This week I turn 40 years old.
I will admit that last week, I was pretty down about the whole idea of leaving my 30s in my past.
"It's just a number..." my friends told me, "Forty is the new 30."
True, 40 is just a number, you're only as old as you feel and people do a lot more at 40 than they used to: starting families, going to college, etc.
I think the reality is, however, that so many things changed in my 30s, I really felt like I never had time to adapt to being 30. After talking to many trusted friends, family and colleagues, I have found that this mid-life point is much more than a number.
Our instincts are to look at all the things we haven't accomplished in life, think about where we expected to be at this point in life. I'm as guilty as everyone else. I stood there on the edge of this birthday and thought, "What do I have to show for where I am?"
The reality is, it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter what we have accomplished by the age of 40 or what we haven't. Does it make you (or me) less or more of a person to look at our accomplishments or failures and tally them up? No. It doesn't.What matters is this -- regardless of your age:
- Who's lives have you touched and how?
- What dreams do you have and how will you achieve them?
- What can you do today that will make the end of your day worthwhile?
- Assume that you might be gone tomorrow for good (morbid I know, but it's true) and do something today that counts for you or for someone you care about.
- Do what you love today and go to sleep tonight knowing that you accomplished something.
- Love those that love you back.
- Don't forget those who have been there for you.
- Don't ever forget where you come from but don't let it be a roadblock for you either.
- Learn something today. It doesn't have to be something big, but find a way to grow, everyday.
- Understand that it's okay to be selfish sometimes, but being selfless is just as important.
- Know that the past is the past and you can only move forward through forgiveness
- Learn from your mistakes but don't dwell on them.
I have a (pilot) friend who was killed in a tragic plane accident in 2010 at the age of 30 while trying to help someone. He wasn't a good friend, just an acquaintance who I flew with several times, both as an instructor and as my co-pilot. Basically, he was hit in the head by a spinning propeller. It was a horrible accident and his life was cut short far too early, but that's not the point of where I'm going here.
The point is, he was doing something he loved, right up until the moment he died. How many people can say they are doing the same thing? How many people simply exist day to day without thinking about how much this single day counts?
Can I say that I make every day count? No, of course not. I'm only human.
Have I made mistakes in my life? More than I can count. Or, perhaps more than I want to count.
Do I exist day to day without thinking about how much today counts? Yes, too often.
I think in turning 40, perhaps it is forcing me to take a step back. Not to look at 40 years that have passed, but rather 14,600 days that have passed -- 14,600 days to make myself either a better person, a worse person or a person that can make a difference in someone else's life. Each day is a chance, an opportunity to move forward and keep breathing, or a chance to slide back and bury yourself in the days that have passed. But nothing can be done to take those days back, only today and tomorrow can be different.
What will you do today... this day, that you can go to sleep tonight, knowing that today was worth your time?