An Ultimate To-Do List For People Turning 40

An Ultimate To-Do List For People Turning 40

2020/06/25

Please, stop calling it the new 30 or 20 – it’s 40, and it’s coming for you. While this milestone birthday often comes with groans and gripes, turning 40 doesn't have to be a bad thing. In fact, this new decade could be just the catalyst you need to make some improvements in your life.


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How this decade treats and changes you will depend on how you approach it. So to ensure you make the most of your 40s, we curated a list of the 40 things you should when the big day approaches.


You don't have to complete every task on this list, but if you can check off the majority you'll likely be in a great state physically, mentally, socially and emotionally by the time your 50s come around.
 


1. Celebrate


Not only did your ancestors navigate a harsh and uncaring universe so that you could exist here, but you’ve successfully survived for 40 years. You deserve a big celebration, so go all out on this one.


2. Switch up Your Career Path


If you lucked into your dream job, feel free to skip this one. But, if like many of us, you’re curious about doing something else - do it! You no longer have all the time in the world to try things so if you’re halfway interested in doing something else, give it a go.


3. Go on an Adventure


People almost universally value experiences over possessions so make sure to get a couple of big experiences under your belt. Skip the swim up bars and sun loungers and go somewhere truly exotic on your next vacation. Try hiking in the Himalayas or dog sledding in the Arctic circle.


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4. Give up Your Grudges


Life's too short to carry around unnecessary anger. It’s time to let go of any residual disdain you have for people in your past, especially if they’re not part of your present. And if they are, it’s time to find a way to cut them out. Either way, bearing a grudge harms you more than anyone else.


5. Make a Will


The youthful ease with which you pretended you would never die is fading away. It’s time to get your affairs in order. Make sure the fruits of your life’s labor end up in the right hands after you’re gone. 


6. Start a Family


Biology doesn’t cut men off the same way it can with women when it comes to child-rearing, but nonetheless, chasing small kids around takes a lot of energy so if it’s something you want, don’t wait much longer. Do you really want to be dealing with an unruly adolescent in your sixties?


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7. Get Your First Colonoscopy


Get over the mental hurdle and book an appointment. It’s not as unpleasant or as uncomfortable as you think and it might just save your life. As far as trips to the hospital go, it doesn’t get much lighter than this. 


8. Create a New Tradition


Create an event that people look forward to every year. It can be anything! A chili cookoff, a scavenger hunt, a family roast, a country getaway … anything. Traditions bring families and friends together and you can bask in the pride of knowing that your event is the one that unites your loved ones.


9. Buy Property


You might not be able to afford your dream apartment in your favorite city, but you can probably invest in something that will develop and appreciate nicely over the next few decades. Plus, you’ll end up with the option to rent out your space or sell it down the line for a tidy profit.


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10. Stop Worrying About What Other People Think


This one tends to happen naturally, but just in case, 40 is your cue to stop caring once and for all about what other people think of you. Take ownership of who you are and run with it. Do the things you want to do with abandon and let any haters waste their time hating.


11. Indulge One of Your Sex Fantasies


Don’t go to your grave with a bunch of unfulfilled fantasies. Instead, find a few that are feasible and discuss them with your partner. Sharing a fantasy can bring the two of you even closer together as long as you’re honest and willing to be flexible.


12. Take up a Team Sport


This tackles two large challenges men face in their 40s – making new friends and staying in shape. Find yourself a local dodgeball team or a beer league you can join. Being part of a team, exercising and meeting new people is a great trifecta to keep you feeling young.


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13. Spice up Your Marriage


Don’t let your marriage stagnate. It can happen naturally and slowly drive you and your partner apart. Instead, make the effort to keep going on fun dates, send flirty texts, try new things in the bedroom and find ways to be considerate to your S.O.


14. Put Yourself Out There


This goes great with not caring about what people think. Have you always wanted to dress a certain way? Then dress that way. Have you been single for too long? Get those dating apps going. Looking for a new career? Start showing up at networking events or reaching out to professionals in your field. Get out there and find the people who will help you get what you want.


15. Discover a New Passion


Have you always wanted to play the piano or take up rock climbing or develop video games? There must be something you’re curious about that you haven’t tried yet. Make your life richer by giving it a go.


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16. Reconnect With Old Friends


A lot of friendships tend to ebb and flow and eventually peter out over time. This is perfectly natural and nothing to feel bad about, but rekindling an old friendship can be incredibly rewarding and takes little more than an email or Insta DM to get started.


17. Take Care of Your Parents


It’s hard watching your parents age, but sadly, there’s no stopping it. The best you can do is actively nurture your relationship with them and do whatever you can to make Mom and Dad’s golden years happy and comfortable. And remember, they might not ask for your help, so volunteer it whenever possible.


18. Update Your Wardrobe


As you enter the next phase of adulthood, you may want to reconsider how you dress for the part. Forty is a great time to reinvent your style to something a little more age-appropriate. No one’s saying you have to retire all your torn concert tees but, as a forty-something, you’ll want to make sure you have some good options for business, casual and formal events, too.


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19. Mentor Someone


By now, you’ve got some expertise in your given field. Be generous with your knowledge and experiences by guiding someone who’s just entering the game. Mentors can have a huge impact on people’s lives and can be one of the most rewarding aspects of business. Don’t miss out. 


20. Create a Serious Retirement Plan


This can’t be emphasized enough. You need a retirement plan. The alternative is hoping you die before you run out of money – which is not a great way to close the book on your life. Do a little research and find out the best way to save for retirement, whether it’s privately, through your employer or some combination of the two.


