Over 40? Here Are 40 Things You Should Stop Doing Immediately
You're a grown-up now. It's time to act like one.
Wouldn’t it be great to be 20 forever? Well, maybe not entirely. It might be nice to hold on to a younger body and to relish the excitement of having your whole life in front of you. But it’s also awesome to move past that and enter your 40s. With age comes confidence, both personally and professionally. Oh, and you’ll also pick up street smarts that can only come about after being on this planet for more than a couple decades.
But being in your 40s also means leaving some things behind, like eating pizza for breakfast and living with a gaggle of roommates. That kind of behavior is acceptable when you’re just out of college and trying to make your way in the world, but for a 40-year-old? Not so much.
So, without further ado, here are 40 things you should seriously consider cutting out of your life if you’re 40 or older. You’re a grown-up now. It’s time to start acting like one.
Sleeping on a mattress that your parents gave you.
If your mattress has been around longer than seven to ten years, wait until the next big holiday weekend—when mattresses tend to go on sale—and get a new one. Memorial Day, statistically, tends to have the best deals.
Buying your glasses, shampoo, and tires at the same location.
It’s time to specialize. Find the right shampoo for your hair and the right glasses for your face. Costco is not the answer; a salon and an optometrist are.
Having vague intentions to exercise.
Do it now. Do it often. Even if it’s a walk around the block. If you choose to be sedentary, your body will adapt to that lifestyle and begin to shut down vital systems, because it feels you don’t need them. Feed your soul and body by giving it the oxygen influx of exercise.
The damage done to your liver is more significant in your 40s than in your 30s. Your liver is trying to keep up, but as you age, cell turnover slows down and the entire process of filtering out the bad stuff slows to a crawl. Then you’re just walking around with it inside you. You can still drink occasionally—a few glasses of wine might even be good for you—but it’s time to put an end to the weekends of drinking to excess. To find out if you’re having too much or just enough, find out What Your Drinking Habits Say About Your Health.
Wearing clothes that don’t fit.
Oversized pants that won’t stay on your waist or a shirt so tight the buttons are on the verge of popping across the room are not a good look. Trust us, nothing feels quite as glorious as clothes that fit. So consider getting a tailor who can ensure that’s the case.
Being in debt.
Start by paying off and canceling all “occasional” credit cards. If you have a Target card, that 5 percent discount you earned at checkout is useless unless you pay it off. Your $3 box of tissues could end up costing $5.16 if you carry the balance over at least three months. Purchases like that (even though they seem small) add up. To increase your credit score, pay off the card and just use it sporadically, but treat it like cash.
Taking the wrong vitamin supplements.
Too many people pop a multivitamin that may not work for them. You might need certain vitamins based on your specific metabolism, pre-existing conditions, or medical history. Based on blood test results, your doctor can give you recommendations on the right dosage and brand of vitamins.
Staying in a relationship that’s heading nowhere.
It’s time to figure out if the person you’re with is someone you want to be with, or someone you’re just with to avoid being alone. If it’s the latter, don’t settle. There’s definitely someone well-suited for you out there.
Not having a primary physician.
The Urgent Care clinic is for just that: Urgent.Care. They shouldn’t be regularly treating you for colds or flu shots or alarming symptoms. Get a doctor who will get to know you and your history.
Using the same password.
Those of us in our 40s are the first generation to have grown up with passwords. But that’s still no excuse for using one password for everything. Don’t make it so easy for hackers. There are tricks to creating unique passwords that you can remember and that won’t be inviting strangers to steal your personal information.
Using artificial sweeteners.
If you haven’t kicked the sweetener habit by now, here’s an extra incentive for you. A recent study published in the journal Molecules found that six common artificial sweeteners approved by the FDA had a toxic effect on digestive gut microbes, which affect metabolism. Seriously, every “diet” cola you drink is messing with your body’s chemistry.
Blindly giving to charity.
