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55 And Older? This Is Your Time!

At one time, people settled into a slower lifestyle as they got older. Now, a growing number of aging Americans shows no sign of slowing down. Instead, they are reinventing themselves, living some of the best years of their lives.

Writer Abigail Trafford calls the stage of life between middle age and senior citizen "My Time," which is also the name of her new book and her column in the Washington Post.

According to Trafford, those who are 55 and older are going through a second adolescence without the agony.

She explains to The Early Show co-anchor Julie Chen, "It's like adolescence because you're breaking away from your middle adulthood, just the way teenagers have to break away from childhood and go to starter adulthood. You're breaking away from that long stretch of adulthood where you were doing adult tasks, raising children, making your niche in the workplace. You were meeting other people's demands and you were very, very busy."

This stage of life, she notes, involve changes, which come with a lot of anxiety. She notes, "This is a stage of liberation. Suddenly, you have time to think about: What do I really want to do? How do I want to make a difference? But that's a lot of anxiety, because you have to sort of change your mindset. You have to think, instead of coasting down, you have to think: I have got to gear up for another life. And that's a huge change."

So she offers three tips for people going through this anxiety:

  1. Ask yourself: What made you happiest in the past?

    It may offer a clue for the future. One woman in the book was just floundering around and a friend asked, 'What made you the happiest?' And she said, 'Being in school.' So she decided to go back to school at 60.

  2. Imagine three roles for yourself in the future

    These can be different things - joining a book club or taking a pottery class, working in the community, starting a business. If you really loved art classes in your youth and went into law, maybe now you get to go back and do some art.

  3. Build a network of friends and family

    You've got time to really build on these relationships if you've retired and your kids have moved out. Researchers agree that the key to health and well being is having social engagements.

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