Updated on June 25th, 2022
How are you feeling about being or turning 50? Daunted at the ‘Big 5-O’ ushering in thoughts of gentle decline into old age? Or excited about the start of your best years?
Having been around for half a century can feel like a watershed, particularly if you’re not where you were hoping to be in your life. Life can get tough in your fifties. Yet, even so: There’s never been a better time to make positive life changes than for 50-somethings – even, or particularly if, life gets tough .
For many women (and probably men, too), reaching the age of fifty is not a particularly appealing milestone. Our youth is behind us, our bodies and our looks change. For us women, the menopause might strike and we start feeling invisible in our society.
Unwanted challenges and changes might push into our life: Redundancy, burn out, empty nest syndrome, loved ones passing… We might find we’ve ended up in a place in life we don’t like, and get angry or bitter, as we look back at our life, and see the hopes, dreams, wishes and efforts we made that haven’t worked out for us.
Questions about the future emerge – will there still be new and interesting opportunities for us, now? Is a satisfying life even possible?
Our fifties can be tough. They can bring uncertainty and major life crises that are difficult to navigate.
If you’re in a challenging situation and could use a bit of encouragement, here’s the story of how I’ve lived through my own Fifties Crisis and what helped me get through:
But there’s good news, too, though that’s hard to appreciate when we’re in the midst of a difficult transition.
For crises often come about when a phase of our life is ending, and they clear the space for new things to begin. As such, they are helping us transform ourselves and our life.
When, in my own despair about how terribly my fifties had started, I researched this decade of life, I found a lot of positive aspects of being fifty-plus, that I hadn’t been able to see because I was so taken up in my own suffering.
I read about how our fifties can become a decade of feeling in our prime, of coming into our own. And how it is not too late to make changes in our life, create a life we love, even start afresh.
The more I read, the more I became convinced that our fifties are, in fact, the perfect time to change our life! My own Fifties Crisis brought about great change for me indeed, and the more I worked through it and started to feel better, the more I started seeing, appreciating and taking the opportunities my life then presented.
Finding a happy acceptance of our age
It was expert Sir Muir Grey’s who said that age is just a state of mind.
A happy acceptance of turning or being 50, and focusing on the opportunities this brings,
goes a long way to making this a decade of feeling in our prime, rather than on a downhill slide.
We’ve got better chances than ever before to make our fifties one of the best times of our life: Our self-acceptance, equanimity and contentment increase. Our worrying decreases. We’re fitter and healthier than ever before, and often have the means and knowledge to stay that way. Many people in the public eye are role-modelling how to be ‘fiftylicious’ and live their 5th decade to the full.
In fact, some scientists believe that for many of us, our fifties are going to be the beginning of a second life, if not a second career!
If we’re in a crisis or an un-easeful place, we have to deal with that first – head over to Living Through Unease and Crises in Your Fifties for (hopefully) some inspiration from my own story.
But then, amazing things can happen:
As I’m through the worst of my own crisis (and who knows if and when a next one will occur? Because that’s life…), as I have restored my energy and my health, and as I can now see the beginnings of my new fifties’ life, I am more able to appreciate how focusing on the good stuff about our age can further help me make this a decade of feeling in my prime…
Coming into our own
As we’re coming into our own, we say good-bye to youth and embrace the start of a new age – maturity – with its own, beautiful opportunities:
Being more experienced, wiser, more acceptant and relaxed about things. Living more consciously. Appreciating life more deeply. Stripping from our life what’s distracting and unnecessary. Doing things differently, in ways that suit us better – based on previous experience.
Our Lifetime Clock seems to tick louder, and it becomes more important now than ever to focus on what really matters to us. It’s the perfect time to evaluate our life: What are we really about? What are we here to do, anyway? Are we doing what we want to do? Are we living a life we love – a life that’s joyful, meaningful, true to ourselves, and right for us? Have we done in our life what we hoped to do? If not, what do we want to do about that?
Scary questions? Maybe. There’s opportunity in them, too, if we answer them honestly to ourselves. For it’s never too late to make changes for the better in our life – in small and bigger ways.
Don’t want to keep doing what you’re doing? It’s not too late to change!
We can continue to change and grow.
Your opportunity to change your life – finding, designing and creating a life you truly love to live – is now, whether you’re in your fifties or not.
And if you are in your fifties, or beyond, and wondering if it’s perhaps too late, or you’re too old to change your life for the better, then consider my…
10 reasons why 50 is the perfect time to change your life
1. You’re old enough to know what you’re about
So you’ve lived a while. Half a century, to be precise – congratulations!
Hopefully, you know yourself quite well by now (if not, why not spend some time considering this?): What makes you tick. What works for you, and what doesn’t. What makes you happy. What you love. What your strengths are. And your challenges. And so on.
What perfect pre-requisites to take the reins of your life into your own hands, and make conscious, wanted, positive changes. And design a life that really suits who you are!
2. You’re young enough to make it happen
When my Italian grandmother came to visit us for my First Communion, we stood up in church, so she, the old woman that she was, could sit. She would have been around fifty at the time.
But then she had lived through two World Wars, known a lot of hardship, and borne 8 children, two of whom died. A tough life like that will inevitably leave its mark.
How different things are for us today! When have you ever stood up on the tube or train for someone who’s fifty? And if the fifty-year-old is you: Do you need people to stand up so you can sit down?
Thought so. Fact is that today’s fifty-year-olds are more youthful, fitter and healthier than ever. Or certainly have the means and knowledge to be(come) so.
