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I’m Turning 40 – Now What?

turning 40Is it taboo to discuss your age on your blog? If so, I’m engaging in a major faux pas today as I announce that it’s my birthday and I’m turning 40. Woo-hoo! Let’s here it for all the middle age guys out there!

I’ve always heard life starts going down hill after turning 40. I’m not sure why people say that. Is it because the average life span in America is 78, so in the mind of most people, your half way home? Is it because people believe the “fun” times of young adulthood – like partying on spring break or at Mardi Gras – are over?

Or is it perhaps that your body starts to catch up with you as more aches and pains come each morning as you roll out of bed?

Now that I’m here, I’m feeling like I don’t want to buy into the pessimism of what I’ve heard.

Thoughts on Turning 40

In the past year, I’ve done three new and remarkable things:

I completed my first marathon, I oversaw almost all household duties so my wife could finish the CPA exams and her MBA, and I’ve started this blog. I did all this while holding down a full-time job as a teacher. That does not feel like slowing down or going down hill to me. It feels like life’s just ramping up.

I can truly say my 40 years on this earth have been great. I was blessed with a loving family growing up and have carried that same spirit of love forward into my own family. I have been fortunate enough in my life to experience many athletic and academic achievements in high school, to enjoy good health, to travel to some fascinating places, and to teach young people about the Bible, seeing them experience God in special ways.

All that being said, I don’t want to live in the past.

In the summer of 1994, I started dating my wife Kim. We had gone on our first date the week before the semester of college was over. We would be separated for the entire summer as she went back to New Jersey and I stayed in Ohio. In order to stay in touch and not rack up huge charges on long distance phone calls, we would have to write one another letters. (Yes, actual pen and paper letters…no email kiddos.)

During that summer she helped her church’s youth pastor lead the teenagers on a wilderness trip to Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada. During one of her first letters to me, she was explaining the preparations they were making and she used a funny word to describe the name the youth pastor had given the trip. He called it “The Advance.”

I have to say I thought that was pretty corny. What they were going on was a basic youth group retreat…to get away from it all…relax and enjoy nature…rejuvenation…solitude…get right with God. To call the trip “The Advance” was just a youth pastor’s cheap trick to try to get the kids excited about going.

But was it a cheap trick?

Think about it for a minute…many of our lives function much like a retreat, don’t they. We take one step forward and two steps back, never gaining any traction. We retreat from challenges, from conflict, from relationships, from spiritual issues, and from our dreams. We retreat into the past to relive fond memories and wish we could have those moments again. We retreat into our mind and emotions and choose to never share those pieces of ourselves with others. We retreat and give ground…we retreat again and fall back…we never move forward.

But when we Advance, our whole mindset and body posture seems to change. We are looking upward and outward. Our energy is creating momentum in the forward direction. We confront life’s challenges and meet enemies like mediocrity, pessimism and doubt head on. We chase new dreams instead of trying to relive the one’s from our youth. We make progress in a purposeful way to improve and develop ourselves. That’s the nature of advancing.

I have come to believe Kim’s youth pastor was on to something when he called the trip an Advance. It’s changes one’s perspective to view life using this term.

If I’m going to make the rest of my life as meaningful as the first 40 years, I need the mind of a soldier about to take a ridge. Move forward…step by step…face what lies ahead…and go for it. I will use my valuable past experiences as reference points, but I’m not going to choose to live in that world. I’m Advancing.

Questions: What are your thoughts on turning 40? Is it depressing? How do you keep yourself from living in the past?

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Next Post: Drawing a Line in the Sand – a $37 Decision

Prior Post: How Does a 1040 Work?

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Comments

  1. Happy birthday! I’m in my 20s but an inching ever close to 30. I suppose “milestone” birthdays make you reflect on what has gone. Here’s to the next 40 years being even better 🙂
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  2. Happy Birthday. I’ve heard that at 40 we begin to really be comfortable with ourselves. There is less worrying about what others want from you and more living for who you are meant to be. I hope you have another great 40 years.

  3. Happy Birthday! I just turned 30, so I hear you on the milestone birthdays-they always seem to bring about a good amount of reflection on the past and where we’re going in the future. Life half over at 40 sounds terrible, maybe life has only half begun? I’ve heard many people say that there 40’s were wonderful. I’m wishing that for you!

    • I know…thinking about life being half over is not an optimistic way to view things I guess. Hopefully, I received some of my grandfather’s genes. He just turned 99 this past February.

  4. Happy 40th birthday!!!

  5. Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says:

    Happy Birthday, Brian! I’ll turn 46 this summer and I’m happier than ever. Life will keep getting better as long as you keep advancing, especially in your relationship with Christ. Shannon’s right about being wiser and happier in your own skin. I agree with Financial Black sheep too; you’re as old as you want to be. Enjoy all of your blessings, and keep your great attitude, and 50 will be just as great as 40. 🙂

  6. Happy Birthday Brian and congratulations on Advancing in life. 🙂 40’s are great in my opinion. You feel wiser and happier in your own skin. I love you thoughts on advancing and agree wholeheartedly. We can learn from our past but lingering in it keep us from moving forward and living. I believe we were put here to live, not stagnant. Have a wonderful birthday and best wishes for another great year.

    • Thanks Shannon. I do feel as though I know myself better than I ever have. That leads to better decision making and gives me a better sense of my priorities. And you are 100% right…we were put here to live and make a difference in other people’s lives. Can’t do that with our feet stuck in the past.

  7. Happy Birthday! I always say you are as old as you want to be. I never feel or look my age, so I don’t let it bother me. If I am not advancing the way I want my life to go then I feel bad, but never about age. I had a lot of bad in my past that I would rather not relive, so it is easy for me to look forward at everything I am trying to accomplish. I try and only use the past as a motivator only, to make the future brighter no matter the age. At least that is what I do to keep me happy. 😀

    • That’s great perspective about using the past as a motivator. I think that’s how we need to view it. We can’t change anything about our past circumstances but we can learn from them and use them to shape our future.

  8. Mackenzie Randompath says:

    Happy Birthday!!! Age is nothing but a number, I say 🙂 I’m a few short years away from hitting that number myself, and I would rather be the age I am now, than be in my 20’s again!
    Hope your birthday rocks!!

    • Thank you and I completely agree. I wouldn’t want to relive my 20s. Too much uncertainty and stupidity. Although I guess if I could do it again and retain the knowledge I’ve accumulated over the last 10 years, I may take a crack at it. However, I don’t think Mrs. Luke1428 would enjoy the idea of a pregnancy redo!

  9. John S @ Frugal Rules says:

    Happy Birthday Brian & Happy 4-0! I don’t know if it’s bad to talk about it on your blog either, but I am only nine short months behind you. I try to not focus on what society has to say about age because you’re as old as you feel I think. Having little ones run around definitely helps me stay young and focused on the future and not the past.

    • I thought we had a few things in common and it seems age is yet another one 🙂 I completely agree that the kiddos keep us young. Sometimes when I play with them, it’s like I’m entering a second childhood.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Birthday to Brian from Luke 1428. He’s Turning 40, but he’s not living in the past. He’s advancing or moving forward […]

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