Forty Things I’ve Learned by Age 40, I Wish I Knew at Age 20

I’m turning forty years of age this week, on August 16th

Here are 40 things I know now that I wish I knew then.  The reason I’m sharing them is to potentially save someone hurt, sadness, disappointment, or worry; and to potentially inspire or encourage someone who may need it.

Some are fun, others are serious.  I’m simply sharing wisdom, knowledge, encouragement, and inspiration my friends, family, and colleagues have shared with me over the years.

If one of these helps one person, it will have been worth sharing.

Forty things, at age 40 I’d tell twenty-year old Me, if I could (in no particular order):

  • Pursue your passion.  It will not only be what offers the most value to the world, but also the thing which brings you the most joy.  That makes it worth pursuing.
  • Be slow to speak, quick to listen, and slow to anger. (James 1:19)
  • When you feel uninspired, all you have to do is read.  Inspiration will jump off the page.
  • Study as much as you possibly can on the topic of emotional intelligence (EQ).  The more emotionally intelligent you become, the happier, more successful, and more impactful you’ll be.
  • Be great today, and worry less about tomorrow.
  • See as much live theater, live music, and live entertainment as possible, and when you do, be fully present, savoring every moment.  You’ll gain inspiration you never knew you needed.
  • Listen.  It’s the ultimate sign of respect when you do, and the ultimate sign of disrespect when you don’t.
  • Call your family as often as you can, and when you do, make the most of the time. 
  • Serve your leaders, even if you don’t agree with them, their style, or the direction they’re headed.  Though you may not agree, they’re still your leader.
  • Let your dreams become your game plans.
  • Workout and break a sweat before 7am at least three days per week, and drink a gallon of water per day.
  • You never look bad making someone else look good.
  • In conversations, be more interested in what others have to say than what you feel you need to say.  It’s amazing the insight you’ll gain, not to mention the connections you’ll make.
  • Focus on building relationships just as much as you focus on delivering results.
  • Talk less and listen more in meetings. 
  • Worry less about what you have and will accomplish, and focus more on who you’re becoming.
  • Create content every single day, with one purpose, to encourage.
  • Don’t mix tequila with vodka and/or wine.  In fact, pick one, and stick with it all night.
  • Ask yourself two questions at the end of every day, “What did I do well?” and “What could I do better tomorrow?”
  • Inspire people every day, even when you feel uninspired; that alone, will inspire you to keep inspiring.
  • Life happens in seasons.  So, when things don’t go your way, remember, it’s only a season.  This too shall pass.
  • You’ll find the love of your life the minute you stop worrying about finding the love of your life.
  • Go to Hawaii.  Snorkel, watch every sunset, and order the expensive items on the menu.  And then go back as often as possible.
  • Take risks, or else you’ll wonder, “what if” or , “if only.”
  • Encourage people, and you’ll become encouraged.
  • Physically visit the office, take a tour, talk to current employees, interview your prospective boss, and ask yourself if you could see yourself working there or for him or her, before you accept the job.
  • Let go and let God.
  • Take responsibility for your own attitude and mindset before blaming the situation or other people. 
  • Raise the expectations you put on yourself, and lower your expectations you have for others. Few people will deliver what they say they will provide, unless it benefits them directly.
  • Travel, and when you do, take it all in. All of it.
  • Split aces and 8’s, and always double on 11, when playing black jack.
  • Max out your odds when the point is 6 or 8, when playing craps.
  • Go to live sporting events, every chance you get.
  • Learn the difference between responding and reacting; and practice responding.  Reacting never ends well.
  • Make decisions based on what you value instead of what you want.  You’ll find – every mistake made starts with something we think we want.  Your values will never let you down.
  • Write hand-written notes of gratitude and recognition as frequently as possible.
  • Pray, early and often.
  • When you’re frustrated, mad, or sad, take a walk, a deep breath, and eat a Cliff Bar before you talk…to anyone. 
  • Remember, you’ll never be younger than you are right now.  Today is the day. 
  • Love God.  Love people.  Repeat.

I write to encourage and inspire other people, simply because of how special I’ve felt when coaches, teachers, friends, and especially my family have encouraged and inspired me.

Happiness is found in what we give and share with each other. So, in short, giving this list to you makes for a very happy birthday.

Share it with an up and comer who may need some love and inspiration. You’ll make them happy, and then you’ll be happy.

Have a great day.