The 40 Best Ways to Conquer Your 40s
Your ultimate compendium for thriving in life's best decade.
A little more than 100 years ago, the average human didn’t live past their mid-40s. These days, being in your 40s means you may not even be halfway done. So, are you living a life in full? Are you prepping for a lifetime of the same? We’ve compiled a list of 40 things to do to make the most of your 40s—it’s the new 30s, after all—and set the stage for many healthy and successful decades beyond. And to ensure you see most of those decades, don’t miss the 100 Ways to Live to 100.
Correct your course
If you haven’t already, take a moment to decide if how you live your life is in a way that complements who you are today. It’s easy to get stuck in routines without realizing that they no longer deliver like they used to. Are you fulfilled in your job, with your romantic life, your friendships? Is it time to re-evaluate?
Visit your dream destination
Being in your 40s means being established enough to afford the things you’ve always wanted to do—and being young enough to enjoy them. This is the time that you can hang on Ipanema Veach, look good, eat well, and stay at a nice place. You’re neither broke nor look like a bag of wrinkles. Take advantage of it. Need ideas on where to head? Check out the 5 Best Exotic Getaways for 2018.
Dress your age
Reaching the fifth decade leads some of us to cling onto our youth by dressing younger. Bad move. “Dressing younger only serves to highlight your advancing years,” says Alex Wilcox, co-proprietor of New York clothing store Lord Willy’s. “You end up looking like a old head on a young body. This is in contrast to dressing classic—albeit with a few playful little touches—which tends to do the opposite.”
Train for something
It needn’t be an Ironman, but having a target that isn’t tied to your career or finances is an excellent way to stay vital. You might even discover that you have more stamina and endurance than you did in your 20s and 30s. For ways to make the most of your training, learn the 10 Best Ways to Build Muscle Quickly.
Travel first class, or Uber a private plane
Flying internationally? The first-class experience is certain to make every coach flight from here on out a living hell, but sitting up front is the only way to see what all the fuss is about. LAX to Melbourne, Australia, on Qantas could set you back almost $15,000. LAX to Dubai on Emirates will be double that. Unless you have that sort of dough handy, figure out a credit card that delivers optimal airline rewards. It’s also easier and more affordable than ever to grab a seat on a private plane (or nab one for yourself). Check out the details in How to Uber a Private Plane!
Support a cause
What do you stand for? It’s time to put your money, time and/or effort where your mouth is. Instead of commenting on an issue that you’re passionate about from the sidelines, have the courage of your convictions and make the difference you want to see.
Hire a personal stylist
Your 20s were a time to experiment with personal style. Your 30s were a time to get comfortable with your look while making important life moves. Your 40s are time to take the results of that success and reinvest it in you. See a look you’d like to emulate in a magazine. Rip it out, put it your pocket. Once you’ve collected a half-dozen, step into a top menswear store near you, develop a relationship with a salesperson, and be prepared to plunk down a not-insignificant amount of moolah on clothes. Don’t worry: Pieces from this splurge should serve you well into your dotage.
Eat at a 3-Star Michelin restaurant
Chefs consider a 3-star rating from Michelin to be the holy grail, white whale, and pot of gold combined. It’s not going to be cheap, and getting a reservation will be a royal pain in the butt, but experiencing the zenith of fine dining is something that’s now within your reach. Pick a special dining companion and savor every moment. And for more on these exalted establishments, learn What Chefs Truly Think of Michelin Stars.
Flirt with confidence
A funny thing happens when you get to 40. You start to feel very comfortable in your own skin (especially if you adhere to the advice contained within this handy list). That ease is appreciated more than you’d think, especially by women a few years younger. As are your high-quality, well-fitting clothes, your experienced face, your physique (which you’ve spent years on), your depth of knowledge, and your humility. Realize that you now have many qualities that are extremely appealing to the opposite gender, even those you considered out of your league when you were younger. So give a compliment, make a joke, ask for a number (if you’re single).
Have a bespoke suit made
A bespoke suit is certainly an investment, but it can start to pay dividends immediately. Begin with a navy suit, then a light gray one, in a classic cut on the slim side. Have it tailored to accentuate the broadness of your shoulders and narrowness of your waist.
Treat your parents
We’re not talking about a dinner here or there. Send your folks on a trip somewhere they’ve always wanted to go while they’re still able to fully enjoy it. You’ll never regret it.
