Lost everything at 50? Here’s how to start over

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When I was 47 my business failed.

The next year, so did my marriage, crashing and burning brutally in a way I’d never expected. At the same time, my relationship with my three grown-up kids frayed to tatters.

I lost my belief in spirituality and any real purpose in life, mostly on account of these obstacles thrown my way. I reached a kind of low that I never thought possible.

I felt victimized, small, and left behind. There was this feeling like I’d been unfairly blamed for everything and was being hit with random punishments I’d never earned.

Coming back from it was hard, and it required a lot of sacrifices.

But now at 53-years-old, I can see that it was all worth it.

Here is what I did to start over.

1) Salvage what’s left

In my late 40s, I lost my business, my wife, and the loyalty of my kids.

The shockwaves rippled out for at least a couple of years, but by around 49 I started shaking my head like I was waking up from a bad dream.

I then began looking around to see what was left.


  • I was still alive, breathing, and fairly healthy
  • I was the proud owner of a mid-sized apartment in a great city
  • I had enough income to continue eating and provide for my basics including internet, cellphone, and healthcare
  • I had a drum kit which I loved to pound on when the neighbors weren’t home
  • I had a car that was old but still mostly reliable and whose tires weren’t yet completely bald.

Am I saying things were basically good or that I was filled with gratitude? Absolutely not.

I was still pissed, and my apartment looked like a disaster zone, with half-eaten bowls of cereal encrusted like archaeological artifacts from the paleolithic period.

But I hadn’t lost everything and I was still alive.

That’s a start…

2) Leverage your loss

The second thing I advise doing if you’ve lost everything at 50 and are looking for how to start over, is to leverage your loss.

What I mean by that is to take the wipeout and use it as the beginning of a fresh start instead of the end of everything.

There were many reasons why I could have become down and out, starting with the fact that a formerly profitable business I’d devoted my life to was now completely gone.

At the same time, I had the chance to explore many things in life that I’d never done before and to see just how tough I really was.

Having lost almost everything that had been my life’s accomplishments and foundation at 50, I had two basic options:

  • Give up and become a passive victim of life waiting to die
  • Take the hit and still find a way to live and struggle on

Any other option was really just a variant of those two.

Thank God I chose option two because I was very close to sinking all the way into option one for a while there.

Instead of letting the loss become the point of no return and no hope, let it be the destruction that paves the way for something new.

Imagine the disappointment you’re suffering as the necessary end of an old chapter and the beginning of a new one.

You may not believe it, and it may sound like bullshit, but just start by leaving a small part of your mind that says “what if this could be the start of something new…”

3) Make a life plan

Part of turning this midlife madness into a new start is making a life plan.

I resisted this for a few years. I took a basic job at a convenience store after my business failed and got by on the very basics.

Then I came across some online resources that really helped me start getting more specific and dedicated to making a life plan.

I highly recommend Life Journal, created by the highly-successful life coach and teacher Jeanette Brown.

You see, willpower only takes us so far…the key to transforming your life into something you’re passionate and enthusiastic about takes perseverance, a shift in mindset, and effective goal setting.

And while this might sound like a mighty task to undertake, thanks to Jeanette’s guidance, it’s been easier to do than I could have ever imagined.

Click here to learn more about Life Journal.

Now, you may wonder what makes Jeanette’s course different from all the other personal development programs out there.

It all comes down to one thing:

Jeanette isn’t interested in being anybody’s life coach.

Instead, she wants YOU to take the reins in creating the life you’ve always dreamt of having.

So if you’re ready to stop dreaming and start living your best life, a life created on your terms, one which fulfills and satisfies you, don’t hesitate to check out Life Journal.

Here’s the link once again.

4) Shift your mindset

I am not a believer in the Law of Attraction and being super positive changing your life or anything like that.

In my opinion, it’s feel-good bullshit.

However, I do believe that mindset is powerful and that what you focus on makes a big difference.

This is less about being optimistic or positive than it is about choosing what you focus on.

I’d spent years focusing on my business, only to lose sight of my family relationships and, ironically, miss a huge shift in my industry that eventually buried my company.

Where you put your attention matters, so use it wisely.

Your attention is limited, but it belongs to you: why let it be wasted and taken up by things which are unimportant or waste your time?

Instead, choose to shift your attention and energy where you want it to be.

For over a year after my life started collapsing, I was consumed by self-pity and a victim mentality.

Then I started shifting it into specifics. How to rebuild financially, in my career, in my love life, in my relationships with my two adult sons.

This shift in mindset was about being more focused on useful things, not just about being in a good mood or something silly like that.

5) Practice patience

I am not an advocate of waiting around for life to work out. But when your life falls apart in middle age, you do need a certain degree of patience.

It’s not like I got a gung-ho attitude after a year or two and then just started hitting home runs and putting everything in the past.

I’m still struggling with the financial fallout of my divorce.

My current job is far from perfect.

And the problems with my kids continue to vex me.

This is why you will need to be patient if you want to start over. Do not expect miracles and do not expect anything to just work out magically because it should.

It’s going to take time, and it won’t be perfect (which I’ll go over a bit later).

6) Quit the comparison game

My whole life I’ve been a self-starter who didn’t look a lot at those around him and compare.

But when things started falling apart around me in middle age I became a real looky-Lou and started craning my neck to see what others were up to.

Friends and old classmates of mine were running Fortune 500 companies.

My best friend Dave had a wife and family he loved.

