Remember when you were in your highly-charged 20s, partying hard, looking for love in all the wrong places, battling hang-overs and dramas, sleeping late, scoffing junk food, working long hours, clashing with the boss, trying to pay your rent, buy your first car and save for that whirlwind trip!
Don’t worry, you were perfectly normal! The decade of your 20s is meant to be turbulent. It’s the stage of life when ambition and hormones are running rampant as you get on with the ‘psychological tasks’ of establishing your career, ‘mate selection’ and becoming an independent adult.
In your 20s, you were biologically wired to seek a mate at this prime reproductive season and that’s why manic energy was poured into partying and pursuing attractive partners. But simultaneously you were striving to become an independent, capable adult as you aspired to gain an education, achieve on the job and manage your finances.
That was a lot to master in a decade and it is no wonder that the notion of life balance was hard to grasp and even harder to pull off.
Along came the decade of your 30s and you probably found yourself raising a family while trying to hold down a demanding job and pay off a mortgage in between running the kids around to ballet classes and football games, supervising homework, battling loads of laundry, throwing barbecues for friends and scheduling ‘date nights’ with your spouse although you could barely stay awake for the romance! The 30s were exhausting!
Having survived the obligatory midlife crisis in your 40s when your marriage, health and/or career collapsed under the strain, you have now recovered your pep. Renewed and redeemed, you are sitting pretty, a little battered perhaps, but optimistic and resilient in the 50s, ready for a whole new exciting stage of life. Well that’s MY story anyway! And I suspect you have shared a similar jaunt through the decades because we humans are not really that different, as much as we like to imagine we are unique!
This brings me to the elusive topic of life balance. Life can be divided into three core areas; career, relationships and healthy lifestyle. Having reached the maturity and wisdom of your 50s or older, you have probably achieved, quite intuitively, a natural balance of time spent in these three parts of life.
Your career is the domain of your intellect and by now you will be feeling competent in your chosen field with a stockpile of knowledge and skills while hopefully being open to learn more and adapt to new ways.
You will be smart enough to limit the hours spent working to a reasonable amount; say four to eight hours a day. Whether part-time or full-time, paid or voluntary, your work represents the culmination of your career and life experience and a way to make a contribution to society and future generations.
At this mature stage of life, you are wise enough to know that time invested into close relationships with family and friends is crucial to your wellbeing. It is wise to make quality time with your husband or wife, your grown-up kids, grandkids and other family members and long-time cherished friends. However it is still possible and vital to make new friends because new friendships are invigorating.
I include ‘personal growth’ in the category of relationships because it is through close relationships with others that we really learn to heal old wounds, communicate and love.
Finally as an Empty Nester with kids flown the coup, you can reclaim the interests and passions of your youth and revive your Lost Self that was buried under a pile of mundane chores. This is the area of life I call Healthy Lifestyle.
You should now have more leisure time to fill with enjoyable recreations, hobbies and interests. Make sure you put effort into keeping fit and healthy.
My interests include travelling and discovering different countries and cultures. I have a massive bucket list of fascinating places to visit before I kick the proverbial.
I love music. I never did achieve my ambition of becoming a famous folk singer-songwriter however I can now fully appreciate the musical talents of truly gifted performers! I plan to attend countless London clubs and concerts and see every West End musical several times!
And I have a whole list of recreations I’m determined to have a go at over the coming decade! These strenuous activities include hiking on the Burren in Ireland’s county Clare (next week!) hiking in Tuscany, sailing in the Greek Islands, dancing in Spain, cycling in the South of France, horse riding in Montana and skiing on the Alps! I’m on my way to achieving my goal weight, ready to hit the gym to build core strength and muscles to support my skeletal frame so I will make ‘old bones’.
50plus is the time to live life to the full and live life in balance; spending the right amount of each day devoted to the three important aspects of life to be a well-rounded, fulfilled and valuable human being.