I am closing in on my 60th birthday, and I am excited to be facing a new decade. Why? Because I see this big benchmark birthday as an opportunity to transition to my next, best self.

Fortunately, I have arrived at the doorstep to 60 in relatively good shape. I am active, pretty health conscious and usually manage to eat right on most days.

I have been single for more than a dozen years now. I am self-employed, still working and just starting to wonder how I will know when it will be the ‘right time’ to retire, if at all.

 
 

I watch so many women today who are navigating their 60s successfully, especially on this site. There are positive stories, interesting viewpoints and plenty of good information to be gained here. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with other women!

60 is a true benchmark. Perhaps more than others that have come before, it feels like a birthday when I should slow down, take stock and do some real planning before forging ahead.

Why Benchmarks Matter

A benchmark is a point of reference against which things are compared or assessed. We use benchmarks to evaluate performance or to gauge progress toward a goal. Benchmark birthdays are no different. We stop and look around to see where we have been and where we still want to go.

A benchmark birthday is a time of transition – not just to our next year, but from one decade to another. There’s something about beginning a new decade which seems to demand a new mindset, or at least a lot of soul searching.

I’m not happy about getting older – who really is? – but I am excited by the possibilities of planning my ‘next chapter.’

I wrote my book Retiring Solo as I was nearing the end of my 50s. It was a time when I was beginning to think, in earnest, of what retirement as a single woman might look like – not just financially, but also holistically: heart, body and soul.

I wanted to have a plan in place to approach retirement, ready to make the most of the decades to come. I thought a lot about what I wanted to ‘do next,’ and became excited by the many possibilities that were available.

My Next Best Self

Hands down, my 50s have been my best decade to date. I finally began to put myself first and started paying more attention to my needs and goals. It was a time when I truly came into my own.

My 40s were a turning point for change and my 50s put the frosting on it. Things really have gotten better with each passing year since.

I am approaching 60 with equal enthusiasm. I see the decade ahead as a time of challenges, with an aging body and mind, and threats, when considering finances, health and the world situation. But I also see opportunities.

I hope to have more time to travel and write and spend less time worrying about what other people think or have. I have always thought of myself to be a work in progress, and I am looking at my 60s in much the same way.

What I Worry About Most

According to the life expectancy tests that I have taken, I could realistically live for another 30 to 40 years. That’s a long time to plan and pay for. A lot can happen during that period, good and bad.

It’s impossible to predict how things will play out with any certainty, which leads to some tossing and turning at night.

There are also a lot of upcoming decisions to be made, including choosing when to retire or change the way that I work – my ‘unretirement’ plan calls for working part-time as long as feasible. I also need to consider long-term care insurance, learning about Medicare and refining my Social Security strategy – my plan being to defer benefits until age 67 if possible.

Turning 60 sounds a bit like a full-time job in itself – and I have one already!

Creating a Successful Transition

Learning from other women is key. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Learn from the experiences of others who have walked the same path.

Recognize that you are in a transition. Stop and assess. Think about the future. Consider what’s on the horizon. Face your fears. Cultivate your curiosity. Pay attention to what excites you.

Take your time. Do some real soul-searching. One of the best things about getting older is that we tend to take more time to reflect before acting. I remind myself to do this daily.

Planning is important, but so is taking time to enjoy the stage that you are currently in. In other words, always stop and smell the roses on your way to your goals.

What advice would you offer to a woman who is about to turn 60? What wisdom do you wish that someone had shared with you as you approached that benchmark birthday? Is 60 the new 50, or even 40? What has been your favorite decade and why? Please share your thoughts below.

Lori MartinekLori Martinek is a successful entrepreneur, author and mentor to new and aspiring business owners. She is the owner of Encore Business Advisors, and the founder of @MindingHerBiz, a pro bono project which helps women embrace business ownership. Her latest book, Retiring Solo (2016) is available on Amazon.

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