The calendar tells me that it's true. I'm 40 years old (as of 8:35 am CST on January 14, 2017).
I don't feel old. In fact, there's nothing about the way I think or feel, that would lead me to believe I've reached this age.
However, turning 40 does remind me that I have a limited amount of time to make a contribution, to experience what the world has to offer, and to enrich the lives of those around me, and especially those closest to me.
Last spring, I binge-watched The Tudors. In just a few weeks, I watched King Henry VIII grow from an immature and reckless kid to a wise old man.
I watched his triumphs and failures, highlights and low points. I watched him grow in wisdom with age, which I can totally appreciate.
In the final episode, he has a conversation with The Duke of Suffolk that hit me so hard, I watched it at least 10 times. I'll admit, it even made my eyes well up a bit.
Their conversation went like this:
King Henry VIII: In these last days, I've been thinking a great deal about loss. What loss, your Grace, is to man, most irrecoverable?
Duke of Suffolk: His virtue.
King Henry VIII: No, for by his actions, he may redeem his virtue.
Duke of Suffolk: Then, his honor.
King Henry VIII: No, for again, he may find the means to recover it. Even as a man recovers fortune he has lost.
Duke of Suffolk: Then I cannot say, Your Majesty.
King Henry VIII: Time, your Grace. Of all losses, time is the most irrecoverable. For it can never be redeemed.
It's probably a good thing that we all have a time limit, or we wouldn't take advantage of the time we have.
Just as someone who lives on the beach is less likely to appreciate the beach that is always there, we'd squander our time if it wasn't limited. At 40, I hope that I'm a very long way from the end of my life, but whenever that may be, I'm still 40 years closer to that point in time.
With that in mind…
In my next forty years, I'm gonna…
Work on my marriage more than any other endeavor.
I squandered a lot of opportunities in our early years, and still have many areas to grow in becoming the kind of man my wife deserves.
Don't get me wrong, we have an awesome marriage. I just know that there's stuff I can do to make it more like God intended.
Be intentional about involving God in my decisions.
While He may have given me my gifts and talents, I know I'd make much better decisions if I took the time to pray through even seemingly small decisions, and to rely on the Word and its wisdom.
Play more and have more fun.
I used to love playing kickball, tin can alley, hide and seek, tag, and any other active game. Skiing, golfing, mountain biking, hiking, paintball, snowmobiling, four-wheeling, horseback riding, and a ton of other stuff bring me great joy.
I often put it off for “another day.” That's stupid. It makes me boring and I miss out on experiences that would make for a better highlight reel for my life.
Spend more time with my parents, my father-in-law, brother, and our boys.
My parents live four hours north of us. My father-in-law lives about 20 minutes away. Bob, my brother is a couple hours away. I see them periodically, but not nearly enough. If I'm not intentional about the time I have with them, I don't have any time with them.
And just as I have a limited amount of time, so do they (Mom, Dad, Ray, Bob, that's an open invitation to visit too).
I love to write. And yet I put it off, like a lot of other things. Or I let distractions get in the way.
I know that not everyone likes to write, but God gave me a passion for it. I know that my writing, or my thoughts on nutrition, exercise, metabolism, personal growth, and marriage won't resonate with everyone.
If my words resonate with someone then that's all that matters.
Be more ready to be wrong.
I used to be deathly afraid of being wrong. I thought that if I was wrong, others would see me as “not credible enough.”
At 40 years old, I realize that a lot of my beliefs are probably wrong, or more accurately, not totally right. I'm okay with that. I'll just become a little less wrong each year.
Personally, I'm less apt to trust the person who always fights to be right, because it's not possible to be so. If I always have to come across as being right, it means I'll be in denial of many of the areas in which I'm wrong.
Be more curious and be less certain.
This goes along with the point above. There's so much about life that I don't know. And even what I think I know, I often don't totally understand.
Curiosity allows me to learn from others, whether that's someone I'm talking to, or someone I'm reading from.
Take more time to celebrate.
I'm quick to reach a milestone, and then move on to start pursuing the next one before I celebrate the last one.
For example, for as long as I can remember, I've shrugged off my birthday. Deep down, I wanted to be celebrated. But I felt like there was something weird about being the center of attention.
I've been so vocal about it over the years, that I led Vanessa to believe I didn't want a 40th birthday party. That's DUMB! Not only would it have been fun, times like these give us the chance to reconnect with some people who still mean a lot to us, but we haven't seen in a while.
So much of life is about the grind from one milestone to the next. I enjoy the grind, too. However, I'm going to take my time to celebrate the milestones and good times when I have the opportunity.
Let others know how important they are to me.
I will be intentional about telling others how valuable they are; not just to me, but in general. I don't want to miss an opportunity to let another person know how much they mean to me, and how much value they bring to the world.
There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of the people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.
– Sophia Loren
Protect my brain, and keep up on my body.
God-willing, I hope that when my time comes, it'll be a really quick fall in my quality of life and then that will be it. I'm going to make my workouts a priority each day, eat well, and do what I need to, to keep my body in the best condition I can, without sacrificing some of the enjoyment of life.
Enjoy food without compromising my health.
For much of my 20s and 30s, I was super-strict with nutrition. I ate a LOT of meals that were boring and tasteless.
I don't need a skin-tight six-pack, and veins popping out everywhere. I'm content with just being “lean,” around 10-12% body fat and a 31″ waist, and enjoying some ice cream, pizza, sandwiches, and other fine cuisine.
I don't intend to deprive myself anymore. Of course, I'm not going to get fat either. I believe you can eat amazing food and still stay lean and healthy. And that's what I plan to do.
Be careful about what I care about.
Yes, I said that right. I can only care about so much, so what I invest my focus, concern, stress, or as Mark Manson puts it, “what I give a F#©k about,” better be important.
If I care too much about stuff that doesn't matter, it wears me down and distracts me from the stuff that matters. From the stuff that has a long-lasting impact or from what grows my relationships, grows our business, or adds value to the world and others in it.
Make more time for friends.
Just like my family, I've had a history of skipping opportunities to spend time with friends. I'm pretty good about making healthy choices with nutrition, exercise, and my lifestyle. The one area I've neglected is building strong relationships. Not only do they make life more enjoyable. They also help us to live longer.
Continue to embrace discomforts.
Sometimes I say, “get comfortable being uncomfortable,” but a rock in my shoe, or sitting on a metal folding chair is “uncomfortable.” Discomfort is feeling pain, fear, something stronger than discomfort.
Most of the areas in which my life has improved significantly come after a period of time of major discomfort. I never want comfort to become something I seek, because comfort's sibling, complacency often follows along.
Live a life where you're constantly moved to tears.
– John Addison
Today, I'm making good on some of the points from above. I will play golf (well, simulator golf, since it's 6 degrees here in Minnesota), see a movie, eat the best gluten-free, dairy-free pizza in the Twin Cities, along with some dairy-free ice cream, and enjoy an evening with my gorgeous wife.
It doesn't matter if you are 20, 40, 80, or older. I hope that each day is a blessing…that you are blessed, that you bless someone else, and that you've used your gifts and talents to make the world better. And when you do, be sure to celebrate it.