June 10, 2019

“I think many of us are following a map that is outdated.”

Jill Mayer
Jill Mayer

Meet Jill

I’m Jill and I’m 50. I was born and raised in Memphis and have lived in Toronto for the last 18 years with my husband and our 15-year-old son. I’m a lawyer and for the past dozen years have been creating professional development programs for lawyers and for financial professionals. I recently left a safe, secure job with a good salary, pension, and professional recognition to develop documentaries and short digital programs on topics that are near and dear to my heart.

What would you say has been the biggest shift in your life since turning 40 (or 50)?

The biggest shift has been how much I’m focusing on me. I spend a lot more time with my girlfriends because I think at this stage of life, they are the only ones that understand me even though I have a very supportive husband. I’m also spending more time alone and getting out for a lot of walks. The solitude helps me think about this next stage of life. I’m also feeling more connected to my spirituality than ever before though I don’t consider myself a religious person. It is definitely playing a more central role in my life. Last year, in one moment I suddenly realized I have a heart and a soul that I had really neglected before because I was so busy gaining an education, getting married, having a child, and working hard to advance in my career. I did everything that was expected of me but still felt something was missing. So now I feel it is time to think about what I really want. I think many of us are following a map that is outdated. We’re living so many more decades now – and that map expires long before we do.

When do you feel you are most powerful?

I don’t know if I like the term powerful — power isn’t what I’m seeking. It’s more when I feel the most alive and, I feel most alive when I’m creating something – in the midst of the creative process. I’d have to say I also feel that way when I am in Israel — which is not often enough. There is such an energy there and something that really resonates with me, unlike any other place. Last summer, I took a women’s trip to Israel and one night at dinner found myself on a stage talking about what it feels like to be in midlife; I have so much and have done so much and I feel so guilty speaking the truth – that “I want more”. What I said resonated with so many people and for days after I got high fives and people telling me they felt the same way. That truth-telling and that connection made me feel alive, or maybe even powerful.

What are the top three most important things to you right now?

  1. My family — which is a given — and my friends. I have kept in touch with old friends in Memphis and made new ones in Toronto and they are all so important to me especially now because there are not that many resources to navigate this time of life, so I rely on my friends a lot.
  2. Finding that time for myself to think and to learn about this new career. Being unstuck is great — but there is so much to learn!
  3. My impact — finding a way to contribute to make the world a better place.

How do you make sure your actions are aligned with what’s most important to you?

Now I’m working from home but I treat it like a 9-5 (at least) job. I schedule my day, meet with my partner, schedule calls, sometimes I have board meetings because I’m volunteering with various charities. For me, it’s now about surrounding myself with people who are positive. No negativity. And I make time to get together with my friends and family when I’m not doing those things. I think it’s just about prioritizing my time. And sometimes you just have to chill out and watch Jane the Virgin.

What seeds are you planting today for the future?

The big seed is that I’m trying to create is a career that is portable that I can do from wherever I find myself in the world. So years from now I can take my job with me to discover the world and to avoid the Canadian winters.

What advice would you give someone who is interested in redesigning midlife?

Make a list of your dream jobs and explore them, no matter how far-fetched they may seem. Spend less time googling the ideas and really think about what they mean to you. Then reach out to people who are either doing that job or can help you connect with others to find your way. Pick a direction and even if it’s not your ultimate destination, you will find your way. Be patient and be open to the people who come into your life as well as the opportunities. Don’t say no to anything too quickly. Take time to see what is resonating with you. Bottom line, you are not stuck. Stop wishing you could do something different and shift gears.

How can people connect with you and your work?

The best way for people to connect with me is on LinkedIn. Please send a note so I know why you want to connect.

Welcome to my Power Profiles Series

Here I introduce you to powerful midlife role models in our community. May these stories inspire you, motivate you, and show you what is possible.

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Hi, I'm Sara!

I'm here to reclaim the term 'midlife' and embrace the power these years offer us.

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Sara Smeaton Coaching SS-177 Photo by Marina Dempster


Sara Smeaton

Sara Smeaton is a certified professional coach and facilitator who helps midlife women follow their dreams after forty. She works privately with clients in Canada, the US and the UK.

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