I had a major birthday celebration this year – one for the books as they say!
People have a lot of assumptions about aging. I did too, but now that I’m 70, and have joined the ranks of many of my heroes, I’m shocked at how NOT a big deal it is. Life just goes on. Although, I will admit many of my younger friends were knocked for a loop when they found out they actually knew somebody as old as me!
I’ve been anticipating and planning this aging thing for a while. I’ve given it a lot of thought, and I’ve been observing and learning from people around me who have already reached this milestone. This includes both friends as well as some boldface names who I admire for not shying away from celebrating their age. They’re my role models because they’re not letting aging stereotypes define them. The list includes Ruth Bader Ginsburg (86), Martha Stewart (78), Michele Lamy (75) and Patti Smith (73).
But I’m not the only one turning 70 this year. It turns out I was born the same year as many of my idols, and I am excited to be joining such a stellar bunch of newly minted 70-year-olds, e.g., Meryl Streep, Barbara Corcoran, Lene Lovich, Holly Near, David Rubenstein (love him!!) and Ray Dalio. Richard Branson, another hero of mine, will be joining our club next year!
One of the things I’ve noticed now that I’m officially in the “Seventies Club” is that younger people are asking me if I have any advice for them.
And yes, I do.
I have five tips on how to get the most out of life – at any age – but most notably as you get older.
The two most important are related to money and health.
Read on below for my 5 “aging like a rock star” tips.
1. Get your finances in order.
It’s never too early to begin planning for your 60-plus financial well-being. I’d say it has to be front and center, your North Star essentially, by the time you’re 35. If you haven’t already made this a priority, you have a lot of catching up to do.
I’d also suggest you plan to be debt-free by the time you’re 50. After that time, all your money goes into savings.
Being frugal while a youngster is a better look than having to scrimp when you’re older.
2. Future proof your body, watch what you eat and get as healthy as possible.
This means losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight. And I’m not saying this for vanity’s sake.
Weight is crucial to good health. All kinds of illnesses are directly attributable to being overweight – from heart disease to stroke to high blood pressure and diabetes. Even arthritis which has been my issue is a result of weight gain. The only thing in my life that I wish I could re-do is to have been made aware of the link between weight and osteoarthritis earlier. I would have changed my eating and drinking habits years ago.
We must watch what we eat. This excellent article in the NY Times sums it up best:
- Poor diet is the leading cause of mortality in the United States, causing more than half a million deaths per year.
Exercise, walking, going to the gym – all crucial for good health. And if we commit to a workout schedule and stick to it, it does become a lifetime habit, and we will look and feel so much better. I know I do.
One more thing: a good plastic surgeon is an excellent investment. I recommend starting with a few tweaks by the time you’re 50. Also, worth every penny: a great hairstylist and a fabulous colorist.
3. Learn to be independent.
I’ve been in a relationship for over 35 years, but that’s never inhibited me from doing things on my own. I know that is not the norm; most people who are in relationships want to do things primarily with their spouse/partner. That is not my style, and fortunately, my partner is just as independent as I am.
Besides traveling solo, my partner and I have separate bank accounts, and we each have our own real estate holdings (although we live together in NYC). We also have independent groups of friends, but we do occasionally mix it up and attend each other’s functions.
One more thing that I suggest as a rule for women: NEVER call your boyfriend/husband unless it is a life and death situation.
Why, you ask?
Well, I have seen far too many women constantly calling their partners throughout the day to chitchat about nonsense, and I’ve seen how men respond.
I know some women think endless calling is a sign of a committed relationship. To me, it’s simply clingy and reeks of neediness. Based on conversations I’ve overheard between guys talking about their relationships, calling too much, is pretty much the most annoying thing we women can do. If you don’t believe me, google “my girlfriend calls me too much,” and you’ll find 126 million reasons why guys want you to stop it!
One last point I want to make is about loneliness. Too often, people get lonely when they’re older because they’ve put all their eggs in that “relationship basket.” Eventually, when that person is no longer there for them, they find themselves ill-equipped to do anything on their own.
It’s been my experience that as you undertake more interesting things on your own, you become more fascinating to other people.
4. Maintain an extensive network of friends, ideally spanning a wide range of ages.
This is crucial, and yes, it does get harder as you get older, but if you have far-flung interests and the finances to support those activities, it’s not that hard. But you do have to work at staying in the mix.
Keeping your social circle fresh and lively has to be a priority if you want to stay plugged-in and lead an exciting, fulfilling life.
5. Stay curious and actively engaged in the world around you!
This is something I have worked on my entire life. But it first became “a thing” for me when I got divorced (the second time!), and I found myself feeling melancholy in NYC on Sundays, i.e., couples’ brunch day.
I mastered loneliness by taking it on as a challenge. I made myself do at least one new thing per week. I’d get Paper Magazine (the best source for all that was cool and trendy back in the day), and I’d select a few intriguing things to check out over the weekend. It was fantastic and it changed my life — major shout out to Paper’s founders, Kim Hastreiter and David Hershkovits.
To this day, I make sure I am doing at least 2 or 3 new things every week, e.g., today I’m going to the US Open, on Friday I’m doing the Trolls Experience (?) and on the weekend I’m checking out Electric Lemon, the fab new Starr restaurant at the just-opened Equinox Hotel at Hudson Yards.
I came *this* close to not writing this post for fear I would pigeonhole myself as an old fart. But having just seen Ruth Bader Ginsburg speak (and giggle) about how she’s older than anybody she knows and yet people still want to hear what she has to say, inspired me to go ahead with it. So here’s to Ruth for making this a fun topic and for giving me the courage to put it out there!
And if anyone has any questions about being 70, send them my way!