Illustration by Denis
THE VIEW from 50+ isn’t what I ever thought it would be when I was a little girl. Old age seemed to be something so far distant from my childish world that it was something I never even contemplated while I was blissfully young. As a child, I looked upon anyone over 50 as old – people to be helped across the street and to be given seats on a bus. However, if I fast-forward to today, I see that that is far from the case. For while I was growing up, going through teenage, studying, getting a profession, marrying, having a family, becoming a member of the community, a slow, quiet, nondescript, cunning revolution was taking place – a longevity revolution – and now, I’m right in the middle of it. Today, as someone beyond 50, I have never felt better, more myself, with greater perspective, and with more to offer. All I can say is: ‘Vive la revolution!’
The issue of lifestyle, as we approach or enter our fifties, has become a trendy topic of discussion in the media and in private conversations. There is an abundance of material written about what has become known as ‘seniors, second stage, third age, phase 3, golden agers, elders and members of the age wave. We exist in ever increasing numbers. But it is not only the increasing number of 50+ers that makes our generation the object of so much focus and attention. We bring with us an enormous added value, experience, knowledge, talent, perspective, awareness, capacity and an openness and willingness to continue growing and contributing to society, knowing that we can now easily look forward to another 30 or so years of interesting, fulfilling and meaningful activity. What a wonderful place to be!
However, life over 50 can present specific challenges. To name just a few: retirement, job change, re-entry into the job force, divorce, remarriage, widowhood, loss of a loved one, dealing with issues of health, a move to a new home, neighborhood or country, or, for those making aliyah, the need to adapt to a new culture, and the list goes on. It often requires all your wits, resourcefulness and energy in order to cope for you have now entered unfamiliar territory – and it is no joke. Your life circumstances are changing and you need to rise to the challenges they present.
The question then arises: how do we maximize our lives past 50? Using a metaphor from the business world: How do we leverage our life experience to give us the best ROI (return on investment) throughout our later years? Our first inclination is to fall back on what we know and what we’ve been doing for our adult life. What better place to look for answers than to those around you and, most importantly, to yourself?
Taking stock of my own life, I’ve been married, divorced, have two children, two grandchildren, speak two languages, have lived in three countries, had four careers, and all this in my one life! As I passed 50, I began to understand and accept the notion that the experience of all these years, really matters, and that there was still room in my life for more – more that I wanted, more that I could contribute and more that I could be. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a good place to be.
Witnessing others going through their own life transitions, I noticed that two distinct patterns emerge. Some people are thriving, maximizing every aspect of their lives, seeking out new avenues of expression and adapting to change. Others, however, seemed to reach a point where they were stuck with the dilemma of how to move forward in a way that would bring them fulfillment throughout their later years. The fundamental question, ‘What will I do with the rest of my life?’ was continually on their lips, with uncertainty and loss of self-confidence following right behind.
In my experience the issues most successfully dealt with as we reach Beyond 50 are:
- raising our self-awareness.
- discovering our hidden self-desires.
- recognizing our abilities.
- realizing that change is essential to our growth.
- re-prioritizing our values and recognizing barriers.
- strengthening our self-confidence.
- uncovering our blocks.
- identifying the new possibilities that impact on our professional and personal lives.
- accepting that our age is not an unsurpassable obstacle for achieving what we want.
- learning how to advance our goals.
- admitting that going forward is not that difficult and there are ways of achieving it.
- facing life’s many challenges in a positive and constructive matter.
This then leads me to the question:
What about you? Are you able to admit that deep inside, you know there is still more that you want, can be and do? Well. There’s no better time than right now to start. Ask yourself these questions: Who are you now? What do you want? How will you get there? When will you begin?
With an open mind, what we reach for is within our grasp.
Eve Black is the founder of ‘Open Minds, Reaching…TM’. For Eve, change and transition- cultural, social, personal, and professional – have been a way of life, challenging her to live with intent and purpose by making conscious choices at every stage. Born and raised in San Francisco, she is passionate in her belief in the creativity, resourcefulness and potential of people of all ages.