21. Eat Healthier


Everyone knows you’re supposed to live healthier as you get older. The days of smashing cheeseburgers and beer with impunity are over. Not only is it easier to put on weight now as your metabolism slows down, but threats like heart disease and diabetes are more real than ever, so start subbing greens for grease and hedge your bets.


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22. Embrace the Change


Your hair might go gray and fall out, your reflexes will slow down, your memory will start to fade, the list goes on. The harder you struggle against it, the more you suffer. Instead, embrace the changes we all go through and reframe your expectations to account for the new reality of being an aging human being.


23. Trim All That Extra Hair


Your follicles seem to be in active rebellion as hair sprouts from inside your ears while your eyebrows start growing like they’re on steroids. It’s time to update your grooming habits to deal with all this unwanted old man's hair.


24. Treat Yourself


There’s nothing wrong with enjoying the finer things in life. In your 40s, you’ll probably have a better appreciation for things like business class, luxury resorts, single malt whiskeys, sports cars, etc. As long as you’re not plundering your retirement fund to do it, indulge yourself in some of life's commercial pleasures.


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25. Make Amends


No matter how hard we try, we all commit wrongdoings from time to time. Often it can be easy to gloss over or hope they fade into the ether but now’s a good time to make amends for those things you may have said or done that never settled right. Not only will you feel unburdened, you might just rescue or rekindle an important relationship.


26. Stop Procrastinating


Jack Kornfield famously wrote, “The trouble is, you think you have time.” The reality is no one knows how much time they have left, unless they have very little. Stop taking your tomorrows for granted and get busy doing whatever it is that drives you. 


27. Go Back to School


You can learn a lot online but it’s almost always better to have a live instructor there to correct you and peers to bounce ideas off of. Learning should be a lifelong endeavor, heading back to school in your 40s is a great way to add skills to your toolbox and keep your mind sharp.


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28. Ease up on Your Vices


Stop smoking. Stop gambling. Eat less garbage. Watch less TV. Drink less alcohol. Set social media limits. Vices are fun, but they’re adding to your age and posing serious health risks now that you’re in your 40s.


29. Take Dancing Lessons


I’m all for dancing like no one’s watching, except that the majority of the time someone’s definitely watching. You can either break out the Egyptian like Elon Musk at a launch event or you can take a few lessons and have a couple of reliable moves in your arsenal the next time you’re invited to a wedding.


30. If You’re Almost Bald - Shave Your Head


Many men will find their hair thinning if not totally falling out in their 40s. Once you reach a certain point, it’s just better to shave your head and be done with it than try using hats, comb-overs and top knots to give people the illusion of a full head of hair.


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31. Start a Skincare Routine


Wrinkles are likely starting to make a home around your eyes and forehead. You can, however, slow them down by adopting a skincare routine complete with wearing sunscreen, moisturizing and using products free from harsh chemicals. This is also where toning down your vices can have a mitigating effect on what’s left of your youthful looks.


32. Get Serious About Dental Care


Your teeth are also slowly rotting away. It’s not a big deal ... until it is, and then it’s expensive and painful to handle. Do yourself a favor by flossing and brushing regularly. Another helpful tip is to rinse your mouth with water after drinking coffee, soda or juice.


33. Talk to a Financial Advisor


Your finances are going to play a big role in your life from now on. Mortgage payments, college tuition for your kids, retirement, a rainy day fund – all of these things depend on you making smart financial decisions, which is easier said than done. So stop trying to figure it out on your own and talk to a professional.


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34. Stress Relief


Stress is a literal killer. It’s important to cultivate reliable techniques for handling life’s extremes. Find whatever works best for you and be diligent about implementing it whenever you feel your stress levels rising. Meditation works wonders for a lot of people, as does taking walks, reciting a mantra, listening to music, taking breaks, cups of tea ... the list goes on.


35. Make an Archive of Your Life so Far


Chances are, there’s a ton of documentation about your life scattered throughout the real and online world. Time to pull all those disparate threads together into an archive that you control. Get all your photos and documents into one place and make at least two backups. It’ll make it easier to pass on your story to your kids.


36. Keep a Journal


Memories fade, especially as we age. Writing things down gives you permission to forget them while knowing they’re not lost. Journaling can also be incredibly helpful in making sure you’re getting the most out of your days, and help you make sense of your emotions during difficult times. 


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37. Start a Business


You’re 40. You likely have a certain amount of expertise in a given field. So ask yourself – do you want to spend the rest of your life making someone else rich, or would you rather start your own business and make yourself rich? Even if you fail, the lessons you learn should help you with your next venture.


38. Support a Cause


You’re entering the part of life that takes back as much as it gives. One way to keep the balance is to take up a cause. Giving a portion of your time and talents to improve the lives of others can make a world of difference and it is the best legacy you can leave behind. 


39. Learn Basic Survival


You’re an authority figure now. Like it or not, people are going to look to you for guidance and reassurance, especially when things go south. Don’t let them down. Know how to handle yourself in various survival situations. Learn how to build a fire and a shelter. Keep emergency kits in your house and car. Know how to perform CPR or fashion a splint. You’re the one they’re looking to.


40. Master a Handful of Recipes


Every 40-year-old man needs to know how to cook at least a few quality meals. Cereal or mac and cheese don’t count. We’re talking stir fry, shepherd’s pie, roast chicken, omelets, spaghetti sauce or the perfect steak. Be good enough at a few meals that people go out of their way to ask you to cook it for them. 


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