40 Writers Offer Insight and Guidance on Life After the Big 4-0!
In 40 Things to Do When You Turn 40, a diverse group of authors explains why the 40s is a great time to stop, reflect and pursue your dreams!
CommitmentNow.com: 40 Things to Do When You Turn 40 contains guidance and insight from 40 men and women who have turned 40 with style! How did you choose these authors and what were their reactions when you asked them to contribute essays for this volume?
Ronnie Sellers: One of our primary objectives from an editorial standpoint was diversity. We wanted to get essays from people from all walks of life on many different subjects related to turning 40. We started off with a brainstorming session during which we all threw out names of potential contributors. Then we actually commissioned some free lance people to help us track people down and solicit essays from them. Often someone who agreed to contribute an essay would recommend a friend or associate to us, and then we’d contact that person and ask if he/she was interested in contributing. I’ll be honest; it wasn’t easy to gather and edit forty different essays, but in the end, it was more than worth the trouble. It’s a wonderful book and it continues to be one of our best sellers.
CommitmentNow.com: What was your goal in putting this book together?
Ronnie: We had two primary goals. The first was to publish a book that would enhance the experience of turning 40 for anyone who was approaching, or had recently passed, that important milestone. The other was to generate royalty revenue that we could donate to cancer related charities. Thanks to the writing skills and generosity of the contributors (they all donated their essays), I’m happy to say that we succeeded on both counts!
CommitmentNow.com: Many of your contributors talk about the 40s as a time of taking control, transforming yourself and following your dreams. Why is 40 seen as such a milestone?
Ronnie: I just re-read 40 Things To Do When You Turn 40 before responding to your interview questions. As you read through the essays, you realize that the experience of turning 40 varies widely from one person to the next. In many cases, people go through their twenties and thirties with their heads down and their shoulders strapped into the harness…working hard to build a career and often raise a family. Then, at age 40, they suddenly realize that they have accomplished many of their career objectives, and the kids have reached the age where the last thing they want to do is hang out with mom or dad. So the “big 4-0” becomes a waypoint, a time to stop and reflect, and ask, “where do I want to go from here.” In other cases, people spend the first 40 years of their lives avoiding work and responsibility…so turning 40 represents an opportunity to change their ways, buckle down, settle down, and get serious about life.
Many of the essayists refer to age 40 as the “mid-way point” of their lives. I think this is more psychological than anything else because many 40 year olds will live into their 90s. Still, if you suspect that you have reached the half-way point in a journey, it’s a good time to pause and reflect upon what you’ve learned and experienced along the way, as well as decide where you want to go from there.
CommitmentNow.com: Tawni O'Dell revels in the fact that she doesn't care about certain things; in other words, she no longer feels a need to impress. Is that a common characteristic of men and women in their 40s?
Ronnie: Tawni’s essay is the first one in the book, and we put it first for a reason. She really does a wonderful job of succinctly conveying the different phases that many of us go through in our 20s and 30s before arriving at our 40s, which she refers to as “the Decade of Acceptance.” Who is it that we learn to accept? Ourselves, of course, and the more we are able to accept ourselves, the less we care about how others view us. Many of the authors describe the process of turning 40 as one that is liberating. It’s liberating because you realize you no longer have to pretend you are someone you’re not. This leaves you free to be the person you really are.
CommitmentNow.com: Is 40 the perfect time to find your passion, as Shari Caudron states?
Ronnie: I’m not sure that age 40 is the “perfect” time to find your passion. I know many people who became passionate about something during childhood, music, for instance, and then dedicated the rest of their lives to nurturing that passion. But 40 is definitely a very good time to become passionate about something, especially if you’ve never been passionate about anything before. As Shari points out, in order to be passionate about something, you really need to know what makes you happy. For many of us (and I include myself), we discover what makes us happy through the process of elimination. We do lots of things during our 20s and 30s and scratch all the ones that make us unhappy off the list. Whatever is left by the time we reach age 40 is a good candidate for something to be passionate about.
CommitmentNow.com: Nigel Marsh believes that age 40 is the time to ask yourself whether you like the life you are leading and the type of person you have become. Do you agree?
Ronnie: Nigel wrote what I consider to be one of the best sentences in the book: “If you discover, as I did, that you are working hard at a job you hate to buy things you don’t need to impress people you don’t like, then I humbly suggest some more reflection may be in order.” Personally, I believe (and I suspect that Nigel would agree) that it’s never to late, or early, for that matter, to take stock in your life and, if necessary, start making changes. But the point that Nigel makes quite eloquently is that if you don’t pause to reflect by the time you reach age 40, you might find yourself losing opportunities to correct the mistakes you made in the past. Children grow up and leave home. Elderly parents pass away. It is important to own up to mistakes and make amends while there is still time to do so. In this regard, turning 40 represents a tremendous opportunity to reinvent yourself and make things right.