07/21/2014 07:43 am ET Updated Jul 21, 2014

9 Things You Should Know Before Turning 50

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They say hindsight is always 20/20, which can be so darn frustrating. Sometimes we wish we had a crystal ball to tell us if we were taking the right job, making the right move, or choosing the right guy. Other days we fantasize about time machines to transport us back so we could retract some choice words, walk away sooner, or fix that horrendous hairstyle.

While we haven't found a way to change the past... yet (c'mon technology), we can try to prepare ourselves for the future. We asked our older and wiser readers and friends on Facebook what they wish they would have known at 50 that they know now. So if you're soon approaching 50, or even if you're dreading your next big milestone, here are some words of advice to consider... because we all know, you should learn from your mistakes, but it's better to learn from others'!

1. Start an exercise regimen and lose weight earlier.

If you're anywhere over the age of 25, you probably know that your metabolism just won't always be what it used to and no, you can't eat cheese fries and an ice cream sandwich for lunch and zip up your pants the next day. It's just the physics of middle age.

"Oh man, the metabolism slowdown should be explained to every woman in excruciating detail by an OBGYN starting at age 25," said Patti Puckett Ghezzi.

"I wish I would have known to exercise more and lose the weight before 50. It's tough now," said Carolyn Gonzalez.

To the gym we go.

2. Be flexible and accept change. Especially in the workplace.
"Being an effectively nice co-worker is superior to trying to hold a stubborn line," said Denice Loritsch. Huff/Post50's senior writer Ann Brenoff believes the same. Don't act like change is the enemy around younger coworkers, Brenoff wrote in a recent post. "Don't be the guy who says things like 'But this is how we've always done it.' You don't want to be the person in the room who always says 'no' to any new way of looking at things."

3. Save your money.
Several readers agreed on this one. But this one is a no-brainer we all tend to forget, regardless of age. For retirement, for a rainy day, for a vacation, for an illness... save, save, save. And because no body wants to live like a broke college student when they're 50.

4. Don't take your health for granted.
"That my health [can] go south in the blink of an eye even when I was doing everything right," said Sandra Kay Prevo Powell. This is one of those lessons that hold true regardless of age. You may have gotten used to going a year without a teeth cleaning or avoiding that pap smear when you were younger, but as you get older, you'll realize how precious your body and health are. So get your check-ups, mind your diet, and do what the doctor tells you. Your older self will thank you.

5. Life is precious

Plain and simple. "How fast time goes after 50 and how young 50 seems before you know it," said Darryle Pollack.
"Life is too short to waste time," said Gary E. Frank.
"I wish I would have sat my parents down and learned every single thing I could about their parents and grandparents," said Mary Dell Harrington.

Your kids will grow up, your parents will grow old, and your friendships will sometimes grow apart, so make the most of every single moment you have with your loved ones.

6. Make yourself a priority.

"It's OK to say no!" said Lois Alter Mark.

7. You have the power to make yourself happy.

"More often than not (or maybe always) 'happiness' is a choice rather than a state of being, that relies on a particular state of circumstances," said Jessica Wolf.

8. Life isn't fair.

"I'd heard it since I was a child. But somehow I secretly and naively believed that if one worked hard and always tried to do the right thing, you would get your just rewards. It took me more than 50 years to learn that for most people in the world that just isn't true," Sylvester Monroe. It's not the most cheerful thing to consider, but knowing this can perhaps help you appreciate your blessings all the more.

9. 50 is actually pretty darn sweet.

Reader Julie Hairston's words inspire us; she says she wishes she'd known "How much 'fun' an old broad like me can have. I spent way too much time dreading what is turning out to be the best part of my life."



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