Fifty and Not Fecked

I had written a post I’d entitled “Fifty and Fecked”, about how it was hard getting back into employment once you’re into your fifth decade and find yourself out of work. It was a bit of a moan, so I’ve decided I’ll post it if and when I make a real effort – a real effort – to find myself a job. (And only then if I find it actually is quite difficult.)

Born to Run

Born to Run

Instead, I decided to summarise some points from an excellent essay from Garrison Keillor, entitled “Stop Complaining” from a book “50 Things to do When You Turn Fifty”, which is much more positive. Keillor (who’s actually in his Sixties) gives a Moustachian punch in the face to the elderly tendency to moan about almost everything, and recommends some alternative strategies which, I think, are good ones to remember. I also think they apply to almost anyone over twenty, not just those of us thinking about retirement.

  • Stop complaining about growing old. Nobody cares. Instead when people ask how you are, say “Absolutely great, Never better.”
  • Lose 20 pounds in weight. Eat one meal a day, two snacks. That’s all you need. Have one feast day a week when you eat what you like.
  • Give up TV and newspapers for six months or a year and sample an “unmediated life of direct experience”. You might like it.
  • Adopt a new dress style, but make it appropriate. No ponytails! Risk being a bit more conventional in a cool way. Stay trim, keep smart.
  • Put your past behind you and find something that will absorb you today. Your heart’s desire, not anyone else’s.
  • Start telling the truth. Say what you think. Express outrage if necessary. Don’t fear what the Big Cheeses in your life might think. You’re past that.
  • Express simple preferences. Don’t want to do dinner Saturday night with those moaners from across the street? Then don’t. Relax with a glass of wine and talk to your loved ones instead.
  • Talking of wine, try cutting out the booze for six months, if only to simplify things for a while.
  • Fifty is an excellent age for reform.

I really like the sentiments he expresses (apart from cutting out the booze!) Every now and then it’s a good idea for me to turn down the cynicism and sarcasm – much as I enjoy revelling in such an outlook – and turn my attention more to the positive things in life. Inevitably these are the simple things that generally cost little or no money. The moderate life. There’s a lot to be said for it.

7 thoughts on “Fifty and Not Fecked

  1. I massively agree with cutting out the media for a good while. I love it! It frees your brain to think more openly and creatively… And there less complaining because your brain is not focussing on political news of every colour.


    • I once managed about nine months without a TV, but a deep, dark Scottish winter put an end to it. I’m increasingly avoiding the news and mainstream media though. I used to worry this would put me “out of touch”, but instead you just find you’ve more time to be in touch with other sources of information.


  2. Nice post. I think the stats support your initial hypothesis, but, that’s a good reason to feel grateful that right now you don’t need to test it out 😉 I expect if you did though, the power of goal setting would take you a long way…


    • It’s interesting – I’ve received a lot of conflicting advice about the job market over the last nine months. I’ll maybe try and summarise it all in a post at one point……


  3. hi Jim, thank you for this post. I was interested to see Keillor recommends one meal and two snacks as I had just got around to deciding I only needed two meals and one snack – obviously I am not going far enough! Re the booze, don’t you find if you make it a regular thing that you feel a bit sh*t? I do. I drink wine/whisky some of the time and then give it up for a while, and I feel better, though I eventually get bored and take it up again. And so on.

    Agree fifty is a good age for reform – I was a couple of months short of my 51st birthday when I got an irresistible urge to chuck out or sell pretty much everything I own. It is taking a few months but I am doing it. It is all part of the early retirement plan anyway as I can downsize once I’ve got rid of the stuff but it is more than that. I almost want to cut free from the past and put it behind me. A bit hard to put into words. I am sure it is age-related though.


  4. A nice positive post there Jim, I like it!

    I did think there was a bit of a contradiction in their advice however, on one hand:

    “Stop complaining”

    On the other:

    “Start telling the truth. Say what you think. Express outrage if necessary.”

    Outrage to me is just another form of complaining, so I’d ignore that part.
    You can still tell others what you believe in without expressing outrage IMO.



  5. Hi – have just started reading (and enjoying) your blog. One small point about the opening sentence: Once you reach 50 then you’re actually into your sixth decade. I’m about to start my seventh. . .


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