Your 40th birthday should be cause for celebration, not misery. Yes, you’re not young anymore. But you’re not really old either. You’re somewhere in between. You’re straddling both worlds; young enough to still be vibrant and full of potential, yet old enough to have learned from your mistakes. That’s what makes 40 such an amazing age. You’ve given up much of the behavior that makes your 20s (and even your 30s!), well, sometimes not so smart.
Here are 40 things that you’ve probably stopped doing in your 40s, not just because you can’t get away with it anymore, but also because you’ve finally realized, “Wow, was that something I used to do? Like all the time? Seriously? Why did nobody tell me that was a bad idea? Okay, okay, it’s cool, let’s just never speak of it again.” And for more ways to make the most of your life’s prime, don’t miss these 40 Ways to Make Your 40s Your Healthiest Decade.
Trying to be cool
Who exactly are you trying to impress? It’s debatable whether being cool has any value even in your teens or 20s, but by the time you’re 40 you should have given up the pointless pursuit of “coolness.” And fellas, if this sounds like you, you may want to check out the 50 Things No Man Over 40 Should Own.
Getting blackout drunk
Waking up the next morning without any memory of what you did the night before, or how exactly you got home, or what the heck happened to your pants, is just a terrible idea on every level. Drinking in moderation could be beneficial to your health, according to some studies, but pounding booze till you’re drunk enough to think that committing a felony sounds like a great idea, that’s just a bad look on someone your age.
Having a platonic roommate
If you’re splitting the rent or mortgage payments, it better be with someone with whom you’re romantically involved. It’s fine to be single over 40, but you should be financially secure enough at this point to cover your own living expenses.
Here’s a sentence you should absolutely not be saying at this age: “Hey brah, need your share of the electric bill. And did you eat my leftover pizza? Not cool!” And for more on life after 40, don’t miss the 40 Most Common Regrets People Have in Their 40s.
Oversharing on social media
The rest of the world really doesn’t need to be alerted every time you have a glass of booze in your hand. Or what you really think about the president. The world will miraculously be fine without you weighing in with your two-cents. Social media is addictive, and can fool even the most media-savvy people into thinking they have a captive, adoring audience. But at 40, hopefully you’re wise enough to realize that social media is a time-suck that will ultimately amount to doodly-squat in the long run.
Feeling obligated to go out
FOMO, or Fear Of Missing Out, is a real anxiety for people of a certain age. When you’re in your teens, 20s, or even 30s, it’s hard not to think that there’s something amazing happening somewhere that you might not experience if you aren’t everywhere at once.
But when you make it to 40, you realize that most of what you’re missing isn’t all that spectacular anyway. To paraphrase president Franklin D. Roosevelt, the only thing you have to FOMO is FOMO itself.
Eating out more than cooking
Paying other people to make you a fancy meal is one of the joys of adulthood. But even the best restaurant food comes with a lot of hidden calories and not-so-healthy ingredients. Cooking at home not only lets you take more control of what you’re putting into your body, it’s also cheaper and stress-reducing. Yes, learning how to cook can be a relaxing, restorative activity. Ask any 40 year old and they’ll tell you, being your own chef can be better than any take-out.
Owning just one “nice” suit
When you were a kid, having one spiffy pair of clothes, sometimes known as “church clothes,” was all you needed. But those days are long gone, and having more than just one respectable suit isn’t asking for a lot. If the only time you dress up is when you’re sitting next to your Grammie in a church pew, you need to rethink your priorities. And if you want to truly upgrade your wardrobe, check out these 30 Timeless Instant Style Upgrades.
Splitting the bill eight ways
It’s not that being 40 means that you’re rolling in it. But when you’re dining with friends and the check comes, it shouldn’t be a crazy fantasy to think that you or one of your peers might grab it and say, “I’ve got this.”
Do you really need to go through the bill with a fine-tooth comb, figuring out who ordered what and how to split it evenly and make sure everybody pays enough in gratuity and blah blah blah? Enough! Somebody put their credit card down while everybody else says, “Thanks, I’ll get it next time.”
Taking endless self-portraits of yourself, none of which anyone asked for, is the height of narcissism. Do you really need a photo of yourself making duck lips to feel a sense of self-worth? We didn’t think so. Put the phone down and get back to doing something that isn’t all about gazing lovingly at your own reflection.
