You’re never too old to make mistakes. That’s just human nature, and you shouldn’t beat yourself up about it. But at the same time, there’s an old saying that we’ve found very helpful: “Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
In other words, there are some mistakes that everybody makes when they’re younger, and the hope is that as you age and mature, you learn your lesson and don’t repeat those same mistakes time and time again. When you reach 40, you should have a pretty good blueprint for how life works, and the kind of behavior that should be avoided at all costs. With that in mind, here are 40 of the most common mistakes that men should not be making again (and again and again) as a 40 year-old adult. Ditch them from your life and you’ll find yourself an infinitely more mature, healthy, and thoughtful person. And for more on aging gracefully, don’t miss these 100 Anti-Aging Secrets for Looking and Feeling Younger Than Ever.
Showing off your “naughty” sense of humor on social media.
Even professional comedians get into trouble making jokes on social media. What might seem hilarious in your head won’t always translate into a Tweet, and before you know it, you’ll have an Internet mob screaming at you about insensitivity. Don’t risk it.
Growing bald ungracefully.
Life isn’t fair for everybody. Some of us keep our hair and some of us don’t. But it’s substantially worse when a guy who’s going bald refuses to accept the inevitable and fights for every strand. You’re not fooling anyone with that combover or hair plugs, buddy. And please, don’t even think about the toupée option. Trust us: ungainly hair that isn’t yours is definitely not one of 30 Things Women Always Find Sexy.
Not stretching before any exercise regime.
It’s possible that you’ve been working out your whole life without warming up properly beforehand. Well those times are about to change. Unless you start stretching, your 40 year-old muscles are going to revolt against you. You don’t know discomfort until you’ve woken up the next day after an intense workout and it feels like your limbs are made of concrete. And once your stretching game is up to par, you’ll be ready for the 40 Great Exercises for Adding Muscle After 40.
Staying out too late when you have an early appointment.
Sleep used to be easy, but now it’s a luxury. Unless all you’ve got planned for tomorrow morning is hibernating in your bedroom, don’t even think about staying up all night. Getting less than a solid eight hours of Z’s won’t just leave you feeling groggy and short-tempered, at your age it’s seriously bad for your health.
Ignoring troublesome symptoms because “it’s probably nothing.”
In addition to annual checkups, you should always check with your primary physician if something in your body feels out of the ordinary. It may be a false alarm, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. And for more tips on how to stay healthy, even as you get older, check out the 40 Ways to Make Your 40s Your Healthiest Decade.
Thinking sweatpants count as actual pants.
Sure, they’re called “joggers” these days, and the kids all love them. But if you’re north of 40 and you can’t be bothered to put on a pair of pants that include a zipper or require a belt, you’re in no condition to venture out into the real world with the rest of us.
Waiting for your metabolism to magically come back.
So you used to be able to eat a deep dish pizza and a liter of soda in one sitting and burn off all those calories without so much as breaking a sweat? Sounds nice, but those days are over. Food now comes with consequences. For further proof, see the 40 Unhealthiest Foods if You’re Over 40.
“Forgetting” to pay off your debt.
Those credit card bills may not be the most glamorous way to spend your money, but the 40 year-old guy makes them a priority. That’s how you avoid drowning in debt in the future when you should be counting down the days to retirement.
Apologizing for who you are.
If you actually did something wrong, be a man and say you’re sorry. But there’s no point in apologizing to somebody just because they think you should be, well, different. You are who you are, and anybody who doesn’t like it can hit the bricks, Jack. (Yes, we know we’re sounding like a middle-aged Frank Sinatra. That is entirely intentional.) For more things you shouldn’t say, see All of the Things No Man Over 40 Shouldn’t Say.
Trying to use modern slang.
If you have to practice using slang terms like “cray” or “squad goals” in a sentence, you probably shouldn’t be using them at all.
Getting cosmetic surgery or procedures.
We get it, nobody likes getting old. But you know what’s worse? Those dudes who have obviously used Botox and they’re barely able to move their eyebrows anymore. A few wrinkles? Now, that’s distinguished.
Sacrificing everything for your career.
Your job is important, but so are your family and friends. If you’re still answering work emails on Saturday night rather than spending time with the people you love, your priorities are officially out of whack.
Wearing sports clothing when you’re not doing anything athletic.
There’s nothing wrong with wearing biker shorts… as long as there’s a bicycle under you at the time.
Dating someone who is too young for you.
Don’t be that guy.
Not having guy friends.
Having guy friends isn’t just an excuse to go out drinking on the weekends. Numerous studies have indicated that men who seek out and nurture close friendships with other guys tend to be happier and healthier. And for help getting your social life back on track, here are the 40 Best Ways to Make New Friends After 40.
Being okay with your paunch.
Having a little pot belly may seem like no big deal now, but if you let it go unchecked, it’s going to keep growing, and growing, and growing. And eventually you’ll become one of those guys who can balance a beer bottle on his gut.
Not having regular conversations with your dad.
Only young guys, too insecure to know better, would rather be left alone by their fathers. At 40, you know how quickly time can slip away, so you make sure to seek out and treasure every moment with dear ol’ dad.
