10 Things It Took Until 50 to Figure Out

Updated on December 21, 2018
WH Thomas profile image

I am an emerging writer from Vancouver with numerous children's books available and several books in my new "A Better You" series.

10 Things It Took Until 50 to Figure Out

Youth is wasted on the young, at least according to George Bernard Shaw. When you are a child, life is amazing and full of wonder. When you hit your teens, it’s all fun and feelings. Next stop is being an adult, and maybe, just maybe, you have to take on a few responsibilities. Jobs, relationships, marriage and kids, oh my!

Life is a whirlwind and it’s a long ride. Just when you think you have it all worked out, everything gets flipped upside down. Wouldn’t it be nice if you had all the answers for every twist and turn in life? Wisdom is a great teacher, but you can only gain it by living it, or can you? You can get vital knowledge from people who have already lived through your years and beyond. Hopefully, by the time you reach 50, you’ve had enough life experience to head for open water and experience smooth sailing.

I am 50 and I have lived. I’ve made some good moves and I’ve made some bad ones. Ups and downs are a part of life and there are powerful lessons to be learned along the way. 5 decades give a good perspective on life and now I want to pass on that lens.

Here are 10 things it took until 50 to figure out. Some are complete while some others keep growing and changing. The important thing is to compile knowledge and pass it along.

1. Having the best doesn’t matter.

If you lived 10,000 years ago, your biggest goal in life wasn’t to drive a Range Rover, it was to find food. My, how we have changed. We’ve gone from survival to thrival. Yes, there are places in the world where people still struggle for the basics in life and if you can help, please do. For the rest of us, there is an abundance of resources laid at our feet.

When I was younger I wanted to have the good life. I grew up in a family that didn’t have much so I wanted more. Fortunately for me, the good life meant working hard towards freedom, not things. There is a balance in life we have to strike. Do we want all the brands and toys now and have to work harder to pay for it or is it better to enjoy life and focus on love and passion?

You might not have the best of the best and that’s ok. It’s much better to be the best of the best. I’ve never seen a hearse pulling a Uhaul, have you? Accumulate memories, not things. Get what you can afford and be happy with your lot.

2. Finishing first doesn’t matter.

Everything in life is a contest. From the time we are born we are pushed to walk, talk, eat and poop. The faster we hit these milestones, the better for our parents. When we start school, we learn life is a competition. Sports follow the same formula; winning is best.

I’m not here to tell you to give up and not try. In everything you do you should give your all. Trying your best and being proud of your best is what you should strive for. It’s not about winning. Losing when you try your hardest is winning. You can be proud of your achievements and your efforts. Remember: Be your best you.

3. Work hard when you’re young.

It takes time and effort to get good at something. Some people have gifts and others have raw talent. The rest of us have to work hard and smart to get there. The passing years give us time to accumulate the skills we need to thrive in life. When we mature to adulthood, we gain both strength and ability. This is the time to make it happen.

Working hard is very important because it gets you where you want to be faster. When you’re young you have more energy and have time on your side. Work hard but make sure you enjoy the ride and when you get to 50 you should be able to enjoy some of the fruits of your labor.

4. Take risks when you’re young.

In everything we do we have to weigh the costs. Is it worth your time? If you get knocked down can you get back up again? We all have goals in life and we need to lay out a path to get there. Take advantage of the freedom of youth to put it all on the line to get you to your destination.

When you are younger, that’s when you can take some risks. If your job is making you miserable, then change it. If you aren’t in a healthy relationship then move on. Now is the time to make mistakes and learn from them. Taking risks is smart when you have time to recover from any downturns. When you get older you need to have security so while you can, go ahead and trip and fall a few times.

5. Find someone you can’t live without.

No one is an island. From the time we are young until we grow old, we need a connection to other people. It starts as a desire for friendship in our youth. When we get to our teens, our hormones kick in and as we become adults, we strive for emotional and physical contact.

Life is best lived when you can share it with someone. Don’t be afraid to browse and sample. Dating is fun and you need to interact with different people to see who feels right. Make sure you don’t settle. I’m not saying you should have impossible standards, but make sure you are with someone who gets you. You are too special to waste your time on a puzzle piece that doesn’t fit.