Research your family tree
Rogues, adventurers, lovers, scoundrels—give your family tree a good shake, and all kinds of fascinating characters are bound to drop out. We live at a time in which resources for looking back at who we are and where our people came from abound, such as ancestry.com and 23andme. Having a sense of who these people were may give you a new perspective on who you are, the choices you make—and, crucially, where you might be heading.
Go on an African safari
Sure, you’ll see elephants, lions, leopards, buffalo, giraffes, hyenas, gazelles, and all sorts of exotic wildlife. But even if you’re from Dubuque, Poughkeepsie, or Paducah, you’ll feel an eerie sense of homecoming on the savanna. Sub-Saharan Africa is where modern humans got our start, and experiencing the landscape that would be recognizable to our ancient forebears will give you a sense of awe and wonder.
Prevent bed death
Don’t let the spark in the bedroom die out. Keep things lively, and you’ll (both) be happier for it. Need ideas? Try out any of the 30 Sex Toys That Are Guaranteed to Spice Up Your Love Life.
Master at least five cocktails
Be a host with the most and excite your guests who visit your home. Practice making four classics until putting them together becomes second nature, then create and name a memorable house cocktail (bonus points if you can tell a compelling story about what inspired this particular combination of flavors). Being able to create a special shared sensory moment, seemingly out of thin air, will give you the air of any gathering’s most interesting person for decades to come. For ideas, check out the 20 Cocktails Everyone Should Know How to Make.
Attain the formerly unattainable
Remember when you wanted that Gibson Les Paul, that vintage Vespa, or that crazy weekend in Vegas, but could only dream of having the money? Those days are gone. Now that you have a healthy bank balance, revisit your old want list. Anything on there still look tasty? Snag it.
Do that thing you used to love
When you were younger, you loved playing basketball. Or you jammed in a band. Or you went snowboarding every year. Life can get in the way of doing the things that make us light up. Make a point of reclaiming the things that made you feel alive. You’ll feel—and look—all the more vibrant for it.
Sponsor a child
Whether you do or don’t have kids of your own, sponsoring a needy child is a way you can absolutely change lives for the better. You’ve done well in life. Give someone a fighting chance to do well for themselves.
Learn a second language
The English-speaking people have been great at spreading their armies, commercial interests, and hodgepodge language around the globe, and they have been for centuries. One unfortunate byproduct of that: Most native English speakers are only fully conversant in their mother tongue. Language informs how we think, and learning another language gives us a richer way to experience the external and internal world. To pick up a second tongue like it’s second nature, master the Secret Trick For Learning A New Language Quickly.
At this stage in your life, feeling butt-hurt about something someone did to you is beneath you. Letting them know that you’re over it is the ultimate baller move. In one fell swoop, you’ll free the bandwidth their infraction has been taking up in your brain ever since they drunkenly slighted you, and reclaim the power they’ve had over you ever since.
Start thinking about your funeral, and make it better
If you’re an American in your 40s, you’re likely halfway through this crazy thing called life. Now is a good time to spare some thought for your legacy. We’re not talking about your estate, or your kids if you have them, but how people will remember you. Think about being an invisible presence at your own wake. What do you want to hear people say? This is the decade to start creating a sentiment you’d be happy with. The remainder of your life will be all the better for it.
Have the best sex of your life
You’ve had years of practice. Don’t let it go to waste. Need to heat things up? Try out any of the 60 Sex Positions That Will Set Your Sheets on Fire.
Get routine about preventative medicine
Now’s the time to systematically plan and schedule doctor’s visits to prevent bad stuff from happening. Maybe you’ll go to the doctor for a yearly physical around Memorial Day, have a dental exam the week before the first regular-season NFL game, and another just after the Super Bowl. Get your moles mapped around Labor Day, and your eyes checked every time there’s a congressional election.
Make some new friends
Most of us make lifelong friends in young adulthood. We’re out in the world, we’re doing stuff, we’re full of piss and vinegar, so it stands to reason. Being married and having kids can preclude making connections with other people, and that’s a shame. The next time you meet someone whose company you enjoy, invite them out for a drink.
Ensure you have enough life insurance
Go goth for a minute and pretend you’re dead. Will your dependents have enough money to maintain their current lifestyle? Basically, if you support people, you need life insurance. And you might need more than you figured when you were a newlywed or had your first child, which is when most of us buy policies. And according to Bankrate.com, 25 percent of us have none. Today, the general guideline is: Have enough insurance to cover 5 to 10 times of your annual income. (Use the calculator at lifehappens.org to pin that down.) And always buy term life insurance—whole life policies come with high fees and cancellation penalties that can drain you dry.
