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Do You Ever Feel Like a Failure in Your 60s?

By Sheri Saxe April 20, 2024 Mindset

I sat bolt upright in the middle of the night and suddenly felt I was drowning in my own inadequacies. From different corners of my mind I was hearing, “Lazy! Weak! Running out of money!”

A life devoted to my family suddenly felt like enmeshment and enabling.

My quiet spiritual days spent in Nature felt like I was just avoiding reality and hard work. In the morning, the failure feelings were still there.

I looked at all the women close to me and felt overcome by a sense of being not good enough. They are all working in meaningful jobs, many more hours than my one night a week at the therapy clinic. They pay their bills on time. None of their children are divorced.

Their grandchildren all seem more stable and cooperative than mine. They do not receive late night frantic text messages from a teenage grandson that his father is ignoring him and only paying attention to the new stepfamily. They do not wonder if anyone will remember to call on Mother’s Day or come on Thanksgiving.

Should Have, Could Have

The women close to me all seem stronger, more able to set boundaries and limits, more able to detach and use tough love, whereas I am just a responder, trying to rescue and fix everybody.

Most of my life I have liked myself, felt pretty good about my choices and the ways in which I was different. But recent events seem to prove that I was wrong all along. I should have worked more, been less focused on my children.

I should have spent less time reading and more time keeping up with my bills and dentist appointments. I should have spent less time hiking and more time getting my taxes in on time.

I should be more outspoken, less afraid of conflict. I should be less dreamy, more practical. I should be more resilient, not so easily brought to my knees by family pain.

Easier to See the Good Qualities in Others

When a client, usually female, talks to me about feelings of failure, I can always see, loud and clear, the wondrous and special things about her, even when she seems blind to them. Why can’t I do that for myself?

Sitting one day in the sunshine on my warm wooden deck, I heard other voices from the corners of my mind: “You took care of your parents when they were dying.” “You have deep and joyful relationships with your grandchildren.” “You have helped people in your therapy practice.” “You are a good friend.”

And I felt a bit better, a balance was restored.

Keep Being Me

In the end, I guess it’s all true, the weaknesses and the strengths, the failures and the goodness. And not everything that has gone wrong is my fault, or my responsibility, or within my ability to fix. I know the failure feelings will return, but I can only forgive myself, accept myself, and keep being me.

Although it wouldn’t hurt to pay my bills on time.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Do you often feel like a failure? Do you tend to see the good qualities in other people but not in yourself? Please join the conversation and share your tricks to deal with feelings of failure.

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Bonny Jenkins

Regret and feelings of failure are frequent companions, always have been. But one thing that helps me is realizing this truth: it could be worse. When we think in “what if” or “I wish I had” we tend to only see positive outcomes. More money, popularity, success, and worth. Other decisions may as easily turned out with unpleasant outcomes. Certainly different, but maybe not better.

JOY Lennick

Hi there, I went through a stage where I reprimanded myself for not ‘trying harder, ‘ until my dear husband reminded me of what we had done together, and separately (also when working). “We brought up three, worthy sons…” True, “We also ran a successful greengrocery business, and later a small hotel, together..”True again. I did a few other things too, and had nine books published, but this is starting to sound boastful, so I shall resist! It is odd how you can forget just how hard you did work when younger…Cheers. Joy Lennick

Mindy Gullen

I hear this…passed up some very good positions to stay close to my kids and as time moves on, I have learned to never regret it. I also, now with age, am feeling a bit more comfortable as I know now that we’re all putting our best foot forward and want others to see us doing well and successful, (social media)…we’re all human as it turns out. thank you for these poignant words…I needed to hear them and you confirmed for me.

Eileen Johnson

I have regreted not furthering my career many times. I could of given so much more. Seems like my drive , strength and courage gave out. Now I feel like I lost my chance. I do try to stay busy with volunteering, hobbies and new adventures. Its not the same as a “successful career” but I try to pass on some of my experiences.


Yes, I am 65 and career failures are haunting me. I can’t help compare myself to others and realize I didn’t reach my full potential, for complicated reasons, some I had no control over, and some due to mistakes on my part. I worry about whether I will have enough retirement income. I have been employed by the same nonprofit for 34 years and I do acknowledge I have helped many people during my tenure. But it’s hard to see that I failed to make a greater amount of money.


Gene, I have a similar story. I feel like such a failure now approaching my 65th birthday. My business has been ebbs and flows and just when I thought things were going my way the rug was pulled from under me again. I could go on, but just appreciate your post. Best of luck to you.

Mindy Gullen

Gene, I also can relate to you. In my younger days, while saving others, I didn’t look after myself and here I am 64, and fighting to not say aloud “I’m too old”. The one thing I hold onto in life is when I look back and count the many small miracles that appeared and saved me at that moment in time, I’m reminded that as long as we live, we must consciously think about and expect the good surprises to come along, not just fear the unknown and negatives.

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The Author

Sheri Saxe is a psychotherapist with a focus on helping women to accept and integrate their painful experiences and blossom into new life. This is called radical acceptance. She has a passion for wilderness backpacking, meditation, and being a grandmother. She is the founder of the blog Seasoned Women Over Sixty

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