BY BETH BUCZYNSKI
Someone asked a bunch of 50+ people about things they wished they had done in their younger years. The answers are incredibly smart, and in most cases, simple. If you’ve recently hit the big 3-0, this is your homework.
1. Don’t Smoke. If You’ve Started, Stop Immediately.
“If you could see me now, I’m down on my poor, crackling knees begging you to at least consider stopping smoking,” writes Quora user Cyndi Perlman Fink. It’s expensive, smells gross, and is 100% guaranteed to cause health problems. Want to be cancer-free at 50? Stop smoking.
2. Stop Eating Crap.
“You can make a lot of money in 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s,…90s to buy the whole world when you are at age 50 or beyond,” writes Quora user Sireesha Chilakamarri. “But, you cannot buy your health. Give up on fast food right now at age 30.”
3. Maintain (Or Repair) Relationships With Parents And Siblings.
“…Chances are you’ve come across ideas and changed in ways that mean you don’t see eye to eye with them on many issues. But then – that’s part of what a family can help with – to learn to get along with people you don’t agree with on many issues,” writes Quora user Robert Walker.
“I come from a family which is very argumentative. If you didn’t understand the situation you might at times think we hate each other. But it isn’t like that at all. Rather, we free to speak our minds because the family ties are so strong.”
4. Stop Going Out In The Sun Without Sunblock.
“I was stupid. I didn’t listen. Do you want wrinkles and thin skin from sun damage like I have and do you want bruises from just lightly touching the side of a box and having your skin peel off? Go ahead, enjoy lying in the sun without sunblock,” writes Quora user Cyndi Perlman Fink.
5. Exercise Regularly.
Build an active lifestyle now, and when you’re 50 you won’t be stuck in a Rascal. “Don’t gain weight. Exercise. Keep your weight at a normal level that’s good for your body,” continues Cyndi Perlman Fink. “Weight does all kinds of bad things for you body. I’ve been fat, I’ve been thin, thin is healthier.”
6. Start Saving Money. Even If It’s Just A Tiny Bit.
“Save money. I know this is a boring, trite, and unsexy suggestion, but it’s true,” writes Quora user Cliff Gilley. “In your 30s, the average person has a lot of disposable income, some of which can almost always easily be set aside for use later in life. Plus, building the habit of saving early means you’ll continue it further down the line.”
7. Learn To Be Content With What You Have.
“…Happiness is what matters far more than worldly success,” writes Quora user Robert Walker. “If you are content with what you have then you may be a bit less likely to end up a millionaire, but you will have a happier life. And if you do become a wealthy person – is no reason why not, you’ll be a more happy, fulfilled and productive wealthy person.”
8. Don’t Delay Pursuing Your Life Goals.
“Want to buy a house? Have kids? Write a book? Get a second degree or advanced degree? Change your career? Learn to play a new musical instrument? Learn to cook gourmet meals? Try scuba diving? Run for public office? Start a business and be self-employed? Then start today,” writes Quora user Bill Karwin. “It’s easy to put things off. “I’ll get to that someday.” But it’s really true that time starts accelerating as you enter your 30’s, and it keeps accelerating. The time that you’ll get around to those dreams should be now.”
9. Get Some Sleep.
“Use stellar sleep hygiene,” writes Quora user Nan Waldman. “A dark room or sleep shades will block out light. No bright screens before bedtime. Go to sleep at the same time and wake up at the same time.”
10. Take Care Of Your Teeth.
“…Go to the freaking dentist already,” writes Quora user Caroline Zelonka. “Get your little cavities fixed as they come up. Unlike many body health issues, dental problems only get worse — and things like crowns and implants are uncomfortable, time-consuming and expensive (like, close to five figures per tooth for an extraction, implant and crown). If you have a good savings and income stream, the bills won’t be the painful thing — but there’s no getting around the pain and the time suck.”
11. Collect Memories Instead Of Things.
You are the sum of your experiences. Don’t wake up when you’re 50 and realize that you’ve wasted life gathering possessions. Memories won’t depreciate and can’t be burned in a fire. (Inspired by Quora user Richard Careaga).
12. Give Something Back.
“Give to others so you feel the goodness that service brings,” writes Quora user Nan Waldman. “However you give, do it with your full heart, soul, and effort. Expect nothing in return.”
13. Be Curious And Do One Thing That Scares You Every Day.
“Get out of the house and have an honest-to-God adventure right now,” writes Quora user Mary Leek. “Make it as big as you can possibly manage, take lots of pictures, throw caution to the wind, take on the risk, grab the brass ring. If possible, include someone you’re close to – make a BIG memory. It has to be more than jumping out of an airplane – it needs to be measured in days, not hours or minutes. You’ll still be smiling about it when you’re old and creaky, I promise. I am.”
14. Read At Least 10 Books A Year.
“Gee I wish I spent more time watching TV and playing video,” said no 50 year-old ever. Your brain never stops growing, so exercise it with media that matters. (Inspired by Quora user Vanitha Muthukumar).
15. Travel. As Much As Possible, Whenever You Can.
“Traveling will change you like little else can. It will put you in places that will force you to care for issues that are bigger than you,” writes Jeff Goins. “It’s about experiencing true risk and adventure so you don’t have to live in fear for the rest of your life. And…inspiring others to step out of that fear, too.”
16. Learn To Meditate.
“The list of benefits is endless, it only costs you a small amount of time a day, the change in your life and the people you love will be amazing,” writes Quora user Rens De Nobel. “And compared to ten years ago, there are long lists of scientific studies to back it up.”
17. Do You.
Trust me, the day your body starts to show the signs of wear & tear, you no longer see any fun in partying or trying to impress people around you,” writes Quora user Satish Kumar Grandhi. “You need to start your path of self discovery right now to become stronger by the time you are 50.”
18. Keep A Journal.
“You WILL forget more of your precious memories that you’ll remember,” writes Quora user Mark Crawley. “Your written records will entertain and endear in your future (wish I had). Your computer should make this archiving all the easier to implement and retain / recall. Put files on memory sticks with photos. Your kids (or surviving spouse) may someday love you for it.”
19. Become A Homeowner.
“Buy a house, it’ll be nearly paid for by the time you’re 50,” writes Quora user Liz Read.
20. Take Care Of Your Friends.
“Choose people who make you feel like you already are your best self, who challenge you by their example, and who you genuinely enjoy,” explains Nan Waldman. “Nurture them. Laugh with them. Be silly too. Contribute to their survival and enjoyment of life. Take the time every week to be in touch.”