8 Life Mistakes You Need to Stop Making By Age 40


By age 40, you should have this whole "life" thing down pat. But just in case you don't, here are a few reminders that you're awesome, but perhaps still need to kick a few bad habits to the curb.

1. Drinking Heavily

What once was cute and funny in yours 20s and tolerable-but-inappropriate in your 30s is now completely unacceptable in your 40s. If you're a heavy drinker at that age, it's likely that you're an alcoholic — and you may need help. Moreover, not only will people view you as a sad old drunk, but your body will start making you pay for what you've done to it.

2. Blaming Other People for Your Problems

"Woe is me" is an easy attitude to have if you haven't had the best life. But guess what? Basically nobody you know has had it easy. We all go through rough patches. Sure, sometimes those things are a result of other people's wrongdoings, but there's no way you can change that now, and harping on it for the rest of your life isn't going to help.

3. Engaging in Crazy Fitness Regimens

I signed up for a CrossFit group a couple years ago because of a deal I saw on Groupon. Why not? I thought. A lot of my friends were doing it, and at that point I needed a serious regimen to whip me into shape. But as fate would have it, I got hit by a car (but totally walked it off like a boss!) the day before I was supposed to start, so I used the injury as an excuse to get out of it because I really, really didn't want to do it.

If you're in the 40-year-old range, this kind of exercise isn't the best idea for you either — especially for women.

"Bones, joints, ligaments and tendons all begin their slow process of changing as they lose elasticity and density," explains Andes Hruby, a certified fitness instructor in five disciplines. "While engaging in strengthening, aerobic conditioning, and flexibility is excellent, crazy CrossFit, P90X, and step aerobics causes the body to be extremely unbalanced at different angles with excessive pressure on worn-out body parts. Building muscles is the key to warding off menopausal weight gain, but leaping off a step or hanging from a rope is a great way to encourage injury."

4. Living in the Past

Living in the past often relates to trying to hold on to a time that we enjoyed despite that it's long gone — and sometimes that can be detrimental to the future. So many people are still thinking about high school, college, etc., and wishing they had done this or that with their lives. Instead of focusing on what could have been, your 40s are a time to focus on what is and what still can be. Become an active participant in your life and you'll be amazed at what you've missed by spending too much time looking in the rearview mirror.

5. Trying to Be Somebody You're Not

I see this all the time with people who are in relationships that they shouldn't be in, trying to fit somebody else's mold of perfection when you're just fine the way you are. I've never really succumbed to this affliction as I'm sort of a take-me-or-leave-me kinda guy (I actually couldn't help it if I tried), but there are instances when I've tried to do something or act a certain way that would please the person I'm with. In the end, it's a fool's errand because the cracks will eventually show and at that point you'll just come off disingenuous. And if I can be frank here, I'd rather you think I'm a raging A-hole than a ninny who doesn't appreciate his own identity. Besides, at age 40, do you really want to keep playing those games?

6. Apologizing for Who You Are

Do you consider yourself a decent person? Pay your taxes on time? Hold the door for the people behind you? Say "I love you" to your mother before you hang up the phone? Take your friends out for a drink on their birthday? Good. In that case, unless you've hurt someone's feelings unnecessarily or otherwise committed a crime, you don't need to apologize to anyone for who you are. By now, who you are isn't changing a whole lot — you've got 40 years under your belt — so accept it, flaws and all, and encourage the others around you to do the same.

7. Running Away From Debt

Like heavy drinking, if you're under a mountain of debt at age 40, there's a chronic issue in your life that needs to be identified and addressed. Now's the time to ask yourself some very important questions: How did I accumulate this debt? What's holding me back from reducing or eliminating it? Do I really want to live like this forever? The answer to the latter question is that you don't. Nobody wants to carry the heavy financial burden of debt on their back for their entire life. Do what you need to do to get your finances in order, bottom line. You're not a kid anymore.

8. Being Afraid to Live

I read a story once where a nurse said that on patients' deathbeds, they often reveal the biggest regrets of their lifetimes. The visual of that scenario has stuck with me, but I also wonder why so many people have so many regrets. Personally, I try to live without regret, and for the most part I've succeeded. Certainly terrible things have happened to me, and I've also been a catalyst for terrible things for other people. But all I can do is accept the former, apologize for the latter, and learn from both experiences. If I died tomorrow, I would be confident that I've done the things I've wanted to do up to this point in my life and the people that I love know that I love them. Don't be afraid to live. This life is yours, but you only have one of it — and at age 40, whether you like it or not, it's about half over. Don't let the best years go to waste.

Do you have some other things that we should stop doing by age 40? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below.

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Guest's picture

I'm waiting for your list of life mistakes to stop making by age 60.

Guest's picture

Everyone of these is me except the drinking to a tee. You say the next 40 are the best I would have to disagree. Your first 40 was youth being a kid learning. The next 40 is more less counting down to the day we die.