You’re 40. Wear underwear, pal.
Flirting with someone online.
Even if you’re single, this is dangerous terrain. The written word can be misinterpreted, and something that sounds harmless in your brain could come out sounding creepy in an online message. Keep the flirtation for face to face encounters, where you’re less likely to be accused of sinister intentions.
Ignoring your inner kid.
Even the most ambitious guy with the best work ethic realizes he’s got to take some time occasionally just to play. Whether it’s skipping work to catch a baseball game or doing something fun when his world has gotten too stressful, every guy has a Ferris Bueller inside of him that needs to be let out now and then.
Stop reading books.
If you’re doing life right, you never stop learning. And that means getting off the internet and opening a book. It could be a novel, a history book, or anything that sparks your interest. If it’s made of paper and covered with words, there’s something inside that will expand your mind. For a great reading list, check out the 40 Books Every Man Over 40 Should Have on His Bookshelf.
Being self-conscious about your body.
Feeling too fat or thin or short or tall or not muscular enough is anxiety that you should have left behind you in your 30s. At 40, your body is your body and it’s about time you’re okay with it, whatever shape it comes in.
Being a commitment-phobe.
What, will you planning on being a bachelor forever? Don’t make us force you to listen to that Eagles song “Desperado” a few dozen times until you figure it out.
Skipping something fun because you’re “too old.”
Buddy, you’re not even in the ballpark of old yet. If you wave the white flag when friends invite you on an adventure—“Skydiving? At my age?”—stop claiming that the number of candles on your birthday cake has anything to do with it.
Not making time for personal grooming.
There’s no excuse for ear hair that’s so long and unruly it looks like it needs its own comb. Get a pair of tweezers and start plucking.
Texting and driving.
Obviously this is a terrible idea at any age, but if you’re over 40 and you haven’t figured out yet that distracted driving can be deadly, well, you just might figure it out the hard way.
Being the guy at the bar who says, “Who’s up for shots?”
Step… away… from… the… Jäger.
Not saving for retirement.
Your savings account isn’t a place to put aside money for your next spring break vacation. Forty is still relatively young, but retirement isn’t some mythical place in the distance that feels a lifetime away. It’s coming for you quicker than you imagine. Are you ready?
Living in the past.
Do you spend too many evenings looking at photos or videos of yourself in your 20s or younger? Cut it out. It’s okay to be nostalgic occasionally, but don’t let those memories dominate your life. You’re going to miss out on everything that’s great about being middle-age—and trust us, there’s a lot about it that’s great.
Getting a tattoo of your favorite band, artist, etc.
Tattoos are a very personal decision, at any age. But especially now, at 40, you should be savvy enough to realize that getting “Green Day rulez” permanently inked into your skin is something you’re going to regret sooner than later.
Spending a whole weekend without seeing natural sunlight.
We’ve all had those weekends where you stay indoors, staring at YouTube videos or binging your favorite show. But being a total screen-addict recluse isn’t good for your mental or physical health. Put on some clothes, open the door and walk outside. There are so many amazing things to do out there, like talking to other people and feeling the sun on your face.
Settling for what? For anything. A boring sex life, a career you’re just “meh” about, relationships that are toxic. You deserve more than just okay.
Ignoring your teeth.
It’s not just about having a handsome smile. Studies have shown that the state of your gums and teeth can have a direct effect on your cardiovascular health. You should be brushing and flossing every day with the same determination you bring to the gym.
Gambling with more than you can afford to lose.
Nothing wrong with playing a little blackjack or trying your luck at the craps table during a visit to Las Vegas. But don’t be like the first-timers with dollar signs in their eyes, convinced that they’re going to outsmart the casino and walk out with a small fortune. No you’re not, and don’t bet with more than you can afford to lose. It’s a long walk home from Vegas on foot.
Not practicing safe sex.
Unless you’re married and you’re specifically trying to have a child, don’t take unnecessary risks. If your idea of safe sex is crossing your fingers and hoping for the best, you need a new game plan.
Having political arguments with strangers.
Whether online or in person, no good can come from shrieking at another person about how their political views are dead wrong. Save your breath and maybe try listening this time. It’s a mark of maturity.
Wearing anything that’s too tight.
Even if you’ve got the body to pull it off, a 40 year-old guy in a pair of skinny jeans just looks like somebody who’s terrified of growing old. You’re at an age when it’s okay to dress for comfort.
Being lazy with car maintenance.
At this point in your life, you should have a mechanic that you trust and visit regularly. At the very least, change the oil more than once a year. There are few things as bad as a grown adult male whose car breaks down because of neglect.
Having a gym membership you never use.
We get it, carving out time in your busy day to make it to the gym can be a big ol’ pain in the butt. But you should do it anyway. One week of not exercising can turn into a month, which turns into a year in the blink of an eye.
Eating fast food.
If you’re on a road trip, fine, sometimes you take whatever’s there. But if greasy fast food is a regular part of your diet, you’re playing Russian roulette with your own health. And for more great ways to keep feeling young, check out 50 Best Anti-Aging Tips for Men.
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