Why It’s Great to be 40!
Mid-life crisis! Menopause! Aches and pains! Hit songs of your youth now oldies!
And…ooops, maybe the makings of a paunch.
These are just some of the frightening things people associate with being 40.
When I started the AA35 blog, I wrote why 35 is a big deal. It’s the age you realise you’re nearer 40 than 20, but when you see “40”, your mind actually thinks… “50”! That puts one in an ‘old’ frame of mind, with all the worries that entails!
Well guess what? I crossed 40 for a while back, kissing 50 territory… for real! And I want to give you some perspectives that might help you embrace this incredible milestone!
We often hear how awful, frightening, disempowering, or other negativity becoming 40 is, but let’s not forget some benefits.
By this age, you’ve probably achieved some if not all of the following, without even realizing it’s worth celebrating.
Hopefully you’ve gained some. Because of your experiences in the trenches, you’ve developed better knowledge and sharper instincts about situations, people, solutions.
You have a better idea of what’s important, and ‘right’, even though you don’t necessarily always do it!
But now what seemed alluring, seductive and mesmerizing in your 20s or 30s is recognized if it’s fake, toxic, draining, or just boring.
You’ve become more realistic about what you can achieve, and realise what’s holding you back from big dreams.
You’re no longer interested in playing around, you want real relationships with quality people, not toxic relationships.
Hormones and ego no longer rule. You know what fights to fight, and when to keep your mouth shut. You know it takes 10 seconds to knock an ahole out, but at least three hours to get out of the police station afterwards.
Hopefully you’ve realized the futility of blatant materialism, keeping up with the Joneses, chasing the latest trends, because these are all ephemeral, and not what lasts.
And finally, you’ve also learnt to recognize when you’re no longer satisfied, need to take charge and make changes, which is hopefully one of the reasons you’re here.
2. Higher standards
You have higher standards now.
Partly, it’s because of your Life experiences with what happened when you didn’t demand high enough standards.
But partly, it’s because you have a greater appreciation of time. You know each hour you waste on what doesn’t add to your Life is an hour deducted from the remainder of your Life.
So you keep to your own standards and principles more firmly now. However, you will review them from time to time and make modifications if you find cause to.
You want more out of your job: A sense of purpose, alignment with your real values, work-life balance.
You want more from your relationships: People you really care about, who really add to your Life. No more drama, no more toxicity.
You have no interest in time-wasters, users, leeches, people who step all over you because you’re “nice”. You realise there are times when being too “nice” is simply being weak, putting yourself last, and inviting the wrong kind of people in your Life.
You’re more selective.
Tip: A big breakthrough here will be your ability to start saying the word “No”.
No to wasting your time.
No to wasting your emotions.
No to wasting your energy.
And your ability to say “No” comes from…
You’ve made tons of mistakes in your 20s, a bit less in your 30s, and hopefully learnt from them going into your 40s.
Experience, which you can’t get from a book but from tasting the visceral reality of Life, has taught you much. You are better equipped, resource- and knowledge-wise, to handle most of Life’s basic challenges. Relationships, money, career and so on.
You make your own decisions. You’ve learnt enough, experienced enough, accumulated enough wisdom, to do or die by your own hands. So you can make decisions faster with a higher degree of confidence.
You’ve gone through crap already, and you’ve experienced it in the major areas of Life. From here on, anything new is really an SSDD (Same Shit Different Day) for you.
You also don’t care so much what people think about you or of what you do. At least, you don’t let it influence you much. You’ve had three decades to learn what’s important, what aligns with your values, what actions are closer to your authentic self.
You now have a clear direction, or several. If not, you realise it’s time to have one! Such as rekindle dreams, maybe?
4. Sex Gets Better
At age 40, you’re past some of the most stressful periods of your Life. Your children are a few years older, your career has stabilized, and you now live more comfortably.
Now’s the time, psychologically, where you’re more rested and relaxed and able to really enjoy sex. You’ve also learnt a lot about your body and what it takes to get you going. You’re less self-conscious. You express yourself and communicate in bed better.
Because you’re no longer slave to your hormones, you hopefully want something real.
