Life after 50 isn’t what it used to be. The rules have changed. No more guaranteed pensions, retiree health plans, or extensive leisure and travel. It’s time to forge new paths and create innovative models. As you travel along life’s highways, these five key points will serve as your GPS, providing guidance and solutions.
- You get to choose your goals. At 50+ we get to choose our own “shoulds” based on our answer to “What are my goals for this stage in life?” We have few role models to give us direction or help pave the path for us. Figure out what your goals are so you can head toward them knowingly. If your goal is have accomplished something (e.g. starting a business or climbing a mountain) you can put up with and don’t have to enjoy the actual process. But if your goal is to actually run a business or climb a mountain, you have to enjoy long work hours and a lot of hiking.
- Most of what happens to us is not a surprise. While sometimes life brings the unexpected – illness, injury, or even lottery winnings – more often than not we see the ball coming at us right off the bat. We needed to have thought about our options before the ball was pitched, not when it’s on its way. By anticipating, planning, budgeting, and paying attention, we don’t have to rely on luck to reach our goals or enjoy life. That includes all the financial, legal, health, and work choices we make.
- Your Level of Activity influences your choices. The decisions we make about our lifestyle and the goals we set for ourselves are most successful when they are based on where you are on a Level of Activity scale that helps define who you are. E.g. type-A personalities are not going to be happy living in an isolated community for a long time. They may love visiting, even for extended trips. But that’s different than living there. At the same time, you also may change where you are on the scale (training for a marathon) or something can happen to change it (injury).
- Quality of Life is about Lifestyle. Budgeting is not a diet to get you to live within your means, or even about making your money last. It’s about figuring out how you can maintain the lifestyle you want for the rest of your life. View your categories of expenses not as fixed vs. variable, but as mandatory vs. discretionary. And you get to decide what is mandatory. E.g. gym dues, travel, cell phone, cable TV. Sure, you can live without those, but do you want to? Make your decisions knowing the consequences.
- Don’t judge yourself. You’ve already made lifestyle decisions, including your goals and interests. If you’re not sure what they are, just observe yourself and what you’re doing. What you do in your free time is what you want to do; what keeps your occupied for hours on end is your hobby. Accept yourself and the decisions you’ve made without judgment. Don’t judge whether its good or bad. It’s a choice you made. But also keep in mind that you’re not stuck with it forever, it can change. It’s what you have chosen now.