That’s where I was in 2009, as a mid-life woman who had devoted her life to her family and community. Like so many women, when my husband and I became “empty nesters” I still wanted to be productive, but also wanted to do something fulfilling and fun—I had too many “good years” left in me and I was eager to reinvent myself for something better.
I had been an accountant, a bank marketing manager, a wedding coordinator, a women’s ministry leader and even a school board president through the years. But how would those roles look on a resume’ as I competed against younger candidates who had sharper skills and memories?
My journey began as I stepped out of my comfort zone and attended networking events, hoping to meet someone who would hire me. Instead, the women entrepreneurs I met and their own stories of success and reinvention energized me. Writing simple blog posts about mid-life helped me “get out of neutral,” and I soon ventured into an area where I had no experience–on February 1, 2010, my website FlourishOver50.com was launched. It has been an amazing ride ever since, with winding roads and plenty of rough spots, but exhilarating as I have sped through scenery that I would never have imagined myself seeing.
In just one year, I have connected with women all over the world. The website has been viewed by girlfriends in 56 countries, and I have partnered with several nationally recognized authors who are sharing their expert advice. I have a monthly segment on our local Fox 7 “Good Day Austin” morning show when I share tips for living abundantly after 50. I even have a YouTube Channel, and videos featured on Diva Toolbox TV and Oprah’s OWN website. Others tell me that my success has been remarkable. I just say, “It’s a God thing!”
But every road trip is subject to detour, and can be perilous when we aren’t paying attention. I was so narrowly focused on the destination ahead that I failed to acknowledge my own transformation, and had forgotten to take rest stops. By the end of 2010, I was worn out and scattered with many new ideas in my head, but needing a clear map for my plan. It was time to spend some time envisioning where I wanted to be down the road—did I want to be known as a website developer or as someone else? Would my message to “dream big and step out on faith” be adequately communicated through my current platform, or did I need to explore some side roads?
For the first time during this adventure, I took a break and spent many hours of quiet time seeking where God wanted me to go, not where I thought I should be headed. I created a Life Purpose Statement, with three top priorities and a clear set of goals that would stretch me in ways I had never been stretched. These became my “Powerful Me” book.
At two self-renewal retreats, I was given the guidance and solitude to really listen for the direction I needed. I shut down my logical self, and allowed my creative mind to flow, totally receptive to God’s leading. It became crystal clear—I was to become an inspirational speaker and life coach, leading women down the same road that I had just been on, getting out of neutral to design their own journeys for abundant living. My own road trip would be the foundation for workshops, teleseminars and personal coaching, with “Powerful Me” as a major focus. The website would just be one of the ways I would inspire women. Everything fell in to place, with a clear plan in my head and a renewed passion in my heart.
Is this my final destination? I doubt it. But I am looking forward to continuing the trip with great anticipation, side roads and all. With God as my Navigator, the journey is sure to be incredible!
My advice to a new entrepreneur:
- Don’t neglect self-care. Even if you have to schedule it on your calendar, plan time for rest and renewal. A refreshed body will give you sustained energy, a clear mind will give you focus, and an intimate relationship with God will give you direction.
- Develop your own Life Purpose Statement, with clear priorities and goals that will be the GPS for everything you do. Re-evaluate quarterly to see if the side roads have taken you toward new destinations. I can help you with this if you’re “stuck in neutral!”
- Always let God be your Navigator. When you try to set your course without His guidance, you will likely go down roads that are dead-ends.
Susan Tolles founded Flourish Over 50 in 2010, following her passion to inspire women to live abundantly after 50. Through a website, workshops and personal coaching, Susan encourages and equips women to “dream big and step out on faith,” with self-confidence and joy. She lives in Austin, Texas with her husband of 31 years, Jim, and they have three grown children.