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It’s time for a fresh start: How to embrace new beginnings at 50

June 7, 2022 - 16 min read

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Can you change your life at 50 years old?

How to start over in life at 50

How to start over at 50 with no money

Pros and cons of starting over at 50

Questions to ask yourself if you’re starting over

Important reminders to boost your self-confidence

What a coach can do for you

Vera Wang used to be a figure skater. But after several failed attempts to make the Olympics, she cut her losses and pursued her passion for fashion.

She began her new life at Vogue as an editor. After 17 years, she left the magazine to work at Ralph Lauren for two years before resigning to open her first wedding dress boutique.

She was hesitant at first. She was almost 40 years old by that point and wary about making a fresh start.

But, after some encouragement, she went for it. She’s now revered for her designs.

The point is: it’s never too late for new beginnings.

Considering a career change in your 50s can feel daunting. It’s enough to send you into an existential crisis. considering a. After all, you’ve invested a lot of time and energy getting to where you are.

But you need to remember: you’re never starting from scratch. That’s true for careers shifts, and massive changes to your personal life, too. You’ve been through a lot in your lifetime. You can lean on your years of experience for self-reinvention. And you don’t have to seek out a fresh beginning all on your own.

We want to help you get started. Here are our tips on how to start over in life, or at least start a fresh path, at 50.

 

Can you change your life at 50 years old?

Yes! You can change your life at any age, but it rarely happens overnight. With some planning and consideration, and some self-awareness, you absolutely can make significant changes. 

Life is full of uncomfortable and unexpected transitions. You’ve likely been through a few already. Now that you’re in your 50s, you might have thought those days were behind you. But the universe is full of surprises. New beginnings can occur at any age. 

There’s no limit to how much you can grow, learn, and become a better person. There's no time when you must stop. Any decade of your life provides an opportunity for self-improvement and growth. 

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How to start over in life at 50

Starting over will look different, depending on your exact situation. Are you changing careers or moving to a new continent? There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to starting over. 

Here are some general guidelines to consider:

1. Give yourself time to grieve

You might not have expected to be here. That means you are probably experiencing some kind of unexpected loss. This could be the loss of a loved one, a relationship, or plans for the future. Any type of grief is normal, so give yourself the time to feel it.

2. Start journaling

Stop thoughts from swirling in your head by putting them on a page, whether you use a computer or your favorite leather-bound notebook. Through writing, you can gain self-knowledge as well as a valuable means to process your thoughts. 

3. Try meditating

It’s easy to fall into an endless loop of negative thoughts. Deep breaths and meditation can give you a much-needed moment of reprieve.

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4. Do something. Anything!

Inertia sets in when we’re feeling down. But even the smallest activities can boost your mood. Staying active and busy will give you the energy you need to plan for the future.

5. Put yourself out there

As you embark on something new, build on your current connections. Get together with friends to share what’s going on in your life.  You can use social media as a way to reconnect with friends you haven’t seen in a while.

You can also find new friends through volunteering or attending events tailored to people 50+ in your community. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.

Your social health is important to your well-being, and having good friends to support this transition is vital. 

6. Keep moving

Don’t forget to keep exercising (or start up a workout routine if it’s been a while). Weights, walking, or other low-impact activities can help boost your energy and keep your mood up. Taking care of your physical well-being is vital to your overall health.

7. Declutter

You’ve probably accumulated loads of stuff over the years. Get the weight of possessions off your shoulders by donating or selling items that are no longer in use.s. Plus, having a clear space really does mean a clear mind.

8. Review your finances

Be honest about your financial situation. If you’re doing something different, you may need to dive into your finances. Consider taking the following steps: 

  • Create a budget for your living expenses 
  • Factor in how a big change will affect your retirement plan 
  • Read the fine print on your insurance policies, and see how your new situation will affect your healthcare
  • Set some financial goals to save more money  

Your financial wellness matters, too. 

