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.
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 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 expected 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.