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ACTIVE AFTER 50 is easy if you prepare to be in good shape physically, emotionally, and financially before you hit 50. The author, Eric Miller, turned his life around at 46, promising himself he'd be healthier and wealthier at 50 than he was in his 40s.



Hit the ground running at 50

Well before I hit 50, I made important decisions that would improve my life from 50 onwards. There were career moves to make, a long, cold look at my marriage, plus a pre-bucket bucket list of all the things I hadn't done and wanted to do

On the night of my 46th birthday, my wife caught be barfing in a friend's yard. I'd drunk too much beer and vodka, eaten too many burgers. My head was spinning, my stomach was churning like in the bad old days of frat parties and beer-induced stupor. My furious wife drove me home, where I spent 14 hours in bed reassessing my life.

First move: stop drinking. It was an easy decision to make. From that night onwards, I haven't had a beer or glass of wine. The thought of liquor turns my stomach.

Second move: get in shape, lose weight. I went onto amazon, ordered half a dozen books about running, bought three pairs of running shoes and decided I would run at least five times a week until I hit 50. At 50, I'd decide whether I wanted to continue running or find some other way to stay in shape. My goal -- we all need goals -- was at 50 to run a 5k, 10k, and marathon faster than I had done as a 40-something year old.

That part was easy. Regular running lost me 30 pounds in less than a year. My first 5k, as a 47-year-old, was run in 23 minutes 33 seconds. My first 5k as a 50-year-old was completed in 18 minutes 17 seconds -- and I am still improving. I can run a marathon in under 3 hours, something I could not do at 35. And if you're a distance runner at 50, you have a great heart and fantastic endurance. You don't need Viagra.

Third move: get tech savvy. I figured one of the ways older people stay old and cut themselves off from what's going on around them is to stop learning new tricks, to imagine that what you know at 45 is all you'll need to know for the rest of your life.

I went to amazon again, ordered a bunch of books about web design, blogging, CSS, java script, php, xhtml, etc. I wasn't going to become a web designer but I wanted to know what the heck all that new stuff was about. Turned out it was easy, a lot easier than my bachelor's degree in urban design.

Fourth move: marriage. Was I happy? Was my wife happy? Did we encourage each other or make each other miserable? That was a tough one. I wasn't happy with my sex life, nor, I am sure, was I much of a lover. Sex had become routine.

I asked my wife straight out? "Do you still love me? Do you want to be with me for the rest of your life? Is there anything about me that bugs you? Am I any good to you in bed? Do you want me to leave?"

She said she loved me but that my love-making had become boring. She said I was too focused on THE ACT with no attention paid to romance, foreplay and the afterglow. It was exactly as I feared. I asked myself whether I really wanted to re-learn how to romance my wife. It turned out that's exactly what I wanted.

I also had my own wish list for my wife that I insisted she do something about: she had to lose 20 pounds; she had to be better organized, stop dropping clothes and office materials all over the house; she needed to look sharp around me. I was serious about this; I didn't want to feel neglected. I wanted to be treated as though I mattered, wanted my woman to look good at my side.

Fifth move: work, money, and planning the future. Did I want to stay in my job? Could I move? Could I start afresh? Anything I wanted to do that I hadn't yet done?

I decided to spend the next decade working exceptionally hard but only at projects that gave me deep satisfaction and pleasure. By 60, I promised myself I'd have all the money I needed to retire, even though I might want to carry on working. 

Some other goals were attended to: learn now to ski down any slope no matter how steep and dangerous; do a couple of parachute jumps; re-learn how to really appreciate good sex, get into deep, deep love-making where there's a genuine connection with my wife; buy a home abroad (I bought a cottage for $10,000 in Portugal which I visit once a year); have enough money to give each of my six kids $30,000 when I turn 60 -- still working on that one.

Fifty is sweet, just fine. I can't say it feels much different from 30, 40 or any age between. If you stay in shape, keep your mind alive, look after your sexual needs, it's a fantastic time of life. At long last, you feel in command -- master of your domain, as they once said on Seinfeld.

by Eric Miller

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