Thank you for reading the first part in this list of fifty things I’ve learned before the age of fifty. The initial blog entry talked about the bigger things in life – kids, work, health. In this 2nd section I’m going to talk about some of the smaller things that I’ve picked up along the way. Men in their 40s have specific experiences. Let’s look at what life means to us.
9 – Exercise Boys Like They Are Dogs
I know, strange header. But one of the things I’ve picked up with my boys over the years is they need to run off some steam and energy every single day. Being cooped up in the house does them no good at all. So, like you would with a dog, take them out and get them running around. Fresh air and exercise does us all the world of good. A lack of either of these can have a significant impact on their health and the way the view life as they get older. And it helps men in their 40s to keep the pounds off too.
But for me it’s about far more than that. It burns off the mischief. It stops them from having excess energy to burn on silly things like fighting with each other or making a nuisance of themselves. Big dogs go for a run. They feel more alive and then feel tired when they get home. In my experience, boys are exactly the same. They sleep better, eat better and generally feel better when they have exercised.
In fact, that goes the same for all of us. Kicking a football around with the kids for an hour or so burns a few calories for me, but also helps me to build. It gives me –
- Bonding time with the kids
- Something to have a conversation with the about
- The feeling of developing their football skills
- An idea of how fast they are growing up
Of course, it doesn’t have to be football but getting out in the great outdoors with your kids opens up a world of possibilities. There will soon be a time when they don’t want to do it any longer. Before that day comes, get out there and enjoy all the world has to offer. If the least it does is get you some sleep then that’s a great thing in itself.
10 – Men In Their 40s: TV Is The New Cinema
Now maybe I think this because I’ve got kids and don’t get out to the cinema as often as I used to. But the quality of TV shows now is absolutely amazing. If you’ve not invested in a Netflix subscription, then I suggest you do. Not only can you sell all your old DVD’s and Blu-ray discs, but you can also get access to some of the most amazing TVC shows. They are definitely up there with the best of Hollywood.
My personal favourite all-time top TV show is True Detective. Series One with Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey is amazing watching. The story unfolds in front of your eyes and you just can’t wait to watch the next one. I’ve never really been one for binge watching but this is just amazing. I urge not just men in their 40s to watch this.
TV takes up far less of my time than it ever used to. I always used to sit in the front room and switch on the TV, looking for something to watch. I could channel hop for ages just looking for something to be on in the background while I was doing something else. It was on when I ate my lunch, when I was working sometimes and when I was reading (more of that later).
Now it is only on when I have something I specifically want to watch. And this is part of the same thing I’ve learned. TV can take over your life with rubbish if you let it. There are two lessons here – one that you need to cut out the rubbish and tow that you don’t have to watch rubbish at all.
Anyway, TV can be amazing, can be awful. Get more of the amazing and cut out all of the awful. You’re approaching 50. You don’t have time left in your life for awful. Especially when there is so much amazing out there. TV is the new cinema. And we have access to as much of it as we like whether that’s through the BBC, the rest of the terrestrial channels or by using a set top box and watching stuff from all over the world. Enjoy!
12 – Reading Enhances The World Around You
Not unlike the Wu-Tang Clan Song C.R.E.A.M. this is something that you should carry with you wherever you go. The world is a wonderful place. And it becomes even more wonderful if you read regularly.
Reading non-fiction lets you know all about the things in the world and beyond. It opens your eyes to the amazing wonders of the universe or the human body. You can understand what is happening in the news or on a documentary when they are talking through an item.
But fiction is just as amazing. It lets you see the world through different eyes. You get to feel differently about just about anything on the planet. Stories have been told from person to person for millennia. They are the things that bind us. Men in their 40s will enjoy similar reads, I suspect, so share with your peers.
I try to have 2 books on the go at any one time – usually one fiction and one non-fiction. If I start something and it really takes me then I tend to readjust that and wait until I’ve finished to start the 2-book life again. If you start to get into a subject, then there will be loads of other books that will supplement that first one.
I’d recommend reading to anyone and everyone. If books aren’t your thing then look for the Kindle. And if you don’t get on with this then Audible is a great option and doesn’t cost a great deal if you get the right package.
