When I was a teenager, I thought 40 was old, like really old! It’s apparently the big one, but is it really? I mean, what makes it big? Is it because we’re maybe half-way through the game? Because we’re supposed to be mature at this point with semi-grown up kids? Is it now that life really starts?
As life expectancy has increased due to advances in medicine and technology, nowadays we can expect to live to a ripe old age, meaning 40 is around the midway point in life for many. Wondering what could have been different if you’d taken the other fork in the road can prove to be a common question as we age. Looking back now that I’m hitting the ‘big one’, I’ve taken time to reflect on my life thus far. What I’ve done, want I want to do and all the in between.
School, university, gap-year, work, becoming a Wife, becoming a Mother. I guess I’ve done all the ‘normal’ things and been on the ‘usual’ path of life that many take. It’s all been pretty easy and I guess losing my Mam almost 20 years ago has probably been the biggest event that has had an impact on me.
I guess moving to Australia was out of the norm. A dream we had many moons ago, back in our twenties which we stuck with and made happen. Although I’m frequently homesick, it was by far the best decision we’ve ever made. The kids are now fully settled after some upset early on, they have a great group of friends and school is awesome. They’re happy, which is all I need. We live in a beautiful home 90 seconds from the beach and the Pacific Ocean and the weather is great. We’re outdoors all the time and more importantly, the kids are kids. They’re still young in body and mind, there’s absolutely no pressure to be anything they’re not, and that works for me too. The culture is very different over here, no one cares what the next person is wearing, or doing, or driving. It’s all very laid back and the clock certainly ticks at a slower pace.
That’s the thing though, time passes us quickly. Days turn into weeks, months, years and then you’re 40. Yes, it’s a milestone and I’ll celebrate like any other birthday, but I feel extremely lucky to have even gotten this far, some don’t. We need to be grateful for today, grateful we can watch the sun rise and set, grateful to be here to pick our kids up from school and tuck them into bed every night. We should feel blessed that we still have the chance to celebrate life, we must make it count before we can’t.
But some people freak out about hitting the big 4-0, afraid of hitting mid-life, fear of a looming psychological crisis, and getting old. Yes, it’s the start of another decade, and we may well have less time left than we’ve already played out but other than staying fit, healthy and out of trouble, until science says otherwise, there’s not a lot we can do about it. The end is coming.
And as I get older, the more I realise just how many privileges I’ve had that have got me to where I am today. My race, my stable childhood home life, my education, my health, the country I live in, the number of people in my life who love and care for me…the list is endless. Again, we need to be grateful for the hand we’re dealt that allowed us to be the person we are today.
Without a doubt, entering the fourth decade is a turning point in everyone’s life and over the last 12 month or so, I’ve had this feeling that I should be paying attention to getting to this stage of my life, and also paying attention to the things that are important to me… and acknowledging the things I really don’t give a crap about anymore.
My 8 lessons I’ve learned approaching 40…
Other people’s opinions of me are none of my business.
What counts in life is what you think of yourself. Other people’s opinions of me have moved way down my list of things that occupy the space in my mind. You cannot please every body so we need to stop caring what other people think and concentrate on our own happiness. Be happy being you.
Stop trying to control everything.
I’m a total planner! Give me a project, a new notepad and pen and I’m a happy girl! But I’ve learned that life can sometimes be more fun without a to-do list and a stopwatch, more fun when you let go. I’ll always have plans and goals, that’s built in, but I have learned of late to be a bit more flexible. My birthday trip to Tasmania is semi-planned but there will be a few days when I’ll let someone else decide the days agenda (and I’m hoping it won’t hurt too much!)
Listen to your heart, your body and your mind.
I believe that we have inner guidance, inner sat nav that helps us live the life we want to, that navigates us to that happy place. However, we’re all guilty of not listening to it. We must learn to trust our gut instincts and listen to our bodies, whether that’s to eat, to sleep, to rest. Our body knows what it needs to thrive and feel good, let’s listen to it.
It’s so important to create positive health habits for a healthier lifestyle. Improving your sleep patterns, eating healthier, reducing your calorie intake, exercise, drinking plenty of water, all simple things that you can take charge of that will make such a difference on the inside and out. Routines may sound boring but making life habits mixed with a positive attitude will make you feel great. For me that’s bed by 9pm, up around 5am, a quick daily run on the beach, plus absorbing myself in the feeling of gratitude whilst watching the sun rise every day.
Women, and men, who have the job, the house, the kids, the chores, the stresses of life to tend to have less time for themselves. My hand is up. I have always struggled to squeeze in any me time between all the hats I wear, but I know how important this time is. Me time must be a priority and scheduled into you every day routine. I’m an early bird so my morning routine, whilst everyone else is sleeping is my me time, and I thrive on it. I also find peace in reading and writing, which I need to do more of. We must not feel selfish, but we must find that period of time where we can just be with ourselves and our thoughts.
Worry less and do more of what makes you happy.
