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The 6 Things Older Women Should Do in 2024 to Thrive

Here's how to be the star of your own life. Really!

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photo collage of women working out and exploring, new year, 2024 calendar
Andrea D'Aquino
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Older means wiser, and wiser means let’s get real. None of us is going to lose 20 pounds by February. But here are six things we can all do to grow stronger this year where it counts: our minds, bodies and relationships.

Take an energy inventory.

Time and energy are the most valuable currencies we have, yet we rarely examine how we spend them. Wise women direct their energy where their batteries get recharged — not drained.

If you spend 15 minutes with an inspirational person, you’ll feel enthused and excited. If you spend 15 minutes with a negative person, you’ll feel exhausted. Who are you hanging out with?

The Hindu priest Dhandapani calls negative people “energy vampires” in his popular TED talks. “If I invest my energy in something positive, it will grow and become more positive,” he says. “If I invest my energy into something negative, it will grow and become more negative. Whatever it is you invest energy in will start to grow and manifest in your life.”

Where are you investing your energy? Also ask yourself: “What energy am I bringing into the room?"

Mind the three F's: Food, fitness, falls.

As Jane Fonda says: “The most important thing to do as you age is to stay physically active.”

We all know this, and we know we have to stop eating so much sugar and red meat. And yet, 41.5 percent of Americans 60 and older are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If that’s you, go on YouTube and search “exercises for seniors.” Silver Sneakers and Renew Active offer many videos that show how just 10 minutes of motion — in a chair! — can boost your mobility.

Think about what you want to keep doing — say, lift a 30-pound carry-on into the overhead bin or pick up your 40-pound grandchild. Exercise for sustained strength with those things in mind — if those are things you still want to do.

I train with weights to keep my luggage-lifting muscles strong and do Leslie Sansone’s “Walk at Home” program to strengthen my core muscles. Core strength is crucial to staying balanced and on our feet. The risk is real, according to the Centers for Disease Control — every second, somebody 65 or older falls.

Don’t teeter into 2024: exercise your core.

It’s Leap Year! Take a leap!

Do at least one courageous thing this year to make you more interesting to yourself — and to others!

Case in point: I once met a beautiful woman named Sandra who had spent three months solo backpacking all around Europe to celebrate turning 50. I knew this about her after talking to her for five minutes, and that told me a lot: she was adventurous and liked her own company, and she took a leap.

Try online dating if you’re single and you’d like a companion. Why not? I met my boyfriend of five years on eHarmony.

This year, my leap involves writing my next book, about two Auntie-Mame-style Southern belles who made clothes for Jacqueline Kennedy. These gutsy women — Sophie Shonnard and Nona McAdoo Park — were born in the late 19th century, when a dainty step off a curb was a leap. Their sassy spirits infuse me with energy.

Consider your life story: what’s your legacy?

Think of your life as a book or a movie. What chapter of your life are you writing now? What title would you give the story of your life?

When my marriage ended in 2007, a chapter of my life closed. I didn’t want it to, but it did. I had to turn the page and write a new chapter. It took a couple of years, but after grieving and therapy and the reading of many books, I became a better and kinder person. I would never have known this person if my heart had not been shattered and if I had not turned that page.

If you’re 60 and healthy, you may have another 30 years to live, and many more chapters for the heroine — you! — to thrive. Be sure to give yourself a juicy plotline and memorable legacy.

Get to know the people you love better.

Unhappiness begins with disconnection. Loneliness is a crippling epidemic. So, how do we deeply engage with each other?

“All around us are people who feel invisible, unseen, misunderstood,” David Brooks writes in his new book, How to Know a Person: The Art of Seeing Others Deeply and Being Deeply Seen.

Brooks confesses that for much of his life, he was “a practiced escape artist. When other people revealed some vulnerable intimacy to me, I was good at making meaningful eye contact with their shoes. I inwardly wanted to connect. I just didn’t know what to say.”

Now is the time to learn what to say. If you and your family are sitting around the dinner table and talking about football or the weather or how delicious the pie is, just stop. Stop and ask the person across from you: “Who was your hero growing up? How did that person change your life?” Or, “What movie or piece of music or art transformed your life and why?” Or, “What was the biggest heartache in your life and why?” Ask your loved ones the kind of questions that will reveal their hearts.

“Living in a detached way is a withdrawal from life, an estrangement not just from other people but yourself,” Brooks writes. Make 2024 the year you attach.

Give yourself permission to put yourself first.

You are the author, the director and the star of your life. Take control of how you spend your precious and finite time and energy and listen to the Dalai Lama: “When you think everything is someone else’s fault, you will suffer a lot. When you realize that everything springs only from yourself, you will learn both peace and joy.”

 
What do you plan to do differently in 2024? Let us know in the comments below.

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