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How to Change Your Life at 60 Years Old and Feel Proud of Yourself

How to Change Your Life at 60 Years Old and Feel Proud of Yourself

Ever heard the phrase 60 is the new 40? While that maybe an exaggeration, it’s meant to highlight the very real phenomenon of our ever increasing health and longer lifespans.

For the average person who turned 60 in 1970, they could expect to retire at age 64 and live to age 70.8. For someone who turned 60 in 2010, they can very easily work throughout their entire 60’s and expect to live to at least 78.7 years old.[1] With the advances in modern medicine, lower rates of smoking and generally healthier lifestyles, our active and productive years can expand well into our 70’s and beyond.

How we choose to use this “extra” time will be determined by our current situation and our priorities for the future.

For some, their 60’s are a time to kick back and relax. They have worked for 30+ years, lived below their means and diligently saved money for retirement. They may also have sold a successful business, or been able to retire from a (increasing scarce) job that had a good pension.

For others, the prospect of retirement isn’t even a thought. Whether it’s a case of financial reality or just the psychological need to be productive, a continuing presence in the workforce is a reality for more and more of the 60+ crowd.

So how to change your life at 60 years old and feel proud of yourself?

Changing Priorities in Your 60’s

For most us us, our priorities change as we get older. Living for parties and excitement, what use to be called “working for the weekend” slowly gives way to working on the weekend and eventually working towards retirement.

By the time we hit our 60’s, a lot of us are looking to slow down. Health issues, either our own, our spouses or parents often come into play at this time in our life. This combined with having (hopefully) grown children, a paid or nearly paid off home and bit of savings in the bank. This means that you can start to trade long hours and stressful work situations for a more flexible schedule and more leisure time.

The key to making a successful life change in your 60’s is being prepared for both the mental and financial challenges you are likely to face.

Understanding the Psychological Challenges

Any major life change comes with its own set of psychological challenges. When that change takes place in our 60’s. there are some very specific psychological issues to be aware of.

Some of these issues are apparent and we easily recognize them. For instance, we’ve all heard someone say “When I retire, I don’t know what I’ll do with all that time on my hands”. While other challenges are more subtle and harder to quantify such as depression and anxiety.

While not everyone suffers with all or even most of them, here are come common psychological issues to be aware of:

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Anxiety

Even positive life changes can cause our anxiety levels to increase. Humans are creatures of habit. We develop routines that make our lives predictable and we rely on that predictability to give us comfort.

Now imagine that after 30+ years of having a relatively stable and routine job, you suddenly retire, get sick, or find yourself out of a job. The routine that you have relied upon to give you a sense of normalcy is suddenly gone.

In humans, the natural response to any major life changing event is an increase in anxiety. Symptoms and severity will vary from person to person, but you should always expect your anxiety levels to increase with any major life change in your 60’s.

What can you do about it?

Establish a new routine to replace the old one, this is the reason we have hobbies!

Gardening, golf, tennis, volunteer work all can help to get you back into a comfortable routine.

Helpful hint: Pick a hobby that has both a physical and social component to it. Both physical and social activity will help to lower anxiety levels.

Depression

Even the most happy-go-lucky of us become susceptible to depression during a major life event. In fact, when retiring, changing careers or even striking out on a new business adventure, both anxiety and depression can go hand in hand.

You may find yourself with a lot of excess “nervous” energy that you would have used at your job to meet deadlines and get things done. On the other hand, you may find that you have no energy and all and it’s tough to even get out of bed.

While everyone experiences everyday or “normal” bouts of anxiety and depression, it becomes a problem when these episodes become severe, or last longer that a few days.

