Are you in your 50s or 60s, thinking about what’s ahead in the next couple of years? Your children are off to college. You have a new sense of freedom.

The many roles you held in the family are shifting. No longer are you the soccer mom, the chauffeur, the manager of everyone’s schedules.

Our culture used to talk about the ‘empty nest’ and entering the ‘golden years’ at 65 when you are ‘kicking back’ and no longer have to ‘do anything.’ Your contribution to society was done. The clock is winding down.

Our parents didn’t live as long as we are. Back then, we were an industrial society and the work for many was back breaking. The concept of ‘being done’ made sense.

Today times are different. As our roles change in our 50s and 60s, so does our pacing with life. Time shifts. We aren’t wearing as many hats now, and the hats we do have may need some updating.

For example, this is a critical time for us women to rethink our role as mom. Things were very different when the kids were home, compared to now when we’re parenting adult children.

Time doesn’t stop in this second half of our lives. Because of a healthier lifestyle, we have 25–35 years ahead of us. In our 50s and 60s the countdown to ‘kicking back’ has a whole different meaning.

So what do we do? We take a deep breath and ask “What’s next?” With this newfound era of almost limitless possibilities, it is time to look within ourselves. We took care of everyone else, now it’s time to turn to our needs and dreams.

That being said, set an intention and bring awareness to what you want over the long and short haul. This is the age of meeting yourself again. Here are 4 key areas to consider for thriving.

Renew Your Relationship with Your Spouse

Start talking and dreaming together with your spouse or partner. If you are having challenges in this area of your life, don’t be afraid to see a therapist. It can help.

If all else fails, ask yourself if you want to spend the rest of your life with this person. You may need to consider separation or divorce. Problems don’t go away, and it gets harder to leave as you age.

Think About Your Relationship to Work

We are working longer out of need or choice. Are you happy with your job? Is this the time to dive in more deeply because you love it and have more time to dedicate to it?

Do you want to cut back on your hours? Do you want to make a career change? This may be a great time to make a shift.

Explore New Areas of Enjoyment

Learn to play and enjoy yourself. Start cultivating new interests. Be curious. Be a beginner. This is one of the toughest transitions to make. It is a great way to make new friends or enjoy connecting with old ones.

Get Involved in Your Community

Make a difference in someone else’s life – it will make a difference in yours. Remember it takes a village.

Know that this is an important transition. This time is a building block for your later years. It is worth it and time well spent.

What are you doing to create a happy meaningful life after 50? Please share any tips you have found helpful.

Ellen BachmeyerEllen Bachmeyer, LCSW, helps women in their 50s 60s and 70s as they move through life transitions to create new meaning and emerge with an inspired life. She has been a practicing psychotherapist for over 35 years and has supported women with many transitions from divorce, to caretaking and grieving to remarriage, grandparenting and encore careers. Her website is Windhorse Center.

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