Advice for My Younger Self

by Jeff Weiss

Several research studies have shown that we our happiness peaks when we are young (around 18) and again when we are older (around 69).  It is not surprising that we are happy when we are young as we are naive with few worries or responsibilities on our minds.

But you may be surprised to know that our levels of happiness actually increase as we become older adults.  According to the widely studied “U-Curve of Happiness” concept, life satisfaction drops during midlife (when life’s worries are at their apex) and begins its recovery around age 50, reaching its peak towards the end of life.

Sorry for anyone in their 40s who is reading this as you are about to hit (at least as studies suggest) the low point of happiness in your life!

This phenomena and has been termed the paradox of aging.  External studies and our own research with our Revolution55 community have identified core reasons why our happiness levels begin to increase in our 50s and continue to rise as we get older. One interesting fact is that money isn’t really a major determinant of happiness nor are other socioeconomic factors.  Go figure!

It turns out that some of the main factors determining our individual happiness include levels of anxiety, despair, sleeplessness, fatigue, tension and strain.  So, when you consider the prominence of these factors around the average person in their mid-late 40’s, it’s no wonder that tends to be the least happy time of our lives.

Along the line of happiness and why it increases in our 50s and beyond, we asked our community of Revolutionaries to offer their opinions regarding their confidence levels now compared to when they were younger: 64% of our respondents suggested they are more self-confident now than when they were younger.  When asked why, their top three reasons were:

  1. They care less about what others think
  2. Their past successes/experiences have made them more confident
  3. They prioritize things differently now

As Active Agers are feeling more confident, we wanted to know what advice they would offer up to their younger selves.  Amongst the hundreds of responses we received, the following nicely capture the key sentiments that were expressed:

  • Stay the course and don’t second guess yourself. Do not worry what other people think of you, be comfortable in your own skin.
  • Each part of your body is important to take care of because you can’t get it back.
  • I’d tell my younger self to not worry so much about every little thing.  I was so much more of a worrier than I am now.
  • I would tell myself to live more in the moment and let go of things I cannot control.
  • I would tell my younger self that no matter how nice you are not everyone is going to like you. It could be jealousy, or personality conflicts.
  • When in doubt, be kind.
  • Do what you enjoy. Screw what other people think. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Never stop experiencing new things. You should probably pay attention to that “bad feeling” you have. Buy Microsoft. Stay away from Jack Daniels.
  • I would tell Younger Me to be sure to play like it is your last day and work like you love everything that you do.
  • Find a good mentor!
  • Keep reading, learning and educating yourself, because that’s what will be most helpful in the future.
  • Set reasonable goals. If you exceed a goal you’ll feel even better. When you achieve the goal reward yourself in some small way.
  • When your gut tells you that you are about to do something stupid and embarrassing – listen and act accordingly.

Unfortunately, if you looked at many of the marketing efforts that are used to target Active Agers, you might not know that older adults are happier and more confident today than when they were younger.  Perhaps it’s time to turn the “gloom and doom” mentality associated with aging into words and visuals that are much more uplifting and positive to truly represent and to better engage this group of consumers who are craving attention.

As their advice above suggest, this group has a lifetime of experiences and ideas that run deep and that invite connection from the marketing world and society as a whole.

Not sure where to start or what a campaign “targeting” older consumers looks like? Please reach out. We can start opening some doors for you, whether that’s through quick insights from our community of Active Agers or a closer audit of your current marketing efforts.

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