How old were you when you started to just ‘get’ stuff? For me it was around 30 I reckon. By 30, I’d done some stuff. Lived and travelled abroad, studied and graduated, changed careers (at least once) … had my heart broken and made some spectacularly dreadful choices in clothes, shoes, and men. Yep, by 30 I’d done some stuff, and learnt some stuff too.
I asked a group of kick-ass midlife mates what they had learnt by 30 and what advice they would give their younger selves. There were commonalities amongst their words, and wisdoms I think we’d do well to remember – even now in midlife.
You must use sunblock everyday – no excuses! Make sure you’re using enough product too. According to the Melanoma Institute Australia, typically we only use 25—50% of the amount that is actually required. Be sure to use the highest SPF on offer, here in Australia that’s 50+, and remember to reapply as per directions.
Laughing is good for you, actually it’s really good for you. Medical evidence shows that laughter is an immune booster that helps with stress, anxiety and is even good for the cardiovascular system. Find a reason to laugh every day.
Don’t save things for ‘good’
Wear your favourite jewellery, drink from the the ‘good’ wine glasses, use the ‘good’ dinner set for midweek dinners and don’t save things for ‘best’. Objects and things should be used, worn and enjoyed. If it brings you any sort of happiness, use them frequently. There’ll come a time when you will need to replace these sentimental favourites and when that time comes, let them go with grace and move on.
Cherish your folks
When you’re young, it’s easy to assume you’ll have your folks for a long time, at midlife you have no such assurances. One friend summed up the sentiment well when she said she lost her due North when her parents passed away. So do it while you still can, spend time with them, call them, show them how to work their iPhone (lots of times if necessary), spoil them and tell them you love them.
It’s OK to fail, and sometimes you will
With some life experience under your belt, you should also now back yourself. By that I mean trust in yourself … a few small words, but a big ask for some. Believing in yourself may also mean you give yourself permission to take some risks. With risk, comes potential for failure – make peace with this. Accepting that you might fail at something new shouldn’t be a deterrent to trying. It’s ultimately easier to accept you tried your best at something that didn’t work out, than never to have given it a go in the first place.
Learn to say no
Another common response was learn to set boundaries and learn to say no. Know what your boundaries are, how they work for you and why they’re important. Establishing and enforcing boundaries takes the guesswork out of relationships by letting people know your rules of engagement. It’s a kindness if you think about it. Boundaries set the tone and establish the foundations for how you expect to be treated, and outlines what you will (and won’t) permit. Saying no without feeling guilty, or overthinking the implications of saying no is another essential life skill for the arsenal.
Make peace with yourself
Expecting physical perfection from yourself is a boring waste of time. Buying into anxiety and insecurity about what you look like, what you wear, and how you square up against others is a waste of your precious time and energy. There’ll always be those who are thinner, taller, richer or more beautiful … but who cares? There is enough room for all types and your secret sauce is that there is only one, and will only ever be one you!
Don’t squander yourself, don’t be mean to or about yourself. Own your unique place in the world and celebrate it! Teddy Roosevelt said it best when he noted, ‘Comparison is the thief of joy’ and in midlife, it’s time to stop that exhausting and neverending comparison game. Which brings me to the final point…
The freedom of saying fuck it
Don’t sweat the small stuff, and don’t amplify it either. Pick battles that are important to you, and learn to say ‘fuck it’ for anything else.
Tracy is a media professional working in television. An enthusiastic explorer of the inter webs, she's held many different roles and has worked on documentary, reality and lifestyle television shows across almost two decades in the industry. Tracy also writes.