This Basalt resident made it her job to empower women over age 50 |

This Basalt resident made it her job to empower women over age 50

Basalt resident Sylvia Theisen is an author, life and business coach who carved out a niche with women ages 50 and older.
Courtesy photo

You don’t have to look very far back through history to see legislation that overtly infringed upon women’s rights in The United States. Some might say you only have to look back as far as this summer, when Roe v. Wade was overturned.

Roughly 50 years ago, women in the United States were prohibited from getting a credit card in their name, serving on a jury, attending most Ivy League schools, or joining military academies. Women could be legally fired from their workplace if they became pregnant up until 1978, yet they couldn’t legally refuse having sex with their husbands until 1993.

As of 2022, women made up more than half of the college-educated workforce, according to a study from the Pew Research Center. Single woman now own and occupy more homes than single men. However, equality of the sexes is still arguably a far reach away.

Despite the inequality, which historically and today presents even larger obstacles for women of color and trans women, Basalt-resident Sylvia Theisen will tell you that women are the powerhouses of the planet.

She’s a Basalt-based life and business coach who specializes in helping women over 50 years old meet their personal and professional goals.

What is a life coach?

The International Coaching Federation defines life coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”

According to CNBC, the life-coaching industry is worth an estimated $2.85 billion worldwide. While it is a multi-billion dollar industry, it is completely unregulated and requires no formal education, training, or licensing, which is one of the biggest criticisms of the industry.

However, Theisen holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Denver. She said she spent the first stretch of her career as a self-employed psychotherapist at a time when Fortune 500 companies would hire therapists to see their employees.

“I learned a ton about what the stressors are for people and how to help them with those,” she said.

Later, she got into public speaking and wrote the book “Break the Rules: An Uncommon Guide to Creating the Life You Crave,” which was published in 2017.

She defines life coaching as “a process of self discovery” whereby a professional helps their clients uncover who they are at their core, which in turn, assists them in discovering what their goals are. After this step, life coaches can begin to assist people with turning their goals into a reality.

Rewriting chapters for Gen X and Boomers

Theisen has reinvented herself many times throughout her life, catalyzing her passion for coaching.

By the time she was in her 40s, she became a widow, a single mother, and a solo-entrepreneur. When she moved to the Roaring Fork Valley five years ago, she reinvented herself again and realized she and other women her age were more than willing to have “new beginnings.”

“I’ve reinvented myself a few times in life, so I’ve kind of broke the rules on not having a traditional trajectory,” she said.

Theisen, who is now in her 50s, has carved out a niche in the life and business coaching industry by focusing primarily on women 50 years or older. Although we are socialized to believe women are “less valuable” as they grow older, she believes women of this age demographic are in the prime times of their lives.

“When you look at statistically, women over 50 are controlling the vast majority of spending and households,” she said. “We are the healthiest, the wealthiest, and the most active generation of women ever.”

Women over 50 years old are starting businesses at an unprecedented rate, she said.

A study from 2019 found that women-owned businesses make up 43% of business in the United States, a 21% increase over a five year time period.

“I think in the past, women were encouraged to get their value from what they were doing for other people — how they were giving, what they were doing for others — and that really kind of stunted women’s ability to think about themselves in later chapters in life,” said Theisen.

While there have been enormous strides in equity of the sexes, in a way this generation of women is rewriting the rules of society. After all, they were born into a world where many laws we now deem as common sense were not codified.

For Theisen, she thinks of life like a “super highway,” with the things we are “supposed” to be doing relatively laid out for many of us.

“When you get somewhere in your late 50s or 60s, it’s like you’re on that highway, and there’s no more markers of what you’re supposed to be doing,” said Theisen. “All of a sudden, it’s like the road ahead of us starts looking more like a not-very-trodden grass path, and women are like ‘I don’t really see what I’m supposed to be doing.”‘

The median age of her clients is 61. She said the biggest obstacles for her clients include feelings of depression and flatlining.

“They’re giving a ton of energy to other people and things and habits that are no longer fueling them,” she said. “So a lot of high-achieving women think that coming to coaching means they’re going to have to add more to their to do list, but the opposite is true.”

Theisen’s most popular program is a six-month intensive one-on-one life coaching process.

“I sometimes joke and say, ‘I help women to get better at disappointing people, so they don’t disappoint themselves,”‘ she said. “Because if you never disappoint anyone, you’re probably disappointing yourself on something.”

In addition, she helps many female clients over the age of 50 who are launching new businesses, assisting them with their vision.

While her client base is national and she works mainly remote, she has hosted workshops for women in the Roaring Fork Valley in the past. While she doesn’t have any workshops coming up, she is open to accepting clients who would want to host a group session for women.