From the day we are born, we are aging. When we are young, we want to be older. When we are older, we wish for younger years. The grass is not always greener, though. Being exactly where you are and appreciating the daily growth can be rather enjoyable. I think back to my 20s and have zero desire to go back there. What a fool I was! Other decades were are also a thing to be left in the past, just where they belong. As I approached 40, I wondered what it would feel like and be like to be about halfway through life. In the United States, the average age of death for a woman is 79 years old, so hitting 40 put me over that halfway mark. That is, if I’m average. I have no idea when my card will be up, but entering (what is turning out to be) my best decade yet was done with intention and excitement. Now that I am 43 years old, I’m feeling better than ever. Some people find my constant reference to death to be morbid, but those are the people who have a lot of catching up to do. Life is worth living, and I absolutely live mine. Fear of many things has subsided, and I move forward despite having fear or trepidation. Preparing for my second half of life is something I take seriously, and I’ll share with you what I’m doing.
1. Getting Rid of Excessive Stressors
For me, excessive stressors have primarily been toxic relationships
. It was the one area where I felt very helpless and trapped, and I sought out changing that. My husband and I come from families where relationships are not, what I would consider, healthy. Kindness = honesty, and there isn’t a lot of honesty around feelings whatsoever. Conversations around core problem solving are virtually nonexistent. In a nutshell, nothing changes because some of these folks don’t have the tools. My choice for my own relationship with certain family members was to build boundaries. In my preparing for my second half of life, I realized my boundaries cause these relationships to diminish and fizzle out, and, while difficult, I work on accepting that each day. My quality of life became very important to me, and ruminating over these relationships was affecting the quality. Whatever your excessive stressor is, whether it’s toxic relationships or toxic job environment, I highly recommend re-evaluating what’s important. While it’s cliche, what is meant to be will be, and time does heal wounds. So can going to therapy.
Relaxing and Making Rest a Priority
2. Making Mental Health a Priority
I’m a huge fan of good and positive mental health. There are many ways to access a better mindset, and my top three are: reading, podcasts, and therapy. Then there is the action behind these three. I’ll touch on therapy right now. Therapy has been the biggest game-changer for me because I’ve been dedicated to it for over a decade. My therapist, who is an angel (but also a tough cookie) has seen me through some really rough times. So many different iterations of myself. From being with a complete narcissist to quitting working for my dad because of a toxic work environment, this lady has helped me through. Obviously, I had to do the work, but I had and have support, and someone without a dog in the fight. I heard somewhere recently that people spend more on their cars in their lifetime than on their mental health. The more mentally healthy I am, the more I see the truth in that and the further it puts me from others who don’t make it a priority. Preparing for my second half of life with the right mindset has been key. The book The Four Agreements
(which I HIGLY recommend reading) lays out a fantastic way to kickstart a better mentally healthy way of living. In fact, I should go re-read that.
I'm Obsessed with Reading
Reading voraciously has helped me to in preparing for my second half of life. How? My self-improvement books
help me to assess my behaviors, my actions, and my entire life. Each book gives the wisdom of someone’s life until that point, and the unique perspectives of each person are utterly profound. Adding one good habit or subtracting a bad habit from my daily activity has helped me to mold myself into the person that feels most authentic and genuine to…me. It’s important to me to take in the information the author has put out there and soak it up. I’d be lying if I said I perfect the skills in totality, but there is usually some nugget of wisdom that I take from the book. Adding it to my life is my goal so I can level up each and every day. Meditation, for example, was something I decided to incorporate to my daily morning routine
, and I haven’t looked back. Continuing to read each day is something I learned from Jim Kwik, who states “readers are leaders” and I want to be a leader. In fact, I am a leader, and I want to be better all the time. “For fun” books are also in my repertoire, and I’ve learned massive amounts of information about WWII, slavery, and solving murders from books. Yes, that’s what I like to read for fun. Get off my back. I’m not a romance novel kind of gal. Education all the way.
Everyone Does Yoga at My House
4. Keeping Myself Fit with Exercise and Food
Exercise and diet are big ones for me in preparing for my second half of life. Never a day in my life have I been on a fad diet. I’ve chosen to use whole foods and supplements to nourish my body and give me my energy. These are truly the lifeblood to a good life, in my opinion. My husband and I are dedicated to shopping at the farmers market
, eating mostly organically grown foods, and eating at home most of the time. Our overall health for our ages is spot on, and I attribute it to our relentless dedication to fitness. Finding the right type of exercise for my enjoyment and my body was key as well. My first Pilates experience was a DVD from at least 20 yers ago, which I bought from an infomercial. I’ve since joined an actual studio
that offers yoga as well, and I’ve been an avid practicer at that studio for over 10 years. During the pandemic they offered virtual classes, which they have since continued and I continue to do. Some classes are in person, some live virtual. I also walk, hike, and bike ride. My mental state after I exercise is stellar, and I feel like I could do anything. Food and exercise are necessary for keeping oneself in tip top condition as we age, and I feel really good about the direction I’m heading. If you haven’t made it a priority, I highly recommend doing so. Start small. Don’t overthink it. Just make it happen.
I’m not going to wait until I can barely walk and I’m “retired” (whatever that means) to start traveling. People who have this mentality typically end up regretting it. Spending the better part of your quality years working your ass off so you can one day stop and then hopefully travel is not a good policy, in my opinion. There is no requirement to go abroad or even far from where you live, but please, please don’t wait to make those trips for some future date that may never happen. We never know when the time will come that we can’t see the dream places. The cause could be as drastic as death; it could be due to a need of someone else. Preparing for my second half of life required my husband and me to figure out what is important now, a year from now, two years from now, etc. We realize how much we get out of our travels and our experiences together, which further enriches our marriage. Life is meant to be lived. Each day is important. I have the pleasure of knowing and accepting that I won’t be here forever, and tomorrow could be eliminated. Travel. Enjoy it. Make yourself uncomfortable because you don’t speak the language. It’s all part of the fun and growth that makes life worth being here.
Figuring Out How Much We Can Spend vs Save
While I’m pushing you to travel, I’m also going to push you to save some of that money for later. I don’t have the mindset that I need to blow it all because I may not be here sooner than later. We have relatively frequent meetings with our financial advisor to see where we are savings-wise, and we make adjustments from there. Luckily, I married someone who is much more diligent about saving than I am. While I love stacking money, I also love spending it, and that can get a little dangerous. Another thing that has greatly helped us is not having credit card debt. It’s dangerous and a slippery slope. We use our credit cards
and do whatever we can to pay them off each month. It’s like an instant savings. There are 1000 ways to save, and I would suggest hooking up with a professional advisor to help you if you don’t have one already. It’s one of the best ways I’ve been preparing for my second half of life. Don’t be scared of your own money, present or future. Have a good relationship with it so it works for you and not against you.
Don't Be Unsure of Yourself. Take Control!
All of this can get daunting, right? As the old saying goes, take one bite of the elephant at a time. Master one item at a time so you can also prepare for your second half of life. If you’re there, that is. Even if you aren’t, this can greatly help you so you know what’s coming. Preparing for my second half of life has so far been a complete joy. I have felt more enthusiastic about living my life than I have thus far. There’s no way to be in control of everything, but the things you can control are really great to get a grasp on, and the sooner the better. Life is so dang good when you know that you won’t live forever. Taking the reigns and making those new choices are all the rage. At least in my world. I hope in yours, too. You’ll be better for it. Enjoy your second half to the fullest. You only get your second half once.
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