Ten things to do at 35 or older

Ten things to do at 35 or older

Somewhere between 35 and 40, many adults find themselves donning their first pair of glasses. It’s nature’s way of saying “This is not a dress rehearsal.” So, what might you do to advance your career, support your family and be poised for the next 50 years of an engaged, fun and financially secure life?

In this context, “I” and “we” are synonymous. When we marry or are part of a family, “we” is central to moving forward together.

Much of life is about preparing for and adapting to your circumstances. For example, we cannot control the weather but, as an instructor at Outward Bound once said, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing.” The Boy Scouts boil it down to two words “BE PREPARED!” Each of these admonitions assumes we are on a journey with a destination in mind. Being prepared and dressed appropriately are simply guidelines for the quest.

Let’s assume a couple things about those 35 or older; possibly married, a child or two, a career path, home or auto ownership, debt, some savings, aging parents. So, at 35 today, what could you be doing about your future?

1) Commit to writing a set of goals that include dates and what you would need to do to achieve them. There’s an old saying that says that if you don’t have a destination in mind, any road will take you there. However, most of us do have aspirations and interests.

2) Keep learning whether by taking classes, earning certifications or reading. At minimum, read, with near-religious devotion, the advice of Michelle Singletary’s column, The Color of Money. Why? Because achieving economic security creates options and opportunities.

3) Sit down with your insurance agent and plot a strategy for transferring risk for your family, your assets, health and retirement. Insurance is more than protecting “things”; it is about using today’s dollars to protect against the unexpected and the events that are likely to happen. A good example is Long Term Care Insurance – an estimated 70% of us will have to pay for outside assistance when we are unable to get around on our own.

4) Begin a conversation with a certified financial adviser to understand how best to start investing for the big ticket items of life: debt management, college educations, health care costs and retirement. If your employer offers a retirement plan, you need to decide how much to invest and in what products. Put as much as possible into a 401(K) plan to get your employer’s full matching contribution, as well as, a Roth retirement plan funded with after tax dollars. There is little doubt that taxes will go up on retirement incomes. A Roth retirement plan produces tax-free benefits.

5) Meet with a lawyer to make a will and establish your wishes should anything ever happen to you. Not only will you want to be sure your family is provided for, but that you are explicit about your end-of-life care, organ donation and celebration of your life.

6) Show up, often. By getting involved with others for a common cause, you learn, connect and grow. A church, service club, charitable cause or politics are all ways in which we can make a difference and learn from the experience.

7) Try to turn your avocation into your vocation. Said differently, try to make a living by pursuing your passion. When you do what you love, it isn’t really “work.”

8) Start paying more attention to your health and establish a close relationship with a health care provider who is focused on lifelong wellness. An engaged health professional will coach you about diet and exercise, preventive medicine and chronic disease management.

9) Engage with your family and talk openly about the previous points. Open communications builds strength and confidence in a family. It also models the behavior you hope your children will adopt.

10) Be sure to have fun, every day, by having a good laugh, making a difference in someone’s life and treating myself to a little happiness.

Though we ultimately are responsible for ourselves, we are not alone. The people we love, admire and work with have lots to share. It may be opinions, advice, an extra hand, labor or money. By availing ourselves of this time,treasure and talent, we can then be secure in offering them to others. Now, that’s good goal to set.

Laugh, love, live and learn – and start making those lists and appointments.

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