My special edit to celebrate strong women
HOW TO LIVE FULLY: EMPOWERING WOMEN TO FLOURISH AND FLY
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO LIVE FULLY?
What does it mean to ‘live fully’? It sounds like something you read in magazines. But to me, living a full life isn’t about the money you’ve got, the success you’ve achieved or (as Asma Khan says on her Conversations of Inspiration episode), the dress size you wear. It’s about spending the 29,000 days we each have on the planet filled with purpose and passion. It’s about giving it all we’ve got. Ultimately, it’s about living authentically on our own terms, and not settling for anything less.
I strongly believe in helping women flourish because if we don’t do it now, when will we? Between us, we’ve spent decades raising the future, empowering the next generation, creating a better world through business and making conscious decisions about what we choose to buy. There’s a great deal on our shoulders. Isn’t it time now for us? Shouldn’t we spend this one life we’ve got in the best way we possibly can? As Oscar Wilde said, “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” And truthfully, are many women just existing?
How we spend our time now will be the deathbed moments we look back on. Are we as happy as we could be? Are we fulfilling our richest potential? Are we loving with all our hearts? Because when we hit mid-life, it’s easy to be tricked into thinking you don’t have choices, that your time is somehow up or that dreams should now be packed away neatly in the loft next to the Christmas decorations, whereas in actual fact, I call bullshit.
STOP LANGUISHING, START FLOURISHING
They say that when a woman turns 40 she becomes invisible. Yet surely the opposite should be true? We’ve survived tough challenges, know what we like and believe in, who we are and the kind of world we want to live in. We deserve to feel like we’re making the most of our lives and that we are phenomenal friends / mothers / partners / women — and that no-one works / has stories / gives gifts / dresses / thinks about life and so on quite like we all do.
We want to make our mark at work, at home and on the world around us — not despite our age but absolutely because of it. We want to be our best selves for others as well as for ourselves and to show those we love most, just how much and why — while we still have this golden chance. We have more experience and wisdom than ever before which should absolutely set us up for success. Now we just need to get the confidence to go with it.
Plus, being our authentic selves is brilliant. To be good at being ‘us’ is the best thing we can be. So we need to stop languishing and start flourishing; to treat ourselves well physically, mentally, creatively and soulfully. And for women to really flourish, we need to live a life that’s authentic to us, not one designed to please other people (whether that’s kids, a partner, work or whoever). We also need to grow into it — that means being prepared to learn from scratch. We should set ourselves milestones that we feel real joy in accomplishing, not mindless tasks to simply get things done. “Yes Holly. That’s all very well said. But how do we do it?!” Well, I’m glad you asked…
BEING YOUR BEST YOU
We need to get our collective confidence back. If you feel life is passing you by, don’t let it. Start small and do things that give you joy. Feel the triumph of the achievement of becoming even more ‘you’. Bring out your creative side. Decorate the way you always wanted to. Wear that bright red jumper. Take on a challenge. Vote with your money for the kind of world you want to live in. Surround yourself by radiators not drains (those who give you energy, not those who suck it out).
What activities do you enjoy? What impact do you want to make? What is your happiest memory? Begin by finding your diamond which is likely to spring from that passion you’ve had since you were little. Is now the time to set up a business or try that thing you’ve always dreamed about? You might see barriers but believe me, you can read my pieces on why I think there’s never a good time to start a business or why older people make great founders. Creative small businesses help women flourish in a way that other walks of life can’t because they are built around flexibility. It’s also why I believe that entrepreneurship is the new women’s movement. And it’s not just our minds that are set to benefit but our bodies too.
THE MAGIC WITHIN US ALL
Back in 2019, an open study in America tested nearly 7,000 people over the age of 50 to explore the relationship between purpose and mortality¹. It revealed that those who scored highest on a scale that measured ‘life purpose’ were less likely to die during the course, compared with those who scored lower — which indicates that living a full and purpose-led life can be physically good for you, as well as mentally.
As the Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky said, “The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.” Dare to dabble. Regain your enthusiasm. Look for the magic because it’s out there I promise you. Fuck your age. As Michelle Yeoh said in her Oscar acceptance speech, “Ladies, don’t let anybody tell you you’re ever past your prime. Never give up.”
Get out there, grab life by the balloons and live fully. Because all of us are different and we each have our own sets of neurosis, barriers and blockers — but we also each have our own passions, purpose and potential. Every one of us could shine today if we chose to. So join me in trying to leave things better for the women who come after us, and start today, because if not now, when? Together, we can do anything we put our bloody brilliant minds to.