Self-Development

Life Lessons I Learned Before 50

Life lessons

I’ll turn 50 next March and I’ve been thinking a bit about what I have done so far, what experience I have gained and how I will celebrate my big 5-0. In recapping the life lessons I learned and where I’ve been, I realised that I’ve lived a very fulfilling life.

From Moscow to London, then to Sydney (who knows what my next destination will be); from an accountant in a small company to a CFO in a large corporation; from the top of the corporate hierarchy to a student (and that’s after the age of 45), and then to writing and blogging, and so much more.

It has been a really fun adventure, and I am in awe of what can happen when you approach life with curiosity, an open heart, and a flame inside that long for more learning.

With that in mind, here are 50 things I have learned before I turn 50.

  1. Our age is just a number. When I was 20, I thought 50 is a nightmare. But now I’m almost 50 but feel even better than in my 20s, full of energy and ready to start all over again. Our age doesn’t determine our attitude to life. So, don’t let the numbers change the real you. However, …
  2. Aging changes our bodies. Unfortunately, our bodies are aging and we can’t stop it. While there are advanced technologies that can make you younger, as you age, your bones and other internal organs tend to shrink in size and density. Let’s face it. That’s why the best thing you can do is …
  3. Take care of your body, the sooner the better. Our bodies are miraculously wise. It knows what exactly it needs. Just listen attentively and try not to hurt yourself. We have only this unique vehicle of yours and we can’t change it, at least not in this lifetime. If there is something in your body that you hate, embrace it and remember that …
  4. Inner beauty over appearance. I believe that a person with a beautiful soul overshadows superficial faces with the emptiness behind them. Besides, inner beauty such as kindness, sincerity, all-round development, etc, have no age. We can preserve it until our death. However, it doesn’t mean that we have to give up on our bodies. No, quite the opposite, because…
  5. Physical activities give Energy. I’m a person who doesn’t really like sports. As a child, I went in for sports. But then I got a back issue and stopped doing active sports. Instead, I started practising various types of exercises such as yoga, Pilates, breathing, and even energy practices. A couple of years ago I tried morning jogging (to be honest, it felt more like brisk walking than jogging). After the first day, I knew for sure that this jogging thing will forever remain in my morning routine because it gives me an extremely large portion of energy. So, I urge you to find your healthy “drug” that energises you and gives pleasure. And two more things…
  6. Hydration and sleep cure more than you imagine. I am pretty sure that most humans don’t drink enough water and get sufficient sleep. Getting along well with the latter since childhood, I struggled with drinking water. I couldn’t convince myself to drink water as recommended: 35 ml per 1 kg of body weight. However, when I eventually got into it, I felt much better. It was about your physical health, but…
  7. Don’t overlook your emotional and spiritual health. Once I read that every single day we have to develop ourselves physically, emotionally, spiritually and intellectually, taking one small step in each direction. Since then, I have adhered to this. For emotional and spiritual health, I practice various meditations. It really helps to strengthen my spirit and manage my emotions wiser. By the way, don’t forget to…
  8. Have fun. It’s a real cure for all diseases. This is a real cure for all diseases. Especially over the past two years, I realised that I want the second half of my life to be filled with adventure, freedom and fun. I promised myself that on an ongoing basis I would ask myself: am I having fun now? And if the answer is no, I will immediately change direction. I know that fun is such a cliche, but life is so short that I want to make it fun.
  9. Better late than never. My personal experience proves that even after 45 you can completely change your life by moving to another hemisphere of the Earth and start life anew. I hope you live a vibrant life, constantly changing and evolving to get closer to what lights you up. If not, then, believe me, it’s never too late to change everything you wanted to. I know, it’s scary sometimes but…
  10. Don’t let fear rule you. As once the protagonist of Carlos Castaneda’s book, Don Juan said: “fear is the first of human’s natural enemies”. Because of fear, we can’t start something new, we are afraid to give up what no longer serves us, or we get stuck in toxic relationships. However, it turns out that most of the things we fear will never happen. If they do happen, then it’s not such a terrible scenario as we imagined them. So, be brave and…
  11. Trust your gut. Many of us, probably, had a situation when we were in a meeting and we had an idea, but we were too afraid to share it out loud. And then our colleague loudly expressed exactly the same idea? Or, when we felt that we didn’t want to go somewhere, but then convinced ourselves and went there, and something unexpected and bad happened? I stop counting how many times my intuition was right but I didn’t trust myself and then regretted it. So, no matter what, always trust yourself. However, …
  12. Our mistakes are our teachers. We often try to avoid mistakes. But there are no mistakes, there are only our lessons. Sometimes we forget that our mistakes are the ones that lead us to success. Be prepared to make mistakes and learn from them. In order to do it, you need to…
  13. Be brave to show your vulnerability. It’s great to be open, real, and vulnerable. This enables people around to trust you and share their emotions with you, and you can share yours in return. Dr Brene Brown, who studies courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy, is an expert in this field. After reading her book “The Gift of Imperfection”, I ceased to be ashamed of my shortcomings. As a result, my relationships with people became warmer. Besides, …