Therefore, you’re definitely young enough to change your life, if you want to.
3. You’re too old for the rat race
It’s not just a question of boredom. It’s also a question of pace.
The rat race is called like that for a reason: It’s inherently fast-paced, relentless, and stressful. No matter how fast we run, the hamster wheel keeps turning and turning with ever more and more stuff for us to do.
We might (mostly) cope with that kind of pace when we’re younger, relying on fast regeneration when we get tired. We might even get a buzz of exhilaration at the steep learning curve this provides us with.
But at fifty, we’re less bright-eyed and eager, having experienced a few things in our career. And we’ll definitely notice that we need to pace ourselves, to keep at the top of our game. Even when we’re fit and healthy.
Now, if you adore the rat race, good for you, and by all means keep with it.
But if you feel that you’re too old for it: Know that you can change your life. And slowing the pace of your work and life, in order to free up time for other important things, can be your perfect motivation.
4. You’re too young to retire
Having said what I said under point 3, fifty is too young for the classic idea of retirement – as in living a comfortable armchair or cruise ship existence.
We’ve got things to share and pass on. We’ve got some energy to do stuff. We’ve got the ability to change. But when in younger years, perhaps, we’ve made compromises or played it safe, we now want whatever we do to be right for us. And we want our life to matter.
So what better time to think about what that is, and how we can do that?
5. You (can) have more time
For yourself, that is.
Quite a few of my ‘fiftylicious’ clients whose children have flown the nest come to me for help in exploring what to do with their own life, now they’ve got more time on their hands.
Others, who are high-powered professional women (and men, too), start their life change by creating more time and space for themselves:
Taking a sabbatical to come down from the fast pace of their work, look after themselves, and explore themselves or their interests. Or starting to work part time, and pursuing other priorities on their free day(s). Others again leave their work altogether, to set up the business of their dreams.
Always wanted to take up Flamenco or Salsa dancing, travel the world, find a new life partner, learn Spanish, or re-train as a garden designer?
Well, now is the time!
6. You have a sense of urgency
That’s ’cause you’ve now got some life time to look back on. And you realise that the years behind you may be more than the ones you’ve still got ahead of you. You might notice that your body is starting to give in places, even though you’re keeping fit. And that more serious health issues can strike you, or your friends and acquaintances.
At the same time, you might feel a longing to live your life with more meaning – and purposefully. Catch up on the things you always wanted to experience, but never got ’round to. And have a keen sense that if you are going to do that, the time is now or never.
Many people get a second wind in their fifties. And become much more radical in getting on with what they really want to do in their life.
If that’s not urgency to change, I don’t know what is!
7. You have the means
You don’t have to be a multi-millionaire to have the means to change your life. There are many creative ways to do so significantly and meaningfully.
What it takes is looking – very practically – at the financial reality of your desired change: What you’ll need for the life you want to live, and for transitioning into it. What you already have on the side. And what you’ll have to top up, and how.
Many of my clients have a real light-bulb moment when we do this exercise: They notice that they have more than enough resources to move into and live a life they love. Or they find that actually, it would be quite easy for them to live on less money, at least for a while. That the new life they want is simpler and cheaper than their current life, anyway. Or that it wouldn’t be that difficult for them to save up enough money to get started with their change.
What may well help you on this front when you’re in your fifties, is that your life likely becomes cheaper through lower mortgage payments, downsizing the family home, or your kids flying the nest and starting work.
So really, there’s no excuse for not changing your life, in your fifties, nor any time: Chances are that you’ll have the means. Or that you can find them!
8. You’re (more) immune to others’ judgements
Coming into your own, and accepting yourself, will increase your confidence. And the more you’re confidently yourself, the less you’ll be affected by other people’s opinions or judgements – on yourself or on what you do.
So take advantage of that: Go ahead with your life change. And happily let others’ opinions be!
9. You make more conscious choices
This is a benefit of being older and wiser:
Not only do you know yourself better, but you’ve now also got experience. You’ve learnt to trust yourself and your gut feeling. You’re less scared of taking (calculated) risks, because you know what you can do. Or you’ve done it before. And you also know that, if things go wrong, you can come through.
So chances are that all this will inform your choices when changing your life. You’ll choose more consciously and purposefully now than when you were younger.
Which will make for a smoother life change, and increase your chances of arriving in that life that is really right for you.
10. You have something to give
Our first 40 or so years are spent developing and becoming fully ourselves, and we do that by taking in stuff – learning points, rules, behaviours, skills, observations, advice and mentorship, experience – and assimilating it.
Then as we mature, we find that we have all of that, filtered through our own life and views, to give back to the next generation of young ones. We go from child to parent. From student to teacher. From mentee to mentor. From taking in the lessons to handing them out.
Sharing our experience – in formal and informal ways, paid or unpaid – is satisfying and meaningful. Some form of it is always part of the lives my clients create for themselves with my help, whether it be in the form of volunteering, educating, teaching, mentoring, upskilling, speaking, writing, exhibiting or discussing.
At fifty, you are ideally placed to harness this kind of satisfaction, and change your life to make it an integral part of it. So do it. Do it now!
Want to read more about celebrating your fiftieth birthday, and your fifties?
Head over to my four-part series 50 Ways to Celebrate Your Fifties
Over to you now
What are your experiences of turning 50?
What’s your life like in your 5th decade? What are its joys and challenges?
What do you want it to be like?
I’d love to read your comments, please share them below – thanks!
Want some help with your life change?