I turned 50 last week. I’m not gonna lie. It was a gut punch.
I thought that, by now, my life would be all figured out and perfect.
Last year on my birthday, I thought, “It’s ok that I’m not at my ideal weight. By the time I turn 50, I’ll be 50 pounds lighter and business will be booming.”
Life had other things in mind for me.
While I had a weight goal and a vague business goal, I did not write these down or make a concrete plan. However, I did write two words on my bathroom mirror in a dry erase marker: “acceptance” and courage.” I figured I would need both.
As you’ve probably guessed, I did not lose 50 pounds, thereby becoming “perfect,” nor did I totally crush it in my business.
Instead, I got sober.
Believe me, no part of me wanted to accept that I had a problem. I had been able to deceive myself because I was getting by. I wasn’t homeless. I wasn’t showing up anywhere drunk and embarrassing myself. I wasn’t stealing, lying or cheating.
But I also wasn’t being honest with myself, and I just couldn’t live with the self-deceit any longer.
And so rather than 2016 being the year I became perfect so I could look 50 in the face with a big fat smile and throw a rager of a party, it became the year I started to learn what joy is.
It became the year of practicing “acceptance” and “courage.”
It became the year of learning what it really means to be honest with myself and others, which is an ongoing practice.
I wouldn’t change anything. I am exactly where I need to be: in the struggle, outside of my comfort zone where I can grow on some days. Other days, peaceful.
There are many hurdles, and they are supposed to be here. How else can I practice courage?
Last week, a few of my oldest and dearest friends in Portland threw a low-key birthday party and asked me for advice. This may be the only time in my life I’ve turned down the opportunity to hear myself talk and dispense advice to a welcome audience.
But I was stumped.
My 50 feels pretty messy, with a dollop of hope and a path to happiness.
The truth is, I can’t tell anyone else how to live. What I can do is help people see things in a different way so that they can take different actions that lead to different results; hopefully, results they like better. I can also share with you what I am learning and trying to practice that is having a positive effect in my own life.
So here’s what I try to practice, for any age (not just old farts):
Fear doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong. It just means I’m in unfamiliar territory.
Listen to my body. It doesn’t lie.
Be Me. No one else can do it for me.
Pay attention to what I think because my perception creates my reality.
Know what I have control over (me)—and what I don’t (everything else).
Believe that the universe is on my side and that it’s offering me a chance to grow.
Accept myself, as I am, with imperfections.
The truth sets me free.
What’s your answer? Please put it in the comments. I’d love to know what you practice and what works for you. Or what advice you have for someone facing 50.