40 Risks You Need to Take After 40
The time is now.
The younger you are, the less experience, knowledge, and money you have. That often leads you to throw caution to the wind and make decisions out of ignorance or desperation. But by the time you reach 40, you probably have a substantial savings account, a wealth of knowledge, and a greater sense of purpose in life. And you know what that means? It’s time to take risks and live a little.
Of course, you shouldn’t just blow all your money or completely ignore logic, but you should allow yourself the flexibility to do the things you want to do, not just the things you should do. After all, you’ve earned it. So keep reading to unleash the inner risk-taker inside of you now that you’re 40.
Say no to promotions you don’t want.
Your twenty-something or thirty-something self would kill for a promotion and the raise that comes along with it. But things change when you enter your 40s. You likely have other priorities in your life, like your spouse and your kids. So if you don’t want a promotion that will require you to spend more time at the office, you shouldn’t be afraid to say so.
Make peace with someone you dislike.
Now that you’re in your 40s, it’s time to be the bigger person.
Whether it’s a friend you’ve held a grudge against for a long time or a co-worker who really grinds your gears, you should learn how to make amends with the people you don’t quite get along with at 40. Trust us, you’ll feel more relaxed once you do because actively disliking someone is more trouble than it’s worth.
Learn a new skill.
It’s never too late to pick up a new skill, like sewing or playing the guitar. Believe it or not, your 40s are actually the perfect time to get out there and do it.
“Shake off the security blanket and try something new,” says J. Hope Suis, founder of mid-life advice blog Hope Boulevard. “It takes some maturity to be able to break out of your comfort zone.”
When you’re young, love always comes with caveats. Even in the most serious of relationships, it’s hard to give your all to someone because you’re too busy trying to protect yourself.
Now that you’re 40, it’s time to brush those fears of rejection and abandonment aside and let love in completely. “Whether you’re in a new partnership or one that’s decades old, allow yourself to risk loving your partner as if you’re 20 again, yet with the wisdom of a person over 40,” says Dr. Carla Marie Manly, a clinical psychologist and author of upcoming book Joy from Fear.
If you don’t fully commit to loving someone, then you’ll never truly experience romance like it’s meant to be experienced.
Start dating again.
It’s hard to put yourself back out there after going through a difficult breakup or divorce, but the benefits of dating significantly outweigh the risks.
It’s perfectly natural to worry that you’re going to have your heart broken again, but you won’t ever be able to experience all of the great things about being in love without accepting the fact that you might have to deal with the not-so-great things, too.
Start a small business.
Now’s as good a time as any to start that business you’ve always been dreaming off, says success coach Carlota Zimmerman, JD.
Even if the prospect of starting your own company overwhelms you, giving it your best shot will at least put those “What if?” thoughts to rest. “This is your time, so do the things that keep you up at night wondering,” says Zimmerman.
Try a new class at the gym.
We all have anxiety before trying a new workout class. We wonder: “What if everyone stares at me when I mess up? What if I’m terrible at this? What if people laugh?”
The reality, though, is never as bad as your mind leads you to believe. At worst, you mess up a few times and nobody notices, and at best, you realize that you’ve been a yogi all along.
Be honest about your thoughts and feelings.
There’s no reason to keep lying to yourself and to others about what you think and how you feel. Once you’re in your 40s, you’ve earned the right to be candid. Besides, one study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that people actually prefer it when you’re honest with them. So what have you got to lose?
“Whether it’s traveling overseas, rocking out at a concert, or choosing to sit at the bar instead of a booth, being solo allows room to meet strangers and for opportunities to present themselves,” explains Carlyn Shaw, an empowerment expert and founder of friendship-forming business Strangers To Friends.
Plus, doing things by yourself “builds self-confidence and self-worth, the root of deeper connection,” Shaw explains. “Solo is an act of self love.”
Evaluate your life.
“Since the average life expectancy now is nearly 80, then 40 is halftime,” explains Monte Drenner, a licensed counselor and life coach in Orlando. “Sports teams use halftime to evaluate what went well during the first half and what could go better, and you should too. Find the courage to do some deep soul-searching to see where you are in life versus where you want to be. The risk is you won’t like what you find, but the facts will allow you to make decisions that can make life better for your remaining years.”
Make yourself heard at the office.
Now that you’re in your 40s, you should be assertive and upfront about what you want at work. You’ve done enough waiting around—for promotions, for raises, for more responsibility—and now it’s time to take matters into your own hands.
Of course, it’s no easy feat, but it pays off: Per one study published in the European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, vocal women are more likely to receive a raise than their timid counterparts.
