The Decades: Cheers and Challenges (40-50)

If being in your 30’s doesn’t sound too hopeful, there are DEFINITELY things that have changed my mind about experiencing my 40’s.  If you’re a runner or an athlete of any kind, keep reading.

When I initially started writing this post, I couldn’t figure out what to write about this decade. To me, the 40’s sounded quite boring, but after some googling and of course interviews from some 40-somethings I think there are truly good things in my future.  Oprah has said that the 40’s were the best decade in her life.  My boss has concurred that she loves her 40’s and shared with me recently that “It just gets better and better.”

40-50 years old

Cheers:

  • You become more confident – While in your 30’s you are learning who you are, it seems that in your 40’s, you have a better handle on living life and as a result you are more confident in what you do.  How wonderful!  “I don’t know what I want, but I do know what I do not want,” is what one person shared with me about her current 40’s.  Another 40-something told me that she now has the confidence and spiritual maturity to be a mentor to younger women.  This is something she did not have confidence to do before. Being confident was the top reason that people gave me for loving their 40’s.
  • Run baby run – While you might hope for a younger body during these years, know that some of the best long distance runners are in fact older.  I’m a runner and so while I often wish to run faster, I’m comforted to know that I have potential as an ultra marathoner in my 40’s.  Yes, you heard that right. Younger athletes may be able to sprint and win in the shorter races, but older runners often have the patience needed to race marathons and beyond.  In my running group, there are a good number of hardcore marathoners who are in their 40’s.  USA Today published an article about ultramarathoners expressing that many ultramarathoners are in their mid 30’s and 40’s with salt and pepper as the predominant hair color.  So while you are “aging” during this time, there’s no need to say “I’m too old for this” because what you think is impossible may just be a mind thing.
  • No more survival mode – One person shared with me that if you have a family,(which typically may be when you are in your 30’s), you are in survival mode just trying to survive each day. Your kids are young and not yet independent and there’s just too much to do.  In your 40’s, you start to see some of the fruits of your labor.  Your children are older now, perhaps teenagers and even better, they’re more independent.  Perhaps during your 40’s you start to enjoy more time with your spouse.  Maybe you can go out for a date and leave the kids at home alone.  You’re starting to enjoy more freedom and it feels good!
  • You’ve figured it out – As a newlywed, I still have to think and plan when I cook meals.  It’s stressful!  I’m assuming that by your 40’s you’ve figured out a rhythm for life that works for you.  You now know your family’s favorite meal and there’s no more instances of having to object them to your first meatloaf or potpie. If you’re married, you probably experience less misunderstanding because you have been together with spouse long enough to know… at least more.  You’ve got the experience.
Challenges:
  • White hair and wrinkles – Probably one of the most traumatic things about this decade is that you’re starting to see more signs of physical aging.  Perhaps you’re seeing more white hairs on your head and that smooth skin you had for so long seems to be creating a small fold. You can’t eat Doritos like you used to and your metabolism seems to be slowing down.  It can be tough and I’m sure I too will be a bit traumatized when this happens.  But have no fear, a smile and a cheerful attitude I’m convinced can make white hair and wrinkles seem like a small matter.  I know one person in her 40’s who has a joy and confidence about her that makes 40 seem extremely attractive.  Would I prefer to be happy and confident or sad and smooth skinned? I choose the former.
  • Teenagers – I fought a lot with my parents when I was a teenager so one of the fears I have about having children is mostly that when I get to around my 40’s, I’ll have to deal with the teenage years.  While not all teenagers are rebellious, it seems that figuring out the “science of teenagers” is no easy task.  Thank you to all you parents out there.
  • College Tuition – While your kids are more independent, many parents are thinking about their child’s tuition.  Where’s the money going to come from?
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