In this regular feature, we share stories of women who followed a new passion. We hope these stories may provide the insight and encouragement for others to try new paths.
Today, we’re happy to highlight the work of Amy Schmidt of Ridgefield, CT.
What kind of work or passion are you pursuing now?
In September I launched a company, AKS and Associates, and a brand, Fearlessly Facing Fifty.
I pride myself on lifetime learning, and embraced everything along the journey, as my husband and I moved 11 times over our 27 years together. I am the mother of three, but I was not willing to lose my identity or confidence. After five years in Germany, we settled back in the United States. I had lost both parents, and my kids were one by one flying the nest. It was a time for me to recalibrate, and the discussions and conversations that I was having with my peers was all about midlife. All the emotional and physical changes that take place and to be honest, aren’t talked about openly. So, I went all in. I pushed my fears of procrastinating and perfectionism aside and started writing my book, which will launch this year, which is all about taking on this time of life with confidence and strategies to achieve your best self. I created a DIY website and along the way used my network and resources to link arms for support and feedback.
From there, I launched a podcast—and it has been the most incredible thing I’ve ever done. The outpouring of support, messages, notes, from listeners and followers all over the country, made me realize that I can do this and my message is resonating. Women want to share their stories. We all have a common thread and we rise by lifting others. Each week I interview experts in all areas of life at this phase of life. Whether it’s menopause, diet and nutrition, aging parents, grief, getting back into the work force, or heading into retirement.
My objective is simply to leave an imprint on the heart of a listener, and or inspire them to take action. I’m a work in progress, and it won’t all be perfect, but that’s the beauty of being this age. Sharing your wisdom, continuing to learn and challenge yourself. I am not giving in anytime soon, and I am working hard to continue to grow and market the podcast and my mission with Fearlessly Facing Fifty (and beyond). “I haven’t peaked yet, I’m just getting started.”
How old were you when you began in this new direction?
49, five months shy of 50.
What did you do before you made this change?
I pursued my passion after completing my degree in Broadcast Journalism and was ready to set the world on fire. I started working as a writer in Indianapolis, and married my college sweetheart. The trajectory took us off and running and 27 years later, it was my time. I had continued to write and work in PR at the beginning of my career but then decided to stay home to raise my children, and mastered the art of the traveling spouse. I was president of PTA, Booster Club, Jr. League, sat on committees for community boards. I wouldn’t change a thing, as my journey allowed me to reinvent and challenge myself.
What prompted you to make this change?
Simply putting my fear aside—and taking the risk. I had the knowledge—along my journey I had learned so much and am now able to use my gifts starting a company and launching a brand.
What from your previous work or life situation helped you in your reinvention?
Writing is my passion – and networking and making connections is in my blood. I can walk into a room of 300 people and most likely an hour later I will know most of them. It’s just my nature. I love to dig deep in conversations with people, I’m not a small talk girl, and my journalism skills with research and conducting interviews has helped me tremendously.
What were the biggest obstacles you had to overcome?
Technology and social media. And I have a lot to learn. I challenge myself in those areas—with frequent visits to the genius bar. They probably see me coming and want to run the other way. I would love to figure out a way to open the flood gates on my followers and listeners—and am working hard to break the code. Like I said, I’m a work in progress.
How are you overcoming them?
I am challenging myself to learn more—to read about ways to crack the social media code. To network with people and use my resources. I did a podcast all about technology and walked away from it feeling empowered to take on a few new challenges. I have a guest coming on the podcast in a few weeks and we will be discussing how to tackle social media. We can’t run away from technology as we get older because we lose our connections and that’s what ‘s so important.
What fears have you faced?
Absolutely the fear we all face as women is being judged. I had a few people early on question what I was doing and insisting it was a passion project. It’s those type of discussions that kick you off balance a bit, but you recalibrate and forge ahead. Women are the worst when it comes to self doubt. Something I’ve learned early on in this process of building a brand from the ground floor: You have to be thick skinned, and allow your passion to drive your purpose. There are a million women cheering me on, and I couldn’t do it without them.
What kind of support did you receive in your reinvention?
My husband and my kids are my biggest cheerleaders . At the end of the day I know I can flop on the couch with a glass of wine, knowing they have my back. I was recently a guest on a national talk show, and the texts I received from my husband and kids blew me away. They see me through a different lens now—and they know I can do it. The laughs, the tears, the exhaustion. They are on my team and I am so thankful.
How have you grown or how has your life improved as a result of taking on this new pursuit?
I definitely have more confidence. I have always been confident, but I tended to wait for things to be perfect, probably for validation that what I was doing was right. I don’t have that anymore, and that’s because I am so passionate about the message I’m sharing. My personal journey of losing my parents while living abroad, of being the youngest, of being involved in athletics at a high level my whole life, have shaped me into who I am. My life experiences are similar to many, but my belief is every ordinary person has an extraordinary story. We need to open the dialogue on topics that are important to women at this phase of life, and I’m not afraid to talk to real people about what really matters. I feel a new energy, almost like my super power. The launch of my podcast and talking to women throughout the country has ignited a spark in me that was always flickering but now is burning bright.
What advice would you give to other women at this age who are looking to reinvent themselves?
Just start. Put your worries aside—come up with three affirmation statements and tape them to your mirror because you can do this! Finish something you started. Ask for that raise. Send that resume. Take a class. Book the trip. Don’t wait. The timing will never be perfect—everything won’t be aligned just right. Just take the risk.
How can readers find your business?
Fearlessly Facing Fifty podcast (on iTunes, Apply, Spotify anywhere you look for podcasts).
Facebook group: Fearlessly Facing Fifty