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20 Things To Look Forward to If You're Turning 50 in 2020

Your 50s are a time in your life when the good things get better and the bad things fall away.

If you're turning 50 in 2020, congratulations! These days more than ever, the big 5-0 is hardly a milestone to dread. Rather, it's a time in life when good things coalesce and deepen—and bad ones start to fall away. (Yes, really.) It's the confidence to speak up for what you want, and the clarity to reject everything that doesn't fit in with your values. Turning 50 not a punishment: It's a privilege. Here are 20 things to look forward to if you're turning 50 in 2020, from people who got there first.

You can get off the hamster wheel.

woman relaxing at home

When you are younger, it can feel like everything is a competition: get the best-paying job, the best-looking spouse, and the best figure. But by 50, a lot of that is probably behind you," says Caleb Backe, a certified life coach and personal trainer for Maple Holistics. "You might be married, settled in your career, or have finally figured out your body's unique needs."

Or at least care less about being on it.

happy middle aged white man with airpods

Of course, you might not have all those things—and you might not even want them, either. "The pressure to get them is certainly less than it was at 20 and 30," Backe adds. "You know who you are and what you want."

You're freer from certain responsibilities.

woman relaxing on hanging chair

If the 40s meant younger kids, school drop-offs, and other obligations, the 50s could represent a break from some of those daily responsibilities. "The freedom of this decade—which often comes through less child-rearing responsibility, a more stable work environment, and greater personal awareness—leaves the door wide open for positive new beginnings," notes clinical psychologist and author Carla Marie Manly.

And that gives you more time to give back.

older black woman volunteering in a soup kitchen with other volunteers

If your schedule is freer, you might have more bandwidth for more selfless pursuits. "Giving back—a sense of wanting to contribute financially and energetically—often becomes more of a focus in one's 50s," Manly says. "The desire to leave a lasting positive mark—to do good for others—can become a vitally important and precious element as we move into our 50s."

Saying no is easier.

older black man resting in a hammock with his eyes closed

By 50, you have learned when and how to say no, even if you have "unsupportive people" surrounding you, says health educator and coach Traci Shoblom of My Health Pyramid. "When you're 50, you finally start living life on your own terms."

And if you're not there yet, 50 is a great time to give yourself permission to get there, stat. "My advice is to give yourself permission to say no," says Paige Arnof-Fenn, founder and CEO of the marketing consulting firm Mavens & Moguls. "Whether it means sleeping in (no to an alarm clock), getting a massage, taking a walk, or just turning off my phone and computer (no, I will respond later on my own schedule), simple acts of letting myself relax and enjoy the moment are the very best gifts I can give myself."

And so is saying yes.

older white man rollerblading and giving the thumbs up

"There is a why-not attitude that comes with being 50," says author and speaker J. Kelly Hoey. "Floor tickets for a Hozier concert and dancing around with millennials—why not? Launch a podcast—why not?"

You've figured out that aging is a privilege, not a punishment.

middle aged black couple laughing and eating popcorn on the couch

"It sounds cliché, but being this age is not a privilege everyone gets," Hoey notes. "Before turning 50, there is a tendency to dread the big 5-0 and upon reaching the milestone, there is a liberation, and enthusiasm about what's ahead."

The 58-year-old writer Patti Tucker agrees, describing her experience of turning 50 as "one of pure joyful anticipation," given her circumstances. "I have survived two cancer scares and faced many other challenges before knocking on 50's door, so to get there was like sliding into home plate after a grand slam."

You might be in the position to enjoy more financial freedom.

man offering a stack of money

Being 50 can mean finding some of life's financial struggles in the rear view. "I have accumulated a nice nest egg that gives me freedom to pursue other interests," says Janet Basilone, founder of the social dining group Fine Diners Over 40.

Or at least, you're in a great position to prepare for it.

close up of older white woman putting money in a piggy bank

Even if that's not the case for you, this is a perfect time to make progress. "Turning 50 means that you can start taking advantage of catch-up contributions to boost your retirement savings," according to Danielle K. Roberts, a personal finance expert and co-founder of the insurance agency Boomer Benefits. "Once you turn 50, you can add an additional $1,000 a year to your IRA and an additional $6,000 per year to your 401(k). If these extra contributions are feasible for you, this can make a huge difference to your retirement savings over the next 15 years."

