Wisdom of the Ages Part 1 – 15 Life Lessons to Share

15 life lessons from coach for lawyers
A 5 minute read on reigniting your career at age 50 along with 15 life lessons for work and home life.

Turning 50

It’s only when you’re hurtling towards 50, as I am (7 months and counting…), that you’re hit with a sudden appreciation of your wisdom, borne out of a half century of lived experiences. Far from antiquated attitudes of women being ready for the professional scrap heap, I see time and again, with my women in law clients, a doubling down; time to put their foot flat to the pedal and accelerate their career progression, ready to make full use of bonus time on the horizon as their nests empty and they combine a healthy dose of time and ambition to finally, and with full commitment, “go for it” at work.

Reflect. Re-think. Re-group

If you are one of those women, don’t let anyone side-line you or write you off. You have as much right as the next person to be there; you have earned your stripes.

You belong.

And if reality doesn’t live up to the imagined equal entitlement, then take a moment. Reflect. Re-think. Re-group.

Life Lessons

Then take some time to think about the following 15 life lessons I have to share. This is a living document. Part two is definitely in the pipeline.

How might they help to motivate you?

How, by even applying some of them, might you convert dreams into plans, taking them from wish to accomplished goal?

Here goes:

1. Find your purpose

Find your purpose, your calling. Don’t let the expectations of yourself or others prevent a “pivot” where necessary. My goals as a 22 year old pupil barrister were a world away from those as a 44 year old working mum of 3. Think of yourself now, as opposed to the past. Then plan your future accordingly.

2. Celebrate your skills and strengths and use accordingly

You have a wealth of cross-transferable skills, far more than you give yourself credit for. Shine a light on them, particularly when returning from an extended career break, transitioning into a new role or business, or when going for a “road less travelled” opportunity. It’s well known that man apply for jobs when they are 50% certain of success, whilst women wait until they are 90% certain of success before applying. Use “potential” not “experience” as the interview watchword and don’t let any perceived lack of experience hold you back.

3. Never too late to learn

For the stuff you still need to know, it’s never too late to learn something new. Don’t fear it.

4. Back yourself to get started

You don’t need to learn everything before attempting something new though. It won’t always feel like the perfect time to do something that challenges you. Back yourself and do it anyway. Start. To coin the Marie Forleo phrase: “Start before you’re ready”.

5. Learn the art of delegation

Equally, there are only so many hours in the day. Don’t spend hours learning new things or doing tasks that become drudger and hard work. In order for you to remain in your own zone of genius, delegate where necessary.

6. Imperfect Practice

Practice makes progress and lots of things take practice, practice and MORE practice. Having said that, done is better than perfect. Procrastination is one of the well documented side effects borne out of perfectionist tendencies. Similarly, over-rehearsal and over-practice can kill nuance, and the moment. Steer a careful mid-course between practice and perfection.

7. Play the long-game of Success

Success is not an overnight thing. If there are things you want, a particular direction you want to travel in, plan for it, work hard for it, and be prepared to play the long game. Like the graphic iceberg image of success, people tend to focus on the highest point of the mountain, as opposed to the years’ worth of graft that’s gone into building it beneath the waters’ surface.

8. Don’t be afraid to use the Red Card

Not everyone has your best interests at heart. Be a willing mentor, be open to opportunities, but also be selective about giving second chances. I’ve come across a number of unexpected bumps in the road with people from whom I least expected it. It’s at times like that I’ve felt fortunate to be independent, self-motivated and enjoy working on my own. Don’t let others dull your shine.

9. Be you now

Your body, and ability to walk in heels, will change. Particularly so after cancer diagnosis/ treatment, as I was unlucky enough to add to my back catalogue last year. That’s ok. Don’t live in the past. Be accepting of how things are. Be you now.

10. Move or die

A direct but irrefutable fact, shared with me by a Personal Trainer back in the Covid years. Never underestimate the value of exercise and being outdoors. Make both daily “non negotiables”.

11. Surprising strength

You will only know the true depths of your resilience when at the apparent limit of your strength. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “A woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.”

12. Positive Mental Attitude

How you respond to any given situation is a choice. Life experiences are always, ALWAYS better when viewed through a positive lens. Charlie Mackesy put it simply in The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse:  “One of our greatest freedoms is how we react to things.”

13. Tempest Fugit

Time is finite. Spend it with those who lift you. Rise with them. Time spent with your children is never wasted. Listen to them when they talk: there’ll come a teenage day they fall silent a while (or more!) when you’ll wish they’d speak some more.

14. Live in the Moment

Life is finite too. Never take a day for granted. It may be your last. Don’t risk looking back at a life filled with regret. Do the things you want NOW.

15. Daring Greatly

Oh, and if opportunity presents, do a skydive.

I’d love to know which strike a chord for you, and what else you’d add to the list.

I can definitely feel a sequel coming on…

Nikki Alderson Biography

Nikki Alderson, specialist coach, speaker, author, and former Criminal Barrister:

  • supports legal organisations retain female talent; and
  • empowers female lawyers to achieve career ambitions.

Nikki specialises in:

  • Women leadership;
  • Enhanced career break returner support; and
  • Workplace resilience, confidence and wellness.

She is the author of Amazon No.1 Bestseller Raising the Bar: empowering female lawyers through coaching, (https://amzn.to/3fodKQX), nominee for 2019 Inspirational Women Awards, and finalist in 2020 Women in Law Awards and 2019 International Coaching Awards.