10 Milestones To Hit Before Turning 40

I’ve learned more significant lessons in my forties than in any other decade, and wish I'd figured a few of these things out a lot sooner. I wrote down the ten most life-changing things I've learned, in hopes that you can get a jump on creating the life you want. The rest of your life starts now, whether you realize it or not.

1. Cherish your parents.

We know abstractly that no one lives forever, but for some reason, it's hard to internalize that our parents won't always be there. Tell your parents you love them because you won't always have the chance. We're not promised anything — not even the time to say goodbye — so tell your parents, sincerely and often, how much they mean to you.

2. Embrace the inevitability of aging.

The same we way can remain in denial about mortality, part of us can't imagine getting (and looking) old. A day will come when you look in the mirror and say, “Who the BLEEP is that?!” Between now and then, nurture a sense of self that isn't reliant on your physical appearance, and surround yourself with people who appreciate your personality and character, rather than the body they happen to walk around in.

3. Find your purpose and live it.

Identify what's truly important to you, what brings you the most fulfillment, and start pursuing it now. It may take some work to uncover your purpose, but it can be the difference between a life of joy and a life of regret.

4. Save for retirement.

It's SO important to establish a pattern of saving at an early age. Starting early gives your savings more time to compound and grow. If you wait until you're older, you may have to reduce your style of living and work longer, just to have enough money when you do retire.

5. Do work that you love.

Most of us spend the majority of our days, weeks, and lives at work. That's way too much time to devote to something you're not passionate about. Money is important, but happiness trumps it. Being passionate is the first step towards being great at something, and being great at something is how you get paid for it. Start there. Just making the decision to do that will make you feel lighter, happier, purposeful.

6. Accept yourself without judgement.

Self-judgment causes unnecessary suffering and will paralyze you with fear, making it impossible for you to take ownership of your life. By accepting yourself unconditionally, you give yourself permission to make the choices that you know are right.

7. Take control of your experiences.

Passivity allows your life to take a course undecided by you. Check in with yourself regularly to make sure the life you are living is the one you want. This gives you the opportunity to make changes in the areas that aren't working or that are unsatisfying.

You can't afford to spend one second of your time on earth doing anything other than exactly what you want.

8. Learn that love doesn't always last.

As painful as this is, it is a reality. Even the best relationships change and evolve. Marriages can fail, friendships can wither away, and love can fade. As long as you're alive, you're growing, and sometimes that mean growing apart from those you love. All relationships are important and serve a purpose, even if they don’t last forever.

9. Concede that not everyone will like you. (And that's okay.)

Don't waste your time trying to please everyone. There will always be someone who, for whatever reason, doesn't like you. Let it go! Your energy will be better spent elsewhere.

10. Make a bucket list.

It's easy to get so caught up in the daily grind that you don’t have time to truly live. Make a list of anything and everything you've ever wanted to experience in your lifetime, and actually DO these things. Cross 'em off one by one. It's written proof you've spent your life doing things that make you happy.

What insights have you gained that you wish you'd known at an earlier age?

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