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50 things to do before you are 50

Posted on 10 March 2017

Less than four in ten over 50s have accomplished all of their life aims

  • Go skinny dipping
  • Eat fish and chips on the pier
  • Learn to say no to your mother
  • Biggest regrets include not travelling enough, marrying the wrong person and starting a pension too late

Learn a new language, attend a music festival – and be able to say no to your mother are among the 50 things everyone should do before they turn 50, the latest research from over 50s experts SunLife has found.

While many expect to have fallen in love, got married, bought a house and had children by the time they reach the big 5-0, Brits aged over 50 also think you should have seen the Northern Lights, quit a job and gone skinny dipping.

Other things people aged 50+ think everyone should have done before they reach their fifties include staying out all night partying, having sex on the beach and jumping into a pool fully clothed.

It also emerged that less than four in ten over 50s have accomplished all of their life aims, with another 39% believing life really does begin at 50.

Ian Atkinson, director of marketing for over 50s insurance experts SunLife, which commissioned the research to mark the launch of its Welcome to Life After 50 campaign said: “For many, 50 is a milestone age when you may start to look back and take stock of everything you have done or achieved so far.

“And while most people want to be married and settled down in their home with a family, there are also a host of other activities and experiences they want to have tried.

“But with many believing 50 is the point where your life is just getting started, there is still plenty of time to tick more things off the list if you are coming up a little short.”

The study, of 2,000 over 50s carried out with OnePoll, found buying a house is top of the list of things to do before you turn 50, followed by having children and getting married.

Falling in love came fourth with eating fish and chips on the pier at number five.

Donating blood, reading 100 books, seeing your favourite band or musician live, learning a language and attending a music festival completed the top ten.

Other things every 50-year-old should have experienced include travelling somewhere alone, sleeping out underneath the stars and swimming with dolphins.

Travel features heavily in the list including seeing a volcano, riding a gondola in Venice, backpacking across Europe and visiting all seven continents

But there is also a rebellious streak in many Brits with taking part in a protest, getting a tattoo and trying drugs all in the top 50.

Some over 50s have gone one step further with the experiences they have had in their lives so far with one being among one of the first female priests to be ordained, while another has foiled a bank raid.

One adventurous over 50 also described how they got a ferry to France with just a sleeping bag and spent three years travelling around Europe, while another got engaged the day they met their partner.

Having sex in unusual places are also among the weird things over 50s have done, including at a bus stop, in a cave and even at a rubbish dump.

Researchers also revealed 47% of over 50s feel they still have so much more to achieve in their life.

And 62% say there have been times since turning 50 that they have worried they’ve not done as much as they would have liked.

And almost nine in ten have at least one regret, with not seeing enough of the world the most common.

Other regrets include losing touch with old friends, marrying the wrong person, not starting a pension soon enough and spending too long worrying about what others thought of them.

SunLife’s Ian Atkinson added: “For Big 50, we’ve interviewed 50,000 people over 50 so that we understand better than any other insurance company what people over 50 want and value. And our research shows that people over 50 are enjoying life more than ever before.

“Far from winding down, many over 50s are busier than ever, trying new things or taking up new hobbies and just generally living life to the full.

“We want to celebrate this with our ‘Welcome to Life After 50’ campaign because currently, this is not how people over 50 are being represented.

“In fact, nine out of ten over 50s say brands aren’t interested in them, and three quarters feel the portrayal of over 50s in the media is an outdated stereotype that does not represent them. With ‘Welcome to Life After 50’ we want to change that.

“Our campaign aims to show what life after 50 is really like because, we recognise that for many, it can be the best years of their life.”

Top 50 things to do before you're 50

  1. Buy a house
  2. Have kids
  3. Get married
  4. Fall in love
  5. Eat fish and chips on the pier
  6. Donate blood
  7. Read 100 books
  8. See your favourite musician/band live
  9. Learn a language
  10. Attend a music festival
  11. Own a dog
  12. Learn to say no to your mother
  13. Stay out all night partying
  14. See the Northern Lights
  15. Visit Stonehenge
  16. Be able to remember which side of your car the petrol cap is on
  17. Travel somewhere alone
  18. Sleep underneath the stars
  19. Watch a meteor shower
  20. Dance in the rain
  21. Become an expert at something
  22. Quit a job
  23. See a volcano
  24. Visit all seven continents
  25. Throw a coin in the Trevi fountain
  26. Take a helicopter ride
  27. Have sex on a beach
  28. Swim with dolphins
  29. Go skinny dipping
  30. Ride a gondola in Venice
  31. Make a snow angel
  32. Take part in a protest
  33. Own your own business
  34. Go up in a hot air balloon
  35. Ride an elephant
  36. Climb Snowdonia
  37. Jump into a pool fully clothed
  38. Backpack across Europe
  39. Perfect a signature dish
  40. Drink beer at Oktoberfest
  41. Run a marathon
  42. Get a tattoo
  43. Ride a Vespa
  44. Watch comedy at Edinburgh Fringe
  45. Write a novel
  46. Write a journal
  47. Spend a month technology free
  48. Try drugs
  49. Have a threesome
  50. Go to an airport and pick a random flight

Top 20 regrets

  1. Not seeing enough of the world
  2. Smoking too much
  3. Losing touch with old friends
  4. Putting on too much weight
  5. Marrying the wrong person
  6. Not starting my pension soon enough
  7. Not learning a new language
  8. Spending too much time worrying about what others thought of me
  9. Not learning an instrument
  10. Not following a career direction I wanted
  11. Living to work rather than working to live
  12. Not looking after my health properly
  13. Not being able to say 'no'
  14. Not learning more about my family tree
  15. Having children too old
  16. Not having children
  17. Not owning my own business
  18. Not taking up more hobbies
  19. Having children too young
  20. Never living in the countryside