal growth in midlife can include many things.  For example, evaluating your current situation in any area of your life, aspects you would like to improve and rediscovering interests and passions you put on hold for years.  It could be about learning new skills, either for the joy of learning or to help you in your work. It could be setting goals for yourself of things you would like to achieve in the coming weeks, months or years, then planning how you can make it happen.

It could be about making new friends, meeting up with current friends more often or rekindling old friendships.  The power of friendship, community and a sense of belonging cannot be over- estimated.

Setting aside time for self-care, whatever that means to you, is also really important. Ensuring you at are at least ok, preferably at feeling really good, is important to ensuring you can meet your commitments and still have energy to do things you want to do.

Freeing yourself up to do things you really want to do and not always just what you have to do, will make you feel more, like the goldfish in the lily pond not a goldfish bowl.  Don't just take my word for it, give it a go.

When I googled my hypothesis about why some goldfish get so big, it turned out to be a bit of a myth. There are many factors that account for how large some of them get apparently! However, spending some time putting yourself first and having your needs met can transform how you feel about yourself, your life and what you do.  And that's a fact!


If you would like to work on your personal growth and development then email me at michele@truepotentialcoaching.co.uk and we can discuss how working with me can really help you get to where you want to be.