They say life begins at 40
age is just a state of mind
if all that’s true
you know that I've been dead for 39.
So goes the song ‘Life Begins at 40’, written by John Lennon in 1980 at the time of his 40th birthday. It's a well-known adage oft touted by the bon viveur, a good excuse to continue enjoying life to the fullest throughout our existence, regardless of age or circumstance. Now some would have you believe that it's all downhill from the time we enter our fourth decade on Earth, with symptoms including forgetfulness, lack of concentration and poor focus supposedly becoming more commonplace as the years pass us by.
Whilst we may not possess the sharpness of body and mind at 40 as we did at 21, there is absolutely no reason why reaching the big 4-0 should be met with an overriding sense of doom and gloom. Quite the contrary, in fact. The Duke of York, upon commemorating his 40th birthday in 2000, revealed in an online interview that life couldn't be better, going so far as to say "I am becoming increasingly convinced that life does indeed begin at 40."
Think about it; by the time you hit 40 there’s a good chance that you've managed to clear a hefty amount of debt incurred as a student or whilst in your 20s, that you've met someone, maybe even had children and bought a home of your own together. Chances are that you've built up a wealth of career knowledge and experience and have been earning a decent salary, with actual disposable income to hand, for a couple of years. And even if some or indeed all of the above things don’t apply to you, there’s no reason that you shouldn't be able to reinvigorate yourself and prepare for the next chapter.
Freshen Things Up
In order to kick-start a new lease of life upon turning 40 you need to first lay the foundations. Feeling full of life on the inside will help you achieve great things on the out. Sign up for a weekly yoga class and ring fence that pure relaxation and tension release time in your diary. Switch up your morning coffee for a refreshing green tea, go for a half hour walk at lunchtime and take a homemade juice into work with you. Apples, beetroots, cucumbers, ginger and mint all juice rather easily and can be enjoyed throughout the day to give you an energy and mood boost.
Eliminate Stress For Good
When juggling a busy work and family life it’s important to make sure that life never gets the better of you. We all know that stress is bad for us, being linked as it is to bad cytokines that can cause cardiovascular disease. The good news is that these can be kept at bay with plenty of exercise, sleep and even a spot of meditation.
The even better news is that you can nip stress in the bud before it even begins to manifest itself, something that’s very important once you hit 40 in order to get that boost you’re looking for. Just a few simple exercises can help to rewire your brain and cut out the impulses that cause stress in the first place.
If you've been watching the rather excellent US drama House of Cards lately then you may have noticed Kevin Spacey’s under pressure Congressman character unwinding after a busy day by playing a spot of Call of Duty on the XBOX. As a 50-something high-flying US politician he shows us that you’re never too old for a spot of gaming and the good news is that a short burst every evening will help you relax and take your mind off things.
Embracing household tasks such as doing a spot of gardening or baking a cake will also help give you a new lease of life, put you in a productive frame of mind and motivate you onto bigger things.
Going to the gym more is an obvious plus point but did you know that it also helps you to lower blood pressure? Combining weight lifting and sessions on the treadmill have the highest benefit. The good news for the over 40s is that a study conducted by the US National Centre for Biotechnology Information found that men aged between 35 and 50 can build just as much muscle as their 18-22 counterparts.
Tied to all of this, be sure to eat serotonin-boosting foods and you’ll be ready to take on the world.
Take Some Time Out, Discover the World
Chances are that by the time you hit 40 you’ve done a spot of travelling and seen a decent portion of what’s out there. But have you really taken any lengthened chunk of time (i.e. over a month) away from work over the past 20 or so years? Chances are that you haven't! There’s only so much of a place you can see in the space of a week or two, especially if staying in a hotel with a family that potentially includes young children.
Now might be the time to dip into those savings and plan the trip of a lifetime, a grown-up ‘gap year’ if you will. Many companies allow employees to take an unpaid sabbatical nowadays, up to a period of several months, whilst travel organisations offer affordable and flexible multi-stop flight options that allow you to hop on and off over an extended period of time.
The time spent travelling and discovering new territory will not only serve to give you a well-earned break from working, but will also give you a new lease of life and may even inspire you take a definitive leap onto our next point.
Start a Business of Your Own
Do you feel as if you've taken your career as far as it can go? Ever thought about making a fresh start and starting a business of your own? Feeling a real sense of ownership and pride in your work is such a unique and important asset to have and can really help give you a fresh perspective on things as you enter your 40s. Plus, if you do it right, you can make a lot more money working for yourself than you can for someone else.
Before you start a business you can get initial funding to test and develop your idea through several government-backed schemes. When you do come to asking for funding, the fact that you’re 40 and have most likely paid off debts and built up some sort of credit history will stand you in good stead when getting access to hard cash in order to make your dream become a reality.
Plan for the Future
Whilst it’s not something you may want to think about, the earlier you start to consider taking out some form of life insurance the better. It makes sense to shop around and we all know by now of the various comparison sites out there that can help us save money.
There are companies dedicated to providing life quotes for over 40s and as long as you start planning sooner rather than later you can still enjoy relatively low premiums. Partaking in a healthy lifestyle and not smoking are two huge factors that can contribute towards a low monthly fee, but of course after reading the above advice you’ll hopefully already be doing both of those things as standard!
So, in a nutshell, start off small by freshening things up, cut stress out of your life and then move onto the bigger things such as going on an extended break from work, thinking about starting your own business and planning for the future. A combination of these things ought to go a long way towards retuning your body and mind and reinforce the assertion that life really does begin at 40.