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Your Second Half of Life Should Be Filled With These 4-Letter Words

15 words boomers and Gen Xers need in their vocabulary

By Gary Foster

The second half of life (I’ll optimistically call it the 50-to-100 phase) is rife with both opportunity and challenge. It’s a time when social expectations expect us to begin to “wind down” rather than “rewind;” to “land” and not “take off;” to retire and not rewire; and to retreat and not advance. It’s a time often referred to with four-letter words like slow, idle, aged, gray, shot, worn, gone, beat, done.

Second Half of Life
Credit: Adobe

I suggest we boomers, pre-boomers and Gen Xers replace those with more appropriate four-letter words. Here are 15 to fold into your thinking and vocabulary to overpower the aforementioned:


Work keeps us alive. We abandon work at our own peril. A study of 83,000 Americans 65 and older published in Preventing Chronic Disease, a publication of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that being unemployed or retired was associated with the greatest risk of poor health.


Retirement can mean getting away from the planning, discipline and routine that made us successful during our careers. Why is our later life undeserving of working from a plan, especially when we bring forward so many acquired skills and wisdom?

Find your “essential self,” uncover your deepest passion and put together a plan to put both to work.


One of the threats to longevity and good health in the second half is social isolation. Don’t let your social network atrophy. According to AARP, social isolation is as deadly as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

After retirement, we expect that we will be able to maintain meaningful relationships with former co-workers. That rarely happens. It’s vital to replenish those connections with new relationships that are uplifting, stimulating and supportive.

Jim Rohn, entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker, reminds us of the vitality of our closest connections: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”


Continue to seek wisdom and knowledge and new experiences. The brain is a muscle and will atrophy just like any other. Push the envelope on new experiences and force yourself out of your comfort zone, which will magnify as you move into retirement. Never stop learning.


Deep down, we are wired to serve. These later years are an opportunity to be deeply grateful and to pay forward what we learned and earned.


Seek a source of inspiration. Whether its meditation or prayer, finding a way to connect to the higher power that is the source of all energy, creativity, and imagination is fundamental to maintaining vitality and sense of purpose in the second half.


As in exercise. A sedentary lifestyle is a major contributor to poor health in the second half. Replace the LazyBoy with a treadmill and the TV with yoga lessons. Oxygenate your cells every day with an aerobic exercise of some form.


Do this in two ways: (1) lift others up through example, engagement and encouragement and (2) lift weights to maintain good health. The late Dr. Henry Lodge said it well in the bestseller Younger Next Year: “Aerobic exercise will give you life; strength training will make it worth living.”



It still makes the world go ‘round. And that love should include — actually start with — loving yourself.


Have a challenging task facing you each day. Take on something scary, something you’ve never tried before. Have something that stretches you mentally and physically. Task yourself with challenging goals and projects focused on paying forward your wisdom, acquired skills and passion.


Creativity doesn’t die with age unless we allow it. Idea creation is a great way to keep our cognitive abilities alive and well. That lifetime of experience is a great petri dish for developing new ways to do things.

What can you create that would benefit others drawing from your experiences, your passions and your core skills/essential self? Just know that when you do this, you rebuild and add new neuronal connections and contribute to your brain health.


Break the rules for someone your age. Make people want to know what you are up to because your attitude, appearance and actions are so far outside “convention” for someone in your demographic. (See Elan below.)


Somebody somewhere needs your help to lead him or her out of some form of darkness, be it in life, business, health or relationships. Be available. Be necessary to somebody. Pay forward what you’ve learned.


Be a star by helping others shoot for theirs.


These synonyms say it all: flair, style, panache, confidence, dash, energy, vigor, vitality, liveliness, brio, esprit, animation, vivacity, verve, spirit, pep, sparkle, enthusiasm, gusto, eagerness, feeling, fire, pizzazz, zip, vim, oomph. Make them apply to you.

(This article originally appeared on the website Make Aging Work.)

Gary FosterAllen Foster is an executive recruiter, retirement and career transition coach, writer, and speaker dedicated to helping folks in the over-50 crowd adopt a new perspective on how to live longer, live better and with more purpose in the second half. He coaches, speaks and writes publicly on the issues of mid-life career transitions, planning for purposeful retirement and achieving better health and greater longevity. Find his thought-provoking articles at Read More
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