You really know yourself.

four senior people meditating

"At 50, you know yourself and your strengths and weaknesses well enough to not apologize for them. You know what you like, know what you stand for and what your values are, and how to align your behaviors with your values," Shoblom says.

There's a certain level of self-awareness that only comes with age—in this case, five decades of trial and error. As Backe notes, "You know your likes and dislikes, and know how to not waste your time with people and things that are not good for you. This means you can focus your life on those things that you find important."

And you really understand other people, too.

female friends smiling in backyard together

Once you turn 50, you've probably met plenty of people and had your fair share of relationships, platonic and otherwise. "By now, you have a better idea of what makes people tick and how to navigate conflict better," Backe says. "You can also relate to a lot more people because you have quite a bit of life experience under your belt."

You've earned a lot of wisdom from experience.

bearded man thinking of decision

"What comes with age is wisdom and experience, the confidence and clarity to trust in oneself and one's choices," says best-selling author Rochelle Weinstein, who will be turning 50 in January. It's the art of not caring what other people think, because you can trust yourself, she says.

You know how to enjoy—and thrive—in your relationships.

happy senior couple sitting down

For Weinstein, turning 50 means "a husband who knows my history and all my soft spots" and "sharing the journey."

Manly underscores the sentiment. "Turning 50 can bring a sense of wow for the beauty of close relationships and friendship," she says. "As life may seem more fleeting in one's 50s, the relationships that give us a sense of connection and love become all the more important."

You're a part of a new club.

aarp homepage

OK, we've talked big picture, but let's get into some of the more specific benefits of hitting that magic number. Yes, turning 50 means you can join AARP. (Hooray!) But it can also mean gaining access to other, less famous clubs, and new experiences you never even knew existed.

After 50, speaker and author Beth Bridges discovered the state and national senior games, a multi-sport event specifically for adults 50-plus. "There are sports from archery to badminton to pickleball," she says. "There are a lot of running events, too, so instead of going to a marathon or 5K and getting pushed around by the twentysomethings, a 50-year-old is the baby and the newcomer to the sport—it's such a shift in perspective. The competition is fierce, but the competitors are incredibly friendly. There's a fun and different sense of, 'we're in this together.'"

Professional and creative success leads to new ideas.

senior man painting on canvas

SpaRitual founder Shel Pink said that turning 50 helped her discover new creative pursuits—thanks to all of her previous accomplishments and experiences. "After years of working with color studying history of art in college, printing my own color photographs during my career as a photographer, and years of developing color palettes for my brand, I arrived at painting as a new passion," she explains. "This new dimension in my life is expansive and adds a new sense of depth and meaning that's incredibly renewing and exciting."

You have greater self-confidence.

confident senior man smiling

Basilone found herself pleased to arrive at 50 with "more self confidence—granted, after around five years in therapy." And that burst of confidence led to more free time, and cost savings, to boot. "I stopped dyeing my hair, went gray, and gained a lot of financial and psychological freedom," she adds. "And more time, since I don't have to plan for retouching my hair every two weeks."

You get to sit back and admire where you came from.

relaxed businessman in suit

Weinstein is enjoying all the memories—and the family—she's built in 50 years. "It's nostalgia-laced memories, precious and priceless, while watching our children, and in some cases, our grandchildren navigate through life," she says. "Being able to enjoy these golden years and shifting bodies and temperaments together in our empty, but oh so full, nest."

You have perspective.

thoughtful senior woman

It's not just about being able to step away from the rat race: There's a broader change to how you look at the world. At 50, you're well positioned to benefit from "more insight and bigger-picture thinking based on learnings from years of failures and subsequent growth," says Pink.

You get to bust other people's stereotypes.

senior woman with pink hair

Who says that turning 50 has to be… anything in particular? It's whatever you make it. "Turning 50 has empowered me to break barriers of what people perceive certain age will look and feel like," says Lara Heimann, physical therapist, LYT yoga creator, and newly minted 50-year-old.

Gratitude comes easier.

senior people holding hands

Ideally, turning 50 can bring a greater connection to an organic feeling of thankfulness. "While prior decades are often focused on building personal issues such as relationship, family, and career," Manly says, "this decade can be one of building gratitude for daily life and all that one has achieved personally and professionally."

Alesandra Dubin
Alesandra Dubin is a lifestyle editor and writer based in Los Angeles. Read more
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