In the last two posts, I talked about one of my favorite clients, who reached 100 years old, and by extension how we can help and enjoy the people we know who are 80 and beyond.
There is still a lot more to say about, and learn from, people in their final decades, and we all hope to get to those high numbers, and to do it well.
But for those of us in the ‘middle’ years, there are a lot of advantages for us to enjoy, some that we didn’t have twenty five ago, and some that might not be as available in 25 more years. So let’s appreciate what we’ve gained, and reap the benefits as fully as we can now.
Okay, maybe not actually fifty things, but that sounded good in the headline. Let’s try for 10, and see how far we get.
Of course these are generalizations, and mostly based on my own experience, but I think most of them will ring true to others at least a little past 50.
We don’t care as much what people think.
Of course we should care how other people feel, and we’re interested in at least considering the thoughts and opinions of the people close to us. But peer pressure? Self-doubt? Spending a lot of energy worrying about whether people in general like you, approve of you, find you ‘cool’ or whatever? Not so much.
We’ve learned to be comfortable with who we are and what we can uniquely contribute. That’s a great place to be.
We have experience.
Yes, some of that experience undoubtedly comes with scars. But all of it adds to our depth and strength, helps us make wiser choices, gives us more to contribute, and can make us more empathetic toward others. We also know more about what we want – and don’t want — for our remaining years in terms of work, relationships, life goals, and all the rest.
We have more confidence.
Item 1 – not caring so much if others are judging us, and item 2 – having more experience in all aspects of life, combine to give us item 3. We trust our judgment and skills more, and don’t listen so much to all the chatter, including the self- criticism we might have struggled with when we were younger.
I’m not afraid of people anymore, or of trying new things. If I ask for something and they say no, it’s not a tragedy. Neither is it one if they don’t want to be my friend because I won’t pretend to be something I’m not. And if I try something new and it doesn’t work, I learned something and will probably do better next time. The earth will not shatter if I try and fail. But if I don’t try, I keep my world smaller than it needs to be. Now is a great time to try new things, and see where they can take us.
4. We don’t embarrass as easily.
Since we don’t worry as much about what others think, and since we have experience that tells us what is and is not really important, we’re more likely to give ourselves a break and not obsess over our small mistakes.
Case in point: The other day I was walking up a street in my neighborhood. I thought I heard someone call my name, so I looked across the street and found a group of people walking by and talking loudly. I waved, smiled, said hello, and tried to pretend I knew at least one of them, while searching my memory.
Then I realized they weren’t really talking to me after all! Oh, well. I shook my head at myself, laughed a little, and moved on.
5. It’s not too late to start new chapters, or re-write old ones.
Don’t love your job? Get a different one. Never lived your dream of writing a book, traveling the world, starting a business, learning a third language, or ballroom dancing, or whatever? Start doing it now.
Not thrilled with how some of your relationships have turned out, or not fulfilled by how you spend your days? You can work to improve those things. Break the old mold and invent a new one. Take that confidence, that time, that experience – good and bad, and use it to do something new or to do it better.
Disclaimer: In the case of people, I definitely don’t mean to discard them and start over. Nor do I mean insist on having it all your way. I mean discard the ways of communicating or relating that aren’t working, and work together to make it better.
Well, that’s five. Let’s try for five more next time. And please let me know what you think: what you agree with, what you disagree with, what you would add, and if you even like the topic. Thanks.