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Starting over at 56

Written by Anne Papmehl

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

In 2007, Pat Mussieux was 56, newly single and starting over in a city where she had no family, friends, contacts or money.

Today, the 65-year-old runs a six-figure coaching and speaking business from her home in London, Ontario. She has won multiple STEVIE® awards for women in business, hosts a cable TV talk show where local female entrepreneurs share their stories and success tips – “writer-downers" as Pat calls them – and has written 4 books showing other mid-lifers how to reinvent themselves.

“I'm on a mission to get my story out there and help baby boomers understand that it's never too late," she says.

How did Pat go from having her “life in a trash bag" to living the dream?

Starting from scratch

It started with a decision to take responsibility for her career, finances and personal happiness. Living in Edmonton at the time, she left her 22-year marriage where she was the “queen of compromise" – losing her sense of self and purpose – and eventually moved to London, Ontario to rebuild her life in a city where she knew no one.

Home for the first 6 months was a rented room in someone's condo. With decades of experience in corporate training and coaching, Pat thought she'd start her own business. “I had a dream in my heart and a belief in my head that I could just plant myself here and hang up my shingle, but nobody came," she recalled.

Desperate and hungry (literally), she put the dream on hold and took a full-time job to pay the bills, save some money and qualify for a mortgage.

In 2009, Pat felt ready to re-launch her business, and withdrew a small amount of money from her RRSP (called an RSP at Tangerine) to use as an initial business investment. [Note: Money withdrawn from Registered Retirement Savings Plans for this purpose is treated as taxable income, so this may not be advisable in many circumstances.]

With that money Pat hired a leading marketing coach to help fast-track her in translating her business vision into a concrete marketing plan. This time, the clients came and so did the money and in less than 4 years, she went from zero revenue to multiple six-figures. Those figures keep rising and in less than 6 years, Pat's revenue is just under the $1M mark.

To inspire Forward Thinking readers who may be starting up or starting over, here are some of Pat's key “writer-downer" success tips:

Identify what you want

“You need a clear vision for your life and your business," says Pat. “Ask yourself why you are in business, who needs you most, and what brings you joy and profit in serving these people."

Have a plan

“When I started, I had ideas, but no plan," says Pat. “And I think that's the number one reason many entrepreneurs fail." Pat creates (and recommends) a 12-month plan stating earnings targets, client numbers and products to create and sell, focusing on 3 key things at a time. Then she breaks it into 60-day blocks, writing down for each day what needs to happen to bring the plan to fruition. Large wall calendars from office supply stores and colourful erasable pens work great for this task!

Examine your beliefs and expectations

“When you change your beliefs and expectations, you change your performance," says Pat. “That's why it's critical to be aware of and control one's self-talk to be positive. Once I started doing that, I took more action and got out there in a much bigger way because I was coming from a place of positive beliefs and expectations."

Look at your habits

“Are they taking you toward or away from your vision?" Whether that vision is to build a successful business or start a new career, look at how you spend your time. “This is your only life," says Pat. “It's not a dress rehearsal."

Be clear on what you have to offer

“A confused mind will not buy," says Pat. “In order to sell yourself to a potential client or employer, it's critically important to be clear on what you're about."

Know it's never too late

“If I can do it, anyone can do it," says Pat. “You just need to decide what it is you want and what you're going to do about it – and stop compromising."

Pat's story is an inspiring example of how, with determination, starting life over can work out well, even in mid-life. Some of her decisions may not work for everyone, but her "never too late" attitude can be inspirational for all of us.

Stevie is a trademark of Stevie Awards, Inc.

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