Forgetting a major anniversary or birthday
It isn’t lovable anymore (and it’s doubtful that it ever was) to “totally space” on a close friends birthday, or make a panicky last-minute run to the pharmacy to pick up balloons and flowers because you just realized you almost missed an anniversary. Get a Google calendar and learn how to use it.
Staying at a dead-end job
Taking a job just for the paycheck can be a noble thing… at first anyway. But sticking around too long at a job you hate, with no future or possibility of promotion, is a sucker move. Your career should be more than just a way to pay the bills. You need to find something to do with your life that makes you passionate, and excited to get out of bed in the morning.
Staying in a toxic relationship
You don’t have to be in a relationship at your age. The world is filled with happy and perfectly content singles over the age of 40. If your partner treats you with anything less than the respect you deserve, or makes you doubt your own self worth, it’s time to dump them like a bad habit.
“I’m sure it’ll go away eventually” is something you say about a fly that’s gotten into your house, not a symptom that could potentially be the warning signs of a serious illness. Getting an annual checkup should be routine for you by now, not something on your to-do list that you keep putting off.
Hopefully this isn’t the first you’ve heard that intimate relations between consenting adults could have consequences. Needing sex ed at this point is like needing a refresher on basic math. You know how it works, so try and practice a little precaution.
Forgetting to save money
You’re closer to retirement than you were at 20, and you should at least have a small savings account by now. Here’s a simple test to help you determine if you’re putting enough aside: If your car needed a new transmission tomorrow, would it deplete your savings? If it would, you are not adequately preparing for your financial future. If you need help amplifying your bank accounts, learn the 40 Ways to Seriously Boost Your Savings After 40.
Experimenting with a new haircut
There’s a time and place to get a braided mohawk or a shaved-at-the-sides pixie cut, but your 40s isn’t it. If you want a good ‘do, check out the 15 Best Haircuts for Looking Instantly Younger.
Live with your parents
Your childhood bedroom should be something else entirely now. Maybe your parents have transformed it into an office, or a storage room. It absolutely isn’t someplace you should be crashing for more than a week, while you “work some stuff out.” if your mom is making your bed every morning and doing your laundry, you have severely messed with the natural order of things.
Having abusive friends
It can be confusing when were younger to realize that friends who treat you like dirt aren’t really friends at all. But at 40, you’ve been around the block a few times, and you should know by now that anybody who talks trash about you, either behind your back or right to your face, isn’t worth your time.
Letting your house or apartment become a landfill
Do you live in a frat house? Sweet Lord we hope not, you’re 40! So don’t let your abode look like you recently hosted a major kegger. Pick up that laundry, sweep the floor, and wash your dishes like you’re a grown-up person who isn’t waiting for mommy or daddy to do it for them.
Going in for the fist-bump
It’s not going to land. The other person thinks it’s a handshake, and then you try and recalibrate mid-bump, and then they realize their error and try to come back at you with a bump, but it’s too late because you’re already in handshake mode again, and then your hands meet in an awkward implosion of knuckles and fingers, and then everybody laughs because, “What were we even thinking?” You weren’t thinking. Don’t do the bump. You’re not a fist bump person anymore.
Skipping work cause you’re hungover
Had a little too much to drink on a weeknight? First of all, no, you should not be doing that. But if it somehow happened anyway, you need to drag your hungover behind out of bed and get to work anyway. Maybe the punishing headache will serve as a reminder to never, ever do that again.
Blowing off plans at the last minute
RSVP is a binding contract, at least among adults. If you said you were going to show up for a dinner party, then show up. Coming up with a lame excuse hours before you’re supposed to arrive, like “we couldn’t get a sitter” or “I think I’m coming down with a cold” just because you want to stay home and binge-watch Westworld is A) not fooling anybody, and B) completely inconsiderate and rude. You’re better than that.
Sleeping past noon
Yes, even on weekends. Heck, especially on weekends. The weekend should be a time to get out of the house, meet up with friends and do something active, not stay in bed until you’re on the verge of missing out on lunch. You know who else sleeps all morning and gets nothing meaningful accomplished? Cats. You are now officially no better than a cat.
Going to rock festivals
Going out and seeing live music is always a great idea. But music festivals, with countless acts playing over several days, is not the place to do it. Not for you anyway. Nobody needs to be standing in mud for that many consecutive hours, least of all someone who’s been alive for four decades. Save your money (and your calves) and see your favorite band at an indoor venue.
