Today it’s my birthday. Quite a big one. For a while now, people have been asking me how I feel about being 40, as if it’s something to dread. Today I had cards saying things along the lines of ‘don’t worry it’s not that bad’. I never thought it was.
I’m not the sort of person who sets myself grand deadlines and targets. I didn’t want to be married by 30, have children by 35, or own my own company before I was 40. I’m not what you’d call driven. Sometimes I know this is to my detriment, I can be too cautious, and the fear of failure has held me back on more than one occasion. I guess there’s a good chance that this means I’ve missed out on achieving quite a lot, because driven people do seem to get more done.
But I also know that constantly striving for something you don’t have, that’s just out of reach, can be a recipe for unhappiness. A better job, a bigger house, a nicer car – none of those things matter.
I read something in the Guardian recently about making the most of your time. One of the suggestions was to imagine that you had one year left to live. How would you spend it? This struck me as the perfect balance between the mad rush of live-every-day-as-if-its-your-last and having your life planned out with targets and goals. If I had one year left, I would fill my days with activities that made me and my loved ones happy. So that is what I try to do.
I am lucky enough to have a nice house, a happy marriage, healthy children and enough friends. Being 40 really isn’t so bad.