Growing older is a privilege, although many of us fail to see it as such. However, your 50s are actually a great time to figure out what you want from life, and, without the uncertainty that followed you a decade or two earlier, actually achieve it. In fact, many people find that their 50s are the perfect time to make some serious changes in their lives in pursuit of happiness, health, and overall well-being.
Instead of heading into your 50s with a sense of dread, start making these after-50 life changes and you might just discover your 50s are your best decade yet. And when you want to streamline your adult life, start by ditching the 50 Items No Man in His 40s Should Own!
Related: Don’t miss our roundup of 20 Amazing Father’s Day Gift Ideas!
Conquer a Long-Held Fear
Don’t let the fears that held you back in early adulthood dictate what your 50s will be like. Your 50s are the perfect time to finally try out that acting class, go skydiving, or ask someone you’ve been eyeing on a date, even if the thought would have paralyzed you a decade earlier. In fact, some scientists are saying that, due to increased human longevity, you’re a lot younger than you think at 50. And when you want to start, try the 40 Best Bucket List Experiences for People Over 40.
Try Out a Cool Hairstyle
Think your days of awesome hair are over because you’re in your 50s? Think again. Now is the perfect time to reinvent your style with an amazing new ‘do. In the immortal words of Hillary Clinton, “If I want to knock a story off the front page, I just change my hairstyle.” And when you want to look cooler, try one of the 15 Best Men’s Haircuts for Looking Instantly Younger.
Travel Somewhere You’ve Never Been
Why wait another minute to take that trip you’ve always wanted to go on? Your 50s are the perfect time to finally see the places you’ve always dreamed about. In fact, research suggests that international travel may even increase creativity. Need convincing? Just check out the 35 Best Reasons to Take a Vacation.
Start a Book Club
It’s never too late to brush up on great literature. Fortunately, you can expand your knowledge of the written word and catch up with friends in one fell swoop by starting a book club. It may even help you stay more cognitively fit as you age: Research published in Neurology suggests that mentally-stimulating activities, like reading, can help stave off the aging process. And when you want to brush up on the classics, start with the 40 Books Every Man Over 40 Should Have on His Bookshelf.
Adopt a Pet
If you’re feeling the strain of empty nest syndrome or are just eager to help out an animal in need, your 50s are a great time to adopt a pet. In addition to the companionship and unconditional love, research even suggests that pet owners live longer than their pet-free counterparts. And when you’re getting ready to bring home a furry friend, discover the 15 Amazing Benefits of Adopting a Pet!
Learn to Garden
Want an easy way to reduce your grocery bills, increase your physical activity, and eat healthier? Start gardening. Your 50s are the ideal time to add this low-impact, highly-rewarding activity to your routine. And for more clever ways to add years to your life, don’t miss the 100 Best Anti-Aging Secrets!
Finish a New York Times Sunday Crossword
Your 50s are a perfect time to finally tackle that seemingly-impossible crossword you’ve been too intimidated to try until now. Need more incentive? Research suggests that you might remain mentally sharp for longer if crosswords are part of your regular routine. And to build a healthier relationship, read this 50 Relationship Quotes to Reignite Your Love.
Your 50s can be an emotional time, but journaling can provide a great outlet for those feelings while helping you remember all the great things going on in your life. In fact, researchers at UCLA found that expressive writing can even help reduce symptoms of anxiety.
Reconnect With Old Friends
With the drama-filled days of your early adult life behind you, your 50s are a great time to reconnect with old friends. And by the time you hit your 50s, there’s probably a whole lot to catch up on.
Trace Your Family Genealogy
While you might have a vague idea of where your family is from, your 50s are a perfect time to tackle a genealogy project. Finding out where your distant relatives came from and learning about their lives is also a wonderful gift to pass on to younger family members when you’re gone. And for more smart ways to be healthier, Here’s Why You Should Sleep with Your Feet Outside the Covers.
Learn a New Language
Want to keep your mind sharp as you get older? Try learning a new language in your 50s. Not only will it help you out when you finally take that vacation you’ve always been dreaming of, research suggests that being bilingual can attenuate some of the cognitive effects of the aging process. Oh, and speaking of language? Check out the 30 Common Words You’re Using All Wrong.