At that point, it turns into a serious life threatening situation. It’s recommended that a person seeks medical help if they experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Feelings of extreme sadness, emptiness or hopelessness that seem to envelop you.
  • Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, especially over small or normally insignificant matters.
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities that use to give pleasure, such as sex, hobbies or sports.
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or hypersomnia (sleeping too much).
  • General tiredness or malaise, so that even small tasks seem to take a lot of effort.
  • Unusual changes in appetite, rapid weight loss or gain.
  • Slowed or delayed patterns of thinking, speaking or body movements.
  • Constant feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things (more than normal).
  • Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicide or suicide attempts.
  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain, headaches or stomach ailments.

Dealing with the Financial Challenges

There are very unique financial considerations to take into account when making a major life change in your 60’s.

Depending on your situation, you may find yourself having to come to terms with a completely new relationship with money. Whether retiring, changing careers or starting your own business, chances are your income is going to take a hit.

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Part of making a successful life change at 60 is anticipating and planning for these events so you don’t get blindsided. The following is a list of general recommendations that everyone in their 60’s should consider.

1. Get aggressive about paying off debt

Especially credit card debt, it’s almost always at a high interest rate and, without any tax advantages, it just makes all of your purchases more expensive.

So if you are still carrying balances on your credit cards every month, it’s time to get those paid off.

Start with the credit card that has the highest interest rate, and then work your way to the card with the lowest rate.

These tips on How to Nix Your Credit Card Debt in Less Than 3 Years can help you too.

2. Pay off the house

If your home isn’t paid off already, after paying off credit card debt, this should be the next goal. It’s much less stressful going into a situation where you’ll have less income if your house is paid off.

You’ll not only reduce your expenses by not having a mortgage payment, but you’ll also have the piece of mind that comes with knowing that your home isn’t going anywhere.

3. Make a budget

No matter what kind of change you make in your 60’s — career change, retirement or becoming a entrepreneur, both your income and expenses are going to change.

Things like the cost of commuting, wardrobe expenses, credit card and mortgage payments are likely to be reduced. You’ll still need to budget for things like home repair and maintenance (how’s the AC unit or the roof?). Car maintenance and even replacement.

And don’t forget about leisure and entertainment expenses, after all, we all need to enjoy life. As a general rule, 30% of your budget should be allocated to leisure and entertainment expenses.

4. Examine and re-adjust your investment portfolio

This is where a good financial planner comes in. While your earlier investment goals were designed to maximize the amount of money in your retirement account. At this point in your journey, the goals have changed to providing you an income for the rest of your life.

You also want to protect the principal from unnecessary risks so it lasts as long as you do. A good financial adviser can help you make the change from a growth orientated investment strategy into more dividend or income producing assets for your golden years.

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5. Consider a change of address

Depending on where you live, moving to a new state might make financial sense. High tax states not only can zap your resources faster than states with lower taxes, but can often times make you get much more “bang for your buck” by moving.

Things like housing, personal property, sales and gas taxes can all add up to a significant savings in a low tax state. Places like Texas, Arizona, Nevada and Florida all have an influx of people migrating from the higher tax states on each coast.

6. Reexamine your insurance needs

A good experienced insurance broker is your best asset when tackling this task.

Do you still need that disability policy to cover your mortgage in case you get hurt? Or could you take that money and buy an annuity that would give you some extra income? What about the cash value of your life insurance?

Walt Disney used the cash value of his life insurance to start Disneyland.[2] Even your car insurance needs to be reevaluated. You can often times save money through good driving and senior discounts as well as eliminating your commuter miles.

Talk to your insurance broker to maximize the benefits and minimize the costs of insurance.

7. Consider becoming an entrepreneur

Roughly 1/3 of people in their 60’s decide to strike out on their own and be their own boss. And why not?

Children are (usually) out of the house, household and credit card debt is likely to be low, most people have some savings by this point in their life and often times they are at the pinnacle of their career.

With the prospect of any further career advancement unlikely, many see this as the perfect time to start their own business.

Now ideally, if you’re going to start a business, you should start 2-3 years before you plan on retiring. This will give you a chance to become established, build your network and income stream all while maintaining the benefits of your current job.

But even if you didn’t start early, you can still become a successful entrepreneur, in fact, studies show that older entrepreneurs are generally more successful than their younger counterparts.

