Each decade of life marks new opportunities for reflection, growth, and assessment of where one is in life. I turned 40 this summer, and my mind was preparing for that long before the date arrived and has been reflecting on it well after. There were many moments of emotions and observations that came with approaching 40. I found myself reflecting on how fast each decade has passed, remembering the friends and family who have come and gone, and, of course, memories of the past and present — some happy, some sad, and everything in between.
I am not a person who likes to dwell too long in the past. I believe we need to pay homage to our past because it is what shaped us and makes us who we are today, but I prefer to keep marching forward. For me, that is the only way to get the best of this life we have. I wrote this blog today to share some positive observations I have compiled for those of you getting ready to turn 40 or those who have reached your 40s but are still getting comfortable with that number and need a little boost of confidence as the journey moves forward.
As the saying goes, “Life begins at forty”. This isn’t just a comforting phrase or a means of consoling yourself as you approach what might seem like a daunting milestone. I decided to look at turning 40 as a time of life rich with potential, teeming with opportunities, and brimming with the kind of wisdom that can only come from years of experiences. Let’s delve into the ways this significant chapter in your life isn’t a diminishing point but rather an empowering epoch and an exciting threshold to even more fulfilling adventures.
1. Mastery of Self-Awareness
By the time you reach 40, you’ve likely become well-acquainted with your strengths, weaknesses, passions, and fears. This self-awareness is a powerful tool; it means you no longer strive to fit into someone else’s mold or seek approval indiscriminately. You have learned the art of saying no, you prioritize what’s truly important, and you understand the value of your own voice. This is a time of authentic living that is genuinely liberating and forms the foundation for continued growth and success in personal and professional endeavors.
2. Enhanced Relationships
With age comes the refinement of social circles. As you turn 40, relationships are less about quantity and more about quality. You’ve learned to cherish those friends and family members who truly add value to your life and to release toxic or unfulfilling relationships. This season of life often brings deeper, more meaningful connections, rekindled relationships, and the joy of new friendships formed around mutual respect and common interests.
3. Wisdom and Patience
The impulsive decisions and immediate gratification of youth give way to the measured and insightful thinking of your 40s. You’ve weathered enough crises to know that patience, resilience, and an open mind are key to overcoming adversity. This wisdom impacts every aspect of life, from the workplace to the home, allowing for a long-view approach to life’s challenges and dreams.
4. Health and Vitality
Turning 40 is a wake-up call for many regarding their health, but it is far from a downhill journey. Armed with the knowledge of how lifestyle choices impact well-being, this can be a revitalizing period where you undertake fitness routines, healthier eating habits, and wellness practices that can ensure your later years are vibrant and active. It’s not uncommon to see individuals running their first marathons or joining dance classes, proving that vitality is not the exclusive domain of the young.
5. New Adventures and Learning
The confidence that comes with four decades of life often inspires a willingness to try new things, pick up new hobbies, or pursue travel adventures. It’s a time characterized by a hunger for continued learning and growth. Whether it’s learning a new language, diving into a new book genre, or moving to a new city, the world opens up in unexpected and thrilling ways for those who reach this milestone with an open heart and mind.
6. Embracing Self-Confidence and Fearlessness
One of the most empowering aspects of reaching your 40s is the newfound sense of self-confidence that permeates various facets of life. You’ve faced enough challenges to know that failure isn’t the end but rather a learning opportunity. This decade often ignites a kind of fearlessness — an understanding that risks are worth taking, especially when balanced with wisdom and experience. You’re more likely to stand up for what you believe in, make big moves like changing careers or starting that business you’ve been dreaming of, or even embracing smaller, personal transformations that reflect the true you.
7. Redefining Priorities and Values
Turning 40 often comes with a significant shift in priorities and values. This period allows for introspection and evaluation of past decades, providing a clearer picture of what truly matters. For many, this is a time to focus on personal growth, family, friendships, and passions. Some might find a calling in activism, volunteering, or participating in their community, driven by a desire to contribute and make a difference. This redefinition is a powerful reminder that you are not defined by societal expectations but by the path you carve for yourself.
8. Renewed Focus on Happiness and Contentment
As you move into this phase, there’s a profound understanding that happiness and contentment are integral to your well-being. There’s a shift away from external validations of success, such as status or material possessions, towards what brings genuine joy, peace, and satisfaction. This might mean more time spent with loved ones, hobbies that inspire and captivate, or simply moments of quiet reflection. The 40s are a time to stop postponing happiness for future milestones and start living it in the present.
9. Preparation for the Future
While the 40s are a time to live passionately and embrace the present, they’re also a period for thoughtful preparation for the future. This includes not just financial planning but also understanding and making choices that will impact your quality of life in later years. It’s about proactive wellness, creating and nurturing relationships that sustain you, and building a life that continues to have purpose, excitement, and stability as you age. This forward-thinking approach, blended with living in the moment, strikes a balance that leads to a fulfilling life.
10. Expanding Horizons Through Travel
For many, the 40s bring about a time of exploration and adventure that might not have been feasible in earlier years due to financial constraints or family responsibilities. With a sense of financial stability and, often, more independence as children grow older, the world becomes your oyster. Whether it’s backpacking through Asia, taking art classes in Europe, or exploring hidden gems in your own country, travel broadens your perspectives, offers new experiences, and adds a thrilling chapter to your 40s.
11. Spiritual and Emotional Growth
Spirituality doesn’t necessarily pertain to religious beliefs. In your 40s, you may find yourself delving deeper into the realms of meditation, mindfulness, or yoga, exploring your spiritual side, or connecting with nature and the universe on a more profound level. This journey can foster emotional growth, equipping you with the tranquility and strength needed to face life’s ups and downs. It’s a time for emotional healing, forgiving, letting go of past grudges, and moving forward with a lighter, more liberated spirit.
12. Lifelong Learning and Intellectual Curiosity
The 40s often debunk the myth that education is only for the young. With an ever-curious mind and the advantage of online courses, community classes, and workshops, you might find yourself diving into new subjects that interest you or advancing your knowledge in specific professional areas. This intellectual curiosity does more than just keep the mind sharp; it keeps life exciting and dynamic.
13. Final thoughts
Embracing your 40s is about recognizing that this decade is a rich tapestry of life, woven with threads of experiences, learnings, achievements, and setbacks. It’s a time that encourages a forward-looking mindset, not with anxiety but with a spirited and reasoned optimism. Every thread has its purpose and place, contributing to the vibrant, resilient, and ever-expanding canvas of your life.
As you stand on the cusp of this significant milestone or navigate through it, remember that age truly is just a number. It doesn’t define you; rather, it refines you. The world isn’t shrinking around you; it’s expanding, offering new adventures, love, learning, and a deeper understanding of both yourself and the life you wish to lead. The 40s are not just an age to be reached — but a space to be felt, lived, and thoroughly enjoyed.
Wishing you well,