It may look like a charity and sound like a charity, but do some research before sending over your hard-earned cash. There are internationally-recognized charities that only give a small fraction of the donations they receive to the victims, or researchers, or whales they claim to help. The rest of your money goes to greedy people at the top of the organization.
Only drinking water when you’re thirsty.
If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. Don’t drink water solely when you’re hot or when you’re exercising. Make it part of your daily routine. The best way to nourish your body is with sufficient water intake. Water is vital to every single system in your body, and it can cause serious damage if denying your body water becomes a habit.
Wearing flip-flops anywhere but a pool, the beach, or a Jimmy Buffett concert.
You wouldn’t wear a swimsuit to the office—give your feet the same professional courtesy.
Saying “I’ll get to it tomorrow.”
Whether it’s out of procrastination or fear, whatever you’ve been putting off needs to become a priority. If turning 40 teaches us nothing else, it’s that life moves fast. So you know how quickly tomorrow turns into next week, then next month, then next year, and so on.
“Walking off” the pain.
It might be a minor pain, but what if it’s the result of something serious? You should always go to a doctor and assess what’s wrong. Besides, continuing to use the part of the body that’s plaguing you could cause more damage in the long run.
Wearing your hair too long.
Long hair in your 40s has a way of instantly aging you. For women, we’re talking Crystal Gayle long; for men, Fabio length. Hair thins as you age, so a longer style won’t just make you look older than you are, it might also look greasy or unkempt.
Skipping the sunscreen.
Getting burned by the sun is a bad idea at any age. But after 40, exposing your skin to UV rays without sunscreen is practically begging to look prematurely old. The World Health Organization warns that “chronic overexposure to the sun can change the texture and weaken the elasticity of the skin.” They estimate that up to 90 percent of wrinkling and sagging skin is caused by sun exposure. So trust us on the sunscreen.
Having eyes bigger than your bank account.
Be realistic when you buy a house. If you’re a family of three, you don’t need six bedrooms. And if you’re a family of one, buy the house you need now, not one you hope to share with someone else someday. You can buy that house when the time comes.
Passing on voting.
You don’t have to necessarily make phone calls, become a pollster, or run for office yourself. But you can’t opt out of voting and believe you still have a say in local, national, and global political matters.
Eating the same foods forever.
If you tried seafood as a child and decided you hated it, give it another shot. Your tastebuds change and bloom every five to seven years. If you hated something seven—or 17—years ago, it’s possible you may love it now. Explore the menu instead of just ordering the same old thing. After all, variety is the spice of life.
A big part of being an adult is recognizing that the buck stops with you. You’re not a kid who can wait until their parents remind them to do their homework or eat their vegetables or go to bed already. Every detail in your life is up to you to coordinate and remember. That includes important dates like when your taxes are due, when you need to be at the office every morning, and, perhaps most importantly, the anniversary of the day that you married the person you vowed to spend the rest of your life with.
Living in unorganized filth.
Our brains naturally look for order in chaos. So if your house is a mess, you mind will struggle to make order of it, completely distracting you from whatever you should be focusing on. The moment you put those socks in the hamper, your stress will go down and your concentration will improve.
Wearing any piece of clothing that’s old enough to buy alcohol.
If you’ve owned that T-shirt for half of your life, it’s time to let it go. It’s out of style and probably not in great shape.
If plaid is back in, buy new plaid. Clothing cuts, fabrics, and styles have changed. So, the flannel of today is very different from the one you wore to look like Jordan Catalano in the ’90s. It’s not vintage, it’s just old.
Following your kids on social media.
If you’re doing it surreptitiously to keep tabs on them and make sure they’re safe, that’s one thing. That’s a parent’s right. But if you’ve friended them on Facebook or Instagram because you want to be pals and tag them in embarrassing photos and insert yourself in comments sections in ways that will mortify them, back away from the computer.
Showing up “fashionably late” is not fashionable at all; it’s rude. Keeping people waiting because you’re running behind or have a fluid relationship with the concept of time means you need to make a bigger effort to be less self-centered. Being thoughtful of how your actions impact other people is not just polite, it’s a sign of maturity.
