How to Cope when Reaching a "Milestone" Age

Four Methods:Celebrating YourselfLearning From the PastSetting New GoalsLiving in the Moment

Reaching a milestone age can be an incredibly exciting yet daunting experience. Milestone ages usually carry a lot of weight, a long list of “things-you-should-have-done,” things that if you haven’t completed can make you feel quite regretful or disappointed. However, milestones can also be tremendously uplifting and remarkable, a testament to how far you’ve come. Hence, they are both thrilling and scary. Coping gracefully when reaching your upcoming milestone age is feasible with adequate preparation and a positive mindset.

Method 1
Celebrating Yourself

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    Take pride in your age. Don't forget, age is just the number of times the Earth has gone around the sun since you were born.[1] From this perspective, turning a year older is actually exciting! Don't let the arbitrariness of your age set you back.
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    Refrain from comparing yourself to others. Instead, focus on your own achievements and goals. If you ask others about their age milestones, you will likely see that goals vary, so that while one 30 year old might want to be married and have kids by 35, another 30 year old might not want the same thing at all.[2]
    • You don’t have to stick to a script of what you should do by a certain age once you realize that people act in their own best interest, and what is right for another might not be right for you. Forge your own path according to your own interests and desires.
    • Speak with others about age milestones. While you shouldn’t compare yourself to others, asking can still be positively reinforcing, because you will get a variety of perspectives on the topic.
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    Appreciate what you have. You have built an entire network, a world of sorts, around yourself and filled it with acquaintances, memories, goods, knowledge. Make a list of all you are thankful for, and appreciate it.
    • Start a gratitude journal - not only will this be a way to visualize what appreciate, but you will get a health boost! Studies have shown that writing a gratitude journal leads to fewer symptoms of illness, better sleep, and overall happiness.[3]
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    Pamper yourself. If you’re anxious about turning 50, allow yourself a revitalizing spa day. If you’ve been saving up to buy that motorcycle for your 35th birthday, treat yourself a little earlier than planned - consider it an advanced birthday gift. Whatever will make you see your new age as a positive, go ahead and do.

Method 2
Learning From the Past

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    Take a moment to look back on all you’ve achieved so far. Make a list of your proudest moments; these will be subjective, but could range from graduating college to having a kid to staying in close touch with a friend who lives far away.[4] If it matters to you, and you have achieved it, write it down.
    • Use this list as a motivator: a milestone age is the perfect time to add a new achievement (or several!) to the list.
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    Reflect on whether there are things you wish you had done differently in the past. Perhaps you would have liked to have spent more time with friends and acquaintances, or perhaps you wish you had gone to the gym every day. A milestone age is the ideal time to take note and make any changes for future endeavors.
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    Recall how you managed transitioning to a previous milestone age. If the transition was a positive one, it can help you see your upcoming one as a potentially great one too. Take that previous approach and try to translate it to this new milestone.
    • Say you coped extremely well with turning 18: consider why that was the case. Perhaps you were excited about the doors that you knew would open up, or maybe you were thrilled about the freedom typically associated with that age. So now, if you are now turning 40, ask yourself what the benefits of this age are. These could range from greater confidence to having more knowledge about who you are and what you stand for.[5]
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    Explore why you perhaps didn’t cope well with reaching your last age milestone. The fact that reaching a previous milestone was not all it was lived up to be does not at all have to translate to your upcoming birthday. Consider these to be independent events.
    • Do, however, try to take your previous experience and learn from it. Perhaps you felt unprepared to be 27; if that was the case, and you fear the same thing will happen this time, take precautionary steps starting now. Think about how you can best prepare for this new age ahead of time.

Method 3
Setting New Goals

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    Set future goals based on past experiences. You have knowledge and experience under your belt that you can now use as a guide to best determine what you want out of life. Create a long-term roadmap of where you want to be by what age based on what you have already accomplished.
    • If you want to be working at Company X by age 27, married by age 32, and living in Country Y by age 40, write this down. This is a way to get excited about your upcoming prospects and to give you an informal, low-stakes way to think of how to achieve your goals.
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    Identify points of anxiety and resolve to improve upon them. Do this by making a list of what you are nervous about in reaching this new milestone age. Seeing these fears clearly laid out can put you at ease, for they are no longer abstract concepts floating about in your mind: they are delineated and materialized, and you can actively target each one as need be.[6]
    • The list could include items as varied as “I should have been more adventurous in the past” to “I am afraid I will no longer have the vitality of younger people” to “I am scared that job opportunities will be scarcer now.”
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    Write down how you could improve on each point of anxiety. Whatever your anxiety is, get to the root of it and brainstorm potential solutions. A clearly articulated list of solutions can be a source of relief and can promote positive thinking about your new milestone age.
    • Perhaps you are unenthusiastic about turning 50, but it's not really the 50 that bothers you, it's that recurring back pain that you see just getting worse and worse. In that case, jot down all potential remedies: perhaps there are preventative physical therapy exercises that you can do, or maybe there is a different sitting posture or a new pair of orthopedic shoes you could try.[7]
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    Form goals out of excitement. After all, it could be that you’re more enthusiastic than nervous about reaching a new milestone age. If you just want to optimize that excitement, making a list of what you are looking forward to at this new age can be positively reinforcing.
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    Be flexible. Perhaps you have not achieved all you would have wanted to by this point. Maybe you would have liked to have started a career by age 25 but unforeseen circumstances delayed that prospect. Allow yourself time to briefly mourn this situation, but then readjust. Forget the old goal, set a new one, and work towards achieving it.

Method 4
Living in the Moment

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    Review and adjust your current mindset. Often times, milestones are reminders of societal, familial, or individually-set expectations that you must, should, or want to comply with, and thus can seem imposing. Instead, you can choose to think of life not as milestones or easily divisible moments but as a broader continuum of experiences that you get to decide about.
    • There is also a lot of pressure embedded in the concept of “age:” how you should act, what you should be capable of doing, at what stage of your personal life or career you should be, and so forth.[8] These guidelines can be helpful to a certain point, but if more than anything they are stressing you out, bid them adieu: age really is just a number.
    • Remember that you are the main driving force behind the decision of what you want to do and when you want to do it by.
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    Meditate. Meditation is known to reduce stress and anxiety and to quiet down mind-wandering and self-referential thoughts.[9] If you’re worried about reaching a new milestone age, meditation could be a good temporary solution to your concerns, since it will draw you out of your preoccupation so that you can be in the moment.
    • As you meditate, reflect on the series of events and occurrences that has led you to where you are. Remember that you’re right where you’re supposed to be. The right journey for you is the one that you are on at the moment, the one you have the power to shift and mold however you desire. Adopting a meditation strategy can help you see that only you can take ownership and charge of what lies ahead.
    • There are many different kinds of meditation strategies; it is not one size fits all. Read a book, watch a tutorial video, or consult with a meditation practitioner to find the strategy that works for you.
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    Live fully in the present. The past is already behind you, and you can plan, but not predict, the future. Seize today as your milestone: the day, the hour, this very instant which you can make your own.
    • Love what you do. Living in the present is most satisfying when you enjoy your work, your studies, and your free time.
    • Don't dwell on past accomplishments or failures. Spend your time thinking about the now and setting goals for the future instead.

Article Info

Categories: Aged Care