Off the Couch – A Survival Guide to Starting Over After 50

"New Way, New Life" road signs remind us to start over after 50

10 Tips to Starting Over After 50

Are you starting over at 50 or later?  Read on. 

Sh#t happens at any age, but at a certain age, chances are it’s come for you. You may find yourself starting over for any number of reasons – divorce, job loss, relocation, financial devastation. The list is endless.

Loss is loss. And we mourn it in. A former spouse, a former job, a pet, maybe even a former home or community. We mourn it.

I had a trifecta!

There’s no handbook for navigating through it all. At first it was a matter of just getting out of bed each day, learning to breathe again, and then finally creating a brand new career I couldn’t have dreamed of.

Guess what? A few years later, I’m still standing.

I survived, and dare I say, even thrived.

And so can you. Millions of people are starting over after 50, and loving it. 

We do these things and we come out on the other side.

My life is richer and more rewarding than I could have hoped.

Will I ever be the same? Nope. But that’s just fine.

Sifting Through the Ashes – Mind, Spirit and Body

Butterfly soaring over the fields. - A reminder to reimagine ourselves

Regardless of your circumstances and why you’re pushing reset, take a couple deep breaths right now, say goodbye to what was and know that you are far stronger, more creative and more resilient than you think. My personal path to getting through it all and finding new purpose and joy involved reinventing my life one step at a time, on every level – Mind, Spirit and Body. Yours may be simpler.

Sometimes it’s just a matter of us learning to find the beginning in what seems to be the end.

Break it all into small bits you can manage.

Celebrate the small victories.

Make the small victories more and more frequent until finally they run together into something that starts to make you feel brand new. Voila.

Here are 10 tips that helped me start over after 50 and create a new way of being in the world.

Tame Your Mind – You’re Not Broken Forever. Promise!

Woman over 50 gazing out of office window

There’s a trauma and anxiety that goes with any new start.

Whether it’s worrying about making the mortgage payment after losing your job, or if you can make a new business work, how you will possibly find a job at sixty, how things can come together after a divorce, or just wondering if your heart will ever survive a loss.

It’s there, it’s loud and it’s real.

Yes, the roar of your own mind can bring you to your knees.

Stay there as long as you need. Then let’s get on with it.  

Some of the tools that brought me relief and new joy were surprisingly simple and accessible.

1 – Give Yourself Time

Hour glass in a field. There's still time to start over after 50

We all grieve in different ways and at different paces.  There is no shame in feeling pain. That’s what separates us from the psychopaths!  So go right ahead and FEEL it. Cry, whine, wallow and do whatever you want.

And don’t let anyone tell you “it’s time to get over it.” It’s time when it’s time. Period.

Just remember, pain is not binary. Even if you can only hear that nagging, mean voice in your head, there’s lots more going on. And bit by bit, you’ll begin to notice things like the warmth of the sun, or the gentle touch of a friend, or the sound of your own laughter.

2 – One Breath at a Time – Meditation Heals

Woman over 50 meditating in jeans on her bed

Stop the movie in your mind and that crappy niggling voice in your head that makes you ask yourself the same questions again and again, pushing the same thoughts and worries through you in an endless  loop. I like to think about it in this very non-scientific way. Basically, you have this one neural path in your mind. Keep that darn channel too jammed up with good stuff to ruminate over what was, what could have been, what may be coming.

Meditate, read, learn Swahili- just jam that guy up.

Meditation quickly became my first aid kit.

Check out these sources:

  • Deepak and Oprah frequently offer FREE 21 Day Meditation Experiences. Check out the Chopra Center site to see what’s up. It wasn’t long before my mind began to quiet and those delicious 20 minutes became the best part of my day.
  • Lots of mediation apps have popped up recently. I think of these as “meditation light” since they are mostly guided and shorter. But a great place for a beginner to start. Some offer FREE 7 day trials, meditations and other practices specifically for sleep, motivation, health and more. Some favorites: calm.com, headspace.com. A quick search for “meditation apps” will turn up a dozen or so.
  • YouTube has tons of meditations and instructional videos for all levels

3 – Writing Your Way Out – Journaling is Underrated

Journaling through your second act- Open journal filled with doodles and thoughts and cup of coffee

Get yourself a beautiful journal that you love to touch. It should lie flat, with big wide spaces to write, draw or for you to just sit and touch the pages. Find a pen that writes as fast as you can think. And start. Write anything. Write to make sense of things, write to figure stuff out, write to rehash, write to plan your next move, or just to vent and spew expletives if so inclined. It’s your private space. You’ll feel a little self-conscious and mechanical at first, but soon you’ll be flying. When your writing becomes automatic, stream of consciousness, (you know, like someone’s whispering in your ear) you’ll get it. Over time, you’ll find yourself dropping your anxiety and your story. And the page will talk to you. That day when you find yourself looking forward and feeling fearless, you’ll know you’ve turned a corner. And you’ll probably be as in love with writing as millions of others around the world. Try this one today!

