40 Lessons Learned as I Turn 40 Years Old

midlife milestone

And the tough thing about adulthood is it starts before you even know it starts, when you’re already a dozen decisions into it.” – Robert Redford from Lion for Lambs.

Not a great movie, but a pretty great quote.

I’m often joking with my friends that I’m not turning 40 years old as a milestone of age, but rather upgrading to 4.0, where all my experiences and knowledge are pushing me to the next level. I joke, but there is a lot of truth to that. Through everything, we add and add bits and pieces of lessons learned and maybe, just maybe, some wisdom along the way. In the spirit of this blog, I thought I’d take some time to connect with my history and reflect on a few of those bits and pieces.

In no particular order, what’s been meaningful to me:

  1. Ask why – of yourself, and of others.
  2. Travel expands your mind while focuses you on home.
  3. If people have a problem with your confidence, that’s their insecurity.
  4. Change isn’t bad, it’s an opportunity.
  5. There’s nothing better than deep and meaningful conversation.
  6. Anybody can be interesting.
  7. Always be learning.
  8. Doing it is always better than talking about doing it (unless it’s illegal).
  9. If the best time of your life was in high school, you’re doing something wrong.
  10. Enjoy other people’s moments.
  11. High fives are still cool.
  12. Your definition of success is far more important than others’ definitions.
  13. Make sure you’re running to something, and not just away from something.
  14. If you don’t like a situation, change it. Or at least don’t keep complaining to your friends if you aren’t going to.
  15. Don’t be afraid to get up, walk away and take in some fresh air…no matter the environment or situation.
  16. Collaboration is awesome.
  17. A year of “YES” is worth doing.
  18. Love is worth it, but it doesn’t always take the shape you expect, and that’s not a bad thing.
  19. I look great in blue.
  20. Write and collect your thoughts more often, and it can just be for you.
  21. You’d be amazed at how much heartfelt help you can get if you just ask.
  22. Fruit Loops are the best cereal.
  23. Take time to read, and mix it up with fiction and non-fiction, it’ll make you smarter and more interesting.
  24. Situational awareness is a skill more people should learn.
  25. Not everyone has to, or will, like you. And that’s OK.
  26. Shit or get off the pot (thanks Mom).
  27. Listen to your mom. Even if you don’t agree with her.
  28. Being an optimist is better than being a realist.
  29. It’s more fun being a creative than being a critic.
  30. Having life direction is great, but hard to find.
  31. Ambition is great, but it can also be tiring, stressful and overwhelming.
  32. You should have more experiences than things, but some things are so very cool.
  33. Most problems in the world, professional or personal, are rooted in bad communication.
  34. Bullies are the worst type of person.
  35. Leaders aren’t leaders because they tell you they are leaders.
  36. If your friends aren’t adding value to your life, or they’re bringing only negativity to it, drop them.
  37. Understanding someone else’s viewpoint is key to any great relationship building.
  38. People who you’ve known 3 days can be as important an impact in your life as those who have been around 20 years.
  39. Floppy socks and my hat turned backwards drives my dad nuts.
  40. Find something you love and do that. It doesn’t ever have to make you a dime, but it’ll keep you sane.

I promise I’ve learned more than this, but it’s a decent summary. Whether you’re 4, 40, or 400 (damn you look good), we all hopefully gain some wisdom.

What’s one nugget you’ve learned? Share below.

5 comments

  • Leeann Froese  

    Great summary. At the ripe age of 43, I am now learning that with my 40s comes a new kind of confidence. So I guess I would add: trust yourself. You know more than you think.

    • Russel Lolacher  

      Thanks for commenting, Leeann. I like your addition. You’ve put in the time, why not trust yourself to do what’s best? Nice!

  • Melanie Friebel  

    Once again great post and great nuggets, some I’ve thankfully learned sooner than later.

    I’m seeing the need to be connected with something bigger than myself. Not to sound all humble or whatever, or that I was ever so shallow…it’s confusing. I’ve always enjoyed being behind the scenes, making things come together, being ‘part’ of something wonderful. But as I’ve gotten older it plays more of a prominent role in my life – what I want my footstep left behind to be. I’ve never had the desire to have children, but now I understand that desire fuller.

    • Russel  

      Thanks Melanie, and for commenting.
      Really like how your moving into a new perspective for yourself and that it’s putting what’s important to you into view.

  • Terrah  

    Just reread this. Such thoughtful observations. Very inspiring. And, you do look great in blue.

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