I felt awful thinking about how much better things were going for them: What had I done to deserve life kicking my ass like this?

Even my Uber drivers seemed blessed by fortune: young, good-looking, and talking about their girlfriends or plans to open new businesses.

And here I was, a complete loser?

You have to quit the comparison game if you want to start over at 50. Try to win against you of yesterday, not the people around you.

7) Fix your finances

When I lost everything at 50 I was financially hobbled in a way I never thought I’d be.

My savings were blitzed. My longer-term investments had long since been emptied.

The legal proceedings surrounding my divorce had maxed out several credit cards. It was ugly as hell.

I began turning things around by slowly paying off debt and I’m not ashamed to say that I eventually did have to declare bankruptcy as part of this repayment plan.

If you want to start over you may need to do the same.

Don’t pay attention to how it looks, do what you need to do. Without fixing your finances and getting out of debt, your life is going to be very hard to fix after 50.

8) Turn your love life around

When I lost everything at 50 I felt left behind, as I said.

A huge part of that was my failed marriage. We grew apart as the shrinks like to say, but what it really is was a lot simpler than that.

My wife got bored of me and had a number of affairs, eventually culminating in her blaming me for her behavior because I’d been too busy with my struggling business.

I was just about as confused as I was angry, and I left the sinking ship before I drowned with her in her own cycle of self-pity and lies.

But getting back on the horse and dating again in my late 40s and early 50s wasn’t easy.

I wasn’t exactly a fan of getting on these phone apps like Tinder and Bumble. I took a long way around and eventually met somebody through a friend at my new job.

When you’re dealing with a track record of frustration and disappointment in romance it’s easy to become frustrated and even feel helpless. You may even be tempted to throw in the towel and give up on love.

I want to suggest doing something different.

It’s something I learned from the world-renowned shaman Rudá Iandê. He taught me that the way to find love and intimacy is not what we have been culturally conditioned to believe.

In fact, many of us self-sabotage and trick ourselves for years, getting in the way of meeting a partner who can truly fulfill us.

As Rudá explains in this mind-blowing free video, many of us chase love in a toxic way that ends up stabbing us in the back.

We get stuck in awful relationships or empty encounters, never really finding what we’re looking for and continuing to feel horrible about things like broken relationships in the past.

Even worse:

We fall in love with someone new, but only in an ideal version of someone instead of the real person.

We try to “fix” our partners and end up destroying relationships.

We try to find someone who “completes” us, only to fall apart with them next to us and feel twice as bad.

Rudá’s teachings showed me a whole new perspective.

While watching, I felt like someone understood my struggles to find and nurture love for the first time – and finally offered an actual, practical solution to starting over in mid-life.

If you’re done with unsatisfying dating, empty encounters, frustrating relationships and having your hopes dashed over and over, then this is a message you need to hear.

I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

Click here to watch the free video.

9) Research options

Starting over in middle age isn’t easy, but it’s most certainly possible.

Like I was writing earlier, a lot of that involves making a life plan, including your career, health, and future dreams.

Researching options led to me slightly upgrading my skills and moving into a related but new field in my work.

It also led to me making a lot of progress on how I approach to conflict and working on relationships in a new way.

In terms of career, think about how the skills you have can be adapted or applied to new opportunities.

In my case, I was able to basically update my skills to fit the new higher-tech job world. In this way, my age didn’t work against me, because by adding more ability with computers and programming I was able to make my experience an asset instead of being a dinosaur in my field.

Everyone’s career situation will be different, but in general, having a mindset of adaptability and flexibility for how to use your skills is my best advice.

In addition, use networking and connections to their fullest extent.

10) Forgive your enemies (and friends)

A huge part of my moving on from the crash that I experienced in my mid-age was forgiveness.

I want to specify what I mean by that:

I don’t mean I cleared everyone of anything they ever did or told my ex-wife everything was fine.

That’s not how real forgiveness works.


Instead, it means that I unburdened my heart of the hate and resentment that had been weighing me down.

I let the anger flow through me, the hate and all of it. I used it to power my determination to turn things around, instead of keeping it personal.

Certain people really did treat me unfairly and harm me, but instead of keeping a record of every wrong, I used that frustration and sadness to turn toward my goals.

11) Practice makes perfect

As I mentioned earlier, there are still plenty of things I’m working on.

But by living life one day at a time, I’m making solid progress.

The truth is that losing everything at 50 was a real wake-up call to me.

Almost everything that happened was unfair and I really didn’t see most of it coming. But at the same time, it stopped me from living life on autopilot.

I’ll always treasure the memories of my kids growing up and the best moments of my marriage.

At the same time, I can see how a lot of life was something I was taken for granted.

I won’t make that mistake again.

My new perfect life…

Now that I’ve shared my comeback recipe with you, I guess you’re wondering about my new perfect life.

I hate to disappoint you, but I don’t have a perfect life by any means.

I sometimes find my girlfriend frustrating, I’m struggling with my weight and my kids still have major issues with me and don’t call me nearly as much as I’d like.

What I do have is this:

I’m convinced that life is worth living and I love being alive.

I’ve got a new job that keeps me busy and lets me help people in a way I enjoy.

And I no longer feel like a victim of life. I feel a sense of solidarity with everyone, all of us who have been kicked around through no fault of our own, but I don’t feel like a special victim.

I’m just one of you, and at 53 I hope to have many years left. Time is precious, and life is a grand adventure!

Keep on trucking, my friends.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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