You don’t want the wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am (or –man) quickie.
You seek something more with that special someone – something more intimate, loving, and transcendental. Foreplay is sometimes the main event, as you take the time to learn, love, and touch the special person in your Life.
In other words, you’re now a better lover, and that makes pleasure a two-way street.
Tip: If you’ve kept fit and in shape, or have returned to the exercise lifestyle, notch that pleasure up another two notches.
5. Financial Stability
It’s not a dirty secret that finances are important.
Don’t get me wrong, AA35 eschews material pursuit for its own sake, but I don’t live in la la land where we can all sit on our asses waiting for sustenance to rain upon us from the sky. Finances play a huge role in satisfying our basic needs. So it’s important and responsible to mind yours. And by age 40, chances are you’ve become wiser with money.
You career is more established. You’ve had some achievements and milestones, with a concurrent stability in your finances.
You’ve recovered from the impulse spending of your earlier paycheck days, and you’ve learnt from the folly of your spendthrift credit card days.
Perhaps you’re starting a business in your 40s. Chances are you’ve built up adequate reserves. You’ve also acquired experience and acumen to increase your chances of success.
All this means, really, that you now have a little more freedom to start exploring Life, living fully and reclaiming your dreams.
Tip: If you haven’t already, learn as much as you can to create an appropriate plan that includes insurance, investment, and savings. This will act as a reserve and a way to grow your money more efficiently.
6. Greater Purpose
You’ve started to contemplate your purpose seriously. What drove you in your 20s and 30s may now seem mundane, and even futile.
On the micro level, you have roles such as parenting (welcome to the other end of the coin when your kids are 18!). On the macro level you’re thinking about what you’re leaving behind, how you’re contributing to the people around you.
You’ve experienced trying to please too many people at the same time, and taking on too many things. That’s been distracting before, but now it’s a real impediment to achieving what you envision. You are more driven, excited, and passionate as you pursue your higher purpose.
It can be anything, but it’s defined by you. It needs no one’s approval or definition of big or small but your own. Maybe it’s getting involved in your religious faith. Going to teach underprivileged kids in a community setting. Working in a cat shelter. Speaking about saving the planet.
In my case, it was starting AA35, to stop the tragedy of people living their later years in regret, saddled with poor health that could have been avoided by living the healthy lifestyle. I consult and guide people to live Life more fully, reclaim dreams, and support that with health and fitness.
Whatever it is, you are called by a purpose larger than yourself. And when you pursue something bigger than yourself, you grow and expand your horizons in ways you could not have imagined when you were in your 20s and 30s.
While it might have been fun going to parties, clubbing, fraternizing and boozing, that’s gotten old by now.
If it hasn’t, you have bigger problems than being 40.
What If You Haven’t?
Now… here’s the elephant in the room.
What if you haven’t accomplished these?
Or what if you’ve lost some of these?
The 40s is usually when some difficulties do rear their ugly heads.
Maybe someone dear, like a parent, passes away.
Maybe you get retrenched.
Maybe you start experiencing health effects of your past lifestyle choices.
Maybe you get a divorce or a long-term relationship ends.
Any of these can make you to feel like you’re backtracking, or remind you that you haven’t accomplished what you thought you would by 40.
Here’s the thing: 40 is often either a wake up call for people, or, it’s a give up call for others.
You can either decide that you’ll just accept wherever you are. This is especially easy to do if things “aren’t too bad”. So you maintain the status quo, and give up on aspiring to something higher.
Or you could use 40 as a psychological marker to start over. You can decide this is when you really, absolutely, must change. Then you identify what you really want, and come up with a plan to actually make it happen.
These are the people I consult with and coach. And I can tell you some of them have a drive you won’t believe. You’ll be amazed how much you can achieve if you begin at this key point of your Life. I’ve seen people start at 40, and accomplish more by 42 than they had a decade before!
You can decide which it is.
If you choose to wake up, which may be why you’re here at all, then welcome! You’ll find plenty of useful, relevant articles here that will help you with that.
There’s no time like now to get your ass moving. Knuckle down and reclaim your Life!