So this is it, I’ll be 40 next week. Turning 40 doesn’t bother me, it’s just another day really isn’t it and I think that once you’ve hit those milestones of 16 and 18, where various things stop being illegal, the numbers stop having any real importance – they’re just useful for people to make jokes about your age.
I remember my parents turning 40, I thought it meant you were so mature and sensible when you reached that age, but I definitely don’t feel either of those things! I’m still listening to pop music and trying to figure out how to contour (not sure I’ll ever master that one). I’m fairly sure that I’m expected to dress sensibly and stop staggering around on heels that are way too high but neither of those things will be happening any time soon, I’m definitely going to be someone who grows old disgracefully.
A couple of years ago I wrote a list of 40 things that I wanted to achieve before turning 40. I failed miserably at most of them (to be fair many of them were fairly unachievable in the first place), but I did manage to cross a few off. I visited Barcelona and Italy and I was spoilt rotten by Mark’s parents and taken on a cruise. I did attend a Grand Prix, I learnt to stand up paddleboard and make cocktails (not at the same time, that would be silly!). I’ve almost perfected my signature dish and I’m getting pretty good at looking after the plants in my garden. There was tons I didn’t get to do, but hey life – and money, it’s always easier if you’ve got buckets of money to spend on these ventures!
Turning 40 has made me stop and look back at my life so far – what I’ve achieved and what lessons I’ve learnt along the way. If I was to pass on any ‘wisdom’ to those younger than me I think it would be this…
Quality over Quantity
When it comes to choosing friends choose those who add something to your life. When you’re young you strive to fill your life with as many friends as possible, but as you get older you’ll discover that not everyone is as truer friend as you believe them to be. Look for the right qualities in a friend, will they hold your hand when something scary is happening, will they make you laugh when all you want to do is cry, will they be there to share the milestones in your life with you? You will have some friends that will be able to tick all of these boxes and others that can only tick one or two, it doesn’t matter, the fact that they will be there for you in some capacity is all the matters. The friends that want you to do everything for them, but are never there for you are the ones to steer clear of. They will drain you and as soon as they have got everything they can from you they will drop you. If this happens, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and realise that they were never a friend in the first place, they were just using you.
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Travel as much as you can! There is a beautiful big world out there with so much for you to see and experience. Get out there and open your eyes to new experiences. Once you get caught up in life with a career, mortgage and maybe a family too, travelling becomes a lot harder to do. So before you settle down take that big trip to wherever you’ve always wanted to visit. It may take you a while to earn the money back that you spent on that trip, but those memories will last a lifetime.
Ask For What You Want
Whether it’s a birthday gift or a promotion at work. If you don’t ask for it nobody will fully know that you want it. I have missed out on so many things because I thought somebody else knew what I wanted and would therefore give it to me, but they had no idea because I’d never actually told them explicitly what I wanted. Always ask politely because people will respond so much better to that, but don’t be afraid to ask. Which leads me on to…
Make Your Own Happiness
This goes hand in hand with the point above. The only person who can truly make you happy is you. Nobody can see inside your mind and know what you are really thinking, so find what makes you happy and do more of it. Don’t wait for happiness to find you because you will never truly be happy until you show people what it is that makes your heart soar.
Put The Phone Down
We live in a technological world and it’s great – I love being able to talk to friends on the other side of the world whenever I want to, BUT, if you’re always looking down you’ll be missing out on everything wonderful that’s going on around you. So take the picture and share it, but then put the phone away and be fully present in the moment. Actually make the memories and be a part of them rather than having to look at photos to remember what happened, because you were too busy online to see it for yourself.
Make Time For Family
It doesn’t matter whether your family is blood relatives or not, what matters is that you spend time with them. These are the people that love you more than anyone else in the world, make as many memories as you can with them.
We all have something that we are putting off – it might be that we are waiting until the children are older, or until we have reached a certain level at work, or a bazillion other reasons. Experience tells me that there will never be ‘a right time’ so just do whatever it is. Life can change in the blink of an eye, don’t get to the end wishing you had done that one thing that you were putting off.
Don’t Spend Money You Don’t Have
If you can’t afford to pay your credit card bill in full at the end of the month then you need to cut it up now. Once you start buying items on credit that you can’t afford you’ll be on a slippery slope to trouble. Instead save for what you want and buy it knowing you can afford it. Be sensible with your money when you’re young and you’ll thank yourself when you get older.
The biggest piece of advice I can give to anyone is to be grateful for what you have. Don’t be envious of others, be pleased for them and be happy for your own life. No matter how messed up our lives might be there is always something to be thankful for, it could be the fact that we have somewhere warm to sleep at night, our health, our family, the food on the table, or any number of things. Find that one thing each day that you are grateful for and your happiness levels will grow.
I hope my few snippets of advice will help you to live your best life.
I’m not having a birthday party because my birthday is smack in the middle of summer, which means that all the good venues are booked up for weddings and everyone is either attending a wedding or on holiday, so nobody is available for a party. Instead I’ll be turning 40 in Florida and I’m planning on spending the day on the beach with my family, I think that’s a pretty cool way to celebrate a birthday.
I don’t know whether turning 40 will make me finally feel like a proper grown up (probably not) but I do know that I’m entering my 40s feeling happier and more content than I’ve ever felt.
If you’re turning 40 this year I wish you a very happy 40th birthday!
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