Starting over at any age can be scary.
But when you reach the big 5-0, the thought of starting over in any area of your life is even more daunting.
After a divorce, career change, or financial setback, you may not know where or how to start.
Deciding what to do after kids leave home or a change in marital status is confusing and scary.
How do you compete in the modern job market if you’ve been out of the workforce for a while?
Instead of thinking of this big change in your life as a disruption, consider it an opportunity to recreate your life.
Use this time to explore new careers, relationships, and interests.
With age comes wisdom and life experience, giving you the chance to start over in creating an exciting new life.
- Is It Possible to Start Over at 50?
- How to Start Over in Life at 50
- Starting Over at 50 After a Divorce
- Starting Over at 50 with No Money
- Starting Over at 50 with a New Career
- How Can I Rebuild My Life After 50?
- What Should I Do with My Life at 50?
- How Do I Start a New Life with Nothing?
- Finding Purpose and Meaning at 50
Is It Possible to Start Over at 50?
You may feel too old, inexperienced, or irrelevant to craft a new life for yourself in midlife.
You’ve spent years in a career or raising a family, and you never expected to be in this position.
But here you are. And you can do it.
Age 50 is the prime of your life, and you have the distinct advantage of possessing years of wisdom and life experience to bring to the table.
Sure, you may need to beef up your job skills or prepare to get out on the dating circuit again, but you’ve got this!
There are many inspiring examples of people who did their best work or reinvented themselves after 50 and never looked back.
You can be one of them.
How to Start Over in Life at 50
Let’s look at some specific situations that may resonate with you and your circumstances.
We have some excellent tips and actions here that can alleviate some of your uncertainty and fear, so read on!
Starting Over at 50 After a Divorce
Divorce is hard for anyone, but getting divorced after the age of 50 brings a few additional challenges.
You may worry about getting back into the dating scene, or you may struggle with the prospect of being alone.
A divorce may require you to find employment or even a new place to live. Thanks to your life experience, your age can help you cope with these concerns.
1. Deal with the financial fallout of the divorce.
If you lost money during the divorce, you may need to reassess your financial situation. If you received a settlement, you should determine how to use it wisely.
No matter the outcome, review your living costs and determine if you can continue to afford your existing lifestyle.
Consider working with a financial advisor to assist you with your long-term life goals and how to manage your money so you can reach them.
2. Start planning for retirement.
Without your spouse’s income and share of retirement savings, you may need to reconsider your plans.
In some cases, your former spouse may receive a portion of your 401k.
Analyze your current savings and determine how much you can contribute to your solo retirement savings.
3. Avoid jumping back into the dating pool too soon.
After the heartbreak of divorce, your first instinct may be to fill the emptiness and loneliness of being single again by finding another person. But without time to heal and grow after divorce, you can find yourself in another unhealthy relationship.
It would help if you took the time to know yourself again. Enjoy not being in a relationship and devote more time to yourself and what you want in life and love. Find new activities or get back to your old ones.
4. Spend more time with your friends.
While you should wait a bit before dating again, you don’t want to become a hermit. Solitude may lead to depression and trigger you to dwell on the past.
Reconnect with old friends, and seek out places to connect with potential new friends. Find fun group activities to help you spend less time indoors.
5. Consider starting a new career.
Your marriage may have impacted your previous career decisions. You now have the freedom to choose a path on your own.
If you are not completely satisfied with your current job, or you spent most of the marriage at home with the kids, take this opportunity to launch a new career. Find something that you are passionate about and pursue it.
See the section below on starting a new career after 50 for specific tips and ideas.
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6. Consider moving to a new place.
Along with finding a new career, you may want to find a new place to live.
You no longer need to agree on these major decisions with a spouse and can start your new life after 50 in a completely new location.
There are many things to consider when choosing a new place to live, so invest the time in research and on-the-ground scouting to find your new place to call home.
7. Find hobbies, learn new skills, and stay active.
Now that you are no longer part of a couple, you may need to find new recreational activities and fun hobbies.