So don’t think that your too old to start something, many successful entrepreneurs started businesses later in life. People like Ray Kroc (McDonald’s), Harland “Colonel” Sanders (Kentucky Fried Chicken), Walt Disney, Charles Flint (IBM) and many more. The only person telling you that you can’t do it is you.

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It’s never too late to start your business! Here’s the proof.

8. Consider becoming a consultant

If you don’t feel the bite of the entrepreneur bug, but still want to stay connected and earn money. How about becoming a consultant?

After 30+ years working in an industry, you’ve built up a world of knowledge, contacts and experience. All of which is useful and has value.

Doing consulting work allows you to have control over your schedule and, once you are established, it can provide a significant source of income.

9. Get a part-time job for more than just the money

Both entrepreneurship and consulting can take a lot of time and effort, but picking the right part time job can cut your expenses and give you a little spending money.

What are your hobbies? Do you like to golf? Become a marshal on your local golf course. Most courses will pay you a modest hourly rate and let you golf for free.

How about gardening? A part time job at your local nursery will not only provide you with pocket money, but also a discount on plants.

Whatever your hobbies or interests, there’s a part time job out there for you.

Conclusion

Whether you are changing careers, starting a business or retiring, big life changes are by their very nature stressful.

The great thing about being older is that we have the advantage of experience. We’ve been though other life changing events and can anticipate some of the issues we’ll face.

Becoming well informed, getting prepared and making a plan will insure that you can change your life at 60 years old and feel proud of yourself.

Featured photo credit: Ian Schneider via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

David Carpenter

Lifelong entrepreneur and business owner helping others to realize the American Dream of business ownership

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Live Your Best Life Starting Today

How to Live Your Best Life Starting Today

As human beings, one of our deepest-rooted desires is to have a meaningful and happy existence. You’ve probably heard of the saying, “Live your best life.” It’s good advice.

We all want to feel connected to both ourselves and others. We want to feel that we’re part of something important and that we’re making a difference in the world.

We want to look back at our lives and our achievements and be proud. In short, we want what the saying says: to live our best lives.

But what does it really mean to live your best life?

You are a unique individual, so living your best life is exclusive to you. Your best life will reflect your true values. It will be made up of what makes you happy and will be colored by what making a difference means to you.

What Stops You From Living Your Best Life?

While living your best life is all about you, what other people think can have an impact on your quest to live your best life.

Social media, for example, puts us under a lot of pressure. There are specific expectations of what “happy” looks like, and we’re under pressure to conform to what society expects.

For example, we are pressured to look a certain way, wear the “right” clothes, have exciting adventures with eye-catching friends, eat ethical and healthy food, and do charity work.

These are only a few of society’s expectations. It’s a long list.

Social media claims to connect us, but often it can do the opposite.

We can spend so much time worrying about what other people are doing, trying to live the life that society expects of us, that it can be easy to lose track of what makes us happy and what our best life actually looks like.

Start the Journey

What does it look like to live your best life? The following are some practical tips and tools to move from living your current life to living your best life.

1. Be the Best Version of Yourself

To live your best life, you must be the best version of yourself. Don’t try to be something or someone else. Don’t try to be what other people want you to be.

Focus on who you want to be. Play to your strengths and be proud of what makes you different. You are brilliant.

Gretchen Rubin, in her book Happiness Project, created her own commandments. The first one was “Be Gretchen.” This gave her permission to follow her gut feeling and make up her own rules.

For example, she stopped forcing herself to enjoy parties, cocktails, and fashion just because that’s what she thought society expected.

So, inspired by Gretchen, create your own commandment: “Be more YOU,” and remind yourself of this every day, unapologetically.

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2. Observe Yourself

To work out what the best you looks like, you must get to know yourself better. It’s your best life after all – not anyone else’s.

Start to notice how you respond to various situations. What are your habits? What makes you happy? What frustrates you? How do you behave under pressure? What gives you energy? What drains you?

