Seven years ago, I asked my smartest pals to share their experiences with sabbaticals. It was a very useful exercise. Rather than a sharp, and sudden, sabbatical, I made a choice to change slowly. I gradually shrank my working life and replaced it with more family engagement.
Over the last year, I’ve been tapping my supervet buddies in a similar exercise. I am asking about their 50s => any lessons, any tips, how’d you find it?
The answers have been all over the map.
- Everything gets easier
- Worst decade of my life
- Best years of my life
ZERO consistency in what people say, but clear themes when I look at what they actually do. They keep on, keeping on.
Despite what we tell ourselves, there is little practical decline through 60. Obviously, I’d be miles behind my 37-year old self in any sort of race. However, even in my sedentary pals, it’s more of a “slowing down” than a decline (in function). I saw this in the supervet athletes I coached. A clear, annual, decline didn’t start to happen until ~70 years old.
In comparing me-with-me, there’s very little lifestyle change forced upon us. The changes are more about coming to terms with “less.” Less vision, less skin tone, less aerobic capacity, less recovery capacity…
Middle age struggles tie back to seeking “more” => relationships, heart problems, injuries, dissatisfactions… the damage comes from the stresses of striving.
My happiest older pals have found a way to come to terms with what they have, and what they’re not going to have.
If “more” is going to challenge you then it will be obvious (injuries, depression, a-fib, drama, binging, addiction).
I like to remind myself, “Reality is enough.”
My mind is ALWAYS spinning ideas for more. I pay close attention to how “more” makes me feel – exhausted, neglecting my family, worried I’m going to get caught out.
Get your winning done early and pay attention each time you taste a lack of satisfaction after striving.
Look deeper into your drive, passions and interests => what lies beneath your compulsions?
For example, I like spending time in forests – my speed of movement through the forest is something I track, but has no impact on my satisfaction.
What’s your gig? My gig is sharing a connection to nature with people I love.
The “lack” is deeper than the “more” we seek. I had to back off to find out that satisfaction was behind me.
How would you describe your desired outcome over the next 5-10 years?
Active, polite, easy-going, positive. These are the traits of my older pals that I enjoy spending time alongside.