This Is 44

Earlier this month, my grandmother turned 88 which, as a Chinese friend will tell you, is a far more auspicious number than 44. That said, 44 isn’t all that bad.

44 is further than I ever considered in my teens, 20s and 30s – it’s a bit of a shock to arrive, which lets me know that my 50s are going to be here before long. With that in mind, I’ve started reaching out to my smart pals, already in their 50s, to hear their advice. I’ll share their best stuff as I gather it.

At the end of 2011, I realized that it would be possible for me to spend another 20 years living in my own personal Groundhog Day – winning agegroup athletic titles; working at my coaching business; and going on extremely pleasant vacations with my wife.

My blog post on A Life’s Work shared the questions that I asked myself across the year and I’ve been brainstorming ideas for the next phase of my life. I’m fortunate to have world class Universities in Boulder and have been considering taking advantage of those communities.

What follows is an end of year braindump. These articles are my historical record to see how I do with forecasting. 

Health – I feel better than when I was 39/40 and seeking to hang on to elite level fitness. I can remember being sore, tired and exhausted most of those years. The biggest surprise physically is being happy with a level of exercise that’s half of what I previously considered “maintenance.” Many of my peers still continue to “go big” – if they are reading then consider what you might do if your desire for physical expression moderates. You’re going to have a lot of time – unless you replace sport with children!

Family – after my divorce (early 30s), I was openly hostile to the concept of marriage and spent five years completely self-absorbed. I could say that I worked on my suitability to be a spouse but I’m not sure. Either way, I’m glad I gave marriage another chance. My wife and kids have transformed my life.

Something that I failed to anticipate, but heard indirectly from my friends, was how much I would be willing to change for my family. Parenting is filled with frequent moments of misery but so was elite sport! My athletic life was completely focused on convincing myself that doing-what-it-takes was more satisfying than short-term gratification. Great prep for fatherhood.

Business – Four years after the Great Recession of 2008/2009, I’m bothered by a persistent lack of ethics in peers, sport and finance. However, I have the education of my kids to fall back on and human drama provides motivation to remain vigilant with myself.

Finance – I completely missed how low interest rates would go. I think about the impact of a big burst of inflation but wonder if we will follow the post-bubble experience of Japan. We bought a house in December and took out a mortgage (3.25% 30-year fixed) to provide hedging for a burst of inflation. More on that in January. 

Education – Last week, I completed the draft of my next book. I’ll publish on Monday and you can download from this site. In reviewing the book (largely written in November 2011), I realized how much I’ve learned in the last year: mountain biking, family management, babies & toddlers, and international law. Even in my 40s, I can improve my human capital.

Self vs Family – there’s been a shift from optimizing for myself to optimizing for my family. If I had to project into my 60s then I expect my circle will continue expand beyond my relatives. I’d like to improve my participation in community as that’s a practical way to contribute to my kids.

Physical – my calf’s been jacked for a few months, my back is often tight, my eyesight is slowly fading but I can still do neat stuff in nature. A key mistake in 2012 was stopping running. 20 minutes every other day would have saved me a lot of hassle.

An important friend, Henry Simon, passed in 2011 and lived by the motto – Never Stop. It’s been 20 months since Henry died. Wow, that went by quick.

Future – I’ve learned a lot from watching older generations and asking them for advice. Key lessons for 2012:

  • live near your kids
  • give kids space, let them fail and insulate yourself from their failures
  • to keep relationships strong, support the goals of others
  • maintain independence as long as you can
  • plan end of life care & legals far earlier than you think you’ll need

My marriage brings me satisfaction every single day. Three things that Monica brings me: kindness, a shared sense of humor and a desire to be a better man.

I try to live the life that I want for my children.