Remaining active and exploring new interests helps you get in touch with yourself, allowing you to envision your future after the divorce.
What do you want out of life? When you can answer this question, you may be ready to get back into the dating scene again.
Starting Over at 50 with No Money
Financial experts often recommend that you have four times your annual salary in retirement savings by the age of 50. Starting over in life with no money at a later age gives you less time to save for retirement.
If you are starting over at 50 with no money, you may need to play catch-up to be able to retire at a reasonable age. Luckily, it is still possible to save for your future.
The reason for starting over at 50 with nothing financially may also impact your choices. Common reasons include bankruptcy, unemployment, and divorce.
Take the following steps to help you regain your financial footing:
8. Assess your finances.
You need to determine where you stand financially before developing a plan to save money. Create a list of all your expenses, including bills, debts, groceries, and hobbies.
If you currently have a job, determine how much of your salary you have left each month after deducting your expenses. This gives you a realistic look at how much you can reasonably afford to save each month.
9. Tighten your expenses to start saving more.
Start with entertainment expenses, such as cable TV or streaming services. Get rid of any non-essential expenses to streamline your total living costs.
If you currently rent a home or apartment, consider relocating to cheaper accommodations.
For those that own a home, determine if you have any equity available. A home equity loan can help cover immediate expenses while you seek employment or pay down debts.
10. Find suitable employment.
If your financial setback is due to unemployment, finding a new job should be a top priority. You need income coming in, even if it is not your ideal job.
Try to find employment that can cover your living expenses and moderate savings contributions. While maintaining your job, continue to seek employment that matches your qualifications and provides more income.
11. Pay down your debts.
When you can manage your monthly expenses, start paying down your debt, beginning with the accounts with the highest interest rates.
If you have substantial debt, consider consolidating it. You may find it easier to tackle your debt with just one monthly payment.
12. Build up an emergency fund.
Building a large nest egg for retirement is important, but you first need to prepare for emergencies.
Make it your goal to save up enough to cover six months of your living expenses. When you reach this goal, start putting all your extra money into your retirement bucket.
13. Take advantage of employer matching for 401k contributions.
Many employers match 50% of whatever you put into your retirement account, up to about 3% of your annual pay.
For example, if you add $4,000 to your 401k each year, you may receive up to $2,000 in free employer match contributions. You may even find that your employer matches 100% of your 401k contributions.
14. Set up a Roth IRA.
A Roth IRA can act as a retirement account while also providing access to funds for emergencies.
Unlike a 401k, a Roth IRA allows you to withdraw your original contributions to the fund without any taxes or penalties, making it a suitable choice for an emergency fund.
You only pay taxes when withdrawing the earnings that you accumulate.
Starting Over at 50 with a New Career
Each year, thousands of people over the age of 50 are forced to start over in their careers due to layoffs or unexpected issues. While your experience should give you an advantage in the job market, many employers are seeking younger talent.
Another potential issue is a lack of experience. If you have spent the past several decades raising a family while your spouse worked, you may not have a strong job background.
Starting a new career after the age of 50 may put you at a disadvantage. However, plenty of people change their career paths later in life with great success.
Use the following career-changing strategies to get that job that you want:
15. Update your resume.
The first step in finding a new career is updating your resume with all the skills you have developed over the years.
Include any transferable skills that may carry over from your previous job, including computer skills or communication skills.
16. Choose an occupation that embraces older workers.
Depending on your experience, skills, and interests, any of the following careers might pique your interest. But there are many options besides the ones listed below:
Health Specialties Teacher (Post-Secondary)
Imagine teaching health specialties-related courses at a local college or training program.
Nurse Practitioner (NP)
There’s always a need for skilled and caring professionals in the medical field, and the work is as demanding as it is rewarding.
Computer Software Engineer
Many in this field have the option of working remotely (at least partly) while developing cutting-edge software and applications.
Physical or Occupational Therapist Assistant (PTA)
If you’d like to work in either of these growing fields but would rather not pursue an advanced degree, the projected annual salary for these careers is around $60K.
