My 40th Birthday! 5 Ways to Best Handle Turning 40

So, this past Sunday, I hit the big 4-0. I’m gonna let that sink in for a minute (let it sink in for me, not you). I am now 40-years-old. I’m not sure what to say about it.

My 40th Birthday: 5 Ways to Best Handle Turning 40 - Jackie Bledsoe

I honestly didn’t think it was going to be that big of a deal. I’ve never been big on milestone dates, years, or whatever. I’ve just always had this “it is what it is” type of approach to it.

I was having issues…

But as my 40th birthday was approaching I started feeling some kind of way. What kind of way I can’t really put my finger on. It was just different. There was the part of my that was like,

“Dang! No more 30s…I’m old now…”

Then there was part of me that was like,

“I am blessed…I know people that didn’t make it to 40, and I know people who’ve made it, but look like the first 39 years got the best of them.”

And then there was the deep thinking,

“I’m going to be 40…what have I done or what will I do that has significance.”

My thoughts and emotions went back and forth. I have to admit there were some times I was actually down. Feeling like I’d missed out on so much, or squandered so many opportunities and time.

I also felt overwhelming joy, like it’s really about to go down now (in a good way). I’m about to take 40, 41, 42…50 and beyond by storm! This is the best time in my life…family is great, career is taking off, my passions and purpose are more clear than ever. This is going to be amazing!

But what do I really want for my 40th birthday?

Through it all I didn’t know what I wanted to happen on my birthday. My wife is big on surprises, but I usually tell her “don’t surprise me, just let me know so I can be prepared for it. I like to plan and prepare.” But I kind of wanted to be surprised this year.

I also considered doing something monumental. I noticed two people I follow online launching campaigns for non-profits which raised thousands of dollars. I have a heart and passion for giving to those in need, so that really appeals to me. I just kept seeing “40 for 40” (meaning raising $40k for my 40th year of life).

But I felt like I have too many other things happening like writing my book manuscript, due next month, to working on the presentations for my speaking engagements this year, to reaching the financial, business, and personal goals I’ve set. I felt I would be stretched too thin to give the time and attention needed to accomplish something huge like 40 for 40 this year. I would need help, and major help.

Let the chips fall where they may…

Finally, I just said “forget it.” I’m not going to be too concerned about turning 40, or what it’ll be like after 40. Or about what I want to happen on my 40th, and anything significant I do/give will just happen through the course of what I’m doing.

I am just going to reflect and enjoy all God has blessed me with. I decided as long as I was with my family, no matter what we did, or what happened, then it’d be all good. And I just trusted that everything would work out.

Here is what happened on my 40th birthday

First, let me say that my wife did surprise me, not just once, but multiple times. To start the day we went to church as we always do on Sunday, and my mother-in-law drove an hour to join us (if you haven’t read my posts or noticed, I love my mother-in-law as she is the best mother-in-law a man could have).

We left church early because my son’s basketball team had a game and I’m one of the coaches. The kids played with a different level of intensity and energy than they had in the past few games (we were 0-3 before the game). We won an exciting game, coming from behind to win in the last few minutes. Yes!

The first surprise

After the game, the entire team, their parents, their siblings, and of course my wife were all waiting for me in the stands to sing happy birthday and present me with a cake, card, and basketball with all of our player’s signatures on it. That was cool!

After that was over I said I was good, my birthday was pretty much complete. We could have gone home to eat and hung out, and I would have called the day a success. But of course, my wife and her surprises wasn’t done.

Next we went to dinner, which she told me in advance, however when we arrived there was a big table, too big for our five. Soon after some of our best friends joined us with their kids, and shortly after they arrived I see my nephew pop his head around the corner, followed by my parents.

My nephew, who is more like a little brother to me, lives 7 or 8 hours away from us and I hadn’t seen him in forever. My parents were a surprise as well, but I did kind of expect them. But what happened next caught me completely off guard.

That was big, but this was real BIG!

My brother, my nephew’s dad, walked up behind me. I was completely surprised! We hadn’t seen each other or even talked but a handful of times, in a couple years. To be transparent, we’ve had some challenges in our relationship therefore the limited communication, but there was no love loss or hard feelings, and I was super excited, super happy, and super surprised to see him.

For me, this was one heck of a 40th birthday! As I thought it about all I went through mentally and emotionally there were some insights I gleaned from it all. These insights can help you if/when you are about to turn 30, 40, 50, or you approach things in your life that seem “life-changing.”

5 ways to best handle turning 40

  1. Start with gratitude. The moment I decided to reflect and appreciate all that I’ve been blessed with things changed. The up and down emotions seemed to fade, while joy and excitement replaced it.
  2. Focus on what you can control. Part of my reasons for asking my wife to spill the beans versus surprise me was so I could have some sort of control over the situation. Sometimes things are out of our control. Our focus should be on the things we can control, our thoughts and actions.
  3. Realize “there is more where that came from.” Thinking of missed opportunities and lost time came from a scarcity perspective. But there is no limit to the good things God has in store for me, and for your. The opportunities I think I missed, or time I think I lost…there is more where that came from. This perspective will change your life, especially in the are of giving.
  4. Trust those you love. I love my wife and my wife loves me. Perhaps she knows me sometimes better than I know myself. I’ve been telling her for years “I don’t like surprises.” And she consistently surprises me despite that. And you know what? I love it each time she does. Trust those who are closest to you, and go with the flow.
  5. Enjoy every minute of it. I enjoyed every single minute of my 40th birthday, and I plan to not let my enjoyment end just because the day has passed. Enjoy life in general. Enjoy your family, enjoy your work, choose joy over any other feeling or negative thoughts.

