Though most of us would probably rather not think about it, our 50th birthdays will come sooner than we think.
(Yes, we just threw up in our mouths too.)
After all, many of us can remember when our parents were our age – and now look at them.
Through past interviews and a recent conversation with a cross-section of professionals over the age of 50, we found a few common themes continued to emerge.
So with that in mind, here’s what you should know by 50 straight from those who already do know (we’re telling you now so you can get planning…)
Take Time to Slow Down
In an interview earlier this year, the “Real Wolf of Wall Street,” Jordan Belfort, told us that he’d tell his 25-year-old self to slow down, referring to a tendency of young people to get caught up in the business, financial, and social by-products of quick success.
Though he was quick to remind us that he isn’t a choir boy, at the age of 52 Belfort has finally learned to take a step back from his life of over-the-top abundance and instant gratification.
Know Your Reason to Wake Up
As Mark Twain so simply put it, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”
We spend so much of our time in our young adult years just questioning every action and inaction in an attempt to try to figure it all out. By 50, you should have a clear sense of your purpose or function in life, and what type of legacy you’ll leave behind. In short, you need to know your reason for getting out of bed.
Very Few Things Go As Planned
A common theme for those over 50 was that things rarely go as planned. Last year, Kevin O’Leary told us the same thing: “The world is a chaotic, kinetic place; there’s a lot going on, bad stuff happens. Things don’t always go as planned, personally or professionally.”
O’Leary himself started off his career as a cinematographer. Any YP who’s experienced a life-changing tragedy or triumph already knows that life’s full of curve balls.
Savings Plans are Serious Business
By the time we’re 50, we could have another 50 years to live. Yet gone are the days of generous pension plans for most of us, especially the artsy and entrepreneurial types. But don’t wait until 50 to start saving; by 50 you should be feeling quite comfortable about retirement (meaning the thought of your financial security shouldn’t give you a panic attack). By 50, you should also be able to identify vices and traps when it comes to frivolous spending.
Know How to Find a Sense of Patience
The traffic’s annoying. Slow-walking people are annoying. Even your question-asking intern is annoying. It seems something happens to our level of patience the crazier our young professional lives become.
The good news is we apparently rediscover a sense of patience by 50. “You learn what’s really important in the grand scheme of things,” a retired 60-year-old human resources executive told us. “Some things simply aren’t worth the energy of getting all worked up.”
Looks Only Get You So Far
A former fabulous socialite recently told us that it took her until she was 50 to stop obsessing about the way she looked. It’s one thing to want to stay fit and fabulous, but another to place so much of our value on appearance the way we do in our early 20s. In fact, apparently worrying about it only gets exhausting.
In other words: get all those selfies out of your system now.
Marry Your Best Friend
Of the 50-plus set that we spoke with, the advice from those currently married was always the same: marry your best friend.
Looks fade, and so does physical chemistry – especially if you don’t work on it. At the end of the day, as was reinforced by a married woman we spoke to with MS, you need to know the whole “in sickness and in health” part of your vows rings true for the both of you. And that you’ll both still be laughing together and holding one another’s wrinkly hands long after you’ve both gone grey.