Pursue your passions.
It’s time to stop making excuses and start making time for the things you love. You might have dedicated most of your time previously to your family and work, but now that your kids are getting older and work is starting to become more stable, you have the perfect opportunity to chase your dreams.
Whether you want to start a band or volunteer with a local charity, the world is your oyster, and you shouldn’t be afraid of putting your passions on full display.
Publish your writing.
If you’ve been writing for yourself for years, then now’s the time to make your prose public. Though it’s intimidating to put your thoughts and musings out there for the world to see (and critique), it’s also gratifying to see your words published in a real magazine or on a real website. You might just have more of an impact than you ever thought possible.
“I can promise that holding onto grudges and resentment has the worst possible outcome for you and the least impact on the person who inflicted the pain,” says Suis. “You may need an official physical manifestation of your forgiveness—like throwing away a memento or writing a letter—or maybe all you need is to decide. Whichever way you go, go there in haste and reap the reward of peace.”
Befriend someone new.
It’s not easy making new friends after 40. While people in their 20s and 30s are relatively open to new adventures and experiences, once you reach middle age, you’re more dead-set in your routines and don’t want to rock the boat.
However, if you come across someone with whom you really think you could form a bond, then you should go out on a limb and try to befriend that person. Though it’s possible that they’ll ignore your efforts, there’s also a chance that they’re just as eager to be your friend. Plus, one study published in Health Psychology found that older adults who have friends to confide in are usually healthier and better equipped to cope with loss.
Run your first race.
If you think that you’re too old to run your first 5K or marathon at 40, we have proof that you’re wrong. In 2013, Fauja Singh completed the Hong Kong Marathon in just over one hour and 32 minutes, and he was 102 years old!
And if you need motivation to get you through your training, then keep in mind that studies have shown that running can protect the brain from the detrimental effects of chronic stress—and that’s just one health benefit.
Take more vacation time.
Most young people in the workforce are too afraid to use up their vacation days because they want their employers to think that they’re hardworking and tenacious.
However, forty-somethings don’t need to worry about that. At this point in your life, you’ve already shown your employer what an asset you are and have paid your dues to the company. Now, it’s time to get out there and see the world. One study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that even short-term vacations have “large, positive, and immediate effects on perceived stress, recovery, strain, and well-being.”
Accept your body how it is.
Stop punishing yourself for not being “thin enough” or “good enough.” At this point, your body has gotten you through many a major life event—graduations, births, weddings—so give it at rest. Besides, there’s no point wasting time punishing yourself for what you can’t (and shouldn’t) change.
Though it might feel like a risk to accept yourself, you’ll find that once you stop obsessing, there will be much more room in your life to actually enjoy things—food especially!
Follow your own fashion advice.
You might have felt like you had to conform to society’s fashion standards before, but now that you’re 40, you’re allowed to play by your own rules. The only person whose opinion matters is yours—and if you like wearing plaid shirts with leopard pants, then go right ahead.
Besides, who’s to tell you to pack away your favorite white jeans after Labor Day? It’s time to ignore the rules!
Go to more networking events.
Advance your career, expand your social circle, and break out of your shell all at the same time by attending more networking events. You never know who you’ll meet at a mixer—they could be your next relationship, your next boss, or a great friend.
Delete your social media accounts.
Make your mental health a priority and delete all of your social media accounts ASAP. People who use social media experience more depressive symptoms because of their tendency to compare themselves to others, according to one study published in the Journal of Social & Clinical Psychology. And that’s just not something you should have to deal with when you’re in your 40s and trying to live your best life.
Go back to school.
One of the ways you can make sure that you’re pushing yourself and leaving your comfort zone is by going back to school. Though it might feel uncomfortable at first—and you could be surrounded by students half your age—you’ll never feel remorseful about devoting time and effort to your education.
Attend more social outings.
For introverts, going out with friends on the weekend is something of a risk, but it’s one worth taking. After all, according to one study published in the Journal of Research in Personality, extroversion is associated with a greater sense of well-being. The sooner you work on putting yourself out there, the more satisfied you’ll be.
Buy yourself time.
Anything you can do to make your life easier, do it. For example, at 40, you can give yourself permission to splurge on a cleaning service. Though you might be worried that a maid is too expensive or that a cleaning person isn’t going to know where certain things in your house should go, taking household responsibilities off your plate buys you time. And one study published in the journal PNAS found that people who use money to buy time are generally happier and have a greater sense of well-being.
Find a job you love.