  14. Honesty to yourself is freedom. Brene Brown, whom I just mentioned, has written another amazing book called “Braving the Wildness”. She advocates that it’s very important to be who you are and to stand up for it. If you know that you are not as anybody else, perhaps even weird in some way, fully embrace yourself. And, by the way, congratulations, you are not an exact copy of everyone else. Moreover, …
  15. Your life – your rules. Stop worrying about what others think of you. I used to pay a lot of attention to what people think, how they might react, or what they can say. Almost all humans have a judgemental mindset (someone might say it’s critical thinking, but I don’t think so). It’s in our nature. Don’t let other people’s opinions get to you. However, the same applies to you, don’t judge others and …
  16. Let go of prejudice. Don’t be attached to the opinion or beliefs of the community or group of people. Be open to any opportunity or idea. You will be surprised how many opportunities life gives if you do not reject them.
  17. You can’t control others. We want the people around us to behave the way we want them to. But the reality is that we can’t change other people. The only thing we can do is respect the uniqueness and independence of each person.
  18. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. There is an old Celtic legend that says just before each person is born, they are allowed to choose all the hardships they will experience during their lifetime. In this tradition, everyone selects the challenges that they will be able to overcome. The situations and conditions that will push them to learn and grow but will not defeat them. So, no matter what situation you are going through, you can handle it. You are much stronger and wiser than you think. Besides, …
  19. Time heals. Whatever happens in life, it will pass. So many times, I had crucial situations when I thought that ‘this is the end of the world”. However, after a week, and sometimes even earlier, the clouds cleared away and life returned to its former course. Human beings quickly get used to new circumstances. Plus, it’s best to remind yourself from time to time that…
  20. Change is always for the better. Life is changing, and you shouldn’t resist it. Don’t be afraid of change, go with the flow and see life as an adventure. However, to change your life, you have to take risks.
  21. No risk – no reward. There are different types of people: risk-taking and risk-averse. I’m from the first group. If you’re from the latter, remember that making informed and risky decisions helps you grow.
  22. Don’t fall into the ‘false sympathy’ trap. If you have changed, but people or things around you haven’t, it’s ok if you move on. In fact, it is much better for them too, everyone has to learn their own lessons.
  23. Get the job done. If you want to achieve anything in life, you have to work. Of course, there are rare exceptions, but don’t rely on them. Rely on yourself. However, you are definitely not your job; you are much bigger. Therefore, …
  24. Amuse yourself with something outside of your profession. In order to give your brain a break, make time to enjoy things that have nothing to do with your work. I’d be crazy if I hadn’t attended a million different courses and workshops, from cooking to extreme driving, from painting to sommelier. It definitely broadened my horizons and helped me to find my passion.
  25. Passion makes your life brighter. When you find any activity that you are crazy about, every day becomes a gift. If you haven’t found your passion yet, set yourself a goal to do it. In my case, it took a long time before I figured out what I’m passionate about. You need to…
  26. Be proactive. Have you seen the movie “Yes man” (2008) starring Jim Carrey? If not, I highly recommend doing so. After watching this movie, I behaved exactly like the main character. It was really fun. Besides, …
  27. Actions heal longing. Noticed that any action is a cure for anxiety, procrastination, melancholy and anxiety. Stop thinking and do something. For example, …
  28. Never stop learning. If you think you know at least 1% of everything in our world, then you have never been so wrong. Learn every day something new about different things. It seems to me that I can write a memoir about how many different courses, workshops and classes I attended and what subjects I studied, but I still can’t quench my thirst for new knowledge. Studying keeps our brains in good shape even in adulthood. However, if you are not a ‘learning freak’ like me, you probably need the motivation to take this step. But, don’t wait when motivation hits you, …
  29. Create motivation yourself. In my 30s, I believed that motivation is something that should fall from the sky. All you have to do is just wait for it to happen. I’ve been waiting for this for a very long time. But it turned out that motivation can be built. A motivational fire ignites when you patiently inflame it and develop a sense of the satisfaction of progress.
  30. Life Journey vs Destination. In the movie “Peaceful Warrior” (2006) the protagonist said that “The journey is what brings us happiness, not the destination”. I couldn’t agree more. However, I think that without a destination or purpose we just can’t know where to go. In other words, before hitting the road, take action to find purpose in life and…
  31. Expand your horizons. The best way to do this is to travel. Travel teaches us how to interact with people, helps us get to know new cultures and habits, and enriches us with vivid impressions. I can’t wait for this pandemic nightmare to end and once again we can easily travel the world.
  32. Experience over Things. If you are at a loss to decide whether to buy a new couch or go on a trip, I recommend always choosing the latter. Joy and positive memories are cooler than material things. As one of my friends keeps saying; “We can’t take material things to the grave, but we can take our impressions there”.
