Prime Time -- Transitioning from Thirties to Forties
As the old saying goes, "If I'd known I was going to live this long, I'd have taken better care of myself." Obviously, then, in order to live a rich life in your forties and beyond, the number one key is to take your good health seriously. Which one is better: wealth without health or health without wealth?
Why not have both? By the time you hit the late thirties and going into your forties, it is time to take stock in what you have accomplished in both categories so far and where you are going with it. After having spent the last twenty years with thirty extra pounds, I lost weight in my late forties. Of course, I was proud that I had finally done it, but I spent more time wishing I had done it much, much sooner than I did than being proud that I had finally accomplished it. I felt good and I looked good, but not as good as I would have looked in my early forties. Not only that, but the skin starts to lose its elasticity, so if you have goals to lose it, time's a wastin'!
As you enter your forties, it is also time to take stock in other areas in which you may be sabotaging your own health. I didn't do this, which is why I feel qualified to tell others to do it. What can you do to ensure your own health? I have been the classic case of doing it all wrong: junk food, little to no exercise, smoking, too little sleep and the list goes on. Of course, in my forties, my health has suffered for it. Don't let that happen to you.
In the current economic times, creating wealth is as uncertain as maintaining good health through your middle years. One thing that I probably have always done right is that I have been true to myself in my work life. I have always enjoyed my work or I moved in a different direction. True, that didn't make me rich, but it made me happy. Rarely in my life have I said, "I wish I didn't have to work today." If it did, I moved on to something else. As a result, I have a wide variety of work skills on my current resume.
Not everyone feels they have that luxury to be able to move on to a different career. In particular, people who have great benefits such as paid health insurance usually hang on to jobs that they aren't happy in. Many people still have children at home. With today's tight job market, most people feel lucky to have one at all. However, that doesn't mean that you cannot take the steps today to change direction in the future.
If anything comes out of this current economic downturn, it should be for people to see that the security of a job, current health benefits and future retirement benefits can be ephemeral. My uncle, a retired general foreman from Chrysler, is very worried about his current retirement check and benefits. Years ago, people had the luxury of believing that 30 years of hard work for the same company gave you a secure future in your old age. Today, you just cannot count on that. There are no guarantees in life based on the promises of others. You have to make those guarantees for yourself.
Go Back To School
Are you really doing what you want to in your career? If not, consider going back to school to change that. My brother-in-law not only put himself through a four year school while working full time, he has now decided to go on to law school. He turned forty a few days ago. Many people feel, by the time they are hitting their forties, that higher education has passed them by. If that is the case for you, you are going to be surprised when you arrive for the first day of class. You won't be alone.
Additional education also does not have to end with a degree. Many community colleges offer individual classes that will help you gain the new skills needed to change direction. Learning how to design web pages, for instance, only takes a few classes.
Start A New Business
Many people, after losing a job or another life changing event, have ended up starting small businesses that was successful beyond their wildest dreams. One that comes to mind is the woman, Julie Aigner-Clark, created the Baby Einstein videos in her basement using borrowed video equipment. She ended up selling the idea to Walt Disney. Of course, her future is secure.
There are many success stories out there, but do we need to be wildly successful or just able to steer our own destiny? Many others have come up with business ideas that enable them to enjoy life now, not waiting for some imaginary future retirement date to do it. What if that day never comes?
As you go into middle age and beyond, what you ultimately have to decide is: What is wealth? I don't really think wealth is money. If it were, I probably would have a lot more of it. Wealth is personal happiness. Many people believe that true happiness cannot be achieved, but it can. Happiness is a sense of well-being created by being true to ourselves. Wealth is the luxury of doing what we love, whatever that is. Wealth is the richness of our lives.