Change Your Life – Break the Inertia

Over 50 woman with suitcase by train in the lavender fields. New start?

Your beautiful new life isn’t going to create itself. And frankly, time’s a wastin’. Push yourself off the couch and do something – anything! Take a walk outside. Listen to the leaves rustle, or the snow crunch under your feet, or the water lapping on the shoreline. Stroll through a museum, or a farmers market. Start by doing this every day for a week.  

For some great ideas you can start today, check out “Try Something New Today”

 

"Time for Something New!" message on chalkboard

4 – Where is Everyone? Finding Friends and Kinship after 50.

It’s tough feeling lonely even though you just want to be alone.

Remember that you aren’t in this alone.

Whatever your circumstance, I guarantee others are/have/or will experience it. It’s life.

You may find comfort in that – for me, not so much. Who has time for someone else’s pain. Misery does love company, but make it positive, friendly company.

Finding new friends later in life can be awkward and icky. Here are some tips.

  • Reach out to your old friends. They will be there. Tell them what you need and let them do it.
  • Bless Facebook for providing a neutral, passive platform where I could reach out to friends, old and new without committing to a conversation or rehash of what’s transpired, and a commitment that often was no more than a “like.” But rebuilding your community is healing and fun, not to mention cathartic. Connecting to kids from grammar school, hearing from your former in-laws, or reminiscing with old colleagues is the best reminder of the cyclical and passing nature of life. What matters so much today will eventually dull. It won’t go away. But it won’t be what it is today.Two people kayaking on ocean with sunset in view.
  • Meetup.com is a fabulous non-dating way to meet like-minded people, whatever your jam is. Speaking French, cooking, wine club, book club, kayaking.  I experimented until I found some things that best suited me. Some of my hits and misses :
  • Dragon Boat Racing – Yes!  But too far away to continue.
  • Snorkeling- YES!!  I remember the first time I felt the warm water around me, fish swimming below, and realized I was smiling.
  • Happy Hours – nope. Random crowd. I like my own friends better.

More traditional? Check out volunteer opportunities with museums, concerts or events in your area.

Online Dating- Let’s just leave that for another day.

Take Back Your Health

It’s hard to take care of those beautiful ruins when breathing is still your top priority. But this one is going to pay back in aces.

Take Care of Your One and Only Body.

Hand weights, tape measure and fresh orange as reminder to take care of our bodies as we age.

5 – Beware that demon alcohol.

I’m gonna get a little preachy here.  If you’re hiding your wine bottles from the trash guys, having a hard time stringing together a couple days without a toddy, or find yourself clock watching around 5pm, it may well be time to reassess your things.  Drinking is a depressant, (yes, that means it makes things worse!!), it saps your energy and your will to dig yourself out of this whole mess.

Check out these articles about trying on Alcohol Free for size.

Crushing the Alcohol Experiment! 

Blame it On The Wine- 5 Signs it May Be Time It May Be Time to Break Up With Booze

6 – Junk Food Binging?

See “Demon Alcohol” above.  Make the time to be mindful in your eating.

A great place to start?

  • Kill the sugar and processed food.
  • Fill your fridge with glass containers of gorgeous washed fruit ready to snack on by the handful. I am a raspberry junkie and float them in my club soda, dump them on my cereal, or just grab a few ‘cuz I can.
  • And a container of almonds make a great grab and go.

7 – Even Your Yoga Pants are Too Tight?

Over 50 Couple doing yoga

Since we are still in the “Be Gentle With Yourself” phase, no need to go crazy. But do get up, get out, start a gentle walk program. Join a yoga class and soak up the zen at the same time. Pop in to the local health club. Just move.

Woman lacing up running shoes next to dress heels and purse on the floor.

