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For the over-50 crowd — and please note: The youngest baby boomers turn 50 this year! — the word “reinvention” is often bandied about (and “renewal,” “transformation,” “reflection” and “reimagining” are close behind). 

Those over 50 are refusing to go quietly into the next stage. Instead, they are reinventing themselves and reshaping the context of life over 50. They are asking themselves, “What next?” They see the future as a blank slate and are eager to pursue, in big and small ways, what is important to them.

Over the next five days, we will tell different reinvention stories of local folks over 50 moving on to new phases of their life.

This is a time of life when many seek a career change (not necessarily by choice), pursue an avocation that might morph into a business, enjoy hobbies long ago put on the back burner, commit time to volunteer, return to school to expand skills or learn a new craft, start a health and fitness program — and so much more. The list is endless.

“Wow” factor or subtle shift?

The key to reinventing yourself is to keep in mind that a change need not be monumental. You don’t have to shake things up totally and go for that “wow” factor. The thought of a truly major change can be overwhelming and stop you in your tracks. Sometimes happiness comes from just a subtle shift, one maybe only you or a few close friends and family members notice. Sometimes a change really is huge and everyone is awestruck. Amazing things can happen when you act on your dreams and open yourself up to the unknown.

Finding your passion

It seems all the “experts” tell you to “find your passion.” Many of us know this is easier said than done. Those who have a passion are truly lucky. Those still searching for their passion probably wonder if they actually have one. To find out, they have to get out there, live life and pursue new experiences.

Think outside the box. Have you thought you might like to learn to paint? Take lessons. You may find it isn’t for you, but in the process of trying, you will probably enjoy yourself and meet new people. Do you think the annual Shelter Island 10K sounds like fun? Train for it. At the very least you’ll end up in better physical shape. The point is you won’t know if a particular pursuit might become a true passion or lifestyle change until you try it.

Moving forward

Reshaping this stage of life means investing in yourself, relinquishing old fears, ignoring peer pressure and surrounding yourself with positive people. Visualize the future you want, map out a plan to get there, learn what you need to learn and stay focused.

Take it one step at a time, ease into change. Don’t get bogged down in minutia. And remember, even a small change or undertaking can lead to huge emotional rewards, and achieving a long-deferred dream can be exhilarating and lead to a life well-lived.

Life reimagined for North Forkers 50+

Reinventers abound on the North Fork. In the following pages read about what a few 50+ North Forkers have pursued. You’ll meet an 80-year-old parachuting out of a plane (“If you want to do something, your whole mind-set changes”); a 63-year-old puppeteer; a 68-year-old personal trainer; a 70-year-old who turned his life around through diet and exercise; and a 51-year-old pursuing an advanced degree (“I feel in many ways my life has just begun”).

Obviously the pursuits of those over 50 run the gamut. However you might be reimagining your life, remember that the undertaking is an adventure — and the hallmark of a true adventure is that the outcome is always uncertain.