Here I Am at 40: 10 Powerful Lessons I Wish I Had Learned at 30

In a few days I turn 40. I’ve learned a lot over the past 10 years and gained wisdom that will lead me well into the rest of my life. I just wish I knew about them at 30.

You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. 

Steve Jobs

Wow! Was that ever a decade of life! Here I am at the doorstep of 40, and I couldn’t be any happier. This past decade has been a crazy one, a wild ride of exciting ups and tough downs. Yet somehow, I emerged a better person.

Maybe I am not a better person, but I know I am a wiser one. With this wisdom that I pillaged from the complexities of  life, here are some lessons I would have loved to share with my 30-year-old me; I think it could have benefited him:

Life is too short for a shitty cup of coffee

You enjoy your morning coffee, it is more than a morning pick-me-up to you. Stop settling for that cheap cup of coffee you get from that national chain. Expand your palate! You are merely settling for cheap and comfort; don’t continue to allow that to be a metaphor for your life. Life is much too short for a shitty cup of coffee.

Take care of your body, it is the most important tool you will ever use

I cannot stress focusing on your physical fitness enough. Working out daily or at least regularly will be the key to your mental survival. On top of the psychological benefit, the side effect will be that you will finally begin to love the body you see in the mirror. Never allow age to dictate your physical capacity, if you properly work on your body, you will feel much better at 40 than you do now. Always properly fuel your body by eating with purpose and not out of boredom. Please take care of your body, it will be the most important too you will ever have.

PS: For the love of God, STOP SMOKING!

Don’t worry about money, just spend less

You can always get more money. If you don’t believe that, you have settled on being broke. To get more money, you have to give more time and you can never get more time. Find that balance and I promise you’ll be happy with what you have. Spend less on things that don’t value your time and more on things that do. And stop paying interest on borrowed money. Interest is merely life’s way of charging you for borrowed time. Don’t worry about money, just spend less.

If you are scared of it, you must do it

When you are scared of something, it is merely an opportunity to expand your limit of fear. If you really can’t do it, at least understand the reason why; excuses are not the reason. Most of our worries have nothing to do with our excuse. Excuses are just our rationalization to an irrational fear. Sometime in the next few years, you are going to go up on stage and talk to 200+ strangers about your healing from sexual abuse. So what do you fear now? Does it seem small compared to what you will do? That is growth. If you are scared to do it, you must do it.

Don’t do something if you aren’t committed

Commitment requires effort, effort requires passion and passion involves energy. The more energy it takes to be passionate about something, the more you will resent it. When you resent your actions, over time you will lose your soul. Learn to say ‘no,’ not out of fear, but say ‘no’ to things that do not align with your passion. Avoid energy thieves, including the one you have in your head. Commit yourself to find your passion, and I promise you, your life will begin to fall into place.

Wear nice clothes, it makes you feel better

Confidence is one of the biggest things you will struggle with. It comes from the attention to detail you put into everything you do. When you do not cut corners, you will feel competent, and competency leads to confidence. To feel good and feel a little bit more confidence, always wear clean and fitting clothes. It is the attention to that personal detail that makes you feel competent. This doesn’t mean you have to wear expensive labels, it means you just have to love what you wear and how you feel when wearing it. Whether we like it or not, the world rewards those who reward themselves. Start by wearing nice clothes, it makes you feel better.

Get away from the time trap, life always goes on past the deadline

Don’t rush your life busting your ass trying to get something done “on time.” If the end result is worth the effort, then the time to get there will never matter. You will always feel the pressure to be in a rush, stop that! Live life on your own clock and get away from the time trap, despite its name, life still goes on past the ‘dead’line

Your friends will change when you do

The friends you have today will not be the friends you have tomorrow. We all change, and it takes an exceptional friendship to remain bonded during the transitions of life. We all have friends who will be there for us when we need them, what we forget is that those friends will not necessarily be the same. As we grow, our needs change and so do the needs of our friendship. 

Appreciate silence and long walks in nature

Silence is getting rare, and I don’t mean all that you hear. As you get older, responsibilities will pile up, and the noises in your head will get louder. Everyone needs a break from the noise, both physically and mentally, take a break and get into nature. The smell, sounds and sights of nature are what clears us, it’s in our DNA. We are animals, and like a dog that needs to get out of the house from time to time, we need to get out of the city and head into the woods. Make that silence a priority and go for a long walk where all you will hear are your footsteps.

Change is always inevitable

Don’t fear change, it’s doing to happen anyway. But don’t fall victim to it. While the rest of the world is changing without your control, you always have a choice in how you change. Your response to the rapidly changing environment in which you immerse yourself is key to your survival. Many people will try and hold you back, keeping you from changing in a way they don’t approve. Resist the temptation. Staying comfortable with the heard will only make you frail from change, yet you will still change, change is always inevitable. Don’t allow yourself to be a victim of change, be the change.

Enjoy what is to come

Finally, enjoy your 30’s! You’ve been gifted with 30 years of life! Had you lived 300 years ago, you would likely be dead (or close to it). I promise you won’t get old unless you believe you are old, so take great care of yourself and age will always be good for you.

I’ll check back again with you in 10 years. Who knows what wisdom we will build together!

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