What’s the big deal about 40?

“What’s the big deal about turning 40?” asked a friend at work. “I tell all my friends it’s just another year,” he adds.

I see his point. It is “just” another year. But I’ve chosen to think of this as a celebration of four decades as well as the opportunity for new beginnings.

Turning forty is also a good excuse, I think, to stop and take an inventory of sorts. How often do we do that? Not very often in my case. With kids, work, a marriage and a home to manage, time for reflection drops fairly low on the to-do list.

In my 4o years, I’ve learned a few things:

  • Listen to your passion. Now, follow it.
  • Take leaps of faith.
  • Laughter is the best medicine.
  • Life-work balance is critical to my success.

And, as I head into a new decade, there are definitely things I want to learn, things I know I need more practice with, that I need to fully embrace:

  • Stop trying so hard. (Thanks for the reminder, Sage Cohen!)
  • Accept help, it’s a good thing.
  • Be present.

I invite you to share your own thoughts about your years (however many that is!) on this Earth. What is something you’ve learned and what is something you have yet to fully embrace?

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7 Responses to What’s the big deal about 40?

  1. John says:

    Great post, and welcome to the great post-40 slide! I’m just now 43, and I’m learning to enjoy most of the consequences of age — complaining about “kids” and their music, etc. About the only thing I can’t seem to accept gracefully is the betrayal of my hair. 😉

    Like any other stage of life, for me it has always been about the people I surround myself with — family, friends, coworkers, etc. Support, fun, and community, and everything else is just details.

    Except for the hair thing. Damn.


  2. Liz says:

    Thanks for coming by! I agree….the hair thing is a frustrating (turning gray in my case), though not a surprise in my family. My grandfather had a head of white hair at the age of 25 years.

  3. Tara says:

    Mostly I’ve learned that a lot of crap I’ve worried about hasn’t been worth my time — especially when it comes to what other people think of me.

    I have yet to embrace the chin whiskers.

  4. Liz says:

    OMG, Tara. I’ve said it many times since this Blogathon began. Okay, I know that’s been three days, but still. You c me up. Today’s it’s the chin whiskers!

    Thanks for coming by. And, I couldn’t agree more about past worries. Wish I would have learned this lesson (not to worry and not to care what others think) at age 10.

  5. Alexandra says:

    Well, now. Hem, hem. Checking in at 64 here, as in the Beatles song. Time speeds up. That’s what I have to share. 40 is YOUNG! The body breaks down but life is beautiful.

  6. Lynette says:

    Like Tara said, there’s just so little that is truly important and deserving of focus/stress. I’m 41 and my goal this year is to purge the house and my life of the extraneous nonsense (or as much as I can wrest away from the other household members).

    Also, if I don’t lose the weight/get into better shape now, I won’t ever. Makes me think about it in a whole new light.

  7. Mark says:

    Avoid Reductionism: Looking at things as black or white is almost always a mistake. Things are very complicated, and nothing happens in a vacuum. Most things are contextual.
    Personally, I’m skeptical of any explanation of human behavior that doesn’t take into account the biological, cultural and psychological circumstances. Would you go steal a candy bar right now? Of course not. If you hadn’t eaten in three days would you steal a candy bar? I bet you would!
    The morality of the circumstance changes, too. It’s pretty unethical of you to steal that candy bar from the poor shop keeper right now, but if you haven’t eaten in three days and have no money, it might be that HE’s the unethical one for refusing to feed a starving fellow human being. Is it wrong to steal? Sure, sometimes. Always? Probably not.
    Challenge your beliefs: Dust off the things you believe every once in a while and ask yourself WHY you believe them. If you don’t have a good reason, it’s probably time to take another look at them.
    Have fun: Make time to have fun, every day. Try to work some place you have fun, and try to associate with people that are fun to be with. Life is too short not to enjoy every moment you possibly can. You’ll never end up on your deathbed wishing you had spent more time at work, but you might be there wishing you’d spent more time enjoying friends and family or traveling or pursuing your hobbies or learning French. DON’T BE THAT GUY – get off the Internet and do something you WANT to be doing (unless you want to be on the Internet right now, then keep doing that!).
    Learn: If you stop learning, you stop growing. If you stop growing, you just grow old.
    Assume good intent: Nobody wants to be disliked. If you are having conflict with someone, there’s probably a fundamental misunderstanding that needs to be solved.
    People only get angry about things they care about: If you are in a dispute with someone, you have that in common – you both care about what’s going on. Use that to your advantage to work past it.
    Avoid Sweeping Generalizations: All Republicans are not evil. All poor people are not lazy. Whenever you say, “All X are Y,” you’re wrong. Life is not that simple and everyone is different.
    What haven’t I learned? LOTS. I still don’t know how to deal with being frustrated, for example. It usually comes out as anger, and it’s often not even directed at the source of frustration. I get angry, wonder why, and realize it’s because I’m frustrated about something completely different.

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