The Big 40 – Now What?

Image showing lit birthday candles spelling happy birthday. In the top right corner there is a text box with the text the big 40 now what.

Two months ago, it was my birthday. This time it was the big 40, the end of a decade, and officially entering a new one. Turning 40 has, for sure, made me reflect on where I am in life, as well as where I want to go from here. After all, life ends at 40 right? Or does it?

To tell the truth, my youngest presented me as his ”very, very, very old mum” to some of his friends six years ago. So I guess this means I’m ancient by now, right?

In some ways, I feel more like myself the older I get. When I turned 30, I felt a sense of relief. Finally, I felt that my age reflected how old I felt! Turning 40 feels…different. It certainly feels different compared to when I entered my 30s. If it’s hard not to compare oneself to others normally, then this upcoming birthday magnifies that for sure. Two years ago, I for sure didn’t feel like celebrating.

A bunch of balloons with the number forty on them.
Photo by Dan Stephens on Unsplash

Milestones Accomplished

As mentioned above, entering a new decade of my life has made me reflect on where I’ve come this far, and where I wish to go from here. A quick summarization of my 30s looks something like this:


  • Raising two kids with a co-parent (plenty of struggles here)
  • Changing my job to my current employment
  • Finding love again after divorce at 31
  • Picking up yoga
  • Being in both long-term and short relationships – and back to being single with just me and the kiddos


  • Creating a blog – and later moving it to self-hosted WordPress and learning the basics of web design to redesign my site
  • Coming back to my interest and love for IT and…
  • Being forced to learn new things, both professionally and at home within IT
  • Finding my way back to art and learning some basics for creating digital art
  • Teaching during a pandemic
  • Realizing I have less tolerance for chit-chat when there’s a meeting. I speak my mind more and would rather be efficient and stick to the agenda.
An image showing the words happy birthday written in frosting. There are some different pralines shown between the words.
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

My 30s have had their ups and downs, but I learned things for sure. I’ve recently found my way back to IT again, but in new ways, since I need to learn new things both for running my WordPress site, as well as for teaching new courses at work. While I don’t mind learning new things, it can still be frustrating at times. I’ve also gone through a phase of being more creative and turning back to falling in love with art.

The challenge I see ahead is keeping up with the different interests I have, possibly combining them as well as taking time for my projects. I know from experience that once the semester is in full swing, I forget to set time for things that bring me joy. If I could squeeze in a small wish for the coming decade, it is to keep learning things that I find interesting – regardless if they’re important to others or not!

Lessons Learned Before Turning 40

What are some things I learned from the last decade of my life? One thing for sure is that I still enjoy learning new things, even though I might not appreciate being given a push to get started. I’ve also learned not to take things for granted and that I need to focus on taking care of myself, to take care of others. I’ve been pushing myself too hard at times, and I need to strike more of a balance – even when it comes to trying to stay healthy. I still become too eager or see things as black or white, more so than I’d wish to do.

Approaching my 40s has always felt like kind of a big deal, and I think many share this feeling. What I try to remember is that I shouldn’t compare myself too much to others of the same age. Am I where I thought I would be at this age? Not really, but I suppose I’ll have to be fine with it either way. It’s easy to play the comparison game, seeing what others of a similar age do, how far they’ve come, or how successful they are. But then, that’s their life.

Their journey, not mine. It’s not always easy, but I’m aware of it and try to bring myself back to being okay with well, being me I guess. That’s also my advice for those of you approaching your 40s: don’t compare yourself to others. You are, as cliché as it sounds, unique. Your journey is as well! Remember that we all define success differently and that someone probably sees you as being successful, even though you may not feel this yourself.

An image showing lit birthday candles spelling out happy birthday.
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash


While my circle of friends is small, I appreciate them for all their different strengths and personalities. Some have pushed me into doing new things, taking on IT courses and some web design to mention a few things. I know they have my back and believe in my abilities, even when I struggle and feel like a complete failure. The way I’ve gained a mentor in a new field, and having someone to ask questions Google can’t give a simple answer to, is truly a blessing.

To quote Mel Robbins:

People are in your life for a reason, season, or a lifetime. Stop trying to force people into the wrong category.

Mel Robbins

This quote resonates with me on a deep level. It also permits you to let go of relationships that have run their course, no matter the kind.

Looking Forward

Entering this new chapter of my life, there are some goals and aspirations I have for the next decade. I want to:

  • Keep learning things that interest me, and give myself time to work on things I find interesting.
  • Be brave and dare to take more chances, even though they freak me out!
  • Realize it’s now or never, and go after things I want in life.
  • Dare to dream again, something I haven’t done for a long time.
  • Let my dreams be mine, no one else’s, and realize that they matter.
  • Keep working on my physical and mental health, setting time for what refills my cup and makes my soul happy.
  • Feel excitement for what’s to come, even though I can’t see it yet.

Something I wish to let go of is comparing myself as much as I do to others – or how far they’ve come. Their life and journey are not mine!

Image of a hand holding a sparkler.
Photo by Cristian Escobar on Unsplash


So far, I can’t say I feel any difference between being 39 and just turning 40. The one thing I do feel is a bit of not urgency perhaps, but the feeling that I need to take myself more seriously in some ways – and be more playful in others. I need to be more serious as to where I let my time go, creating better borders between work and personal life. I need to prioritize differently, making sure I have time for my projects and hobbies regularly. Waiting for summer or a school break doesn’t cut it.

If you’re approaching 40, I’d say don’t be surprised if you start reflecting more on where you are, where you’ve been, and where you want to go from here on in life. It’s ok to not have all the answers. It’s okay to freak out. And it’s okay to slow down and think about things, as long as you don’t get stuck and procrastinate or overthink instead of taking action. My grandma likes to remind me every time we meet that life is short and has no re-runs. I guess that’s true, and that part of what may hold us back is our fears. You know what? Perhaps turning 40 won’t be so bad after all.

Have you reached 40 yet or are you getting close? How do you feel about this part of your life?


Language teacher interested in reading, art, games, and how technology can help out in everyday life.

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