When you find the perfect partner you’ll know it. Everything will click into place. Don’t be with someone you can live with, be with someone you can’t live without!

6. Anger is toxic.

We are emotional beings. That’s the best part of the human experience. We can feel loved and hated, happy and sad, brave and scared. Most of our emotions are the result of outside influences. Whether it’s other people or different circumstances, we are bombarded with things that can affect our mood.

We all have a choice to make: We can respond or react. Responding to something is when you have an experience and you take the time to soak it in first. Reacting is quickly letting your emotions guide you.

This is where our personal temperament and attitude comes in. We can’t always predict what happens, but we can decide how it affects us. Having a positive outlook in life will literally create a better outcome. It’s a habit you want but it does take work.

Anger will eat you up and make you bitter. It also affects your health. Learn to pause and take a deep breath. Take in the moments that come to you and keep an uplifted heart. Let positivity guide you as much as you can.

7. Have no regrets.

You will get the opportunity to do many things in life. There are big decisions and little ones. Most of your choices will be easy; you let your moral compass guide you. These are the simple ones.

There are choices that you will have to make that will send you down irreversible paths. Sometimes this new course with be beneficial and sometimes detrimental. We will all experience both.

When I say don’t have any regrets I don’t mean the wrong choices you make you should rejoice over. I want you to slow down and assess the situations life brings you and take your time to choose the best route. When you make mistakes from a good place then they become learning experiences. You will still get hurt and suffer loss, but it will make you stronger I promise.

Also, don’t let the past dictate your future. If you’ve fallen before it doesn’t mean you will stumble again. Use your own life lessons to chart new successes. You only get one trip across the universe, don’t let regret keep you from being your best you!

8. Be willing to change your mind on everything.

This is a tough one. When we are young we form opinions based on our parents' views and our own experiences. Honestly, though, most of us stick to what we were taught growing up. It’s the easy path; pick a lane and stay in it.

I challenge you to do the hard work and look at all sides of the tough issues. Be as unbiased as possible and use facts, common sense and reason. That’s what I’ve done and I have changed my opinion on many things.

Be mailable, ever-changing and growing. Make sure you know your facts because you will get into debates on the big issues. You need to be able to defend your position.

But . . .

Be open to change when new information is presented to you. It’s irresponsible to ignore facts just because it may shake your foundation of truth. Build a new foundation. This time it will be on solid ground. Always be open and willing to learn.

Remember: Some people come into your life as blessings, some people come in as lessons.

9. Time is limited.

Nothing lasts forever. Life is fleeting and you don’t get to punch your card and start again. You need to make the most with the time you have.

I have always been in a hurry. It’s taken me a long time to learn to enjoy the journey, in fact, I’m still learning. Now that I’m 50 I’m realizing I have an expiration date. I don’t know when it is but it’s coming. I’m not afraid of death, in fact, I look forward to what’s next. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to leave because I love my wife and life. There’s so much more I want to do but I have less than 50 years to do it.

I say:

  • Find your passion so you can do it the rest of your life.
  • Once a week eat whatever you want
  • Once a month do some activity outside your comfort zone
  • Have more sex with your lover
  • Plan a big vacation for next year
  • Plan for a little alone time tomorrow to reflect on your life.

Also, You can never give enough love. Let it pour out of you. It’s a free gift and it’s renewable!

And finally . . .

10. Don’t take life too seriously.

The human condition is brutal. There’s never enough hours in the day and you never seem to get enough sleep. You have to trade time for money and then trade that cash to fund your life.

Brutal!

Learn to relax and just be. Take a whole day and spend it in bed. Your responsibilities will be there waiting for you tomorrow don’t worry. Enjoy your life while you're living it. Work hard and smart and grab tight to love when you find it. And laugh often because life is fun, really!

Well, there it is. 10 things it took until 50 to figure out. It doesn’t have to take you that long. Use this guide to fast track your life and really start living. Drop the heavy burdens that weigh you down and start being your best you.

Then when you get to 50, you’ll already have it figured out.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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    © 2018 WH Thomas

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