by Ann Robson
For many of us, our 50th birthday brings varied feelings. Is my life really half over? What can I still do? What’s next?
I was very lucky as the month I turned 50 happened to be one of the busiest in my life: a wonderful surprise party; a trip to Ireland with my mother and daughter; news that we were relocating, and while my husband was off to Europe on a business trip, I was asked to “find us a house.” So that left little time to ponder what 50 years meant.
However, the following year some friends took me out to lunch and, quite suddenly, it struck me that I was now in my 50s. In retrospect, 50 had come and gone, and the earth hadn’t opened up and swallowed me. Lesson learned: It was just another day, one to celebrate and enjoy.
With help from the greeting card industry, the 50th birthday has turned into a circus, and not a fun circus. Black balloons and gloom and doom cards form the backdrop. This need not be.
First, getting to 50 is an achievement to be relished. It is not our mothers’ 50. It is ours, and we can do with it what we wish. It’s not the end of the world, only a midway point.
So now what? Keep living a good life and enjoying what you are already doing. Attitude is everything. If you think you’re old and about to be put out to pasture, you’ll act that way. If you look in the mirror and see an older person staring back, change the view. Smile—that’ll take 10 years off. Think happy thoughts. Make a plan that includes some fun. It’s never too late to try something you’ve always wanted to do but didn’t have the time or opportunity.
Activities abound—volunteering, painting, dancing, exercising, cooking, playing tennis or golf, perfecting your craft skills, writing, reading and the list goes on.
If you’re approaching 50 and worrying about your financial future, it’s still not too late. Having enough money with which to retire is the No. 1 concern for retirees and pre-retirees. Start today! A conversation with a certified financial planner will help get you started and make you feel so much better.
Housing is also part of the after-50 picture. There may be fewer people in your home, so do you need a lot of space? If you plan to age in place, plan now for repairs or remodeling. Talk to your spouse and when you have agreed on a plan, tell the rest of your family. They may bring up things you hadn’t thought about.
It’s also a good idea to make medical decisions and share that information. In your family, or circle of friends, you know whom you can count on to follow your wishes, but don’t just assume they will be willing. Be sure to ask first.
I would be an idiot if I pretended that the “second 50” didn’t bring some ups and downs. It will be different for each of us. But look around, you’re not the only one. Good luck with your second 50!
Robson is the author of “Over My Shoulder: Tales of Life and Death and Everything In Between.” She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org