Turning 21 felt like a big deal. Turning 30 made it pretty clear that you weren’t a kid anymore. And for many people, facing down their 40th birthday feels like more than just another momentous occasion: in fact, for some people, it’s hard to actually conceptualize that the words “40-something” could actually apply to us.
If you’re not too far off from the big 4-0 but don’t feel like you’re ready for what seems like such a major life change, you’re not alone. We’ve compiled 40 signs you’re not ready to turn 40, all of which can help you better prepare for the inevitable—and likely awesome—decade you’re about to enter. And when you want to turn back the clock, discover the 20 Best Ways to Give Your Dad the Gift of Time.
You’re Looking Up Pictures of People Who Pull Off Gray Hair
Are your nights spent browsing Pinterest for people who actually look cool with gray hair? If you’re convinced it’s all downhill from 39 onwards, it might be a sign that you’re not feeling ready to turn 40.
The good news? Research suggests that only between 6 and 23 percent of people will have more than 50 percent gray hair by age 50, meaning you can probably enjoy your natural color without much maintenance for a while longer. And if you’re eager to shave a few years off your look, start with the 15 Best Men’s Haircuts for Looking Instantly Younger.
Your Longest Relationship is with Your Landlord
For most people, growing up means finding a romantic relationship that works and trying to make it last. Do you know who isn’t quite ready for adulthood? It’s someone who counts among his or her longest lasting relationships a pair of shoes, a landlord, or even an old pizza box.
You Don’t Think You’re Too Old to Attend College Parties
It may be hard to come to terms with the fact that you’re nearing 40, but trust us: those college kids have definitely noticed that you’re not their peer. And when you want to start living a more mature life in no time, stop uttering these 50 Things No Man Over 40 Should Ever Say.
You Have No Idea How to Do Your Taxes
Still relying on your parents to help you do your taxes? You might not be quite ready to turn 40 yet. However, just because you haven’t mastered this adult milestone doesn’t mean you’re the only one—in fact, one survey suggests that a shocking 46 percent of taxpayers don’t even know what the term “tax bracket” means.
You Wonder How Many Years You Can Tell People You’re “39-ish” For
Turning 40 is not a death sentence—in fact, for many people, it’s the beginning of their best decade yet.
However, if you’re hoping you can get away with claiming you’re in your late 30s for another 5 to 10 years, odds are you’re not totally prepared for your 40th to roll around just yet.
You Still Look for Coins in the Couch on Laundry Day
According to Fidelity, you should have three times your income saved by the time you hit 40. If you’re still scrounging for change in your couch just to enjoy clean laundry once in a while, odds are you’re not feeling ready for the big 4-0.
You Still Feel Weird Having People Report to You at Work
If you’ve stayed on the same career track since you started working in your late teens or early 20s, chances are a few people are reporting to you by the time you’re in your late 30s. But if the idea of being someone’s boss feels unfathomably foreign—or like something you’re definitely too young for—you’re probably not feeling ready to turn 40, either. And when you’re ready to take your career to the next level, start with these 20 Daily Confidence Boosters for Getting Ahead at Work.
Your Age Range on Dating Apps Doesn’t Include 40-Somethings
Sure, dating in your 40s isn’t exactly as easy as it was a decade or two prior. However, if that means your dating profile says that you don’t want to date anyone over 30, odds are you probably haven’t quite come to terms with the fact that 40’s right around the corner. But if you’re still looking for that special someone, The Best Dating Apps if You’re Over 40 are a great place to start.
You Think You Can Put Off Having Kids for Another Decade
Don’t want to have kids? Great. Want to have kids? Great. However, if you think that having kids the old-fashioned way will still be as easy a decade from now, you might be deluding yourself. In fact, fertility begins to decline for women in their mid-30s, and having an older father has been linked to adverse effects for children.
You’re Still Not Exercising Regularly
Most people recognize exercise as an essential component of healthy living pretty early on in life. However, if you’re among the 48.3 percent of American adults who don’t get the recommended amount of exercise—just 30 minutes a day—you might be in denial about your age.
