I celebrated another birthday a couple of weeks ago. It was sort of a milestone birthday, I guess. I used to just consider the usual milestones — 1, 13, 16, 18, 21, 30, 40, 50, 60, etc. But a guy I met once told me that after you reach 50 every five years is a milestone birthday and he called 55 a “speed limit” birthday.
I had never heard it called that before and thought it was cute. So, that’s what I celebrated — the “speed limit” birthday — and as I thought about that it made me wonder if that meant I should go faster, slow down or maintain my current speed.
I thought about each option and here’s what I surmised:
• Going faster — Once you start hitting these mid-life birthdays you are confronted with the reality that life really is short and yours is getting shorter. Not that there are any guarantees for anyone and at 55 one could reasonably expect and hope to live another 30 years. But being confronted by that realization one might tend to start living a little larger, so to speak. That could include changing careers, traveling more, taking up new hobbies or working through a “bucket list” of things to do before leaving this earth. Combine that with a serious health scare and/or the loss of a loved one and that sense of “it’s time to put the pedal to the metal” is even more magnified.
• Slowing down — One might feel like it’s time to start winding down, think about retiring, de-cluttering and simplifying their life and home and not worrying quite so hard. You could realize that you own enough “stuff” and rather than continue to climb the corporate ladders chasing the almighty dollar it’s time to journey toward more meaningful pursuits, such as volunteering or spending more quality time with loved ones. Or you could start thinking about your legacy in terms of how you want to be remembered vs. what material things you would be leaving behind.