What are the top regrets a 40-year-old will have? What would they wish they had done in the last 5-10 years?

First, it’s never too late to live a happy, fulfilled life—a life lived in line with your values.

Unlearned sixty-somethings pioneer successful startups; and fledgling podcaster grandpas learn to shine with no experience or knowhow.

But how much more value could be built and brought if your time of tapping in, honing, and delivering began sooner?

Adults in their twenties carry the boundless energy and naiveté to fling themselves across the world at a moment’s notice. Open-hearted and gullible, they’re completely free to connect and grow. They can work all day, fuel themselves terribly, and then still enjoy experiencing hosts of new places and people all night afterwards.

Your twenties probably isn’t the best time to make too many final, limiting, life-long decisions, because you’re simply still taking in all that life has to offer.

In your thirties, you lose that sense of invincibility, but you gain a true social conscience (instead of just the appearance of one to wow all your friends with). Your eyes, heart, and body begin to dim in ways you see won’t be reversed; but your mind grows sharper than ever.

And sharper still become your values.

Your thirties is when you get a true sense of who you are, and of the real difference you could make in the world if you were to fully apply yourself. You also can’t ignore anymore that the time you have to do so is steadily running out.

Now, there’s so much wrapped up in that tension between potential and limitations. And everything in society works against the drive to become your best and most influential self. Culture says you should have already chosen one of its pre-packaged careers and be working your way up (to the middle) by now, and that you should just give in to the tiredness, dullness, etc. and do your best to enjoy yourself from here on out.

I’d argue that it’s actually impossible to enjoy yourself if you’re not bringing to the world that which only you can. That’s a key regret that might manifest in your forties and later as cynicism, unconscious bitterness, and defeat.

Yes, you as a mid-to-late thirtysomething don’t have the energy you once had. Yes, your life is riddled with more responsibilities than ever (and some of these are incredibly important!). Yes, the allure of every distraction and temporary comfort coincides with every pressure you feel from within and without to just give in and go along…

But world-changers step up when they reach that crossroads, choosing to bring their value instead.

Here’s more on the thirtysomething experience.

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