Re-Defining Your Life After 50

When the career is winding down, it is time to start thinking about retirement and what you want to do. You can re-define your life after 50.

I like to arrive late. Especially to my husband’s work parties. Everyone is already there, the lights are dimmed, the music is playing. People are gathered in small groups, chatting, laughing, well on their way to having a good buzz. As usual my husband gets pulled into one of the cliques and they’re talking shop. It’s easy for me to grab a drink, a nibble and stand in the corner and people watch.

If you get to a party too early, you’re confronted by the person who makes it their own personal mission to not let guests stand alone.

Greeting someone for the first time, this person resorts to the only conversation opener they know.

“So what do you do?”

And there it is. The question I have been asking myself everyday since I left my job a year ago. In an effort to redirect, I humour them.

“I take care of my husband. He’s a full-time job”. Chuckle, chuckle.

Only when you are repeatedly asked this question do you realize that you have been defining yourself your entire life by the actions and responsibilities that dominated your life at that particular moment.

“I’m a student.”

“I’m a mother.”

“I’m a…(insert career).”

For the first time in my life, I can define myself not by what I do, but what I am. So who am I? At first this sounds exhilarating. I get to define me. Then I realize, I have to define me. And if I don’t, I allow others to do it.

When the career is winding down, it is time to start thinking about retirement and what you want to do. You can re-define your life after 50.

I understand now that in not answering that guest at the party directly, I have allowed myself to be defined as nothing. Could there be anything worse? I’m not sure. Could I stand the glazed over look in their eyes if I had said, “I’m a writer” or how about “I’m a blogger”? I’m sure that would have gotten rid of them pretty fast.

Until I tell them I made over $4500 with my blog last month, then I can’t get rid of them. lol

I’m still on the journey of discovery. It’s an ongoing process but I do know I love writing and I love my blog, but I am not confident in myself yet to define myself as a writer. I hope to one day.

Have you re-defined your life after 50?

I would love to connect with you!
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  1. Great post! It’s funny really, we spend the first 20 years of our work life building the identity by which others define us. We then spend the remainder of our life, figuring out who we really are without it 🙂 x-o-x

  2. I just turned 50 last summer and am somewhat struggling with answering the “what do you do?” question. Mom, wife, writer, former teacher…all wonderful, but somehow the questions still seems unanswered.

    1. In the words of Bridget Jones, “Wanton sex goddess”. Does that suit you? Lol I’ve come to the conclusion now that I don’t need a label and I’m certainly not bothered by any that others decide to pin on me. That’s the glory of fifty! Welcome!

  3. When I first stopped practicing law, I didn’t know how to respond when people asked the ubiquitous question, “What do you do?”

    I didn’t have a “new label” to apply.

    I decided I don’t need a label.
    I am NOT a bottle of wine.

    Or a banana.

  4. Having sold my house, got divorced and left my corporate career, all at the age of 50, I can truly relate to this. I felt like I completely lost my identity. It took me awhile to redefine myself, but eventually I did and it was well worth it. Great post!

  5. Elena- This was such a great read. It took me awhile to start to define myself, and realize I could pull away from so many of the “hats” I had previously worn. My favorite hat these days is “Domestic Goddess”, coined by my husband. For me the metamorphosis to a blogger is in the works. Thanks for sharing this at MidLifeLuv.

  6. Hi Elena! Ah such a great topic that likely changes every single day. I FINALLY call myself a writer although for the longest time it just wouldn’t come out–and yes of course it was all my own perception. I’m not sure what it took or exactly when it happened for me (after far too many years to count) but it did and now I can’t imagine what all the fuss is about. And surprisingly, no one else treats me any different at all. ~Kathy

    1. I agree Kathy. I’m in a better place now then when I first wrote that and have no problem saying I am a blogger now. Besides, I have to have a legitimate excuse to give for a messy house! lol

  7. I’m in the same boat. I guess a lot of us are these days. I think I’m going to go with “free-lance writer”. I hate telling people I’m a blogger and usually go with writer. Thanks for hosting the linkup.

  8. Aren’t we always in the process of redefining ourselves? Aren’t we here to learn and evolve?
    I always tell people my job is to be fabulous on a full-time basis. That’s succinct enough to leave an impression and open-ended enough for me to adapt and pivot as I go 🙂


  9. To me, life is much more about the journey, than on arriving at a specific destination. I hope you’re enjoying your journey of writing and blogging as much as I enjoy reading what you write about.

  10. I tell people ‘I’m a fifty plus lifestyle blogger’. People of our age are genuinely interested, although the younger generation think it’s a bit of a joke. I love it. My working for other people days are behind me. I’m doing what makes me happy from now on.

    1. You made “other people” sound like a dirty word! Lol I know exactly how you feel. It’s very empowering to take control and decide how you want to live. I wish you much success and happiness!

  11. Great post. Had to read it as soon as I saw the title. I have been a stay at home mum for a while and whilst I am doing a tough and valuable job it can feel in social gatherings that there is nothing interesting about me when I tell people. Crazy

    I heard a great talk once that said to define what impact you have in life. So for me now as a Counsellor and hypnotherapist I might say to the question what do you do? ‘I help people understand themselves and learn to know what their strengths are and how to use them’ rather than saying my job title. I have found that great. As a mum I guess I could have said ‘I work with children to help them develop a healthy sense of self and know who they are’.

    Love your site. Are you on Bloglovin?

    1. Thank you so much for reading and leaving such an excellent comment! I hope moms out there use your answer. Yes I am on bloglovin.

  12. Yes! This question has occured to me many times. What I do for a living is almost the last thing I want to define myself as, but how sad is it that so few people want to listen to anything that doesn’t bring home the bacon? Sad sad times.

  13. Reblogged this on Blissfully Single and commented:
    I’m still working at finding that definition…but when I do, look out world!

  14. You wrote ‘So who am I? At first this sounds exhilarating. I get to define me. Then I realize, I have to define me. And if I don’t, I allow others to do it.’

    That is astute and well written. It IS exhilarating to realize that we get to redefine ourselves after change! But we do see ourselves through the eyes, or words, of others.

    I am 57 and have only 2 yrs of college. I once attended a wedding reception with a boyfriend who has several degrees, including that he spent many years at a large law firm in San Francisco. The couple getting married were university professors and the place was full of others just like them, heads of departments, and the Dean. When my boyfriend rose to go speak with someone I sat quietly. Finally the man next to me at our table turned and asked me only one thing: how I had met my boyfriend. I thought that odd, but I replied. He was quiet for a moment and turned away. I sat alone for the next 15 min while everyone else talked amongst themselves. I felt very defined by the crowd.

    As for you, I think it’s okay to proudly say you’re taking time off to focus on family and to explore your writing. If someone said that to me I would have questions for them…writing is interesting!

    You are valuable and interesting and if people aren’t smart enough to have a conversation with you regardless of what you do in life, then who cares? Have fun defining yourself, but leave all doors…and windows!…open for new things to float in on the breeze and add to who you will be tomorrow, and next week, and next year.

  15. Love this! I dislike being put in a box and over the years it got confusing when I changed careers. Recently I read a blog post that helped me ‘define’ me or what I do- I just say I’m living a Portfolio life! Mother, wife, sister, artist, designer, blogger, strategist, social media manager…the list goes on and on- It’s a Portfolio Career! Great post Elena!

  16. Love the article! It’s always interesting to think about defining oneself. We usually do define it in terms of our work or major function that we perform. What do I do? I do a lot of things, breath, consume, work, write, blog, walk, drive, drink, … well you get the idea 🙂

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