January 20, 2020

Fighting 50: Three Crucial Steps.

I’ve fought getting older tooth and nail. Like a street fighter, no-holds-barred.

And for most of my 30s and 40s, I was successful. I still run and train at a higher level than many. I referee soccer at the highest levels available to me. It always struck me as a little bit of a compliment that my trainer would bring prospective clients to my workouts to see how he trained “athletes.”

Then I turned 50. It felt less like a milestone than it did an extra burden to carry around. I could see some of the stereotypes about older people in my own behavior. I literally laughed out loud, interrupting myself in the middle of explaining to my adult son how to do some mundane chore better in order to maximize time and money. Cue the GEICO commercial. I’m becoming my father.

2019 had become a bit of a grind in many areas of my life: work, hobbies, relationships. The added stress of turning 50 made it seem  that much more of an end of my younger, vibrant lifestyle. Enter the new year and a new decade: no to resolutions, no to “a new you,” no to anything that would start and be forgotten by spring break (well, someone gets a spring break still).

A little more than two weeks into 2020 and it’s like a light has been turned on for me. Others have noticed.

A little introspection uncovered these steps I took consciously or sub-consciously.

1. Don’t listen to everyone else’s disappointments or challenges with being older, or allow them to become yours.

It’s easy to take the word of others as fact that you can’t do something. Recognize that it’s their experience, mindset, and limitations—not yours. You are capable of what you allow yourself to do, what you believe you can do, and what you put energy and effort toward. Good thoughts and intentions are only the start. You have to do the work as well.

2. Stay active. You don’t change from athletic to old overnight unless you allow it to happen.

I got out and ran an easy four miles today and remembered how good it felt. It’s become more and more common for people of our age group to run and bike and swim and play organized sports competitively. Do what you do.

3. Surrender to it.

I took a page from my yoga instructor who has told me for years that the body is able to do more once it relaxes and “surrenders to the pose.” It’s counterintuitive at times, but it always works. The mind is a powerful tool. Stop stressing or pressing it to do things it’s not ready to do yet. Relax, breathe, be mindful, and don’t be surprised when the thing you want to happen actually does. Do the work in front of you and you will get to where you want to go.

And one more thing: choose your favorite cliche. “You’re only as old as you feel,” “Age is just a number,” or “It is what it is” (I really hate that last one—just saying). How about “Get busy living, or get busy dying.” I can always fall back to a movie quote (thanks “Shawshank Redemption”).

Anyway, be the maestro of your own story. You get to choose. I choose fighting the numbers and just living a life.

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