Excessive text messages
Texting can be fun and convenient. But if what you have to say is more than 250 characters, maybe you pick up the phone instead and give them a call? It’s what grown-ups do. They have actual conversations, and exchange thoughts and ideas with each other that don’t require emojis.
Dwelling in the past
We live in a culture that rewards and encourages nostalgia. People as young as 20 already feel compelled to get wistful about their past. At 40, you should know better by now. It’s okay to reminisce about your youth, but never forget to look forward more than you look back.
Even if you’ve spent your whole life avoiding the gym , it’s never too late to start. That may sound like a cliche from a motivational poster, but it’s actually true. You don’t necessarily need a gym membership either. It could be something as simple as jogging, which new studies indicate could be hugely beneficial for older adults who’ve mostly avoided exercise during their lives.
The phrase, “Hey, let’s do some Jägerbombs” is not something that should ever leave your lips. A 40 year-old ordering a round of shots is like a 20 year old saying, “Let’s see if there’s a corkage fee.”
Still being on the fence about having kids
Despite what you may’ve been told, you still have time to become a parent. Several recent studies have proven that more people than ever are becoming parents after 40. So that’s not the issue. The issue is, do you want kids? And at 40, it’s no longer acceptable to say, “Well, I don’t know, we’re thinking about it.” No, sorry, there’s no more “thinking about it” in the cards for you. If you want a child, now is the time.
Borrowing money from friends or family
Not everyone is making serious bank in their forties, but even if you’re still struggling to make ends meet, 40 years old is no age to still be asking your parents for a “loan” that you totally “promise” to “pay them back” as soon as you “can”. If you can’t afford it on whatever salary you’re making, then you can’t afford it. End of story.
Waking up next to a stranger felt so dangerous and risky when you were in your 20s. Well guess what? It’s still dangerous and risky in your 40s.
We can’t say this enough. If your oral hygiene routine includes nothing else, let it be this. Floss. Floss everyday. We’re not joking. If you’re 40 and you don’t floss, stop reading this immediately and go floss. Seriously. Right now. Go floss. We’ll wait.
Doing anything solely to impress people
Remember that classic phrase your mother used to tell you? “If they jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?” When you’re 40, if somebody jumps off bridge, your first response should be, “Are you out of your mind?”
Using dry shampoo more than real shampoo
In general, people do tend to over wash our hair, and breaking it up with some dry shampoo is a good idea. But if you can’t remember the last time you stepped into a shower, and dry shampoo has become a regular part of your morning routine, you’ve taken this shortcut too far.
Junk food as a regular part of your diet
The occasional fast food meal on a road trip is not going to kill you. But if a deep dish pizza or Extra Value Meal is your idea of a Saturday night dinner for two, you’re getting your calories in all the wrong places.
We don’t mean taking a much deserved beach vacation with your sweetie, or enjoying a family vacation at Disney World. We’re talking about the kind of spring break where college students consume way too many adult libations, and a camera guy from “Girls Gone Wild” is lurking nearby.
Being an Internet troll
There’s no good age to be a jerk to people you don’t know online, but it’s an especially unflattering feature on someone who’s 40 or older. If you’ve ever written a mean Tweet or left the hateful comment on an online forum, and you’re old enough that your mother doesn’t pack your lunches, you are officially doing life wrong.
Relying on your fast metabolism
Remember when you could eat three pizzas and not gain a pound because you were 20 and your metabolism burned calories like the coal ovens on the Titanic? Well, your Titanic just hit an iceberg and those coal ovens are gone, and now every bite of food has consequences. Who knew the movie Titanic was such a perfect metaphor for turning 40? Though, if you want to make the most of your body’s clock, check out the 30 Best Ways to Boost Your Metabolism After 30.
There’s no bigger waste of time than jealousy. If somebody else has something that you want, then you should be focusing on what you can do to get it too, not on how much you’re pissed that they beat you to it. Any reasonable 40-year-old should already understand this.
Burning yourself out
Working hard is one thing, but if you’re giving up your nights and weekends to prove that you’re some kind of cyborg of productivity, it’s only going to hurt you in the long run. You’ll do yourself more good by shutting down the laptop and getting some shut-eye. Studies have shown that in older adults, getting a good night’s sleep will give you a renewed sense of purpose the next morning. And if you need help on that front, check out the 70 Tips For Your Best Sleep Ever.
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