Spending weekends inside, playing video games.
We’re not saying you need to abstain from video games entirely. That would be madness. You’re 40, not dead. But no 40-year-old should answer the question, “What’d you do this weekend?” with, “I played Fortnite for 48 hours straight in my underwear.”
Doing things just to prove you can still “hang.”
Whether it’s getting into a pickup basketball game with guys half your age or volunteering to try the Tide Pod Challenge, trying to keep up with people well below your age range is just a recipe for disaster. You’re not going to impress anyone two decades your junior by duplicating their worst instincts. And you could even land in the ER because of it.
Living in the past.
It can be comforting to reconnect with the people and places who helped shape the person you are today. But dwelling too much in your past can also be a detriment. Some studies have suggested soaking up too much nostalgia might even be dangerous, leading to depression and even psychosis. Don’t let Throwback Thursdays turn into perpetual yearning for your younger days.
Dating apps can be a great way to meet people. But Tinder isn’t about dating—it’s for casual hook-ups. We’re not suggesting you leap into a monogamous relationship if you’re not ready. But at this stage in your life, you should probably be looking for more than one-night stands.
Buying discount booze.
You don’t have to break the bank when you’re buying alcohol. But at 40, you deserve more than a $4 bottle of wine. Why don’t you try something in the $15 range? The key with alcohol is quality, not quantity. You should be enjoying your drinks these days, not chugging them down because they don’t taste good.
The fact is, you need calcium, and the best way to ingest it is through dairy. Sure, there’s calcium in broccoli, but it’d take five cups of broccoli—at 90 mg of calcium in each cup—to equal one cup of fat free yogurt, which has 450 mg of calcium. If you have a moderate lactose intolerance, just take a pill and make sure to do your body good.
Being obsessed with your personal appearance.
You don’t need to completely let go of yourself to go easier on yourself. There is a happy middle ground between sitting in sweatpants all day and picking out every flaw you see in the mirror.
Trying to pay off your mortgage faster.
Owning your home free and clear won’t improve your credit or your financial situation. The loan is there for a long-term payback. Focus that extra money on getting out of credit card debt, creating or supplementing your IRA/401K, and adding to an emergency fund—or better yet, a college fund for your kid.
Splitting a restaurant bill down to the last penny.
When dining out with friends, don’t nitpick over who ate what and who ordered which expensive glass of wine. Lay down your credit card and slice that bill right down the center. Or even better, every now and then, pay for the entire group! They’ll be grateful, and if they’re friends you see regularly, they’ll return the favor soon enough.
Feeling obligated to go out.
One of the best parts about growing older is being able to say, “Thanks for the invite, but I’m staying home tonight.” A 20-year-old who declines a night out is a recluse, but a 40-year-old who orders takeout and spends a Friday night watching Game of Thrones with his sweetie in pajamas is living his best life.
Hanging anything on your wall with tape.
It’s fine if you’re living in a dorm, but if you’re a 40-year-old adult, the wall art in your home should be framed. If you don’t want to or can’t afford to shell out the money for custom framing, there are plenty of relatively inexpensive frames at mega-stores like Ikea.
Posting a billion selfies.
There’s nothing wrong with taking your own self portrait. But if you’re posting so many selfies that you make teenagers look like underachievers, it’s time to put down the phone.
Skipping cruciferous vegetables.
Not a fan of broccoli? Or Brussels sprouts ? Or any cruciferous vegetables, for that matter? It might be time to get over your green aversion. According to one 2017 Penn State study, cruciferous veggies—things like cabbage, cauliflower, and kale—protect the barriers of your stomach and prevent inflammation and “leaky gut.”
Adding an explanation to your apologies.
Saying you’re sorry is enough. You don’t have to justify your behavior, or over-explain why you said the things you said. When you reach 40, you should realize that when it comes to apologies, less is more. A “sorry” with a “but” on the end is not really a “sorry” at all. And if you’re looking for habits worth picking up at 40, read these 40 Things You Should Immediately Start Doing After 40.
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