Sixty is a big number. When I hit that milestone it was momentarily a big deal, but it quickly passed. Looking back to when I was in my early 20s, that felt old. When you leave your teen years you cross an important line: your youth is gone. Young adulthood is filled with firsts as you go out in life and experience things. Most people are older than you, so you still feel on the young side.
Hitting the 30s, 40s and 50s are all milestones of sorts, each with a different realization. Reaching 60 is on the threshold of retirement and a roomful of possibilities. In the film The Shawshank Redemption there is a line, “Either get busy living or get busy dying.” When you hit 60, you can’t afford to waste any time.
I’m actually 61, so let me make that disclaimer. But, during my 60th year I did some reflecting, so I’m just now letting it percolate to the top.
- People my age don’t really seem that old. Let me qualify that, many people my age don’t seem that old. Those who do, got there early, and seem to be content with it.
- Medicine and healthcare have lengthened and improved the quality of life, so if you take care of yourself, hitting 60 is not that different from middle age in general.
- Have some money put away for retirement. Since people are living longer, plan accordingly. Working late in life doesn’t interest me. Unless you work at something you love, then it really isn’t work.
- Live your own life. Incorporate others into your life but have your own goals, interests and ideas.
- Come to grips with regrets. Clean out your closet, deal with things, settle disputes, move on.
- Accomplish something every day. Learn something, experience something, set goals and tackle challenges. At the end of the day, have something of value you accomplished.
- Give back. Whether you’ve spent your life accumulating or providing for others, use the back-end of your life making a difference in the lives of others or benefiting the planet.
- Share your feelings. If you don’t say it or show it, people don’t know.
- If you fear something, find out what it is, and overcome it. If you fear dying, get some help and deal with it. Fear is a lousy way to live.
- Don’t leave a mess for others to clean up. You aren’t going to live forever so tie things together for those behind you.
- This is such a youth-driven culture and it’s easy to feel like a second-class citizen. Screw that attitude. Don’t get too hung-up on the trappings of youth. Do what makes you feel good but don’t tie your self esteem to looking 30 again. Appreciate your age.
We all have our own list, it’s not hard to come up with advice. Whatever age you are, be thankful you have reached it. Enjoy the trip.