I’m closing in on the home stretch of my second year in this decade and a few things are becoming more clear for me about my fourth decade on this planet.
Is 40 the magic number for insight and wisdom? I have no idea. Probably not. More likely that I spent most of my thirties just trying to stay a step or two ahead of the kids and not wear the worst of my spit-up stained shirts out in public.
Now that they are a little older and I have some time between microwaving the next batch of chicken nuggets and re-filling the friggen’ water bottles, a few things have occurred to the older me.
Keep an Eye on Your Weight
It’s just not going to come back off as easily. Plus, extra weight is just going to act like a booster to any other medical problems that might start to crop up.How to do this? My three simple tips would be to be more mindful of your eating, close the kitchen, and eat more fruits and vegetables.
You don’t need to necessarily restrict anything, but look at portions and try not to eat mindlessly like in front of the television.
I haven’t taken up the intermittent fasting trend, but I have tried to make a habit of “closing the kitchen” after a certain time in the evening. Late night snacks can mess with your sleep and get packed right onto that spare tire.
Purge your kitchen of temptation. Get rid of or limit the chips, cookies and processed junk. Stock the fridge with fruits and vegetables. Eat more of those.
You don’t need to run a marathon or sign-up for an Ironman, but you need to do something more than just sit at a desk all day and then walk to your car. Find a group, convince your friends, grab your partner, or dog and walk, or hike, or ride a bike or take a class. Not only will it help with your weight, it will help with stress and just make you feel better all around. Try it.
If the idea of meditating makes you feel queasy or like a hippie than just think of it as taking some time for yourself. It doesn’t need to be a half hour. It can be for as little as 3, 4 or 5 minutes. You don’t need a class, or a book or a fancy app. Just sit and be quiet. Make a habit. Give it some time. You’ll be surprised at the results.
Don’t Be Afraid to Laugh, Especially at Yourself
You’re 40, you’re dealing with some serious life shit. Don’t forget to laugh. Laughing is sometimes the only way to get through. I was a little too serious for my own good for a long time. I was easily embarrassed and laughing at my own expense only heightened that feeling. Maybe getting older or having kids brings a new sense of perspective. Or maybe that self-seriousness is just tiring and hard to maintain.
For the love of God, laugh at yourself. No one left in your life at this point takes you all that seriously, you shouldn’t either.
Find Your Friends
It’s easy and forgivable when you’re a new parent to drop everyone and everything in an effort to raise your kids. But suddenly you emerge from that cave and find your social life is pretty…empty.Find and nurture good relationships with close friends. That doesn’t just mean texting. Make an effort to spend time with those people.
Almost as important, if people in your life are draining, make you feel bad or take a lot of work, find some new friends. It’s addition by subtraction.
Just like keeping that weight off, finding a new job becomes a lot more difficult in your 40’s. Protect yourself professionally by staying up to date on training, or learning new skills for your field. Make yourself hard to ignore at work. Stay a life-long learner and keep yourself at the top of your game.
Find People You Trust
I have a great doctor that I literally trust with my life. I also have a regular barber, mechanic, a great dentist, a running group, a few mentors, and a group of really good friends I know I could call at 3 a.m.Find people you trust, who all take pride in their work, and pay them well (maybe not the friends). You won’t regret it.
Choose To Be Happy
It is a decision. Maybe now more than ever. Choose it. Don’t let age sour you. Take care of yourself. Stop listening to voices who bring you down. Find people that love you for who you are and have your best interests in mind. And then be the same for those people. Happiness is contagious.
That’s it. Maybe those are trite or feel obvious, but that doesn’t make them less true or less powerful. At least for me, I know doing these eight little things in my forties will make a big difference for the rest of my life.