Take Up Yoga
Enjoy more flexibility and a stronger body in your 50s by taking up yoga. Not only is yoga great for limbering up stiff joints, it’s also an ideal way to get those lean muscles you’ve always wanted.
Take a Solo Vacation
Traveling alone when you’re younger might not have seemed like much fun, but now that you’re a little older, treat yourself to a solo trip. Making your own schedule, exploring the way you want, and getting to relax alone are undeniable pleasures by the time you’re in your 50s. And if you’re used to traveling solo, you probably also know the 50 Things Single People Hate Hearing.
Read More Classic Literature
While a book club is a good start, your 50s are also a great time to devote more of your free time to brushing up on those classics you never found the time to finish earlier in life. And if that sort of reading is too heavy for you right out of the gates, consider starting with one of the 30 Funniest Celebrity Books.
Run a Race
Make a point of giving yourself a fitness goal to accomplish in your 50s. Even if you’re not in the market for a marathon, completing a 5K or charity walk can give you a serious confidence boost.
Learn to Appreciate Wine
If you like to drink, make a concerted effort to learn more about your favorite wines in your 50s. Try out a tasting class to get yourself acquainted with the appropriate terminology and learn how to properly decant, pour, and sip a great glass of wine.
Get Regular Massages
After a few decades spent in the workforce or raising children, you definitely deserve some time to relax. Make your 50s the decade you finally commit to getting regular massages, helping you remain back pain-free.
Learn to Cook
While you probably know your way around the kitchen well enough to prepare some meals, enrich your 50s by mastering your craft. Taking cooking classes can mean fewer wimpy salads and pasta-and-jarred-sauce nights and more magical meals to look forward to. Start with the 40 Dishes Everyone Over 40 Should Master.
Create a Signature Dish
And while you’re at it, find a dish you love to cook and make the recipe your own with a little creativity and a lot of practice.
Talking about your feelings can be tough, but therapy can be a real treat. Commit yourself to more introspection and a more positive outlook by giving therapy a try.
By the time you hit 50, life has likely given you plenty to be thankful, making it the perfect time to start giving back.
Buy Yourself a Big Gift
Whether it’s a fast car or designer purse you’ve had your sights on, with a little extra cash in your bank account in your 50s, now’s the ideal time for that once-in-a-lifetime splurge. If you’re looking to update your wardrobe, start with the 10 New Casual Office Essentials.
Have a Family Reunion
There aren’t endless opportunities to spend with your family as people get older. In your 50s, make a point of having a family reunion and getting back in contact with those family members you’ve lost touch with.
Make Vegetables Non-Negotiable in Every Meal
While vegetables may already play a major role in your diet, by your 50s, they should make their way into every meal. As Michael Pollen says, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
Take Up Painting
Who knows if you have a masterpiece in you if you don’t try? In addition to being a soothing activity and enjoyable creative outlet, you’ll feel proud every time you look at your work hung around your home.
Spend More Time Outside
Make a real effort to spend more time outdoors when you’re in your 50s. A little sunlight and green space can go a long way toward improving your health and happiness.
Learn to Surf
Who says you have to be young to learn how to ride the waves? Surfing is a great way to have fun and get fit in your 50s.
Remodel Your Home
Don’t put off that remodel another 10 years. In your 50s, you not only have enough energy to lend a hand in the process, you’ll also have lots of time to enjoy the results of your newly-remodeled space.
Get Involved in Your Neighborhood
Getting more connected to your neighborhood in your 50s will serve you well by the time retirement rolls around. Whether you’re doing a neighborhood watch, planting in a community garden, or helping bring meals to residents who are sick, a little community work can make a major impact.
Go Camping Somewhere Beautiful
Experience the great outdoors in your 50s by camping somewhere beautiful and new, whether that means a trip to Alaska’s Glacier Bay State Park or Minnesota’s Boundary Waters.
Take Dance Lessons
If you want to spice things up with your partner, get more limber, or just bust a move, your 50s are the perfect time to get some pro training and make your debut on the dance floor.
Get Politically Active
Whether your passion is human rights, the environment, education, or animal welfare, your 50s are prime time for being politically informed and active.