A WORD ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH –

IF YOU ARE OVERWHELMED AND FEELING DEPRESSED DO NOT HESITATE TO SEE YOUR DOCTOR, FIND A MENTAL HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONAL, CONSULT WITH APPROPRIATE SUBSTANCE ABUSE ORGANIZATIONS AND SPECIALISTS. THIS IS NOT MEDICAL ADVICE.

8 – Zen and the Art of Decluttering

When you’re drowning in emotional, and sometimes administrative mess, general disarray of your home ain’t gonna help. Whether the paperwork is piled in the air ‘cuz you just don’t care, or you’re closing in on hoarder status, trust me on this one. You’ve gotta clean that stuff out. There’s not anything more cathartic than seeing those bags of “stuff” go out the door. Just one more way to get rid of the chaos. Pick a drawer, or a cupboard, or a shelf, and do it.  You’ll find yourself going back after to smile in wonder at that clean new space.

9 – When the Severance/ Alimony/Last Paycheck/ (you fill in the blank:) Runs Out – Find  Your Financial Truth

Over 50 woman reviewing finances at desk with accountant. This part is not fun. But it’s gotta be said. You need to know where you stand financially. Don’t let this be your Achilles Heel. And if you’re reading this and have no worries in that area, keep reading. Every single person on this earth needs to understand her/his financial health.  If you don’t have or can’t afford a professional – educate yourself. In fact, educate yourself anyhow.

Some “must knows”

  • Budget 101 – How much to you have available monthly? How much do you spend?
  • Health Insurance – Is it tied to someone else’s policy, what are deductibles, when do you qualify for medicare?
  • Mortgage terms – When will it be paid off and how could you expedite this?
  • Home Insurance Policies – Can you bundle them, ie homeowners, flood, windstorm to get a preferred rate? What are your deductibles?
  • What’s your plan for retirement?
  • When is Social Security available to you, and will the loss of a spouse provide you with additional benefits or change the timing?

Some handy resources:

  • I love the David Bach books and gift them to friends often, even though they are a little dated. “Smart Women Finish Rich.”  Suzie Orman, Jean Chatzky. Stop by the bookstore and browse today. Yes, you can get them online, but we’re trying to get out more these days, right?
  • An internet search of “women’s financial health” is a great place to start. Worksheets, videos, advice – it’s all there.

Stay tuned for an upcoming blog that explores this further.

NOTE: WE ARE NOT OFFERING LEGAL OR FINANCIAL ADVICE, WE ARE NOT QUALIFIED TO DO SO. PLEASE CONSULT YOUR PROFESSIONALS

 

10 – But I Don’t Even Have a Parachute – Create Your Second Act

Vintage typewriter with "New Chapter" types out. Reminder for Over 50 women starting a new chapter.

Here’s where the good stuff happens.  I found myself well past 50, out of my big ‘ol high paying job, without my long time partner.  Don’t get me wrong. It took time to recognize the new gifts that were about to open up to me. But they did.

  • I work from home in digital marketing with two really smart young guys and with clients we love.
  • I’ve discovered blogging – my way of scratching my “writing itch,” and hopefully giving a few people a smile or at least a virtual hug from time to time.
  • I have a side hustle for a travel magazine that gets me some pretty cushy travel.
  • I completed a magazine-worthy renovation of my “Florida 50’s House” Who knew a Florida ranch could look like this? (More to come on that on secondmojo.com).)

I share this only to promise you that life is good, and there is so much yet to come. Stay tuned for upcoming blogs on kick starting your life after 50.

Thistle blowing against the bright blue sky

Gotta say this again – because it is important.

A WORD ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH –

IF YOU ARE OVERWHELMED AND FEELING DEPRESSED DO NOT HESITATE TO SEE YOUR DOCTOR, FIND A MENTAL HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONAL, CONSULT WITH APPROPRIATE SUBSTANCE ABUSE ORGANIZATIONS AND SPECIALISTS. THIS IS NOT MEDICAL ADVICE.

Why not get a start on that reboot today? Check out “Kickstart Your Second Act – Design a Life You Love TODAY!” and download our FREE workbook to get you started.

For more ideas for getting your second mojo going today take a look at Try  Something New Today

You may also enjoy Get Your Mojo Back! The Joy of New Beginnings.

Struggling with quarantine? These are some epic thoughts on sailing through it.  Things to do While in Quarantine to Stay Sane. 

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Thanks for stopping in

XOX Cyn

 

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