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Home > Audio, Podcast, Show > 50 is just a number – – from the Career Opportunities Podcast

50 is just a number – – from the Career Opportunities Podcast

February 17th, 2014

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The day has arrived. I can no longer pretend I am 25 anymore, even if my mental age seems stuck around that time. This weekend I turned 50 and while it certainly wasn’t unexpected, it can be a little challenging sometimes. This is especially true when you notice that some people begin to treat you differently. Knowing only your age, they think you might not be hip and cool (like I ever was) and very, very set in your ways. They might expect you to be conservative, careful and overly critical of the changes around you. Those of you who know me though , through these podcasts and elsewhere, know that I constantly fight against such issues, I try to keep my mind open, my thinking fresh and my curiosity turned way, way up. This is what I think it means to be 50.


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While I often joke about being “old”, I never really feel that old, unless you count the week I spent in the hospital back in 2012. Sitting alone and unable to sleep gives you a lot of time to think — and not always about good things. That said, my thinking often turned to what I was going to do with the next few weeks, months and years. I knew my career had been coming to a close for months, if not years, and this event was making it clear that I needed to make a change — a change that I had wanted for a long time. Now it was time to put that change into motion. So, over the last year I have referred my clients elsewhere and focused more on my new media work, writing and photography. As you might imagine, it feels really good. Sure, there is still the stress of money to be made, school payments, new jobs to be found, but overall that stress is at least working towards something I want. That makes any stress more bearable.

Over the years I have learned a very important lesson — the timeline of your life will never match that of your friend or family. Society often teaches us that we must accomplish stuff by a certain age or we have failed in some way. We have to have a successful job and a spouse by 25, a house soon after, other luxury items by 30 and be a millionaire by the time we are 40. Of course, none of this is true, but the stress caused by trying to live up to this timeline is very, very real. I am sure you have seen others burn themselves out in an attempt to live by someone else’s timeline and yet many people continue to try.

Sure, if you want to have kids you can’t wait too long, but most other events in the timeline can happen at any time in your life. You can gain great success late in life, early in life, whenever. You can find the love of your life when you are 16 or 60. You can never really tell what life is going to throw at you and trying to force the issue can leave you wondering what it was all about. If there is one wizened thing I have learned in 50 years, you can only live your own life. Others may think they know better, want “only what is in your best interest”, know better than you, but you are the one that has to look at yourself in the mirror each morning. You have to be able to live with yourself and that often means rejecting the advice — and pressure — of others and doing what you think best.

Remember over the course of your life that 18, 21, 25, 30, 40 and even 50 are just numbers on a timeline. They mean nothing by themselves. They don’t require you to act in a certain way, do certain things, or feel a failure of you haven’t met one of society’s hard and fast markers. Also, no matter how old you get, it isn’t over until it is over. Don’t stop living until you are forced to. To become old before your time is a waste for yourself and everyone who cares for you. Keep learning. Keep striving. Keep making the world a better place to live as long as you have the power. If you do, I think you will find that 50, even 90, is just a number and means nothing to the overall scheme of your life.

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