We’re all guilty of worrying. If it’s not the bills, it’s work or the kids. With the strain of everyday life, it’s easy for us to concentrate on the bad things, the things that seem to always need our attention. I used to be so much more of a worrier living back home, always something to fixate my mind on, always a problem that need sorting but now here, in Australia I have learnt to worry less and go with the flow. We need to embrace the situation, work out a solution and get through it with a smile.
We all know about mindfulness these days, we’ve all heard the benefits of ‘being present’, and I for one am a massive believer. Being in the moment, at any moment makes such a massive difference to your daily life. Acknowledging your surroundings, your senses, your feelings whilst actually taking the time to listen or watch and just being there in body and mind will give you a massive positivity boost and strengthen your attention, memory and intellect! I for one am a lot more conscious of this of late. If the kids are arguing and need a telling off, I now do it in a more diplomatic way rather than screaming at them, I want them to learn of course, but not in a way that it effects them negatively. When people are talking to me, I am always sure to actually listen and not just be there across the table and forget what they’ve said an hour later. If someone in work cheeses me off, I recognise the situation but don’t react as maybe I would have when I was younger. Maybe it’s their bad mood that has made them react like this, which is nothing to do with me, and nothing I can change, so I don’t take offence…. Their bad.
- Appreciate little things more.
We’ve all used the hashtag I’m sure, #feelingblessed. If I’m having a bad day or a bad week, things are getting on top of me, I have a habit of feeling sorry for myself. But we need to realise that no matter how tough things can get, there are more than a hundred reasons to be grateful every day. Waking up each morning is a privilege, and I thank my lucky stars when I look across at 5am and see him sleeping peacefully. Being able to walk to the beach and exercise in the morning, being able to send my kids off to school happy and healthy, having food in the fridge – and air con! We must always appreciate the good in our lives and be thankful for the blessings we receive every day. Little things matter and my new mantra of late is ‘want the things you need, don’t need the things you want’. I’m grateful for my husband and all he does for us, for having a healthy family, for having a roof over our head and the bills paid, for living so close to the Pacific Ocean… but more than anything, I’m grateful for breathing.
So turning 40 this weekend, I’ve decided to not get busy dying but to take beating my biology more seriously and making it my focus, therefore I have set myself a challenge… Project 4.0! Studies by The National Institute on Aging have confirmed what we all know, that the ageing process doesn’t stop – go figure. But how we look after our bodies is the difference between ageing gracefully and ageing rapidly, ageing is now seen as much as a state of mind as a state of body.
Project 4.0 is not just about the outward signs of ageing; looking after my skin, being sure to wear sun lotion in the Aussie heat, but more so about working on the things I’m in control of, things that proven to increase life longevity, such as a good sleep pattern, early morning wake ups, fasting, good food and smiles. My Mother died in her fourth decade so I’m pretty sure that’s in the back of my mind now that I’m entering mine, and I’m determined to do everything I can to see many more of them. (Some great You Tube Videos at the bottom of this post for those wanting to learn about living forever!).
I’ve had a good run so far and I may never leave my mark on the world but I want to leave it on my kids and their kids. I want to take a million photos of their childhood to leave them with the memories of their time growing up and I want to tell them stories they’ll remember forever. I need to be here to do all that so living my longest and best life is the game, which I plan on playing hard.
I am happy with where I am now, I am proud of the accomplishments that I have under my belt that mean nothing to anyone except me. I’m super proud and lucky to have my children and my amazing husband, and all of our health, but if I could go back and live my life out again, would I change anything? Not for a second, it’s made me who I am, it played out that way for a reason, no regrets.
I have so much more to learn, a growth mindset never stops growing no matter your age, we can always self-improve. I still can’t touch my toes but I’m not gonna beat myself up about it, I’ll keep trying!
My twenties were a blur of corporate success where I was hustling hard to make my mark. Thirties were all about making a life for our family of four, and the forties is about travelling the world and making memories for us and our children, making the most of every opportunity to live. The only permanent thing in life is Family, grab it with both hands and never let it go. Experiences are more important than possessions and embracing different countries and cultures with a little bit of soul searching added in can take you places you never dreamed, and I can’t wait for the ride!
There has been so much magic, fun, adventure, friendship and love in my life so far that I couldn’t possibly focus on the maybe’s or the ‘what if’s’, only on the memories of what has been and the ‘what is’.
Forty trips around the sun are a privilege that some people don’t get to have and I’m grateful to have lived them, and I’m grateful for all the experiences, journeys and memories ahead. For me personally, I have a massive appetite for life. The saying goes ‘you’re only young once’ but I don’t believe that. Live doesn’t begin at 40… it begins with each new sunrise.
Check out these awesome You Tube videos and learn more about how to live longer…
How This Clinical Nutritionist Changes Lives with Hunger | Mike Mutzel
Age Backwards, Biohack Your Life and Be Superhuman | Dave Asprey
Lifespan: Why We Age And Why We Don’t Have To | David Sinclair
Written by Editor, Rhian Cable
Mum, Wife, Marketing Specialist and Blogger – Living life every minute.