If you’re already happy where you are professionally, that’s great! But if you feel like things could be better, then it’s definitely worth pursuing new job opportunities. “If you’re not living the life of your dreams—career or otherwise—then risk finding out what you are passionate about and follow that dream with all your might,” says Manly.
Embark on a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
If you’ve always dreamed of going on safari in Africa or climbing Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, then now’s the time to do it. You might have put these kinds of adventures on the back-burner before due to fiscal woes or familial obligations.
But now, you’re in your 40s—the kids are older and your savings account is padded. You’ve got it all, except an excuse to avoid the getaways you deserve.
Give your kids more freedom.
Many parents in their 40s are past the point of raising toddlers and are just starting to deal with the struggles of tweens and teens. But while watching your baby become an adult is no easy feat, you have to give your kid some space if you want them to flourish.
Yes, giving children freedom relinquishes your ability to protect them in certain ways, but it’s worth taking that risk just to ensure that your kids are ready to take on the world.
Say yes to the unknown.
The next time someone asks you to do something crazy, just say yes. If you don’t leave your comfort zone, then you’ll never know what you’re potentially missing out on, and these exciting new experiences might even open your eyes to a new favorite hobby or friend.
And say no when you feel uncomfortable.
“Only do things you really want to do,” advises Maria Leonard Olsen, author of 50 After 50: Reframing the Next Chapter of Your Life. Now that you’re in your 40s, it’s time to “stop being a people-pleaser” and start doing things for your own benefit instead.
Maybe that means saying no to staying late at work or turning down an invitation to drinks—but whatever it is, don’t be afraid to speak up when the answer is “no.”
Move to a new country.
If your situation allows for it, then don’t let fear keep you from moving to a new country. When you relocate to somewhere new, you learn about the world and the culture in which you’re newly immersed, of course, but also about yourself.
Spend less time at work.
When you’re low on the totem pole at work, you don’t get much of a say in what time you arrive at work or what time you leave. But when you’re in your 40s and have reached a position of power, things are different.
There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be getting home at a reasonable hour every night to have dinner with your family. You’ve earned it!
Go on more impromptu getaways.
One day, call your friends up and let them know that you’re all going on a last-minute weekend getaway—no questions asked. It doesn’t matter where you go or when; all that matters is that you’re surrounded by people you love and that everyone is up for an adventure.
Switch up your signature ‘do.
Chances are you’ve been sporting the same look for a long time now. So at 40, instead of going for the same old trim next time you go to the hair salon, consider trying something new. Even a small change like adding bangs or cutting off a few inches can make you feel like an entirely new person.
Eat more meals by yourself.
Now that you’re 40, you shouldn’t feel insecure about eating solo. If you happen across a new joint that you really want to try and no one is around to join you, don’t be afraid to plop down at a small table with a book and do your thing. The majority of people won’t even notice that you’re eating alone, and those who do aren’t worth your time anyhow.
Date someone younger than you.
If you find yourself on dating apps gravitating toward younger men or women, that’s absolutely fine. You’re allowed to date whoever makes you happy, and it’s nobody else’s business whom you choose to fraternize with!
Start a blog.
If you have a passion for something, then you should share that love with others online. Even if you can’t devote your every waking moment to your blog, having one will motivate you to keep up with hobbies both new and old. Plus, it will allow you to interact with other people who share your same interests.
Experiment in the kitchen.
Don’t be afraid to get creative in the kitchen. Instead of cooking the same old boring meals—spaghetti and meatballs, we’re looking at you—look up exotic new dishes like pad prik king or vegan butternut squash mac and cheese.
If you’re nervous, grab a friend or your spouse and take a cooking class. It’ll be a fun experience and you might just find your new favorite food.
Though it’s cliché, you really should go skydiving and partake in other extreme activities whenever you get the chance. “It will increase your self-esteem and give you the momentum needed to do more things outside of your comfort zone,” says Kathy Pierson, a life and mindset coach.
Spend less time on your phone.
It’s hard to put your phone down, even for a few minutes. What if you miss an important email? Or an important phone call? Or an important text?
But the mental health benefits of limiting your phone usage are worth not responding to that email, call, or text right away. Once you monitor and manage how much time you spend on your device, you’ll feel less stressed, more energized, and more optimistic.
Stop caring about what other people think.
Once you’re 40, “you are old enough to stop caring so much about what others think of you,” says Olsen. “What others think of you is not your business, nor is it something you can control.”
And instead of worrying about what other people are thinking and doing, spend more time enjoying yourself and the company of the people you love!
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