Rebalance your retirement accounts
As time ticks on, you should move the allocations in your 401k or IRA from aggressive (stocks) toward the more conservative (bonds). Your forties are the time to start. The golden rule: Subtract your age from 110 or 120; that’s the percentage of your retirement fund that should be in stocks. To pin things down further, use this asset allocation calculator from Bankrate.com.
Go on a diet
The average man gains five pounds every decade after 35. But the best way to prevent that isn’t through starvation or deprivation. It’s through healthy eating. For ideas on where to start, try the 10 Healthiest Carbs You Should Be Eating.
Make $1 million
The book The Eventual Millionaire recently released a study of millionaires and the common qualities they hold: They’ve all started their own business. Your 40s are the perfect time to strike out on your own: You’ve mastered your industry, you have contacts, you’ve still got the passion. And there’s the practical aspect: At 40, you’re likely to have at least 40 more years of life (and expenses) to look forward to. Could you handle disruption in your industry? Do you want to be the guy who’s always worried about losing his livelihood?
Button up your kids’ college fund
Start one now, if you haven’t already. But remember that retirement savings come first.
Preserve and increase your muscle mass
Prepare to be that 81-year-old who runs marathons. Your 40s are the time to start. After the age of 40, inactive people lose 3 to 5 percent of their muscle mass every decade. The good news: You can prevent that by strength training. Research shows that using weights, resistance bands, or kettlebells two to three times a week can substantially improve your muscle mass in three to six months.
Drink great whiskey
How many features have you seen on the news about octogenarians, or people who’ve crossed the century mark, who attribute their long life to good whiskey? It’s no coincidence: Studies show that people who drink moderately live longer than those who don’t, and have lower rates of heart disease, diabetes and stroke than teetotalers. And it’s better to develop a taste for whiskey than wine: The amber spirit contains no added sugar.
Save 10-15% of your income before day-to-day expenses. Have it direct-deposited into a separate bank account. When you get a raise, stick it in the bank.
Don’t look back
No one’s talking about the one drug that hooks most fortysomethings: nostalgia. Commonly found on YouTube, in toy stores, and at the movie theater, it offers a temporary hit of comfort and security, but side effects are guaranteed to include hours lost, sexual partners unmet, and a walk of shame to the bathroom, after three hours of watching 1980s TV show openings. Rather than rewatch old shows, star in your own set this year.
Use social media
Tech gets younger as you get older. To quote Gary Vaynerchuk, live in the white spaces where the audience lives. Learn Snapchat. Study Tinder. Because you’ll be more hirable, relevant, and seem younger—and be able to understand the new generations who’ll be working with (and for) you.
Make a retirement plan, man
And this time, we’re not talking about stocks, bonds, and 403(b)s. This is about vision: What do you want your life to look like in your 60s, 70s, and beyond? We’re living longer than ever—at 40, you probably have 40 more years of active life ahead—but we tend to fixate on financial worries. Although you’ve got to square away your income, you still deserve to do what’ll make you happy. How do you see it at that age? Visualize that, and start working toward that now.
Grow your mind
Although the idea of brain exercise is controversial, it can’t hurt, and it’s easy to do. Neurobiologist Lawrence C. Katz, PhD, author of Keep Your Brain Alive, suggests mixing up your routine with actions that engage more than one of your senses simultaneously, which strengthens the connections between areas of the brain. It’s as simple as eating different foods, increasing social interactions, identifying different smells and sights along your route to work, or changing your usual seat at the dinner table.
Get naked more
Science says sleeping naked can lead to a longer life. (Just keep your unmentionables by the bed and a lock on your bedroom door.) According to studies, sleeping naked can boost your levels of anti-aging and growth hormones. Researchers have found that as we sleep, our bodies cool slightly, which causes reparative growth hormones to be released. If you’re too warm, you get less. Being cooler also reduces your level of cortisol, the stress hormone. High levels can lead to overeating, diabetes and inflammation. Plus, sleeping naked with a partner can lead to more intimacy (sexual and otherwise), which releases oxytocin, which reduces cortisol, lowers blood pressure and soothes inflammation (the kind you don’t want—in your gut).
Pretend you’re an old person looking back on your life
What advice would you give yourself? Start following it.
Have a cheat event
We’re not talking about sexual fidelity. Just as having a cheat day once a week makes your workout and diet plan more efficient and successful, rewarding yourself with something indulgent will give you something to look forward to all year. It doesn’t have to be a boat.
Buy a boat
Oh, go ahead.
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