Turning the big Five-Oh is a milestone birthday for everyone. Not only is that half-century number impressive, it’s sobering, a little scary, and leads most of us to at least a few moments of introspection.
Like it or not, turning fifty means facing the fact that you probably have more days in your past than you do in your future.
That elephant in the room is called Mortality folks…gulp! We all know it’s coming, and turning fifty pretty much forces you to think about it.
I’ve been watching friends and old school mates of my generation cross the half-century threshold for a few years now. Like any other major event in life, some have handled it well and others…ehm, not so much.
This all had me thinking about how I wanted to deal with my own 50th birthday, and I’m glad to say that I got my head around it in a good way, just in time to really embrace and enjoy the moment.
Though I certainly still have lots to look forward, at first the prospect of turning fifty had me feeling quite nostalgic for my younger days….
And why not? Geez, back when I was twenty I had hair and abs that you could actually see! No wrinkles, or sore joints that snap, crackle, and pop when I got out of bed in the morning. There wasn’t an ounce of fat on me, and I could get up and go to work feeling bright-eyed and bushy-tailed on two hours of sleep!
But the more I thought back to the 20-year-old me for what he could do physically, the more I realized that there was an awful lot he still needed to learn mentally, emotionally, and otherwise.
I came to the conclusion that even if I could, I wouldn’t go back. Where I am now is a much better place. I have earned my battle scars and can honestly say that I’m proud of them.
In order to remind myself of why I don’t want to go back, I made a list of 50 things that the 50-year-old me is capable of, or has learned to do over the years, that the 20-year-old me just wasn’t able to.
I encourage you to make your own list for your next milestone birthday. If it keeps you moving forward rather than pining for the past; then good for you!
1. Not feel intimidated by people of a higher social or economic status.
2. Understand the phrase “you get what you pay for” and make purchasing decisions accordingly.
3. Tell the truth – especially when the other person isn’t going to like it.
4. Have a healthy, loving, and mutually supportive relationship.
5. Forgive myself for not being perfect.
6. Forgive others for not being perfect.
7. Pay my bills.
8. Admit when I was wrong.
9. Learn from my mistakes.
10. Give a speech or presentation to a room full of strangers.
11. Understand how my choices directly impact the results I get in my life.
12. Question the media and the information they distribute.
13. Buy the “good” sheets and towels because they last longer and are so much more comfortable.
14. Handle rejection and accept criticism, and use them as a starting point for positive change.
15. Recognize when I’m being manipulated and not tolerate it.
16. Be happy for other people, instead of jealous of them.
17. Ignore trends and set a path that suits what I’m comfortable with.
18. Set priorities and stick to them.
19. Finish the things I start.
20. Ignore petty or nasty comments by others behind my back.
21. Stop trying to figure out what went wrong in past relationships and just wish my exes well.
22. Seek long-term contentment not short term pleasure.
23. Knowing when to dig in and put up a fight and when to just let it go.
24. Look for solutions instead of just complaining about the problem.
25. Understand the difference between wants and needs.
26. When it’s cold outside, put on a hat, scarf, boots, and gloves.
27. Stop worrying about what others think of me – some will like me and some won’t, that is their problem.
28. Avoid things that complicate daily life and appreciate the simple things.
29. Accept that my parents were human and forgive them for the mistakes they made raising me.
30. Raise my personal standards without holding others to them.
31. Accepting that not every question or problem in life has a definitive answer or solution.
32. Flush toxic, drama-driven people from my life.
33. Have the courage to say “no” to things.
34. Have the courage to say “yes” to things.
35. Focus on smart, kind, interesting, and original people, and ignore the loud, popular, and fake-friendly ones.
36. Let go of expectations and just take things as they come.
37. Adjust to change and manage the unexpected, and not allow it to become a major crisis.
38. Appreciate that the older I get and the more I see and do, the longer my bucket list gets.
39. Understand that actions really do speak louder than words.
40. Not be afraid to ask questions, even if it makes me look dumb.
41. Appreciate art in all its forms for the talent and dedication needed to produce it, even if I don’t always understand it.
42. Look at a picture and see the photograph.
43. Not let setbacks or negative results discourage me from trying again.
44. Tell another man that I love him without feeling awkward about it.
45. Separate the person from their actions, so that I can not like something that was done, but still like the person who did it.
46. Understand that opinions, like the people who hold them, can and probably will change over time.
47. Recognize potential problems and be proactive about avoiding them.
48. When I don’t like an answer, not be afraid to ask a better question.
49. Understand that no matter how bad things may seem, everything is temporary and besides, it could always be much worse. (Believe me on this one!)
50. Recognize and appreciate the many precious little gifts that come with everyday life, and de-emphasize the few negatives.
So what would you add to your list?