My epiphany moment happened in a central London park in Spring 2009. Picture the scene: I am walking to my office in Parliament Square through St James’s Park. It’s a beautiful morning, the sun is shining and as I look across the lake I can see Buckingham Palace gleaming in the distance. Big Ben is chiming eight. And at that moment I realise that tears are streaming down my face because I am so unhappy. Where did my brilliant career go wrong?
I left school at 18 years old and went straight to work. For the next 35 years I worked in the public and voluntary sectors working my way up from technical jobs into management and then into corporate roles. Most of the time I enjoyed my work and I had some great colleagues. Finally, in my early 50s, I made it to the dizzy heights of the Senior Civil Service, the pinnacle I had been working towards for all those years…and I was crying. The view from the top wasn’t as good as I expected.
Why the tears? I was working for a man who had no respect for my way of working or my values. Interestingly he lost three of his senior team in twelve months. I was working long hours and commuting for nearly four hours a day. I was having constant stress pains in my neck and shoulders. Something had to change.
The night after my epiphany, I went home to my husband and told him I had decided I needed to do something new and he agreed with me. I wanted to study a course in Neuro Linguistic Programming and hypnotherapy. I had no idea where it would lead but it was a subject I was interested in and I had always enjoyed coaching colleagues to get the best from them. I signed up for a part-time course starting in a few months.
The Universe saw me take the first step and rewarded me. An early retirement scheme was announced at work and I completed my application form immediately, submitted it and prayed. An anxious month later and, just as I was starting my course, I heard that my application had been approved. I was moving on!
Ten months later I completed my course and I started seeing clients for one-to-one sessions and running courses. Everyone advises you to find a niche and I decided to specialise in helping women at midlife to deal with their menopause symptoms and get on with living their best lives. In my experience, many women get to their 50s and realise they have an unfulfilled dream. They start to fantasise about having some ‘me time’ and finally focussing on themselves. I want to inspire and serve those women.
In 2012 I wrote my first book ‘Hot Women, Cool Solutions; How to control menopause symptoms using mind/body techniques’. In my experience, there is not enough information available for women about their options for dealing with menopause symptoms. We don’t even talk about it enough and I want to remedy that. Good nutrition plays and important part in women’s health in midlife so in 2014 I co-wrote a book with a nutritional therapist and we called it ‘Cool Recipes for Hot Women’. Are you seeing a theme developing here?!
From all this writing and public speaking, I started to receive invitations to speak on radio shows and podcasts. My first radio show appearance came from creating and grasping an opportunity. Sitting in my office one morning, I decided to contact a local radio station and offer to be a guest. I rang the studio and asked to speak to a presenter who did an early afternoon show. I told her about my book and my passion for helping women at midlife. She had just been let down by a guest for her show and asked if I would be her guest that afternoon. Yes! And because I had helped her in that difficult situation she invited me back several more times.
In 2016 I was invited to speak at the Women Economic Forum in Delhi. I offered to speak on the subject of women becoming midlife entrepreneurs. If I was going to speak about that issue I should write a book about it, right? ‘Hot Women Rock: How to discover your midlife entrepreneurial mojo’ was born. As I talked to other women about this project they started to give me their stories of transformation and the book grew. I launched it in October 2016 and it became an Amazon bestseller in America, Canada, Australia and the UK.
The past seven years have been a whirlwind as I have acquired the skills needed to be an entrepreneur. It has taken a lot of hours and hard work but that is fine with me as I am pursuing my passion. I have written four books and co-written six more. I still see clients for one-to-one sessions and I have online courses for those who can’t come to see me. I love traveling the world speaking at conferences. This year I have spoken in America, The Netherlands, India and the UK. Later in the year I will be speaking in Denmark, Morocco and Portugal.
Most of all I love it when women say to me ‘You’ve inspired me, Pat, I’m going to go for it’.
My message to women at midlife is that this can be an exciting and transformational stage in your journey. If you are not happy with your current situation and you want to make a change then go for it. You don’t have to do this alone. Seek out those women who are moving in a similar direction and who inspire you and join them. You can learn whatever skills and capabilities you need or outsource those tasks you don’t want to do.
A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. Let’s take that step together.