Now that I have celebrated my 65th birthday and have my Medicare card, I am enjoying being a gray-haired, older woman who has learned a lot and has arrived at a pretty good place.
I’ve made a lot of mistakes – and learned from most of them. I’ve had my share of successes and rough spots with business and family, marriage and friendships. I have good ways that I can continue to learn and to grow in my Third Third (ages 60–90).
I’m mainly smiling and enjoying life. I enjoy good health and am blessed to have a long-term husband who “gets” me and who keeps me moving and trying new things.
If someone in their Second Third (ages 30–60) were to ask me for advice on planning their best Third Third, here are a few things that I would tell them. They are simple life adjustments that will help them prepare for living well after 60.
We are the first generation that can plan with confidence to live into our 80s and beyond. Medical support and knowledge of health makes living longer the norm.
My parents planned to retire at 65, travel a few years, then die around 72, since that was as long as anyone else in their families had lived. I, however, realistically expect to live into my 90s (which my mother did, surprising her a lot!).
It can catch you by surprise if you aren’t thinking about a longer life. An extra 20–30 years brings a lot of opportunity and a lot of responsibility, so it is good to be prepared for it.
When I was 40, I realized that I had unwittingly, been gaining about three pounds a year. Noticing that someone I knew to be 10 years older than me had unwittingly put on about 30 pounds made me pause. Three pounds a year, 10 years… Yikes! That was going to be me if I didn’t consciously keep those 30 pounds off.
The older we get, the harder it is to lose extra weight. Therefore, it makes more sense to consciously keep it off.
I remember hearing an interview with Jimmy Carter when he was in his 70s. When asked how he kept so fit, he talked about riding a bicycle and said that he weighed himself daily. If he was a little heavier that day, he ate a little less.
Whatever works for you, halting weight gain in the Second Third will have benefits in the Third Third.
Decide to put some money aside, and let it become a habit. As you stick with it, watching it grow is pretty encouraging.
Direct deposits from your paycheck is a pain-free way to save, since you don’t really see those dollars. Taking advantage of matching savings plans, if you are so fortunate to have an employer who offers it, will pay off in the long run.
If you are planning to live longer, you will need more money, so save some while you are making it.
Cooking seems to be a dying skill, but it can be a lot of fun. In fact, cooking gives you the satisfaction of producing a tasty meal in your own home. Also, eating at home makes it easier to control (and avoid) those foods that aren’t beneficial for you, i.e., less fried food, less sugar, fewer empty calories.
How do you get started cooking at home?
Subscription to a cooking/recipe magazine gives new ideas and inspiration. Taking a risk on CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and having weekly ingredients delivered to you opens new doors. Joining or creating a “supper club” with friends provides motivation and accountability.
Eating at home more can also help you with saving money and keeping the weight off.
If you are going to live into your 80s and/or 90s, you will be glad if you have kept moving in your 40s and 50s. Make it a habit to walk the stairs or to walk around the park at lunch or to walk around the block in the evening.
And after you make a habit of moving every day, find a way that you will occasionally stretch yourself a bit. Classes at a gym? Kayaking on the town lake? Walking or running in 5K’s? Yoga videos? Tennis or swimming or softball?
It can seem like there isn’t time for exercise, but as it is often said, “Use it or lose it.” If you move every day, you will help insure that you will be able to move along well into your 80s and 90s.
Clearing up doesn’t always mean being able to reconcile or to come to an agreement. It might just mean being realistic about the relationships you have had and investing in the ones that are helpful to you.
By the time you are in your 50s, you have known a lot of people. Some you have enjoyed, some you haven’t. Some have enjoyed you. Some haven’t. It’s okay. Life has seasons and seasons bring change.
Your Second Third is the time to learn to have quality relationships. Keep a short list of offenses. Apologize when you are wrong. Allow people to come and go in your life but keep clear relations. Forgive and move on.
Go forward with no regrets.
Hindsight being 20/20 vision and all, these are the things I would tell someone younger than me to do in their Second Third to make their Third Third great.
What would you say if someone in their 40s and 50s asked you for advice on living well in your 60s and beyond? What did you do in your Second Third that you are glad for now? Please share your thoughts below.