I’m 50. Now what?

March 23, 20152 Comments

Mid-Life Crisis much?!

Almost everyone over 50 years old has asked the question. “I’m 50. Now what do I do?” Chances are you have been working for a quarter century (or more) and will recognize one or more of these scenarios.

(1) You’ve worked at the same organization for most of your life. You wonder if that was the right decision.

(2) You have moved through a variety of companies (and careers) and you are not sure if you made good choices.

(3) You got married. You got divorced. You raised your children until the nest was empty. Now you wonder how your life might have turned out if you had stayed single.

I’ve asked myself those questions, too. But now, I have a personal credo. Don’t whine and don’t rewind. If that’s you, let me shake you by the shoulders and shout, “Stewing about your past decisions is a waste of your time!” You can’t change or “do-over” the events of your personal history. Instead, refocus your energies to change your future. As a guy who has endured many career ups and downs, I didn’t hit my stride until I was 45. At that age, I was exhausted and disappointed. My personal life included two failed marriages. My work life was sporadic. Even my health was breaking down. Mentally, I was paralyzed by self-pity. Then, at a birthday party for a friend, a pretty woman asked to have coffee with me. What? Why? Because she didn’t see me as I saw myself. That tiny moment of hope motivated me to stop wallowing in my past. To be honest, I didn’t want to be a disappointment to her. So it hit me that instead of obsessing about my problems I should be thinking about the experience and knowledge I had probably amassed. I wanted to see in me what she saw. I decided to ignore the calendar and feel happy I had reached this age – at this point in time – to meet this woman. Slowly, I saw evidence that my personal life could blossom (we got married two yeara later). My income tripled. Even my health improved. (Health improves when your mind is clear of angst). Now, I am convinced that your post-50 endeavors could (and should) eclipse everything you have done so far. The catch? You need to be motivated. You must re-harness your enthusiasm and drive. Find your drive and you find your next life. Others certainly have blown past 50 to find greater success.

Colonel Harlan Sanders was a failure in the restaurant business through his 50’s. At age 59, with his last $100, he started his fried chicken franchise at age 60. He sold the chain 10 years later (in 1964) for $2million.

Frank McCourt (author of Angela’s Ashes) didn’t take up writing until he was 65. He received both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Books Critics Circle Award. Before that, he was a teacher and led a rather ordinary life.

Socrates learned to play musical instruments at age 80.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta won the Nobel Peace Prize at 69…and worked until she was 87.

Christopher Columbus was nearly 54 when he discovered America.

Winston Churchill was thought to be unemployable until he was named Prime – Minister of the United Kingdom at age 65. He worked until he was 90.

Michelangelo was sculpting into his 70’s.

Ronald Reagan became Governor of California at age 57 and president of the United States at age 69.

Benjamin Franklin helped draft the Declaration of Independence at 65 and signed the United States Constitution at age 81.

Peter Roget suffered from OCD, (obsessive compulsive disorder). The only thing that calmed him down was making random lists. One of his lists contain words that meant the same thing. At age 73 he created something we all know and love, Roget’s Thesaurus.

If you want more inspiration about the possibilities of your future past 50 years old, read Late Achievers: Famous People Who Succeeded Late in Life.

Whether you are self-motivated or motivated by the accomplishments of someone else, it doesn’t matter. Post-50 can be your best years. Post-50 can reinvigorate yourself and those around you. In coming blogs, I will talk about the baby steps you can take to re-ignite your career and your life.

Ross Shafer is the co-author of the new book, ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY – Bulletproof Tactics for Putting Yourself in High Demand. He is also the author of Nobody Moved Your Cheese, Are You Relevant, Grab More Market Share, and The Customer Shouts Back. Ross is a busy keynote speaker, author, and Emmy winner for his work as a comedian, talk show host, and writer. www.RossShafer.com

Comments (2)

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  1. Bob Leininger says:

    Hi Ross and Michael,

    Love the Relevant Report!

    have a great weekend

  2. 12th Man says:

    R.I.P. Jack Ely. The man who first sang “Louie, Louie” in 1963. He was 71.

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