You can’t stop time or delay inevitable things like growing older, but you can choose how to best handle it. Hopefully, my story of handling my 40th birthday will help your next milestone birthday or life-changing event be the best it can be.

Question: What is your next milestone birthday? How do you feel about it? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

As promised in a past post, on my birthday I randomly chose two winners of a FREE 1-year membership of Netflix streaming. You can click here to see the winners of the memberships.
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  • Angela Downam

    I’m turning 40 on the 30th, no age has bothered me, in fact I welcomed it as I reflected how much I have grown, accomplished, and looked for my age….as a woman who isn’t completely fixed on ageing ….over the last 6 months seems to be happening rapidly. I’m in a relationship with a man who is only a year younger but looks a good ten years younger and very attractive. He is a loyal man, great man…who coukd have anyone….but I feel that from this point on he has to accept my increasingly fast ageing. I have went from being a little intimadatingly confident. ..to super insecure! I know he loves me and no matter how much he reassurance he gives me, I can’t stop thinking about his ability to have any beautiful 20 yr old instead. This even sounds ridiculous as I type it….but I feel like and unattractive old lady….despite having many qualities (im a really well rounded awesome person) that make people say “there is just something about you” that makes me attractive. Am I being shallow? Or is this a common thought process….

  • Bob Tyrrell

    HA! So I’m a year late to the party, but it’s fitting, because in 15 days time, I’ll be hitting the big 4-0, right before you’ll be turning the big 4-1. I just happened across your blog because I googled “I’m turning 40. What do I want for my birthday?” and this page showed up in the search results. My parents, who live a good 1200 miles away, as the crow flies, asked me what I wanted for my birthday. Your post is a good read through, so thank you. “They” say that life is all about perspective, but sometimes it’s hard to understand what that perspective is. It’s not like I have two weeks to find out, but like you, the more I think about turning 40, the more daunting it becomes, but also the less daunting it becomes.

    • Ha! Well enjoy it and welcome to the 40-club, Bob!

    • Angela Downam

      Bob Tyrell, as in the amazing artist?? Im a huge fan! If not…lol…the good news is all men look better with age…even to younger women!

  • Awesome Jackie! 40s is good brother. My milestone was when I turned 50. My wife did it to me too. God blessed me with relatives from out of town, they decorated the room (well, outside) like if it was for a kid – but with the big 50. It was crazy! To top it off, somebody gave me a fully loaded vehicle – which we needed. So it was great! But I’m now starting to feel funny (like you mentioned) about being 51. Not sure why. But it’s a funny feeling, like I’m starting to tip over the top of that hill, ya know. 🙂 Anyway, it’ll still be a good year! Hey have a blessed weekend!

    • Wow! Somebody gave you a fully loaded vehicle…that’s a great gift! I’ve embraced 40…I’m sure you’ll do the same for 51. 🙂

  • Dean Haiden

    First I am very happy for your milestone and sharing. Later I will let you know more about the 50 club in December, but wanted you to know after turning 49 this past December that my goal is to lose 50 by 50. My journey started December 19, three days after my birthday, and as of the 26th I have 35 to go. If my plan works out I will meet my goal by my twenty year anniversary in September. Either way, I am happy, excited, whole, blessed and prosperous to have my family and friends like you. Talk to you soon, and of course, blog on my blessed friend!

    • Awesome, Dean! I love “50 by 50!” That is a great goal and it sounds like you are on track. If we see you guys in March I’m going to be there to help you stay on task. Maybe you can dine like my wife with the veggie plates while there. 🙂

  • Welcome to The Club, Jackie! I climbed two mountains in Colorado on my 40th. My wife surprised me with a carmel apple covered with chocolate, chocolate chips and some other gooey good stuff from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory as my “trail mix”.

  • Joel Phillips

    Thanks for the head’s up. I’m 39, so… it’s coming. Thanks for the positive outlook. 40 is the new… whatever, it doesn’t matter 🙂 Number 5 is my favorite and a practice I try to bring myself back to continuously. My mind always wanders to fears of the future, worst case scenarios, or to things that happened in the past. But number 5 above is about enjoying the present moment. That’s where the joy of living is and where a “happy” birthday and everyday is found!

    • Yes, it is coming, but it’ll be great! Choosing joy in the moment is one of the best things we can do. Thanks for joining the conversation, Joel!

  • Happy Birthday, Jackie. You make some great points in this article for those men approaching a certain age and struggling. Bless your heart. Sharing it!! Thanks…

  • Time to party! Welcome to Club-40 Jackie! This is an awesome read. I was so happy to turn 40, kinda looked forward to it.

  • LaQuisha

    Great read! Happy 40th
    LaQuisha

  • Leo Landaverde

    Great post Jackie. Welcome to the 40-Yr club. We rock!!! Anyway, I feel like part of your family. Thanks for being so informative and entertaining with your posts. Cheers!

    • My pleasure, Leo. Yes, the 40-yr club rocks! 🙂 I’m glad you are enjoying my posts.