13 – There Is Nothing Wrong With The Number 13
I was about 13 years old when I noticed that many streets in my neighbourhood didn’t have a number thirteen. I was offended, probably even more so because of the age I was myself. Fast forward around 25 years and my son broke his leg on Friday 13th. It felt like the curse had struck again.
Looking back over it, I thought that this was an unlucky day, an unlucky number. But in the cold light of day, there is no such thing. There have been countless Friday 13th’s in my life. But there has only been one of them where something this bad happened. It felt like there were loads of Friday 13th’s in 2019 but I managed to survive all of them unscathed. Men in their 40s should be above this…
It’s the same with walking under a ladder, having a black cat cross your path or any of the other signals of bad luck we’re told about as we go through our lives. There is no such thing as bad luck. It was a golfer, I’m sure, that came up with the phrase, ‘The more I practice, the luckier I get.’ And we can practice our minds to just get on with life. This is the same whether a problem comes our way on Friday 13th or Tuesday 3rd.
Superstitions might help us get motivated in some ways (lucky pants are a big one for guys) but they don’t change the world – just our perception of it.
14 – Silence Is Golden
The power of silence is a much-underrated thing. It is a peaceful calm in the middle of a hectic workday. It can be that unusual noise when you have that oh so rare bit of time on your own at home. And it is the most powerful thing you can do in communication.
Silence really is golden (I can hear the song in my head) because we hear so precious little of it. If you have kids, then you might not remember the last time you got a large amount of the stuff. The world we live in today isn’t geared up for silence. It’s geared up for noise. I am guilty of being one of those people who sometimes has the TV in in the background when I’m doing something else. It is a distraction, but it takes sway from the silence I could be experiencing.
And when you are communicating with other people, silence should be your best friend. In negotiation, it is the most powerful thing, especially if you are negotiating with someone else who doesn’t understand the power of silence. They will try to fill the gaps you leave with noise. They will happily negotiate themselves down while you remain tight-lipped. It’s a wonderful technique. And all it takes is for you to be quiet for a short while.
Look for some silence in your life. It will really help you to get a grip from time to time. Listen to the voice in your head for a little but then even switch that off and listen to the sounds of nature. Look around and absorb it all. There’s not much in life that gives you a better feeling.
15 – Men In Their 40s: People Don’t Change
I know this doesn’t sound like a particularly positive thing to say. But deep down, the majority of people don’t change. They stay the same throughout their life. Of course, this isn’t a universal truth. Some people will make significant change during their life. But even these will carry some traits of who they were before they went on that journey.
The reason I point this out is that we can all deal with people hoping that they will change. We look to a friend who is always on the outside of things, never really coming out for a drink as regularly as the rest of you. He won’t change. It will always be a pain to get him to come out. And when he does, he’ll go home early. We all have a friend or two in our social circle that act like this. And we’re nearly fifty, for god’s sake. They’ve been doing this since we could get to the pub and get away with being served, somewhere in our teens.
People won’t change. The things that anno you about them today will still be there tomorrow. And the next day, next week, next month, next year. It’s best to work on your mindset and accept that they will be like this. It’s much less painful than trying to get someone to change – someone who doesn’t realise they’re annoying you or doesn’t see the need to change.
Now this doesn’t mean put up with anything from anyone. But is biting the nails really that much of an annoyance that you are prepared to walk away? If so, walk away now. If not, start accepting it and getting on with your own life. I’m sure you have plenty of habits that others might find annoying. And others are expected to accept you, aren’t they?
16 – Networking Isn’t As Scary As It Looks
It’s everywhere in business circles at the moment – networking. Being forced to stand in a room of other people and listen to how great they are at business. Sounds like a version of hell, doesn’t it? Well, it isn’t actually as bad as it looks from the outside. Once you get there, you can find some really interesting people.
Yes, there are some negatives to networking –
- Everyone is there to sell, not to buy
- You will find ‘hunters’ who want to use you
- The odd person will put you on the spot (usually a competitor)
But these last 2 happen few and far between. As for the first one, you just have to accept that this is going to be the case. If you’re good at what you do, then you will find others that want or need what you have.
