Sigrid Olson: From fashion designer to retreat leader
“Throughout my thirties and forties, I worked 60-hour weeks to build my namesake clothing company. When it closed in 2008, I had to fight my type-A inclination to push to make something new happen right away. At first, I tried to re-create my prior career. Luckily, my lawyer gave me some invaluable advice: ‘Sigrid, sometimes the fields have to go fallow to produce crops.’
So I opened myself to new possibilities. I resumed my yoga practice, meditation and the painting that I had abandoned 30 years earlier. I bounced ideas off friends and journaled about aspects of my fashion career that I loved and wanted to hang on to—like connecting with the women who had been my customers—and the parts I found depleting. With this clarity, I started my new venture: art and yoga retreats for women in beautiful locales around the world [sigridolsenart.com]. By taking my time and using my past as a guide to what I wanted and didn’t want, I found a career that feeds my soul. In my fifties, I had the wisdom to know what is truly important and the energy to make it happen.”
Retirees without debt are significantly happier than those who still owe money, according to a survey from Consumer Reports. But 39 percent of retirees owe at least $25,000 on their mortgage.
One strategy for whittling the balance early: Ask your bank if you can make your payments biweekly instead of monthly. Rather than 12 full payments annually, you’ll make 26 half payments—the equivalent of 13 full payments (the extra few days you get in some months add up to four weeks over the course of a year). Bankrate.com’s Biweekly Mortgage Calculator can show you how quickly the extra payments will reduce the balance.
Patty Marks: From college administrator to erotica publisher
“I had just turned 50 when I became the CEO of Ellora’s Cave, an erotica-publishing venture that my daughter founded. Because of her success self-publishing her own erotic novel, as well as the high cost of traditional print publishing, we decided to go into e-books. Everyone told us not to, but I trusted my judgment. Today we sell 150,000 to 200,000 e-books a month. In 2012 we did more than $15 million in retail sales and paid more than $4 million to authors in royalties. In your fifties, you’ve had many life experiences to pull from. You have to do what your gut tells you.”
Beyond mainstays like LinkedIn and Twitter, get up to date on other sites—they will keep you modern and in touch:
Google+: This social-networking site acts a lot like Facebook. But it’s useful in other ways, such as influencing what information is available about you online, says Miriam Salpeter, a social media strategist: “If it’s not feasible to create and maintain your own website, posting content here is one way to create a flattering digital footprint.”
Instagram: Although users see the photo-sharing website as primarily for fun, companies go there to build their brands. You should be familiar with the way it works, particularly if you’re in marketing or a visual field such as fashion or interior design.
Dropbox: People trade images and large files online with this file-sharing tool. “Companies use Dropbox to provide information to colleagues and clients,” says Sabina Hitchen, “chief excitement officer” for Tin Shingle, a resource for small-business owners.
Seventy-six percent of people age 50 and older take at least one drug regularly. Check out Microsoft HealthVault, which is free, to create a personal health record. It will help you track medications and family history and keep records together.