You Still Eat Foods Marketed at Kids
One sure sign you’re not ready to turn 40? The cereal boxes in your kitchen have cartoon characters and wacky misspellings. If the word “fruit” is spelled with two “Os” in it, it’s not a health food.
And Consider Vegetables a Garnish
Sure, a little curly kale can spruce up a salad bar in no time. However, if you think vegetables are best used as garnishes, you’d be well advised to rethink your stance before the inevitable metabolic decline of your 40s hits.
Your Drawers are Full of Plastic Utensils
Quick test: open up your silverware drawer. If the majority of the utensils in it are ones you got with take-out meals, you’re still definitely more kid than adult. If you’re turning 40, it’s high time you knew how to wash a fork.
You See Your Doctor Once in a Blue Moon
Going to the doctor isn’t always the highlight of your week. However, if you’re ready to become the full-fledged adult most of us are ready to be in our 40s, it’s time to start getting annual checkups, as well as heading to the doctor whenever a health issue arises.
The Words “Middle Aged” Send a Chill Down Your Spine
If the thought of someone referring to you as “middle aged” makes you feel like you’ve seen a ghost, your 40th birthday might be a hard pill to swallow. The good news is that as human life expectancy increases, the odds you’ll live another 40 years are pretty good.
You Still Bring Your Laundry to Your Parents’ House
Do you feel like your wash-and-fold technique will never touch the one your parents seem to have been perfecting for the better part of a century? If you’re still toting your laundry home to your parents’ house, you may be running behind your average 40-something in terms of milestones.
Your Closet is Full of Clothes from Your 20s
Sure, at 40 you may still feel young. However, if your clothes are the same ones you’ve been wearing since your 20s, you’re probably in need of a serious wardrobe overhaul before 40 rolls around.
You Don’t Read the Newspaper
Yes, the news is undeniably depressing, particularly as of late. That said, going into your 40s seeming uninformed isn’t cute or charming. No matter how much it may pain you to do so, it’s important to keep up with current events—it’s never a good look to be the least-informed person in a conversation. And if your dinner party game is lacking these days, check out these 30 Astonishing Facts Guaranteed to Give You Child-Like Wonder.
Getting a Pet Seems Like Too Much Commitment
Getting a pet is an undeniable commitment. However, if it feels like too much commitment for you, odds are your adult-o-meter may need some recalibrating.
You Haven’t Taken a Non-Chewable Vitamin in Decades
Are chewable vitamins delicious? Sure. Are they necessarily the right formula for someone about to hit 40? Probably not. If you’re still taking the same vitamins you did as a kid, it’s time to talk to your doctor about a more grown-up formula.
You Own More Crop Tops Than Work-Appropriate Outfits
Crop tops certainly have their time and place, but that doesn’t mean they should be edging out the workplace-appropriate outfits in your wardrobe by the time you’re nearing 40. As a rule of thumb, you should have at least one work outfit for every day of the week, and plenty of accessory pieces to jazz them up with so it doesn’t look like you’re wearing the same thing every day. For more on that, check out the 40 Things No Woman Should Ever Wear to Work.
Your Greatest Culinary Accomplishment is Pasta With Jarred Sauce
Not everyone needs to be the next great chef. However, when you’re approaching 40, your repertoire should include a few dishes more labor-intensive than penne with pesto. In fact, you should probably bone up on the 40 Dishes Everyone Over 40 Should Master.
You Still Have Posters Taped to Your Walls
If your 40th birthday is on the horizon, it’s time to use a bit more of a discerning eye when it comes to your décor. At the very least, it’s time to start framing those posters you can’t part with instead of taping them to your walls.
You Haven’t Started Saving for Retirement
While you still have some time to save when you’re in your 40s—the average retirement age in the United States is 63, after all—if you’re not saving by 40, you’re just delaying those sweet, sweet golden years.
But according to a recent ERBI survey, only 17 percent of respondents said they were very confident in their ability to retire comfortably. Don’t let that be you!
You Still Talk About College All the Time
By the time you’re in your 40s, college are likely close to two decades behind you. If you’re still bringing up anecdotes from your wild collegiate days at every opportunity, it’s high time to grow up.
