by Jeff Katowitz, LMFT
You are about to turn fifty. Think about it – five decades. Where has the time gone? Do you feel satisfied with what you have accomplished or do you feel somewhat stuck and living in constant regret. Some of you may have children who are now just beginning a new chapter in life – going off to college or entering the workforce. Some of you started your families later and have younger children or adolescents with a few years remaining in high school. Some of you may not have children but experience a similar pressure of aging – beginning to think about the time left and how to invest your energies wisely. Common thoughts and questions entering our minds may include:
· “How do I want to spend the time remaining to really enjoy life?”
· “I need to invest more energy towards my health so I can continue doing what I love.”
· “I’d like to see things, visit places, be spontaneous and active.”
· “I’ve been doing the same work for so long. Maybe I’d like to expand or change careers.”
· “I’d like make sure that I focus my energies in the later part of my life on reconnecting with people I feel disconnected from.”
Sound familiar? While each of us has a different story, we are all faced with the concept of time and aging. It is important to examine things we’d like to do – if we have the ability and our situation lends itself to contemplating how the “next chapter” may look.
As I approach turning fifty this month, I look at my own situation and feel blessed. I have two sons who are developing beautifully and who no longer need me in the same way. I am married to an amazing, creative woman – a true partner in life expanding in her own new and exciting ways. I have a very loving and supportive extended family. I am surrounded by terrific and exceptional colleagues in my work environment.
Despite my satisfaction, as I inch closer to fifty, I find myself considering the question: “What is important for me to nurture, grow and expand?” I think what is most exciting about asking all of these questions is that, if we allow ourselves to venture back to our memories involving simple activities and events, the newness of life and what it has to offer - this is our youth.
Now we can’t be nine years old playing with our favorite new toy. But what we can do is think about opportunity and expansion at the age of fifty. This can actually be very similar to the lens through which a nine year old sees the future. Do you remember saying things like “When I grow up, I’m going to be a………” or “When I get older, I want to be like……… or have……….”? Do you remember feelings of excitement and anticipation, a sense of the future as vast and endless?
We have the opportunity to answer these same statements at fifty. For example, “When I turn fifty, I would like to start moving in a different direction. I’d like to be more creative. I’d like to have more friends. I’d like to travel more and see the world.”
Turning fifty does not have to represent aging through the lens of “I’m getting old” but can instead be a marker of time reminding us to think about our goals, passions, interests, and the experiences and adventures we would still like to have. To all those entering into your fifties, I celebrate with you and hope you are able to embrace life in ways that are exciting, engaging in events and activities that fill you with joy.
Here is a reflection process to guide you:
Step one: Sit quietly in a peaceful space for a few minutes and think about an idea, perhaps visualize an event, place, or opportunity and activity that feels good when you think about it.
Step two: Create some type of movement that places you closer to the direction of your thoughts (ie. sharing this idea with others, developing and plan and writing it down, engaging in an activity that moves you closer to the vision(s)).
Step three: Repeat steps one and two over and over again. Good luck!
Jeffrey Katowitz, LMFT, AAMFT, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.
His areas of specialty include divorce and separation, blended family issues, adoption, adolescent development and transitions, grief and loss, and managing and working through traumatic life events. Jeff’s goal is to provide a safe a nurturing environment for the individual and family system to feel more readily able to access the strength to overcome difficult transitions and events in their lives. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and 215-307-0055.