This is a guest post contributed by Betty Jameson
Life after sixty marks some turning points for most people … after all, by sixty many of life’s irreversible choices are already made! You’ve already either had children or not, you’ve either had the career you wanted or you haven’t, you’ve either paid into a mortgage or you haven’t…isn’t it all a bit too late to start to think about new beginnings?
It doesn’t have to be. It is precisely because you have already lived a good proportion of your life that at sixty, you can start to really be yourself. The kids have left home, you’re either retired or gearing up to it, and a whole new world of possibilities is there to be opened.
Because you don’t have to worry any more about getting the kids to school on time or slogging out late nights at work to try and get that promotion, you’re more able to follow your dreams.
What is it that you’ve always wanted to do, but haven’t had the chance to? Sixty might be just the right time to think about doing it.
There is a much celebrated poem, Warning, by the British poet Jenny Joseph, in which she describes the freedom she’ll have as she gets older:
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
Later, in the poem, she says:
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
Does that sound familiar? Joseph speaks for many when she describes how she has lived, always having to be sensible and to do the ‘expected’ things. There is a great pressure, when younger, to always be pushing forward on a particular trajectory. At sixty, that pressure is lifted.
After sixty you might be in a better position to enjoy your life
Get out and enjoy doing the things you’ve always wanted to do. It may be difficult to feel that the years are passing, or that you’ve lost your old life, but you cannot do anything about your age. What you can change, is how you use the remaining years of life after sixty you have left!
These days, you’re likely to have quite a few of them. Average life expectancy at birth in the US is now 78, but if you’ve already made it to sixty in relatively good shape, you can expect to live longer than that. These are just some of the things you could do with the ‘extra’ two decades that you’ll have, which those born a couple of generations earlier would not have been able to do.
Start a business
Retirement provides an opportunity to work without needing to worry about making enough to pay the bills. The internet means anyone can be an entrepreneur. If you have a hobby — making jewelry, baking cakes, sculpture — then why not use it to make some money? Very little investment is needed to set up a website and have a home business.
Most of us have unfulfilled travel dreams, and taking lots of long holidays when you retire is great, if you can afford it. It can be more fulfilling and much more affordable to actually live abroad. Some people choose to spend their whole retirement abroad, but that’s not for everyone (especially if you want to be around for the grandchildren).
Spending six months or a year enjoying another culture can be a fantastic experience, and your social security check will go much further in many places than it will in the US.
Write a book
It’s often said that ‘everyone’s got a book in them’. What’s yours? You don’t have to write a novel or even look for a publisher. A book about your life, family and experiences might be just as fun to write, or you might enjoy researching something related to local history or a particular interest. Print on demand publishers can bring it to life for you without much outlay.
Learn a skill
Use your time to do something you’ve always wanted to do, or challenge yourself with something you’d never thought of, from yoga to metalwork!
Betty Jameson is just back from a cruise where she met and enjoyed talking with a couple in their 60’s who were staying in the beautiful Dominican Republic for a month after the cruise finished. Betty, on the other hand, is back to work.
Image by Wikipedia: World Map showing world life expectancy in 2007