  33. Be environmentally friendly. Until 35 or so, I was a collector of clothes. It was very difficult for me to part with them. But at some point, I realised that regardless of the number of things in my closet, I wear almost the same outfit every day. This made me rethink the concept of my consumption in general. In fact, the fewer things we have, the freer we are. Now I consider myself a wise consumer. This led me to the next point…
  34. The simpler – the better. This is another lesson I learned. Life is already full of complexities, confusion and obligations. Don’t make it even more difficult. This also applies to multitasking. When we try to do multiple tasks, we end up completing none of the tasks. Our minds are designed in this way. So, one task at a time and…
  35. Be grateful. As a part of my morning routine, I practice Gratitude. I thank the Universe, Mother Earth, the Sun and the people around me for all the lessons and opportunities they provide. This small morning ritual makes me so much happier.
  36. Let yourself be selfish sometimes. All my close friends and relatives said that I was incredibly strict with myself, and they were right. It was so exhausting. Over time, I’ve learned how to cut myself some major slack, but it wasn’t an easy path. So, don’t forget about yourself, but don’t be narcissistic. Instead, …
  37. Be flexible. I have always been a person who, when I gave my word, held it back, regardless of the circumstances. However, circumstances sometimes change drastically. And you have the right to change your mind too. Nobody and nothing lasts forever. So, feel free to change your mind. However, try not to let others down.
  38. We are not always right. We think we know the answer to any question, but we don’t. There is always someone smarter us, and our answers are not always correct. Perhaps, it was the most difficult lesson for me. Probably, because I was a person with an “I-am-always-right, if I am not – see previous point” – attitude. It took a lot of ‘blood’ to change it in me.
  39. You are not your parents and your children are not you. You are the vessel that brings children into this world and takes care of them until they can do it themselves. Teach them, love them, support them, but don’t change them. Every child is unique and must live their own life. The same applies to you as your parents’ child, but your parents may not know about it. Don’t judge them because…
  40. Family comes first. The most important thing in our life is our loved ones. Always put them first. They are more important than our job, hobby, computer. Appreciate them as if they are your whole life. Because that’s the way it is.
  41. Touching heals. Tested it on me. When I lived far from my loved ones, I didn’t have the opportunity to hug (I mean a real, long hug). It made me constantly feel stressed (it wasn’t the only reason, but…). I started researching this topic and found out that touch does actually have many positive properties. They normalise the heartbeat, improve well-being and relieve stress. Now, even when I am away from relatives, every time I meet with friends, I demand their hugs and stick in their arms longer than usual (all my friends are used to this feature of mine and don’t judge me).
  42. Words matter. There is such a proverb: “The word is not a sparrow, flew out – you won’t catch”. So, think before you speak. If we use words to offend a person, there may not be a way back.
  43. Forget the anger. The satisfaction from anger goes away after a few minutes but, we know that the consequences can last much longer. Listen to your emotions and when anger comes, take a step in the opposite direction. I usually pause and do breathing exercises. However, if someone offends you, remember that …
  44. No one can make you feel a certain way without your permission. No one can make you feel a certain way without your permission. It strikes me deeply every time I feel like someone has mistreated me. Then I create a protective shield around me, and it reflects their mood. It helps.
  45. Love is vital. Everyone on this earth is longing for love. Love is why we are here. It is the force that drives the world. I know it sounds like a cliché but I truly believe that if we share and express love every day, we can make this world a better place to live in. And…
  46. Don’t forget about kindness. A small dose of kindness can work wonders with the people around us. It requires little effort from us. That is why we’d better practise this every day.
  47. First things first. If I tried to answer everything as it came in, I would never get anything done. Boundaries are vital. I love how Brene Brown writes about our personal boundaries in her book “Braving the Wildness”. Now I reply to messages at the end of the day unless it’s urgent.
  48. Satisfaction comes from within. If you are not happy with something around you, don’t try to change the external circumstances – instead, start with yourself. I apply it to myself all the time. The fact is that when we change something inside ourselves, the circumstances, the environment and even the people around us change too. It’s unavoidable. Believe me.
  49. Don’t underestimate small things. Learn to see happiness in small things and enjoy what you have at the moment. You can forget about worries and focus on what gives you pleasure. Be honest with yourself first of all, and at the same time with other people, and then they will answer you in kind.
  50. Enjoy life and live every day as your last day. I believe we have all learned how precious our lives are in the last two years of covid. That means don’t wait for the perfect day to put on a fancy dress, use the Chinese dinner service you received on your wedding day, open a bottle of wine, or do anything else you’ve been putting off. Do it now. Life is short and we have to enjoy it.

There were a bit more lessons, but I decided to cut them down to 50 to balance the numbers.

Next week, I will be exploring options for celebrating my momentous day. I think it will be fun.

1 Comment

  1. Thank you for the article – turning 50 next year, I read it with a great interest. My favourite are #46 – about compassion, and #48.

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