I spent most of 2017 mulling over if I care about turning 40 in 2018. When I had a full year to go, it was a fleeting thought. I still had a solid 12 months of an age that started with a three and plenty of time to get myself together. I had a long list of things that I’d be sure to resolve before I turned the big 4-0. On that list were items that I was supposed to resolve by 30. Lose the same five pounds, get out of debt, know what I want to do with my life, stop yelling at the kids and so on.
With six months to go, my progress was anything but forward and I found that my intrinsic motivation for self improvement was waning. For the first time in my life, I wasn’t interested in setting all these rules and deadlines for myself and rather than feeling a sense of urgency, I was taking a much more gentle approach to preparing for the next decade. I thought by this point that turning forty would be weighing on my mind, but the opposite was happening. I spent the fall and winter months doing whatever felt right. I barely exercised. I made a lot of pie for people. I ate and baked my way through Thanksgiving and Christmas. The money we should have used for a downpayment on a new car was spent on the kids for the holidays. All three kids had been through a hell of a year, weathering various degrees of change and stress like pros. They deserved a fancy basketball hoop while we continued to drive our cars into the ground. My energy was better used on other people and I became completely disinterested in myself. Perhaps too much.
So here I am with eight weeks to go. This final stretch coincides with the start of the New Year, which has given me a jolt of reflection and perspective. I now have eight pounds to lose, need to save up again for a downpayment on a new car, and am still working on how to be a better parent (according to my host son, carrying toothpicks in my purse would make me a better mother, so maybe I’ll start there). I was a little too gentle on myself these last few months and need to reinstate the right balance. There is some maturity to turning forty where I’ve realized that factoring myself into my choices is important. This is the decade of DOING, not planning, and a major piece of that is how I’m going position myself to live the second half of this life.
In this next eight weeks, there are some things I’m going to keep doing. I’m going to keep being gentle with myself and choosing things that feel right instead of forcing myself into things that I think I should be doing (like for a moment I thought I should start a spinning class. Um, no.). I’m going to keep my world close and continue to contract my circle rather than expand to myriad experiences and relationships like I have a tendency to do. Deeper, more meaningful days spent with the people who give me energy are what I want.
There are some things in the next eight weeks that I need to start doing. I’m going to start waking up again at 5am. I love my early mornings where I exercise, work a bit and spend some time writing and dreaming. My time is 5am – 7:00am and I’m bringing it back. I’ve been waking up early, but in those hours I have been cleaning the kitchen, starting laundry, folding laundry, paying bills, etc. Despite the fact that it’s going to take A LOT of restraint to not empty the dishwasher, I’m going to reclaim those hours for myself.
What I want to accomplish by the time I turn forty is more about how I feel and less about a checklist of things I need to have achieved. Right now, I’m not feeling like my best self and am hopeful that a couple months of adjusting the balance will do the trick. I’m going to exercise, but I’m not certain if I’m going to lose eight pounds or not. I’m going to make better food choices, but I’m not going to set all these rules and eliminate everything but vegetables. I’m going to write more, but I’m not going to count the likes or try to get the attention of those who aren’t interested. I’m writing for myself and for anyone who happens to have similar thoughts on their mind. Most importantly, I’m going to spend time with my people. The people who understand me, the people who mean the most to me, and the people who will play a starring role in the adventures that await in my next decade.
After all, if I have learned anything about life by this point, it’s that at the core of anything we do, it’s the people who matter.