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How Does Being 60 Feel Different Than Being 50?

By Marcia Smalley July 18, 2022 Mindset

I remember being disappointed when I turned 50. I felt like Oprah had let me down. I wasn’t coming into my own body the way all the magazines said I would, the way I was ‘supposed’ to.

I was fighting with a hormonal body, struggling against a job that weighed on me. Exhausted, frustrated. It seemed like many women my age felt like I did, stuck between “been there, done that” and what we’re going to do with the rest of our lives. And these feelings lasted a long time.

Now, several of my friends are just turning 50 or are midway through that decade, 10 to 15 years younger than I am.

We have a lot of common ground, share many of the same values. But a few shifts happened to me as I moved into my sixth decade. And with those shifts came some distinct differences between my not-that-much-younger friends and me.

You’ll Hear Your True Calling in Due Time

Some of my 50-something friends are bumping their heads as they navigate their next job, their next career move. At the very least, they’re getting headaches. And they’re still very driven.

In my 50s, I also had a sense of urgency about making my mark. Seeking a meaningful life or purposeful work doesn’t disappear as we age, but we do become more patient with the unfolding.

We calm down a little. We see the benefits of “wait and see.” We understand in a new way the old saying about how things will happen “in their own time.”

Your Body Will Become Your Own

I’ve noticed that body image is still a factor in our 50s, possibly because our bodies are undergoing rapid changes that are seemingly out of control. I was mystified and disappointed at what was happening to mine!

Thankfully, by the time we turn 60, most of those waters have stopped raging. Or we’re better equipped to ride the rapids. Either way, we finally come to terms with the undeniable changes. We accept that our bodies have limits. Our primary goal becomes staying healthy and active in ways that work for each of us.

We discover a new sense of self and rediscover our personal sense of style. We learn to be gentler with ourselves and to understand exactly the type of nourishment we need and the physical movements that feel right. Regardless of what everyone else is doing. Even in spite of those extra 10 pounds.

Don’t Work, Play!

I was still working hard in my 50s, maybe harder than ever. And if you work hard, then hard is how work will feel.

At 60 and beyond, we can let go of needing to prove anything to ourselves or to anyone else. We might dive into the creative, awaken our inner artist. We may truly embrace that work can feel like play!

As we tumble out of our 50s, we begin to understand that it’s okay to spend our time in ways that are fun, enlivening and joyful. It’s healthy to do so.

You Have Enough Time

The most interesting thing that’s happened to me in the last couple of years is that I’ve stopped worrying about running out of time.

As I released that sense of urgency to get things done, I found that time actually expands. It does any time we’re doing something we love or spending time with people who lift us up. Any time we’re truly present in the moment.

Our 6th decade brings a renewed gratitude for each moment, mindfulness about each event, in a way we might have missed when we were just 10 years younger.

I treasure the common threads that bind me to my younger friends, and I honor the differences that make our time together interesting and our conversations thought-provoking.

But I’m relieved to have already learned some things they’ve yet to master. And I’ve no doubt that my older friends are saying that about me, too.

Have you noticed any differences from your 50s to your 60s? Which ones affected your life the most? Please join the conversation and share with the community!

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It’s your 7th decade not your 6th. When you are 60 you’ve lived 6 full decades. Turning 60 marks the start of your 7th. I just had to correct that.

The Author

Marcia Smalley is a certified retirement coach and life coach, a writer and a teacher. She delights in helping mid-life women step confidently into their next act and design a joyous, expanded life. Marcia provides coaching support to women who are navigating retirement or other life transitions and writes a monthly e-newsletter to her entire online community. Please visit her website at

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