Spend a week simply noticing. Write your observations down so you remember.

3. Identify Your Bad Habits

As part of your observations, start to notice your bad habits. Consider the things that don’t ultimately make you feel good.

Does scrolling mindlessly through Instagram make you happy? For 5 minutes, perhaps, but for longer?

That last glass of wine was delicious, but do you pay the price later?

That chocolate was enjoyable at the moment, but now that the sugar high is over, are you feeling regretful?

Observe yourself first. Then, start to deliberately do more of the things that make you happy and give you energy.

At the same time, work on reducing then eliminating the habits that squander your time, drain your energy, and ultimately don’t make you happy.

Need help conquering your bad habits? Read How to Break Bad Habits Once and For All.

4. Set Intentions

After having thought about what makes you happy and what drains your energy, focus on what living the best life looks like for you.

One of the keys to this is being intentional about it. When you deliberately set intentions, you are more likely to act with purpose and drive.

Setting intentions is different from setting goals. Goals are your list of things you want to achieve. You can set them daily, monthly, yearly, or a combination.

A common practice is to define goals and write them down. This makes them more tangible and makes you more accountable, therefore, making the goals more likely to happen.

The subtle yet important difference between goals and intentions is that when setting intentions, you decide what kind of positive feelings and emotions you are seeking.

For example, “This week, my intention is to approach my admin tasks with gusto in order to complete them more quickly.”

Intentions can be more motivating than goals because if you don’t achieve your goal, it can feel like a failure and can ultimately hold you back.

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If you don’t achieve your intention to approach something in a specific way, you can more easily regroup and have another try.

Write down your intentions every month, week, or day, using whichever time frame works best for you.

For example, “I intend to enjoy going swimming three times this week” or “I intend to assertively build my network in my local area this month.”

Setting intentions gives you something to focus on, and it also helps to manage the feeling of being overwhelmed that often happens when we set ourselves goals.

5. Visualize Living Your Best Life

Visualization can help you to cement your intentions. It involves visualizing how it would feel to live your best life once you achieve it.

It can help you to further establish what you want and allow you to settle into a positive mindset.

To visualize, first choose your focus. Choose a specific intention and how you will feel once it is accomplished. Then, take the time to daydream and allow your imagination to wander.

For example, if your intention is going swimming three times a week, imagine what you will look and feel like:

  • What will you wear?
  • How do you get there?
  • What time of day do you go?
  • How do you feel when you’re in the water?
  • How do you feel afterward?

Ask yourself these little questions and allow yourself to feel the same feelings you would feel if you were currently fulfilling your intention.

10 Ways to Live Your Best Life

Now that you’ve decided and visualized what your best life looks like, let’s look at some more practical steps you can take to achieve it.

1. Focus

Whatever you do, focus. If you swim, swim. If you study, study. Multitasking is a myth. It’s not possible to do more than one thing at a time well. Focused work is the least tiresome and the most productive type of work.

Michael LeBouf, the author of The Millionaire in You, said,

“Winners focus, losers spray.”

2. Take Responsibility for Taking Action

Taking action can feel scary. We fear failure, but we can also fear success. It can be easy to feel too busy to achieve your intentions.

However, you have the choice to take action and live your best life or stay the same. It’s up to you, so take responsibility to take action.

3. Live in the Present

Every day is a new opportunity to live your best life. We so often get stuck because we put things off.

We can think, “When I’ve lost 10 lbs I’ll go swimming,” or “When I feel more confident I’ll look for a new job,” or “When I get my new running shoes I’ll start running.”

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How about starting from where you are? How about using what you already have?

We often put off taking action until we have the newest phone/camera/game/course/book/shoes as if they are the keys to happiness. In the process, we forget about what we already have.

Grab the camera that you have, put on your old running shoes. Go and do something interesting today with what you’ve got. Fancier gadgets, better clothes, or a slimmer body won’t make you better.

