Each person I meet during the workday is a potential asset, as I am to them. If I can think about my work in terms of serving my audience, I feel less squeamish about the marketing of my work.
Many successful people reinvented themselves in a later period in their life. Jeff Bezos worked in Wall Street before he reinvented himself and started Amazon. Sara Blakely sold office supplies before she started Spanx. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was a WWE wrestler before he became a successful actor and filmmaker. Arnold Schwarzenegger went from a bodybuilder, to an actor to a Governor. McDonald’s founder Ray Croc was a milkshake-device salesman before starting the McDonalds franchise in his 50’s.
How does one reinvent themselves? What hurdles have to be overcome to take life in a new direction? How do you overcome those challenges? How do you ignore the naysayers? How do you push through the paralyzing fear?
In this series called “Second Chapters; How I Reinvented Myself In The Second Chapter Of My Life “ we are interviewing successful people who reinvented themselves in a second chapter in life, to share their story and help empower others.
As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lizbeth Meredith.
Lizbeth Meredith is an author, speaker, and online teacher and can be contacted at lameredith.com. Her memoir, Pieces of Me: Rescuing My Kidnapped Daughters is optioned for television. After nearly three decades of working in the field of trauma and resilience, Lizbeth now enjoys teaching book marketing to indie authors and helping mid-life women to create calm and community after crises.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
When I was a kid growing up in Alaska, I was certain that when I became an adult, I’d avoid all of the dysfunction around me with my good intentions. From family violence to parental kidnappings and being separated from siblings and from parents at various points, I felt I’d ace adulting by comparison. But instead, I found myself in my twenties, traveling to Greece to recover my own kidnapped daughters.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
When I initially signed up for public assistance as a young single mom of two, the welfare worker asked if I’d considered completing my college degree. “I’m twenty-five,” I reminded her. I would be twenty-eight by the time I graduated.”
“Honey, how old do you think you’ll be in a few years anyhow?” she said with a smile.
That pivotal moment taught me to always plan concurrently, and not let age or other silly excuses keep me from striving for the life I wanted. And that’s a lesson I keep needing to remind myself of over the years as self-doubt creeps up on me.
How would your best friend describe you?
A recovering-from-hovering mom of two grown daughters that is driven and plunges headlong into new goals, but who needs a lot of help managing details.
You have been blessed with much success. In your opinion, what are the top three qualities that you possess that have helped you accomplish so much?
Discipline, optimism, and good-humored (mostly).
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about ‘Second Chapters’. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before your Second Chapter?
After my own victimization by my former husband, I became a domestic violence advocate nearly 30 years ago. Working with survivors and providing trainings and presentations was a passion that didn’t quite pay the bills. When my children returned to America after living in hiding out of country for two-plus years, I got a job as a child abuse investigator, and later I worked twenty years as a juvenile probation supervisor.
And how did you “reinvent yourself” in your Second Chapter? **Combined answer with the trigger question below.
Can you tell us about the specific trigger that made you decide that you were going to “take the plunge” and make your huge transition?
In my forties, I found myself in long-term low-grade depression. I’d recovered my kidnapped daughters out of a foreign country more than a decade earlier (with the help of scores of amazing people), repaid most of the ensuing debt, parented two very traumatized kids who’d finished high school and were in college. I’d earned a master’s degree and had a meaningful career. And I felt awful.
The things I’d always dreamed of doing were so far out of reach. I’d wanted to travel across the globe. Write a book. And create a career one day doing things I was really good at, and that didn’t give me a gut- punch every day. And if I’m honest, I didn’t think these things were doable for me as a long-term single woman. It all sounded so selfish.
Then on lunch break, I scanned an article about traveling to Vietnam. And soon after, I was packing for my very first of what would become many solo budget travel trips. In Vietnam and Laos, I learned to tune into what I wanted and to trust that even though I often fumble in new situations, I eventually find my way. When I returned home, I submitted a story that was published in a travel anthology. And from there, publishing my memoir became my next priority.
After my book was launched, I realized it had provided a way to launching my next chapter. I fell easily into working with new authors seeking support launching their books, and to working with women who were putting their own lives back together after a huge crisis or who’re changing long-term patterns of dysfunction. That’s when more writing and online course creation became an obvious next step. So I enrolled in course while still working my day job.
I retired from my probation work after 20 years and soon after finished another (yet unpublished) book, jumped into some amazing virtual speaking gigs, and am loving working with authors through courses.
It’s a tricky time, retiring during a pandemic, and yet I’m so fortunate that much of what I want to be doing is possible now from home. Making videos, navigating social media, and editing my about-to launch podcast is anything but easy for me, but is a privilege I’m so very grateful for. I’ve earned the gift of time.
What did you do to discover that you had a new skillset inside of you that you haven’t been maximizing? How did you find that and how did you ultimately overcome the barriers to help manifest those powers?
From my early work as a domestic violence advocate, I knew public speaking was something I excelled at, but I rarely had the chance to do when working in government. So publishing my memoir returned those opportunities, and led me to loving teaching and training in topics I’m fluent at. The barrier was I worked nine hour days at a taxing job, and then had to pursue other opportunities after I got home.
How are things going with this new initiative?
I like to think that I’m in a space of learning, and I’m both surprised and tickled when things happen easily, and not surprised when they don’t. So every day, I’m inching forward on my goal to allow my writing, speaking, and teaching return the investment I’ve made back to me.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
There are too many people to thank. I didn’t have one mentor, but had many pseudo-moms and dads, gurus, and kind friends that made all of the difference.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?
I was terrified when I first retired that I’d never gain traction with my new business plan. Then three different organizations reached out spontaneously and requested that I speak at their events. It was the confirmation I needed at the moment I needed it.
Did you ever struggle with believing in yourself? If so, how did you overcome that limiting belief about yourself? Can you share a story or example?
Every day. I have so many skills to learn. I focus on each task, one at a time, and have a reward for myself if I make it through the day’s checklist. (One hour of the original Twilight Zone or a day off on the weekend). I’m my own coach and try to employ self-compassion during the process.
In my own work I usually encourage my clients to ask for support before they embark on something new. How did you create your support system before you moved to your new chapter?
I took some courses online on copywriting and about creating online courses, and those had built-in supportive communities via private Facebook groups. I belong to an accountability pod where the members check in regularly about course creation, podcasts, and marketing. It’s been invaluable. Trying new things, mastering new skills can be scary business when you’re going it alone. But together, we share the highs and lows, and everything feels more do-able.
Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
- I’ll never catch up and feel “off work.” I work until I drop and rarely stop thinking about my list of the next day’s tasks.
- I will not ace every new skill, but there’s a talented pool of workers to contract with. Virtual assistants, video editors, etc.
- Exercise and eating well is a priority to stay motivated for the duration.
- Penciling in fun events are critical for us workaholics. I literally put it on my to-do lists.
- Each person I meet during the workday is a potential asset, as I am to them. If I can think about my work in terms of serving my audience, I feel less squeamish about the marketing of my work.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
To create a place of hope where people who felt hopeless because they might not be innately talented, well-connected, or lucky were motivated by the stories of others who refused to give up.
What do you want to be remembered for the most?
For being someone who didn’t give up on the things she believed were important, who knew when to ask for help, and when to pay it forward and grab the hand reaching out to me.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
My website is at lameredith.com, Persistence U Podcast by Lizbeth, and am on social media.
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!