Start Your Morning With a Workout
Want to make the most of your 50s? Start your mornings with a workout. Not only will working out in the morning give you major energy boost, but research also suggests that exercise may boost work productivity. So try to get in a workout before you hit the office.
Get Yourself VIP Tickets to a Concert
You don’t have to be an 18-year-old in a crop top to enjoy standing front and center at your favorite performer’s concert. In your 50s, treat yourself to VIP tickets to a concert and dance yourself silly with your friends.
A little forgiveness goes a long way. In your 50s, make it a point to treat yourself and those you’ve had issues with in the past to some forgiveness.
Make Amends With Your Exes
This forgiveness movement shouldn’t exclude your exes, either. With the exception of those who’ve done unforgivable things, make it a point to make peace with your exes.
Spend More Time in Bed
By the time most people are in their 50s, those early morning wake-ups you endured when you have young kids are long gone, so treat yourself to a little more time in bed. Read the newspaper, talk with your partner, or just allow yourself a bit more time to relax. You definitely deserve it.
Take a Writing Class
Hone your storytelling skills and treat yourself to a writing class in your 50s. There’s still plenty of time to pen that bestselling novel you’ve got inside of you.
Learn to Meditate
A clearer mind and happier life go hand-in-hand. Treat yourself to some much-deserved stillness and mental clarity by learning to meditate by the time you reach your 50s. According to research published in JAMA Internal Medicine, meditation may actually help provide relief for those suffering from depression, anxiety, and even physical pain.
Reposition Yourself as an Optimist
Even if you’ve always been a glass-half-empty kind of person, your 50s are the perfect time to make a concerted effort to change that. An optimistic outlook can make you feel a lot happier in the long run, as well as making you a more enjoyable person to spend time with.
Become a Regular Charitable Donor
If you have a little extra money in your bank account in your 50s, consider donating it to a good cause. Being a regular charitable donor can make a major impact, even long after you’re gone.
Invest in a Skincare Routine
You probably know how to wash your face, but by the time you’re in your 50s, it’s time to really start taking care of your skin. Get facials, invest in a pricey cream you’ve always wanted to try, and, most importantly, always wear sunscreen, no matter the weather.
Embrace Your Fashion Sense
You don’t have to be a young adult to lean into your love of fashion. In your 50s, don’t be afraid to really let your full fashion sense shine, whether you’re into a bohemian vibe or feel like glamming it up. Just look at over-50 fashion icons like Grace Coddington, who prove that fabulous style knows no age.
Make a Comprehensive Will
While it may seem morbid to think about, if you don’t have a comprehensive will at 50, it’s time to make one. Having your affairs in order should something happen will make the fallout so much easier for your loved ones.
Learn to Discuss Art
If you’re already an art lover, commit to learning how to properly talk about it in your 50s. Learn to discuss the chiaroscuro, the symbolism, or the brushstrokes in a piece of art you love, rather than giving it the usual, “I don’t know, but I like it.”
Go to Sleep Earlier
By the time you’re in your 50s, there’s no reason to pressure yourself to stay up until all hours of the night. If 9 feels like the right bedtime, go for it. Your body will thank you the next morning for not staying out until 2 A.M. in heels.
See the Northern Lights
If you’ve never seen the northern lights, make it your mission to catch them in your 50s. It’s an experience you won’t soon forget.
Tell People You Love Them More
Want to make your life richer in your 50s? Start by saying “I love you” to the people who matter most to you. Make it a point of ending every interaction with your family or close friends that way—you won’t be sorry you did.
Spend More Time With Your Friends
The pressures of work and family life can make it hard to find time to spend enough time with your friends in your 30s and 40s, but in your 50s, make a point of spending time with the people you love on a regular basis. Host a game night, throw a party for the Super Bowl, or just invite friends over for drinks once a month; you’ll relish the time you spend together.
Smiling is a powerful tool when it comes to your happiness and the happiness of others. Putting a smile on your face not only makes you seem more approachable, it can actually boost your mood, as well. In fact, researchers at the University of Kansas have even linked smiling to lower stress levels. A little happiness goes a long way.
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