I turned 55 on Saturday. I know, I can’t believe it either. But there’s nothing like a birthday for focusing the mind, even if age really is just a number – which I firmly believe. Don’t you?
Fifty-five feels like a landmark birthday, though: a solid place from which to jump into the next five years full of the kind of enthusiasm I’ve always tried to foster. I know I’ve talked a lot about leaping into middle age – because it’s such an important concept. And leap is exactly what we should do: with confidence. Even if we don’t always feel it.
So how do I feel on the inside, numbers not with standing? Frankly, not that different to the way I felt in my forties, or my thirties. But I’m certainly proud of everything I’ve achieved up to this point: my daughters, my friendships, my business. And I’m proud of the wisdom I’ve accrued (even if I don’t always feel very wise!) as well as the confidence I’ve gained.
On the whole, though, I’m still the same Grace. I’m just me. And that’s the point. The numbers might have changed, clicked up by one, but the core of who I am, my values and needs, these are all much the same. That’s one of the things I feel it’s so important to get across to you. I’m just the same person I was yesterday – and so are you. Let’s try and get our heads around that and not sweat the small stuff when birthdays occur.
What’s crucial from here on in? Planning our future. We’re still striving for goals in much the same way we ever have. And maybe they’re getting that little bit easier to achieve now we’re older and – I’ll say it – wiser. I’m certainly stronger now than I’ve ever been. This birthday has been a celebration of my age and the beginning of a new – and even more exciting – chapter.
OK, sometimes staying upbeat can be hard, I’ll admit. And of course, birthdays are a time for retrospection. It can be a salutary lesson when you consider how fast these past 20, 30 years have flown by. But it’s not something to be sad about. Look back at the memories you’ve accumulated and the choices you’ve made and be glad.
I can’t lie (as my girls would say): I wouldn’t be human if I hadn’t had the odd moment of wishing I were younger – just so that others wouldn’t label me as “middle-aged”. Because along with that label comes a sense of feeling invisible, less attractive than you once were, and of less value to society. But you can’t turn back the clock – trying to do that will only cause you unhappiness. It’s a battle you can never win.
I often think about my wonderful mum, who would always tell me to “focus on what you have, not what you don’t”. And that’s certainly true the older you get. Reframing your thoughts in a more positive way is not always easy, but it can be immensely helpful – whether that’s through mindfulness, meditation or just doing a gratefulness practice. There’s lots of research to suggest that taking a few moments every day to make a list of things we’re grateful for can improve our mood, our relationships and even enhance our longevity. What are you waiting for?
For me, this next year is going to be about celebrating my age, wearing it proudly and being the very best version of myself that I can be. Let’s remember that age brings a whole heap of positives: physical, emotional and psychological. I’m fitter than I ever was in my thirties, more settled and less stressed. And the expression“you’re only as old as you feel” is actually truer than you think.
Several studies over the past few years have shown that your “subjective age” can be a better predictor of health – including your risk of depression, diabetes, high blood pressure, dementia and even mortality – than your actual age. So the younger you feel, the healthier you are.
That’s just one more reason I’m kicking off this next year with a positive mindset. I’m going full steam ahead in my own life, the life of Studio10 and the PRO AGE movement. So join me.
Our age doesn’t define us. It’s who we are that does. So much love to all of you, wherever you are on that journey.