Action will.

4. Declutter

This applies to the environment you live in as well as the people you spend time with. Use Marie Kondo’s decluttering method of asking, “Does it bring you joy?”[1]

If your answer is yes, you keep the item. If you hesitate or say no, you donate it or throw it out. Simple.

This also applies to people. If there are people in your life that make you feel bad, drain your energy, and don’t bring you joy, let go of them.

Instead, spend time with the people and activities that give you energy and make you feel good.

5. Relish the Simple Things

When we’re busy, we can forget to appreciate what we have. Take time to focus on the simple things. Even when you’re feeling low, there’s always something to be grateful for.

In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness.[2] Be deliberate in being grateful for what you do have, rather than resentful of what you don’t.

6. Journaling

Journaling

is simply writing your thoughts down.

According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, writing your thoughts and feelings down on paper not only helps you get your thoughts in order, but it can also help ease symptoms of depression and manage stress and anxiety.[3]

In the chaos of life, it is easy to overthink, feel anxious, or not appreciate what you do have. Journaling can help you manage your thoughts and feelings and productively cope with life.

Be curious and keep learning. Ask more questions and keep pushing yourself to step outside of your comfort zone and learn.

What are you interested in or curious about? Perhaps it’s learning more about where you live, or reading up on a particular topic? Maybe it’s traveling to a new town or country?

According to Dan Pink’s research, learning is a key motivator.[4] Whether you feel like you’ve gotten stuck in a boring routine or you’re stressed by the tasks of daily life, learning something new is a way to step outside yourself and your comfort zone.

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Create a bucket list of all the things you’d like to do and learn and the places you’d like to go to, and start ticking them off.

7. Make Someone’s Day

Being kind to others makes them feel good, and it also releases chemicals in your body that make you feel good. Think about a time you gave someone a gift that they loved. How did you feel?

You don’t have to start giving people gifts to make someone’s day. Think about small, thoughtful gestures: a genuine compliment, opening the door, offering to help someone.

All these things can make a big difference in someone’s day.

8. Look After Your Body

Eat what nourishes you, including plenty of vegetables and fruit and food that’s natural and unprocessed. Drink plenty of water.

Exercise because you like it, not because you’re supposed to go to the gym.

Reject the idea that you have to push yourself really hard at exercise, and instead try out a variety of things – for example, walking the dog, gardening, yoga, swimming, or dancing.

Find what you enjoy. When you enjoy something, you’ll be motivated to do it more.

Get good rest! We’re all different in terms of the amount of sleep that we need. However, most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep.

If you’re not getting that much, then check out healthy sleep tips from the Sleep Foundation.[5]

More tips for staying healthy: Powerful Daily Routine Examples for a Healthy and High-Achieving You.

9. Manage Your Inner Critic

Most people have an inner critic that tells them they are not good enough, that they’re a fraud, and that they are going to be found out.

This happens especially when we step out of our comfort zone and change things. If you are living your best life, your inner critic likes to jeopardize that.

The next time it appears, acknowledge what’s happening and call it out. Whatever it is telling you, list all the reasons it’s wrong.

10. Be Prepared to Change the Plan

You may have set intentions to live your best life. However, life is not linear, nor does it work in lists. You must expect to be flexible and change the plan as life throws things at you.

The end game remains the same: to live your best life. It’s just the route to get there that will inevitably change.

Conclusion

Live each day like it counts, and remember, it’s your choice. Your best life is unique to you. Don’t compare yourself to others – focus on living your best life, and enjoy the learning, exploration, and experiences along the way.

More Tips on How You Can Live Your Best Life

Featured photo credit: Juliana Malta via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Kon Mari: Tidy your space, transform your life
[2] Harvard Health Publishing: In Praise of Gratitude
[3] University of Rochester Medical Center: Journaling for Mental Health
[4] Daniel H. Pink: Dan Pink on Motivation
[5] Sleep Foundation: Healthy Sleep Tips

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