Networking is about making connections. And that’s where most of your fellow networkers will fall flat. They will ask if you have ISO:9001, need to make 16.4% savings on your business utility bills or wonder the last time you and your team had health and safety training. But that’s not how you get to know, like and trust people. You ask about their family, if they have kids, where they went on holiday, what football team they support or anything else that has little connection to their business. Why? Because people buy people. They don’t buy training or savings or qualifications. If they want those things, then they’ll Google them. Or, more likely, they will speak to someone they know. Someone that they have built a relationship with.
17 – Men In Their 40’s: Fifty Is A Big Number
When I set out writing this list I thought that it wouldn’t take me very long to complete. But here I am a couple of months later and I’m only on the 2nd blog and the 17th item on the list. Fifty is the whole reason behind this website. It was set up as I moved away from my 40th birthday and started to contemplate the future. I would be fifty before I knew it.
The reasons it feels big to me include –
- I can remember my Dad’s 50th and I thought he was old then
- It’s halfway to a century – 100 years old
- If we live to 100, then the 2nd half will undoubtedly be tougher than the 1st half
- The world is changing at such a pace
Now fifty feels less of a challenge, less of a worry as I’ve sat and written more blogs. But there are still some worries.
I worry that my body isn’t in the best shape to see me through the next 50 years. And I know from conversations with people my age that I’m not the only one to worry about this. There are so many things that can go wrong. We’re at the age where we know other people have died from illness, disease or from unknown causes.
I worry that my kids are growing up into a scary place. The one that we call the world. It is filled with the kind of challenges that didn’t exist when we were young. But I’m sure the world for us was filled with the kind of challenges that our parents hadn’t even dreamed of when they were kids. And we’ve turned out okay in general, I think…
I worry that the world will end any minute. Not the kind of obsessive worry that would stop me from sleeping, but a worry that were headed in the wrong direction as a human race. You know, that we have too many people and too few resources. That we are one war away from annihilation. That we are one epidemic away from wipe out.
Fifty is a big number but it’s not one that need send us to an early grave. The average life expectancy of a man in the UK is just under 80. So, we’ve all got a good run left in us. Men in their 40s needn’t think we’re heading to the exit door just yet.
18 – Have An Open Mind
This is something that I have learned more about in the last few years than the pervious 40. An open mind is the way forward, let me tell you. The alternative is quite a painful place to be. If you have an open mind, then you can take everything on its merits. This comes in many shapes and sizes.
Didn’t like something 5 years ago? 10 years ago? 20 years ago? That doesn’t mean that you won’t like it now. Your body changes. Your tastes change. There are no other reasons for the fact that facial hair (which was off the menu for decades) is back in vogue. And we can’t blame the hipsters for everything…
An open mind means that you get to try new things. Or re-try old things. I’ve recently been out walking in The Lakes, been to a bingo hall and spent time in networking events. These are things that I have either never done before or dismissed in the past. And do you know what, some of them I really enjoy. And other things I’ve tried recently ate just not for me. But I’m happy that I’ve tried them. Men in their 40s can go back to their youth!
19 – Men In Their 40s: Go To The Doctor
And I come to this. The last entry for this addition of the ‘fifty things I learned before 50’ ends with a note. The doctor is your friend. Too many men end up really unwell because they don’t go to the doctor when they feel a little unwell. Now, I’m not saying that you should book a doctor’s appointment whenever you feel less than 100%. But if you feel unwell with something you don’t recognise (like a cold) for more than a few days then you should look into it.
Suicide is a major killer of men between 20 and 45. That’s still men in their 40s. But there are much bigger killers of men over that age. We have a lot to contend with. And so many of the things that end up killing us can be much easier to treat if we seek help sooner in the process. The doctor will be able to point you in the right direction. In case you’ve not been to a hospital recently, the NHS is still there, working away n the background. They will look after you.
Sorry to end the blog on a negative note, but we need to look after ourselves.
Thank you for reading and stay tuned for the next instalment that will appear soon. There will be a few of these as I approach fifty things that I’ve learned before fifty. And I hope that other men in their 40s will have similar experiences to me.