Your Savings Account Is in the Double Digits
While stagnant wages and rising costs of living may make it hard to live extravagantly, it’s still important to prioritize savings, especially as you get closer to retirement. If your savings account is still in the double digits, you might not be ready to hit 40.
You’re Still Horrified When People Call You “Ma’am” or “Sir”
The first time someone refers to you as “ma’am” or “sir” can be a shock to your system. However, by the time you’re nearing 40, it’s probably time to get used to hearing it and try to contain those winces when you do.
Your Parents Still Help You Mend Your Clothes
Sewing isn’t taught in many schools these days, leaving many people woefully unable to sew on a button. That said, if you have access to the Internet, there’s no excuse for still using your parents as your personal seamstresses as you approach 40.
You’re Still Excited When Your Parents Give You Cash For Your Birthday
Is a little cash helpful at any age? Definitely. If getting a few twenties from your parents is still the highlight of your year, though, you’re probably not on par with your fellow soon-to-be 40-somethings.
Your Favorite TV Shows Are Cartoons
The golden age of television has given us a wealth of great animated shows intended for adults, but if nothing on your must-watch list includes anything with real people, you’re probably not exactly ready to turn 40.
Your Most Current Résumé Was Updated a Decade Ago
It’s undeniably true that people get complacent in their jobs after a few years in a particular role. Still, if your 40s are drawing ever closer, it’s time that your résumé reflected your current skills and responsibilities—not just act as an antique document that shows you know how to use Windows 98.
You Still Sleep on a Futon
That futon may have served you well in college, but sleeping on one at 40 is a recipe for a bad back and miserable mornings. Luckily, with an influx of reasonably-priced mattress companies hitting the market, there’s never been a better time to get a new bed without breaking the bank.
You Still Haven’t Figured Out How Much Alcohol Gives You a Hangover
Hangovers at 20 are unpleasant. At 30, they’re debilitating. At 40, you’re ready to call an ambulance when you’re had a few drinks too many. If you’re ready to be a full-fledged 40-something, it’s time to learn your tolerance and stop well before you hit your upper limit.
You Wonder How Your Married Friends Could Possibly Have Settled Down So Young
Fewer people are choosing to get married than they did in past generations, but that doesn’t mean you should look at your friends who have tied the knot like they’re aliens. Despite the dip in the marriage rate, the average age for marriage in the United States is still 27 for women and 29 for men, meaning it’s not exactly outlandish to see have a handful of paired-off friends by the time you’re nearing 40.
You Choose Your Clothes Based on What Celebrities Are Wearing
Yes, Drake has some cool clothes. Yes, that one hat Justin Bieber wore that one time looked good on him. No, that doesn’t mean you should be emulating their looks, especially when your 40th birthday is within sight.
Your Drink Order is “Whatever’s Cheapest”
The two words that are guaranteed to not impress your date, boss, or friends when you’re ordering a drink? “Whatever’s cheapest.”
By the time you’re gearing up to celebrate your 40th, having a signature order will serve you well—the time for opting for the dregs of the well selection at your local watering hole has long passed.
You Still Can’t Figure Out How Much Sleep to Get
Do you go to bed beyond exhausted at night? Do you wake up feeling like you got hit by a truck every morning? If you’re still confused about whether you can cut it on 6 hours, or if 8 is your absolute minimum, you’re probably not ready to turn 40.
You’re Still Waiting to “Finding Your Passion”
Yes, there’s still plenty of time to find what you really love doing when you’re about to hit 40. Deciding that you’re going to keep asking your parents or friends for loans until you find that thing that keeps you excited every second of every day? Not exactly a sign you’re well-equipped to tackle your 40s.
You Still Think of 40 as Old
Yes, facing down 40 may seem daunting. However, considering that you’re likely only halfway through life at 40, it’s time to reframe your thinking about what classifies as “old” before you decide that it’s all downhill from here.
You’re Still Looking Around for the “Real Grownups”
You may not feel like you’re a full-fledged grownup at any point in your life. But if 40 is rapidly approaching, it’s high time you recognized that, to the rest of the world, you’re about as grown-up as they come, and as capable as any other adult of tackling what life throws at you head-on. And if you don’t want to look back and feel like you missed out, make sure you know the 40 Most Common Regrets People Have in Their 40s.
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