Last year I started to list the things I had done for the first time since I hit 50. As I did so I got the idea of what fun it would be to have a list of 50 things I did for the first time since I hit 50 and this led to my project Every Day for 50 Days which you can read at https://www.thenew5ifty.com. It also led to the creation of my blog and benefits I didn’t expect, including:
· Increased confidence where I would second-guess myself
· More likely to act where I would procrastinate
· More outgoing where I would hide in the corner
It’s easy to get set in your ways when you get to midlife. You know what works (whether it’s good or not), you know how to avoid pain (even if it doesn’t lead to pleasure) and as a result your life may have narrowed in a way you don’t like.
At the same time, you may be at or approaching midlife and you know something isn’t working, you may not know what it is, or you do know but aren’t sure how to change it.
You’re approaching or at midlife and you’re happy with your life and your achievements. You don’t want to drastically change your life, you’re in your comfort zone – whether it feels good or not – and you want to expand that zone.
The Old 5ifty
In 1981 I flew out to Nigeria for my Mother’s 50th birthday party. At the time she and her peers seemed so old. Midlife was very different to how it is now. Then, our parents were winding down their work lives as they approached retirement. They looked forward to getting their free bus passes and pensions and living a life of ease until death parted them from their loved ones. Or they were forced out of their jobs because of their age armed with nothing but a clock and a party. There was no support to redefine who they were outside of their careers. Many filled this gap with voluntary work and others just withered away physically and mentally.
There were others, like my mother who continued to work, but on her terms, as and when she needed to until she was 68 and sold up her flat which left her free to enjoy her final 6 years. In the years following her retirement she had a couple of small businesses including one of the early internet cafes in Lagos and at the time of her death at 74, was looking to start classes teaching older people how to use the internet.
Her brother, to whom I’ve dedicated this book continues working after retirement and now, at nearly 89 has been working more than half of his original working life. Not because he must, but because he wants to. Because he can still be of service. For him, retirement really hasn’t meant the end of life.
What’s different for us?
Our generation, (late Baby Boomers/Early Generation Xs) represent the New 5ifty as I call it. Unless we have been contributing to a good pension plan that enables us to retire early we will still be working till at least 67 and possibly later. As I approach my late fifties the idea that I could have retired 60 seems very strange. What would I do? I’m not ready to hang my hat and put my feet up in the way my parent’s generation was – or were they? My mind is still very active, there are loads of things I still want to do and people I want to help.
And maybe that’s the point. As we get older our confidence in who we are increases.
We will definitely be working later on in life, not only because the retirement age has increased but because people are living longer than in previous generations. We understand than we can have at least another 20 years of active living. So while we may not have a choice about whether or not we work, we have choices about the quality of the life we create for ourselves. We understand that if we choose we can start the career we always wanted to have or move into our dream home and not our retirement home. We can have a new round of firsts and have adventures that were once only the privilege of the young.
As I approached the launch of the Every Day for 50 Days project I asked friends for ideas of things to do and even then I woke some mornings stuck for ideas of what to do yet something would come to me by the end of the day.
The idea of this book is to share 50 things I’ve done since I hit 50. Some of them are big and some of them are silly. There are a couple of bucket list type activities and some seemed to just happen because I decided to go with life and some are a mixture of both.
I hope this inspire you to try a few things. Maybe not exactly the same, but I hope you the essence of some the activities inspires you to give something a go.
It doesn’t matter what activity you do as long as it takes you a couple of steps beyond your current zone of comfort because it’s there that the magic happens.
Give it a go you might surprise yourself.