Information Security Analyst
If you’re interested in helping organizations protect their information and computer systems, this is a growing career with a median pay of better than $95K per year (or about $47/hour).
Work full-time as a respected professional in the medical field without the extra years of specialized (and expensive) medical training.
Operations research analyst
While some employers require a specialized supplemental degree, this career is ideal for those who enjoy using advanced mathematical and analytical skills to solve complex problems.
If you love writing and you love technology, you can earn a respectable income as a full-time technical writer.
Mathematician or Statistician
Typically, employers will want to see a Master’s degree for either of these careers, so make sure you love the work before you take this path.
Whether you go the traditional or indie publishing route, aside from writing your book and getting it ready for publication, you’ll also need to learn how to market your books and develop them into other products or services.
Other jobs to consider are:
- Real estate agent
- Financial planner
- Freelance writer
- Personal trainer
- Patient advocate
- Sales rep
- Motor vehicle operator
- Administrative services manager
17. Develop a new skill and try a new career path.
There are many jobs available that did not exist over a decade ago. Starting over gives you a chance to explore some of these newer job opportunities, such as online marketing jobs or virtual assistant services.
18. Take courses to become more comfortable with technology.
If you want to start a new career in a technology-driven field, ensure that you are comfortable with the latest technology.
Employers often assume that older workers lack experience with technology and do not want to learn new skills.
Take technical courses and earn a few certifications to demonstrate that you are not out of touch.
20. Find any job that will take you.
If you need income immediately, apply for any job that you are qualified to handle.
While it may not be your dream job, it will give you more time to evaluate your skills and update your resume. Start bringing home money now while pursuing your next career change.
21. Follow your passion.
If you are financially comfortable, the income from your new career may not be a major issue.
Instead of trying to find the highest-paying job, look for something that makes you happy.
Think about your hobbies and interests. You may be able to get paid to do something that you love.
How Can I Rebuild My Life After 50?
Just take it one step at a time. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Inertia is a powerful force. So is fear. These two co-conspirators work hand-in-hand to prevent us from making big changes that will profoundly upgrade the quality of our lives.
Try not to think too far in advance right now. Deal with the immediate and obvious concerns first.
What Should I Do with My Life at 50?
That’s the obvious next question. Once you handle the initial fallout of an abrupt change or the existential crisis of reaching this pivotal age, it’s time to explore and learn. This is the fun part, so embrace it wholeheartedly!
How Do I Start a New Life with Nothing?
Yikes — it’s a scary proposition when your life or career circumstances leave you financially strapped or relationally alone.
But you likely do have resources and support systems you may not have considered — friends, family members, and even government or non-profit programs to help you while you get on your feet.
Finding Purpose and Meaning at 50
This can be an ideal time to self-reflect and discover a new purpose and meaning in your life. This is not merely about filling time but about seeking fulfilling engagements that resonate with your core values and passions.
Consider the dreams you’ve held onto, the causes that stir your spirit, or the talents that are yearning for expression. Perhaps there’s a skill you’ve always wanted to master or a business idea that’s been brewing in your mind. This can also be a time to make a difference in your community or even globally.
Finding a renewed sense of purpose doesn’t just enrich this new chapter of your life, but can also lead to profound personal growth and satisfaction. Embrace this opportunity, because your experiences and wisdom make you uniquely equipped to make meaningful contributions in this stage of life.
Most people, even with solid evidence it will be good for them, don’t instigate change unless forced to. Even when we truly desire something better, most of us stay stuck. We get comfortable with our lives, relationships, and routines and allow ourselves to remain unhappy and uninspired.
Depending on your circumstances, the idea of starting over at midlife can be a scary prospect. No one enjoys having their sense of security kicked from beneath them unexpectedly.
But once you get over the shock, try to adopt a new perspective about your life going forward.
Big life changes, even negative changes, are also huge opportunities for growth and learning.
You have so much to offer the world from your five decades of experience in life. Try to view your next steps as a grand adventure and proof that you are a force to be reckoned with.
Your next few decades may be the best yet!