Being over 50 can be the beginning of a new chapter in your life; a time of growth and a period of regeneration. Middle age may be upon you but you have the experience and possibly the lines on your face that go with it! Of course, you might wish that they weren’t there but that is another story! However, they are there and each one tells the tale of your life’s experience.
The post 50’s chapter brings not only experience but also brings you greater influence. This is a time when reality starts biting and the dreams that you had when you were younger may now be drifting away into the mists of early romantic visions. Having now faced the hard realities of life and the work required to maintain relationships, you will probably have discarded many of the assumptions and illusions of your youth.
You are now more astute. You know what works and what doesn’t. You can draw upon your experiences of people, of situations and of the necessity to be financially prudent – and these factors equip you to make decisions and judgements that much easier using a variety of learned perspectives.
Outside interests and hobbies may now become more focused and form the catalyst for exploring a new-found reservoir of energy. New interests that formerly appeared too difficult now seem accessible and ready to be explored.
Moving on in your 50s
Having moved on from the often damaging self-criticism of your 20’s to the self-appreciation and self-respect of the 50’s and there is a very great satisfaction in focusing upon yourself and your aspirations for the decades to come. You now feel able to relax into who you really are and are able to enjoy easier relationships and the ability to stand outside of yourself and your former predilections and protests. You don’t necessarily feel the same pressure to conform or to satisfy the demands of someone else. You can now grow in a way that you would like to, rather than in that prescribed by others.
Your 50’s should be a time of new growth and freedom. A time when – unless you had children very late in life – allow you to move on from the school run, the ballet lessons, the football clubs – to a time for you to blossom and experiment with new ideas and develop a greater appreciation of the natural world around you. Maybe this is also an opportunity to re-energise your relationship with your partner without the stresses of work and family draining your energy and imagination.
You may well want to go back to college or take that degree you missed out on because of circumstance. Maybe you would like to work for yourself and open a new business, not because you have to, but because you want to.
However, as with every age group, there are challenges for the over 50’s some of which are unique to this period of your life.
The Empty Nest
This is a period when you would expect your children to have left home, gone to college or have started work – which means that you will have to readjust to an emptier house either by yourself or with your partner.
Mary is a client of mine. A 53 year old, tall, blond and attractive woman who really doesn’t look her years. She has been married since she was twenty three years old and has two children. That meant that most of her 20’s and 30’s she was doing the school run and being at the beck and call of her children. By the time she reached her 50th birthday, her children had left home to go to university. She was thrilled and delighted for them and both she her husband decided to transform the empty bedrooms into a photographic studio for him and an exercise studio for her. She was going to train to become a fitness instructor and give private lessons from home. This had been her dream and it was now her turn to put herself first. All was fine, until her oldest child left university and wanted to come back home as he could not afford accommodation elsewhere. A month afterwards, her youngest child who had married very young decided that marriage wasn’t for her; wanted a divorce and also decided to return home.
So in an instant, Mary’s life was turned upside down. She and her husband had to sit and discuss what they were going to do. Were they going to turn their children away or were they going to put their own proposed new lifestyles on hold?
This is just an example of the unexpected issues that can suddenly appear and which give added credence to the old proverb about ‘small children, small problems – bigger children, bigger problems!’ Unfortunately, that’s life! Choices and challenges. They don’t go away but all have to be dealt with.
The set-backs we can face in our fab 50s
There are many examples of the set-backs that can suddenly face us during this time of our life.
Here is a just sample of some of them that my clients have faced during their fab 50’s:
- Personal medical issues: health can start to become a challenge.
- Step-children from different marriages: you may end up spending time either mediating between them or arguing with your new partner.
- Relationship problems: you now realise that your existing partner is not the person you want to spend the rest of your life with.
- Financial: your pension is insufficient and you may have to go back to work
- Aging parents: Once independent individuals, they now need your support.
- Grandchildren may need support from you as grandparents
- Retiring early: You thought you would retire at 65 but circumstances have decreed otherwise.
- Being made redundant: Not your choice but the decision of your company!
- Bereavement: Unexpectedly your husband dies and leave you to manage financial affairs alone, for the first time.
- Learning new skills: being computer illiterate is no longer an option
- Starting a new business: your dream can become a reality but you need capital.
- Divorce: not what you expected at this time of life. You thought you were over the worse of the arguments!
- Living alone: it takes a different mindset and attitude to make a success of it. You now need to be pro-active in extending your activities in order not to feel isolated and depressed.
- Caring for a partner: the age gap that never seemed to matter when you were in your 30’s, now becomes an unexpected liability.
These are just some of the new challenges that the over 50’s may have to face and manage in this period, that will need sensitivity and care. Your mindset and attitude will determine the way that you deal with them.
This certainly might be the time when you find out whether you are a ‘glass half-empty or glass half-full’ person. Does the sun usually shine for you and keep you in a positive frame of mind or it is always grey and dull and you end up bemoaning your problems to anyone who will listen to you?
Only you know who you really are, and these are the years to grow, learn, experiment and share. Naturally, there will be challenges along the way but whoever promised you anything different?
Every age and every chapter has its own particular stress fingerprint and the fab 50’s are no exception. Finally, my guidance is to seek professional help if you need it, not forgetting that this is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of taking control.
Going forward into an exciting new chapter
This may be a time when you may have the joy of grandchildren. A time when you will really appreciate the wonder of nature. A time when you can sit back and reflect on past experiences with a smile and with the learning that has come from them. A time of great opportunity and growth.
Or as the Good Book says:
‘A time to search and a time to give up,
A time to keep and a time to throw away,
A time to tear and a time to mend,
A time to be silent and a time to speak’
‘There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens’
So grab each and every moment, value every day for what it brings to you and
‘carpe diem’ – seize the day, for it will not come again.