Middle-Aged Rules

Do what we love. But put family first.

Our middle ages are an opportunity to pause, reconsider, and move forward. For many of us, this is a time to reconnect with old passions or figure out something new to do. We’ve got some things that we didn’t previously have:  

  • More free time. We’re most likely not spending our evenings wrestling toddlers into bed.  
  • More experience. We’ve been working hard in increasingly more responsible positions.
  • More money. We’re making more and we’ve benefited from compound interest.  
  • And most important, more wisdom. We’ve all been through some tough times.

We’ve got a great opportunity to try something new or rekindle something old. Maybe it’s that little-used watering hole downtown and starting a business. Maybe it’s dusting off that Fender. Maybe it’s a marathon or a late-night hockey league.

Do all of these things, but now that we’re proud middle-aged men, we’re wise enough to know that family comes first. Always. If we’re going to start a business, harden up those blisters on your fingers, or start logging early morning miles, balance those ambitions by continuing to focus on what matters most — wife, kids, extended family.  

Don’t be ridiculous. But still have fun.

Try out a beard, but don’t pretend to be a pirate or a musketeer. Wear a suit with colorful socks, but ditch the comic book ties. Join the neighborhood kids on the play structure, but no back flips. Wear stylish suits, but baby blue, double-breasted, gold buttons and tapered pleated pants?  

Don’t be a cheapskate. But still be frugal.

Use a barber not a high-priced stylist and leave a good tip each month. Then at Christmas give him $50. That’s only an extra $4 per visit, but it’ll make his day.

If that $75 pair of pants fits perfectly, don’t say that you could find something cheaper at the outlet store. Wearing them weekly for two years, comes to $0.78 per wear.

When looking for that romantic weekend getaway, don’t sort by least expensive. Go for the room with a view and the complimentary champagne at check-in. Unless it’s an extra $500 for a lousy bottle of champagne.

Don’t make rash decisions. But be ready for change.

Race that triathlon, transition into a new career, move to a new city — but not next month.  

Eat less badly. Lift weights. Walk a lot.

Have one Krispy Kreme donut, not three. Once a month, not daily. Get a steak, but go for the 4 oz. filet not the 28 oz. Porterhouse. Eat a salad with salmon and then it’s fine to split the lava cake with your wife. Don’t do hotdogs. That one’s easy, even though I’m not a nutritionist.

As we age, we lose muscle mass and produce less testosterone. Lifting weights (properly!) helps us lose weight, gain muscle and increase testosterone. Our kids will appreciate a strong back when we help lift that sofa bed into their first three-story walk-up. And as our wives can attest, the increased testosterone benefits the more intimate side of our relationship.

Walking has tons of cardiovascular benefits. But it’s just as important as a time for meditation, if we’re doing it alone, or connection, if we’re doing it with a partner. If you find walking boring then, fine, run.

Visit your doctor.

We know the basics. But our doctors knows more. Glaucoma, diabetes, hypertension, prostate and colon cancer, and it’s not too early to start admitting that osteoarthritis is a risk.  

While we’re at it, we can’t avoid mental health. A mid-life checkup and a few months of therapy can help us make sense of things, and better prepare us for the road ahead.  

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