I’ve written some blog articles in five minutes or less, but this one has taken me almost 4o years! Seriously. I’m turning forty in October and I’ve been pondering on some mid-life reflections about what I’ve learned, what I’ve accomplished and all the times I’ve failed. I wanted to get a tattoo, a crazy hairstyle and a motorcycle for my stereotypical mid-life crisis, but Ashley wisely talked me out of it, so I decided to just write a blog post instead. I’ve put together a list of the 40 things I believe everyone should do (or at least attempt) before they turn 40.
This list isn’t necessarily tied to an age number, but I’ve found that when we put a specific timeline on something, it’s much more likely to get done. That’s why “Bucket Lists” rarely work. We keep putting off stuff as if we’re going to live forever and then it never happens. Even if you’re reading this and you’re past forty, don’t view this list as an indicator of your shortcomings. Rather, make this your list to achieve before 50, 60, etc.
If you’re reading this and you’re young, please take this list to heart! I firmly believe that these simple actions could steer a course to a brighter future for you. It could also help you establish some healthy habits that could be transformative in your life, your health, your finances and your relationships.
If you want your life to be all it can be, then commit to doing these 40 things before you turn 40 (in no particular order)…
1. Define Success. If you don’t know what success really means for you, then it’s like throwing darts at a target in the dark. You’ll never even know if you’ve hit it! Step out of the rat race and do some soul searching, some praying and some goal-setting. Decide what you want your life to be about and then go after it with focus.
2. Choose happiness. This connects to the first one on the list. Happiness is much more of a choice than a feeling. You need to not just pursue happiness in a self-focused way, because true happiness is found it loving relationships, faith and living for something bigger than yourself. Life with purpose and don’t settle for anything less with your one and only life.
3. Let go of bitterness. Life isn’t always fair. Get used to that and don’t let it make you bitter. Learn to forgive. Holding a grudge doesn’t make you strong; it makes you bitter. Forgiving doesn’t make you weak; it sets you free. Bitterness and peace can’t live in the same heart. Each day, you must decide which one gets to stay.
4. Learn to say NO. This will be one of the most important words in your vocabulary. It took me a long time to learn to say it, because I’m a people pleaser by nature. I finally learned the hard lesson that every time I automatically said “Yes,” I was automatically saying “No” to a lot of other things and I was on autopilot letting other people define my priorities. Don’t say “maybe” when you really mean no. Don’t hit the snooze button on these things. Say no and move on.
5. Learn to say YES. Here’s the flip side of “No.” You’ve also got to say YES to the people, priorities and opportunities that matter most. If you’re having trouble deciphering between what should be a yes and what should be a no, there’s a great book called Essentialism by Greg McKeon that could help.
6. Find Financial Freedom. Life isn’t all about money and if you make money the main thing, you’re chasing the wrong thing BUT if you don’t have a financial plan and financial discipline, money stress will dominate your thoughts and rob you of peace. Work had to get out of debt, build your savings, invest and give generously to causes that will outlive you. If you need a good tool to get started, read “Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey.