10/26/2011 09:29 pm ET | Updated Dec 26, 2011

What's Stopping You From Being Fearless After 50?

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article which generated lots of shares and comments. It was about how turning 50 is more than just an age, it's a movement... and it really resonated with readers.

One of the points made in the article was that moving out of your comfort zone is a big part of life after 50. Change is happening all around us -- wanted and unwanted -- on all fronts, and we aren't always ready. I suggested that one of the ways we can prepare ourselves is to acknowledge that change will happen, and instead of retreating, be fearless about facing it. I wrote:

Move out of your comfort zone

There's something incredibly liberating about turning 50. You no longer feel as though you have to please everyone, or continue to do things you don't want to do, just because you always did. In the smallest sense, you might not want to be on your co-op's board anymore because it's not enjoyable and too time-consuming. Or, you may want to change careers or quit work completely to pursue other interests. Doing something new, especially if it's potentially life-changing, like leaving a relationship or starting a new one, can be daunting because you're moving out of your status quo. But, post-50 life is all about change, and movement, and moving out of your comfort zone is a huge part of the experience. It's time to be fearless, confident, and bold, no matter what you're moving from... or to.

A few years ago, when I turned 50, this is what was staring back at me when I looked into the mirror:

A woman who:

  • was starting to feel invisible and ignored
  • hadn't exercised regularly in many years
  • had very little energy
  • had hair that looked like road kill because she had been blow-drying it to death for decades, trying to make it something it wasn't (straight)
  • assumed that the 15 pounds she packed on after going through menopause was normal and would never come off
  • believed that she was no longer pretty
  • focused on her wrinkles
  • was feeling insecure about her place in the world

Need I go on?

I looked in the mirror and thought, "OK, this is it. This is what being middle aged is all about, and I'd better just accept it." Then, I mentally tucked myself under the proverbial blanket and was getting ready to stay there -- until I pulled myself up by my bootstraps, declaring, "Giving in to fear is not an option."

Seeing that drastic action was required, I took it upon myself to get the best information from the best experts on nutrition, fitness, style, hair, makeup, health, finances, careers after 50 and everything else you could possibly think of to feel good and look good so that I could stare at that person in the mirror with a renewed sense of pride and confidence.

In other words, I decided to propel myself out of my comfort zone, and start an entirely new career as a writer, speaker and an activist against ageism. I, who was so shy my face would turn bright red for the slightest reason, purposely put myself in the public eye, without fear. Even as a post-50 woman, I still blush. But, I realized that it was ME who was stopping me from being fearless, and it was only me who could change that. No one else.

Armed with my new "look" and new "fearless after 50" attitude, I appeared on the Today Show, Good Morning America, The Early Show and the Dr. Oz radio show, among others, to talk about how I learned to embrace my age instead of fighting it, and accept change as it happens, without fear. During every interview, I shared what I believe is the simple key to being fearless after 50:

Embrace your age, whatever it is. Love your life, get as healthy as you can, move your body every day, be informed, stay engaged, connect with others, use your mind, live with style, be bold, be brave and walk with confidence.

The greatest gift you can give yourself is this: acknowledge change and your fears. But don't give in to them. Be fearless. If not now... when?

Here is a short clip showing why I wrote The Best of Everything After 50: