By Susan Williams
When I turned 59 in November of 2022, I realized that turning 60 was just a short twelve months away. This revelation caused me to reflect on my life and what I had accomplished so far and all that I still wanted to do.
For the most part, I am very happy with my life and how things have turned out. However, I also realized that over the course of the pandemic, my life had shifted in a direction that concerned me.
Even though we were no longer needing to socially isolate, I noticed I was now staying home more frequently and spending way too much time sitting on the couch streaming series on TV. I also noticed that on a more regular basis I was declining invitations to do things with friends, instead opting to spend a quiet time at home.
If this was the type of life I wanted, this would have been fine. But it wasn’t.
Prior to the pandemic, I was always active outside the house, doing different things or busy organizing events, so my behaviour now was noticeably different from my pre-pandemic life. It was then I realized I needed to really shake things up. I needed to find some way to re-engage with the outside world and push some of my boundaries.
This is when I came up with the idea of doing 60 different things before I turned 60 years old.
Creating a list of 60 things to do is quite an undertaking. As I compiled my list of possible activities, I wanted to make sure that this didn’t turn into a bucket list. I wanted to integrate activities and experiences that I could possibly do on a regular basis after the year was over. Sure, I had a few “bucket worthy” experiences in the mix but there were also many things on the list that almost anyone could do and didn’t cost a lot of money.
As I believed other people might also be feeling similar coming out of the pandemic, I wanted to share my 60 Before 60 Project and experiences as I progressed throughout the year. My hope was to potentially inspire others to also break out of their routines and try something different too.
I am very pleased to report that in November 2023, I crossed my 60 Before 60 Project finish line!
Over the past year, I have experienced things that I have never done before. I have seen both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, as well as the Mediterranean Sea. I have tried new foods and learned how to make fresh pasta. I attended festivals and cultural events that I never seemed to have found the time to go to before. I went to the theatre and the symphony, discovered new ways to experience serenity, and learned more about our world’s culture and history.
I also did simple things. I went to the library, where my mind was blown by how they have evolved over the past ten years, hosted my first fondue party (remember those?), and jumped off a plank from 27 floors up in virtual reality.
I also focused on my health. I stopped drinking alcohol for Dry January, went to get my (much overdue) blood work done, and tried playing pickleball and disc golf for the first time.
Lessons Learned on Turning 60
Through each of my experiences, I also tried to glean some type of life lesson. Amazingly, I discovered that each one of my activities provided me with much to consider. For example:
#3: Often the fear we feel is more than the actual reality
#6: Spend time with people that lift you up not bring you down
#20: Staying curious and continuing to learn keeps us both interested and interesting
#53: While on earth, we should try to love deeply, live authentically and leave with no regrets
I also learned quite a bit about myself through this process and how to ensure that I continue to live and experience the life that I want moving forward. Here are some actions that I hope to keep doing;
- Schedule and Commit
- One of the things I noticed before I started this project was that I would often talk with friends about the things we would like to do together, but we never seemed to actually do it. I discovered I needed to change my behaviour if I hoped to complete this project. So when talking about doing something, I would pull out my phone, schedule, and commit right then. This helped ensure that it was on our calendar and turned our “shoulda’s” and “coulda’s” into done.
- Sometimes the Simplest Things Can be the Most Enjoyable
- If we were to believe everything we see on social media, we might think that our happiest moments need to be major life events. Through my experience, I discovered that simple things can bring great joy and contentment. Just going for a walk someplace different, taking the time to watch the sunset, going forest bathing – all these things didn’t cost me anything but time but provided great inner peace and happiness.
- Family Matters
- The absolute best thing about this year was sharing experiences with my family. I have two adult children who are now living on their own, so I wasn’t sure if they would want to join me in any of my activities. I was delighted to find out that not only did they want to, but they (along with my husband) became my biggest supporters and cheerleaders. We now have created some family memories together that will last us a lifetime.
- Time is a Currency We Cannot Save
- What I also realized throughout this past year is that time is something we cannot save or buy. Given my age, I also realized I’m getting closer to the finish line of life than the beginning, and if there are things that I really want to do, it’s best to get moving on doing them now to make sure that I don’t have any regrets later.
As I reflect on this past year, I am so happy that I undertook this challenge. I now have a scrapbook of stories, pictures, videos, and life lessons that I might have missed if I hadn’t done this. It truly forced me to step outside my comfort zone and re-engage with life.
But what is even more inspiring for me is to discover that I have inspired others. I’ve heard from people who are doing 30 before 30, 50 before 50 and even 70 before 70! People I don’t even know have reached out to me and told me that I had inspired them to go and try something that they had always wanted to do.
So, what about you? Is there something that you have been meaning to do but just haven’t done it yet? If my experience has taught me anything over the past year, it’s that if something is important to you, make it a priority and do it. Additionally, I have created a YouTube video that wraps up all the memorable activities that I’ve engaged in.
After all, it’s much more fun to create memories than to have regrets.
About the Author
Susan Williams is the Founder of Booming Encore – a digital media hub dedicated to providing information and inspiration to help people create and live their best later life. Susan is also the co-author of the book, Retirement Heaven or Hell: Which Will You Choose? and contributor to the book, Longevity Lifestyle by Design. Susan frequently writes and publicly speaks about the opportunities and challenges related to aging, retirement and longevity.
Making decisions like this doesn’t have to break the bank. However, if you’d like some extra cash to spend on hobbies and entertainment, the CHIP Reverse Mortgage by HomeEquity Bank can help you access the cash you need. The CHIP Reverse Mortgage allows you to access up to 55% of the value of your home in tax-free cash, which you’re free to spend however you like, whether it’s on new experiences or taking that vacation you’ve always dreamed of!
To find out how much tax-free cash you could borrow with a CHIP Reverse Mortgage, please call us toll-free at 1-866-522-2447 or get your free estimate online.