9. Start writing your new chapter

Identify your passions, strengths, weaknesses, and how they might fit in a new career or new job. Start researching your new life, befriend people doing what you want to do, and look for job opportunities that fight your skills and desired lifestyle. 

Bask in the challenges ahead because this is what makes life thrilling.

10. Forget your age

Age is just a number. You’re never too old for a new start. Let go of preconceived notions about where you should be and start building the life you want to live.

These tips are a lot to chew on. It’s okay to ask for help. At BetterUp, we’ll help you understand your values and motivations. You can develop greater self-awareness that will help you find the answers you're looking for and take action to meet your goals

How to start over at 50 with no money

Much of the above advice still applies if you have little or no money. The downside is that you might have less time to lose before springing into action.

Here are some additional tips if you’re in a financially difficult situation and can’t make a quick switch.

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1. Wait it out at your old job

A paying job that you hate will still give you financial stability. This is more important right now. Focus on creating an emergency fund and rainy day savings while you plot your next move.

Do you need to go to grad school or earn a certificate to change industries? Or are you waiting for a spot to come available at your dream company?

2. Let go of the negative self-talk

It’s tempting to compare yourself to other people your age. Your brother might have a boat by now, or your friends are living happily in the suburbs. Comparison will only lead to a cognitive bias that harms your well-being.  

In reality, you have nothing to be ashamed of. Things might be difficult right now, but you still have something few people experience: the chance to reinvent yourself. 

3. Start building

Find your purpose and passion. Think back on the things that felt most meaningful to you. Imagine the person you want to be. How can you work these things into the next phase of your life? How can you do that at a low cost?

Perhaps trying out self-directed learning or creating a vision board will help you stay focused on what you want to achieve. You can make sure that all of your goals point toward the ultimate one: Doing what you love.

Pros and cons of starting over at 50

Maybe a midlife crisis has put you in a tailspin, so you want a fresh start. Maybe circumstances put you in this position where you have no choice. Either way, there are some pros and cons to seeking out a new beginning. 

Pros

  1. You can make choices that are better for emotional and mental health
  2. You can regain a sense of control over your destiny
  3. You can use your entire life experiences to your advantage
  4. Having a job that you love will improve your overall well-being

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Cons

  1. You may have to work harder to keep yourself financially stable
  2. You risk falling into a poor mental health state during the job search
  3. Your stress levels might be elevated due to the change, which can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, and more 

4. You might struggle with imposter syndrome in a new environment

Questions to ask yourself if you’re starting over

If it isn’t apparent, “Can I turn my life around at 50?” is the most straightforward question you’ll have to ask. The answer is yes.

Now, as you contemplate your next steps, here’s what you should be asking yourself:

  1. What do you really need to be happy?
  2. What do you really not like doing?
  3. What makes you feel free?
  4. What are your strengths?
  5. What causes are you passionate about?
  6. Are you willing to commit to your new life?
  7. How do you imagine your life in a few years?
  8. Will this new career align with my values?

Answering these questions will clarify your next steps. Knowing what you’re passionate about and what industries align with your personal values will help you decide where you should be going.

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Important reminders to boost your self-confidence

This is an incredibly daunting phase of your life. It’s easy to lose faith in yourself when everything is uncertain. Here are some facts that will help your confidence

  1. You have years of experience and transferable skills. Own it.
  2. You know what you want — much more than young people often do
  3. You have a solid professional network who can help you
  4. Most people want to see you succeed, even if it doesn’t feel like it sometimes
  5. There’s no shame in asking for help. Therapy and coaching are available if you need them.

What a coach can do for you

Is 50 too old to start over? Absolutely not. And wanting a change isn't a midlife crisis. Besides, no one really starts over. You are forging a new path from where you are today.

And with the help of a coach, you can see the next stage of life as the opportunity it is. You’ll set goals, make a plan, and overall find a new zest for life. Try working with BetterUp to find the new you. This isn’t only how to start over life at 50 — it’s how you can thrive.

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Published June 7, 2022

Maggie Wooll

Managing Editor

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