close
close

Getting old and losing confidence? Here’s how to get it back.

You can march through life with a relatively high degree of confidence. You can gain self-esteem from your job, children, and friends.

But as you get older, your confidence level is tested. You retire and lose your professional identity. Body changes can make you question your attractiveness. People close to you die and you are adrift.

Even if you once enjoyed supreme self-confidence, there is no guarantee that you will continue to feel that way. Health setbacks can limit your daily experience and further erode your self-esteem.

Researchers have found that confidence peaks in middle age. Professionals in their 40s and 50s are likely to reach the pinnacle of their careers and the prestige that comes with it.

If they don’t achieve work-related success, they may feel confident based on their fulfilling social life or other accomplishments, such as raising happy, healthy children.

But confidence tends to wane after age 60. It’s hard to maintain self-esteem if you’re lonelier, less active, and more anxious for years to come.

Read: Are you fit or frail for your age? Here’s how to find out.

Instead of letting the effects of aging shake your confidence, fight back. Adopt a can-do attitude to eliminate self-doubt and embrace new experiences.

Carol Marak, 71, hired a life coach about eight years ago. She describes herself as an introvert, she is single, lives alone and has no adult children she can confide in. She wanted to take charge of her life and expand her social circle.

His coach gave him a simple task: strike up conversations with people.

“It urged me to get out of the house and meet strangers,” said Marak, author of “Solo and Smart.” “I started by looking the grocery store clerk in the eye and saying, ‘Hello, how are you?’”

Read: The secret to a happier retirement could be in your ‘retirement quotient’

From there, she gradually became more comfortable approaching others with the same friendly icebreaker. As a result, she found herself conversing with a diverse mix of people every day.

“It builds on itself,” Marak said. “He gave me more confidence.”

But Dallas-based Marak didn’t stop there. She prioritizes staying in shape and taking care of her diet. She keeps up with technology. She loves to learn new skills. And she’s a speaker who shares advice on aging alone.

“Some older people watch TV all day,” he said. “They feel shy, isolated and scared. They lack trust because there is no validation. They don’t feel cared for.”

On the plus side, retirees may think they have little to lose by trying something new. Such openness can broaden your horizons.

“They can jump in and try and think, ‘If I fail, so what?’ I’ll move on to the next thing,” said Melissa Davey, 72, a documentary filmmaker from Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

Davey speaks from experience. As a 65-year-old corporate executive, she remembers thinking, “I don’t want to retire. But do I really want to stay here? What else can I do?”

So he decided to make documentaries.

“I knew that I could find out what I didn’t know,” he said. “As you get older, you know what you are capable of and what you are capable of. You can remember the times you failed and what you learned from that failure. Then it becomes less scary to try new things. Fear and trust tend to collide with each other.

A few years ago, she released “Beyond Sixty,” a feature-length documentary about women over the age of 60 showing their stories. She is currently working on another movie.

Like Marak, Davey says the key to gaining confidence is to disrupt your daily routine and embrace the new.

“Volunteering just one day a month at a homeless shelter can be a huge confidence booster,” Davey said.

Overcome the mental obstacles that threaten to keep you stuck in place. For Davey, that means letting go of doubts like, I’m not trained to do that, I’ve never done it before. either My family will think I’m crazy.

True confidence comes from rising above such self-imposed worries. What starts out as a minor, low-risk action—auditing a class, starting small talk at the grocery store—creates momentum that further fuels self-esteem.

“There is this message, especially with women, about how much of their insecurity is connected to what other people are thinking or saying,” Davey said. I can’t tell you how many people told me [about filmmaking], ‘You can not do that. You are too old. You are not trained. But there’s a curiosity that seems to arise as you get older, a knowledge that you only have a few years left.”

Leave a Comment