For some, hitting fifty is like running headfirst into a wall.
But it needn’t be.
For a start, what constitutes as old is continually changing. We are living longer and courtesy of technology are becoming more connected and more accessible to friends, family and peers. But there is still some stigma surrounding this mythical age and I wonder if it’s because we constantly hear how fifty is the new forty or, as I was actually told when I was about to turn fifty, that it’s now the new thirty.
There were many things I felt when I did turn fifty however thirty definitely wasn’t one of them. I only needed to look in the mirror to be reminded that physically, I had well and truly reached my half century. And, according to my wife, emotionally I was still very much the neanderthal.
So where did that leave me? Cast adrift somewhere, it seems, in between the stone-age and the new millennia. A club-dragging brute
well versed barely competent amidst the continual rush of digital technology.
But thirty? No, and I’m glad for it.
thirty again? hell no
Well ok, maybe for a week or so. Just to be able to drink some serious beer, understand music and have half a chance of racing off with the closest single young lady. But that’s about it.
Because I made too many mistakes at thirty. I thought I knew everything. I thought I knew what I wanted, where I was heading and where I would end up. I lacked the wisdom to understand that life can change in a moment and that no amount of resisting was going to change that. I had an attitude.
But not quite the right one.
your best years definitely aren’t behind you
I think the reason that many struggle with the concept of turning fifty is that we instantly think that our best years are behind us. That if we haven’t made it by now then we sure as hell won’t be making it anywhere from here on in. But this way of thinking, in simple and easy to understand language, is bullshit.
Jesus, people have climbed Everest at eighty. Does life then begin at fifty, as the quaint little saying goes? Well obviously for Yuichiro, yeah it did. Whatever he was pursuing in his thirties definitely wasn’t the summit of the world’s highest mountain. And his thoughts as he took that last oxygen deprived step to the top? I don’t really know but I dare say it wasn’t about something he didn’t do fifty years previously.
We don’t really need to cling desperately to our past because our past is exactly that. And it doesn’t really matter where we are now, because where we are is exactly that and until some astro-physicist invents a way to travel back through space, we are set to remain steadfast on our chronological time line. We can’t ‘un-fifty’ ourselves, no matter how much we think we would like to.
What we can do however is un-fifty the way that we think.
In earlier posts I have spoken a little about what fifty is and how we can motivate ourselves and keep getting stuck into living the best damn way we can. How?
Here’s four ways to give it a go that will hopefully help you realise why, in fact, fifty really is better than being thirty.
1. Want to be fifty and be damn well proud of making it
If you’re just about to get there or you’re already fifty with a few add ons, the best thing you can do if you haven’t already is let go of the mental resistance because it’s a fight you’re never going to win. Spend a year resisting fifty and you will suddenly find yourself fifty-one and have to start your battle plan all over again. That shit is tiring. Not only that, it’s wasteful because no-one knows what their future holds from one day to the next. Don’t take life for granted. Instead, take it by the balls because if you don’t, someone or something may very well take you by yours.
2. Don’t get sucked in to believing you’re past it
Okay, so when you were younger you had grand plans of what you might become and imagined the wonderful places your life would take you. Yet right now, you’re reading this sitting at home, in your shitty office cubicle or stuck on some form of overcrowded public transport and thinking: ‘well it certainly wasn’t f*****g here, that’s for sure.’
Yeah, so maybe it wasn’t. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be changed. If you’re the type of person who thinks their lot in life is pretty much set then you seriously need to consider a re-think. This is where our mindset comes in. And really, it only needs a subtle change in what we tell ourselves to make the difference. It’s removing words like can’t, won’t and couldn’t and replacing them with can, will and could. It may sound trite and terribly self-helpish but it’s how getting new shit done starts. “I can do that, I’m only fifty”, is a HELL of a lot different than “Mmm, maybe I’m too old for that now.”
3. credit yourself, you’re a damn sight wiser than you think
Alright, so you’ve made a few bad decisions and taken the odd wrong turn. Well welcome to the fifty-something club. You show me someone who hasn’t f****d up a couple of times by the time they’ve hit fifty and i’ll be impressed. Very impressed. But then again I’m impressed by illusionists and none of that is real, so maybe not.
Mistakes, as everyone learns the moment they make their first, are a part of life. The thing about mistakes is that generally, we learn from them. Put your hand on a hotplate once and I’m pretty certain it’s not going to get done a second time. And no matter how much you might say: “Gee, I wish I didn’t just do that”, the fact of the matter is that you did and no amount of wishing is going to change it.
If you were to stop and take five minutes to recall all the mistakes you’ve made thus far, you’d probably cobble together a fairly decent list. However if you were to take another five to recall how many of those same mistakes you’ve made twice, you’d probably find (hope) that the list is considerably shorter. Because one of the great things about being fifty is that we’ve made a lot of our mistakes and in doing so we have built up a considerable volume of knowledge and life experience. And this is the stuff that youth just cannot buy.
as the saying goes…
One of the most familiar sayings you will here is: “I wish I knew back then what I do now.”
Yes, because it IS true. Admittedly, the saying is often reserved for the times we are watching a group of young men try quite hopelessly to impress a female and wonder why she is taking notice of everything but them. “Just go and talk to her”, you might find yourself saying under your breath before walking away shaking your head. Even better though is not walking away but instead walking over to said female and within ten seconds become involved in an interesting and compelling discussion about anything because the girl just wants someone to talk with her.
Old bull, young bull. Damn straight.
4. don’t consider yourself a failure
So, you didn’t make it past high school football, your wife left you for her pilates instructor and you drive a beige Volvo. You’re a failure and life sucks some serious ass. Man, give yourself a break for God’s sake! After all, everyone knows Volvo have the safest cars on the road which means you’re less likely than most to die in a horrible motor car accident.
But seriously, one of the biggest mistakes that we can make in this life is to judge ourselves by other people’s expectations. This isn’t to say we use this as an excuse to put zero effort into living the best way we possibly can. What it does mean is that sometimes, no matter how hard we push, try or shove we just don’t quite make it to the front of the line. There could be one major reason or there could be several smaller ones, either way shit just happens sometimes, because that’s what shit does. It happens.
People will judge no matter what. They will judge success, they will judge mediocrity and they will judge failure. This judgement however is to THEIR standards. Sure, there are standards set by society, of course there are, and the majority of us do our best to meet them because if we didn’t, we would have one hell of a time getting along relatively peaceably.
People judge an almost infinite number of things, but seriously, do you really have to prove yourself to anyone else now? Just by reaching fifty you’ve ALREADY proven you’re resilient, resourceful, durable and accomplished. You’ve put yourself in holes and then dug yourself back out of them. You’re still battling along the best way you can and no-one’s doing it for you.
Especially not a thirty year old.
BECAUSE IF YOU CAN GET TO FIFTY BE SURE YOU CAN GET A HELL OF A LOT FURTHER THAN THAT