Ten days from now on 18th March, I turn 40. Whilst the old adage (pun intended) is that ‘age is just a number’ is true, it is worth spending a little time at this milestone to see what folk say about turning 40, reflect on where I am, what’s been achieved, what 40 means to me, and what lies ahead.
What do other people say about turning 40? Some say life begins at 40, some say it’s the new 30, some say it’s just simply better than the alternative.
What do folk say about 40?
For those who say life begins at 40, I guess it can be looked at like this. We only have one life on this world, and we don’t know how long that life lasts for. In our twenties, it’s often a mix of living it up and starting out on life’s journey. In our thirties, it’s often a mix of building for the future, be it setting up as a family, or in work, or juggling so much it’s about doing what’s needed! So at 40, most of the prep work has been done or is on the way. Hard part done, you may argue?
For those who say it’s the new 30, I guess it can be looked at like this. So many more people back in my parents’ generation had met and settled down with their partners and settled in their work careers in their twenties. From the accounts I’ve heard, there was less going on in life (technologically, nights out scene, wider worldly awareness), a simpler way of life even maybe. Life is so much more complicated nowadays, there is so much choice and so much more going on and people don’t always feel the need to have to get started on the conventional path by a particular age or point in their life. There are definite pro’s and con’s to this and every circumstance is very much different and not as comparable in such black and white definitions. I sometimes wonder what my life would have been like if I was born into an earlier generation. It would have been different, but not one piece of logic is available to argue it would necessarily have been ‘better’. More people are choosing to do more in their lives, to take part in more activities and to achieve different things where those choices weren’t always available in earlier years. Sometimes those choices are necessarily conscious decisions, but the way that life takes them.
For those who say that turning 40 is better than the alternative, I guess it can be looked at like this. I, like many other people will know of folk who have been taken from this world too soon, and where people they know have lived a shorter life. People will often say it was too soon for them to go, or that it was no age to go, etc… These are all very true and it is very sad when a loved one passes, especially at a younger age where they haven’t had chance to achieve what they have wanted to do with their life. What should that say to those of us who still have those opportunities? Well, I guess it means we should embrace life, make the most of opportunities, and value more those we have around us. We never know when that opportunity, that life, and those may no longer be around us.
So, is it a case that a) we haven’t properly lived until we reach 40, b) my generation are late starters, or c) others haven’t reached this age so we should be lucky? No, I think there is something more fundamentally important to draw from this all. We have all taken different journeys, we are all travelling at different speeds, in different directions and some of our vehicles may even be more erratic or stop-start than others, some may be going round in circles, some may be in cruise control in the wrong direction, and some may even be going the optimum speed and direction, but not aware of it. But until you reach a destination, how well can you truly assess the full journey?
Whilst I truly believe that 40 is just a number, that in ten days time it is no more different to ten days previous or ten days later. There is an element of reflection that is there that makes me wonder where my path is going, what milestones there are on the way, and also looking back at the milestones I’ve travelled past on the way to this point in life.
Overall, there are probably more plusses than minuses in the scorecard. There are successes, and there are failures. It is important to keep tabs on both, and to not let either gain too much importance or focus. I know what things I would like to happen, I know what I would like to occur in the coming years, and what circumstances I would like to be in in years to come. I also know what I don’t want to happen, what I wouldn’t like to occur and what circumstances I don’t want to be in in years to come. Setting life’s sat nav to these destinations isn’t as easy as we would like, or we would all be on the road to our goals and life would a) be boring and b) no challenge. Who wants boring and no challenge? Ok, we probably would all like the no challenge bit some times, even just for a while!!
I find achievements hard, I don’t like to take them too seriously. I believe very much in context and mistakenly too often judge against the wrong measurements and criteria. For example if I lose weight I judge that in context against that I shouldn’t have put it on in the first place so shouldn’t delight in something that shouldn’t have occurred in the first place. Daft, I know. If I gain a PB at a particular distance running, I will often judge that against what I feel I could be capable of if other factors hadn’t come into play. Yes, I enjoy when I lose weight or get a PB, or pass an exam at work, but I will probably look for those external contributors more than the effort put in myself. I would prefer to thank others for their assistance and help before acknowledging my own part. Daft, I know. Unfortunately I brush off too many compliments from others and not as many get through as their givers want me to have.
I do know my own values though, I have a good group of close people who very kindly remind me. The compliments do go in sometimes! Hehe! I know what I mean to them, and that helps me keep on the same direction. Probably rather ironic, that as part of the ‘what have I achieved’ section I am saying that the group of people around me are the biggest achievement! This in itself is a reflection of what has been achieved. In being active in so many sectors of life, being there for other people and being part of their lives is a great asset that I am very much proud of being part of.
What 40 means to me
I am reasonably happy with my lot most of the time. I would still like to be moving forwards in certain areas, would like certain things to happen, and to be in a better position in a few years time than I am now. There is no rush for things to happen or change, that’s for sure! Getting myself ready for the future is important too.
40 means I need to acknowledge how far I have come, how much has been accomplished, how many lives I’ve touched and how deep the connection has been with people, how valued I am, how much I give, how much is being achieved whether I realise it or not.
40 means I need to continue being there for people, to continue being compassionate and thoughtful, to still give my time, to look to see how I can develop further in a chosen area, and to make sure that those who I give my time to are there for me too. No more one way streets.
40 means I need to recognise the smaller things in life – the smile from a stranger, the door being held open, the random acts of kindness, those moments where we can help others with small gestures.
40 means to encourage others in their lives too, the same way that others have encouraged me too, the strength that a few words of kindness can do to boost someone, being there to listen and to help someone rebuild themselves back up again, TIME can be seen as The Investment Moments in Everyone – the more you give someone time, the more opportunity it gives them to pick themselves up and move forwards in whatever they have going on.
40 means that you value that person you want to spend Sunday daytime with rather than just the person you spend Saturday night with. Looking for deeper connections and shared experiences and embracing the opportunity of being part of a higher dynamic.
What lies ahead?
We just don’t know, but we all have a part to play in which direction we want to go and what direction we don’t want to go. I know that by the time I turn 40 (give or take ten days) I am in a good position and am clued up enough to make better decisions at 40 than when I did at 20 and/or 30 and several other years too.
I know that to achieve, you need to believe. That when you have so many more people around you that believe in you as a person, you should believe in you too. There will always be doubts, but there will be plenty more times those doubts are disproved than proved. More importantly there will always be opportunities, and when faced with an opportunity and given the right belief you will achieve more often than not.
Not everything happens that you want to happen, not everything that happens you will understand, but everything that happens can lead you to make a decision. A better decision than when I did when I was younger? Well at least I have more experience of decisions to call open now to make that decision.
40? Bring it on!!!