I turned forty years old today. I spent time with my kids, shoveled our driveway (it snowed up in Rhinebeck), got in a workout, enjoyed dinner out with Melanie, had cake with the kids, and took a long walk alone outside. It was a quiet, normal, and beautiful day.
My thirties flew by quickly. It feels like yesterday that I sat down and wrote about some things on my mind as I turned thirty. But it’s ten years later and I’ve lived through a lot. Life has changed quite a bit. I think I’ve changed in many ways as well.
As I enter my forties, I’d like to leave a breadcrumb to revisit when I’m fifty. These four things–themes really–are what I intend to be guiding principles for how I live my life and prioritize my time in my forties.
“Gratitude is the understanding that many millions of things come together and live together and mesh together and breathe together in order for us to take even one more breath of air, that the underlying gift of life and incarnation as a living, participating human being is a privilege, that we are miraculously part of something, rather than nothing.” – David Whyte, Consolations
Some of the struggles, pains, and hardships that lay ahead in my forties will test my ability to express gratitude. There will inevitably be days when I feel like I’m being targeted with bad luck or pushed to the edge with problems, unforeseen bad news, and various stressors.
I will continue making space for myself to habitually reflect on life and remind myself of all that I have, all that has gone well, and all that I’m a part of. Through gratitude, I’ll be able to center myself, to appreciate the life that I have, and to feel contentment. I won’t underrate the power of having enough, that having more isn’t the answer.
I truly believe that the ability to express and hold feelings of gratitude is a quiet kind of superpower. It’s a gateway behavior that enables other behaviors like humility, joy, confidence, and equanimity. It’s no wonder that gratitude is at the core of many religions and that studies show the positive impact of gratitude on mental health.
“Courage is the measure of our heartfelt participation with life, with another, with a community, a work; a future.” – David Whyte, Consolations
I want to be able to look back on my forties and be proud that I didn’t hold back when it came to living my life. Whether it’s embarking on new business ventures, going on an adventure that pushes me outside my comfort zone, taking up new skills or hobbies that challenge me, or becoming involved in new communities where I’m a newbie–I want to over-index as someone who said “Hell yes!” and “Why not?” most of the time. I’d rather look foolish than regret not having taken action.
Courage to me means being okay with uncertainty while committing myself to some kind of change through action. The upside is tremendous–new experiences, learnings, relationships, and opportunities to have impact. This mindset, I know, will serve me well in business, with family and friends, and in my community.
One more thing I’ll add: courage also means doing what it takes to get to where I want to be, to help realize a vision or goal. This, in many cases, will mean making tough decisions and dealing with short-term pains. It could mean uprooting our family to start a life elsewhere, having difficult conversations about the future of a business, and a host of other things that require getting out of my comfort zone and doing what needs doing. I want to be able to say: “Things weren’t easy, but I was decisive and committed myself to action.”
I will be generous with my time in serving others and live into to my personal mission statement of being a facilitator of opportunities, wellbeing, and happiness in the lives of others.
I want to continually share my lessons learned in running a business so it may serve as a resource for other business owners. I want to grow Barrel Holdings to provide career and wealth-building opportunities for others. I want to play a big part in providing my family a secure and happy life. I want to be an energetic catalyst for continuing lifelong friendships.
Beyond these, I will open myself to serving others opportunistically. Whether it’s by helping to make introductions, by volunteering in community-related activities, or by mentoring those seeking help–the payoff will be in the acts themselves. That I “get to” serve and help others is a privilege I won’t take lightly in my forties.
One of the most powerful unlocks for me in my thirties was developing a system of habits that ultimately allowed me to have more energy and acquire more knowledge. I embraced exercise, mobility, reading, writing, intermittent fasting, better sleep, and walking as foundational near-daily activities.
In my forties, maintaining the discipline to continue these activities while layering on a few more useful activities will allow me to be a better version of myself. Regardless of how busy work or family life might get, I will make time to do these activities while also avoiding or minimizing unproductive/unhealthy activities like excessive drinking, overeating, staying up late, and mindless social media consumption.
I firmly believe that more discipline equals greater freedom because discipline leads to greater reserves of energy, which then leads to greater patience, better decision-making, greater ability to focus, and ultimately more time to live life fully.