40 Things I’ve Learned at 40

Life By Brendon Schrader

40 at 40

When I turned forty years old, it prompted me to stop and do quite a bit of reflecting. For me, it was a number that says you are standing in the middle of life’s long road. Even though I am now technically a grown up, I definitely do not have all the answers. But I have figured out a few things along the way about life, fatherhood, and entrepreneurship that I think might help you too.

1. Family is everything. My goal has always been to build something amazing without sacrificing my family. Everything I do, and strive for is to help our family, leave a legacy and be a strong example for my two boys. This fuels me. Business never comes before my family and I make every effort to be an incredibly active and present father and husband. Building a strong family is the best accomplishment anyone can achieve.

2. Be humble and human. We all make mistakes and can learn something from everyone. Remember that. What comes around goes around.

3. Ignore the system. We are led to believe the there is a systematic path that needs to be taken in life. This begins early on in school and goes into your professional career. Move outside the system you were taught, and when you do, you will find all the goodness and richness life can offer.

4. You are your worst critic. Stop letting yourself get in the way of your goals. I promise you – no one is watching. Frankly, no one cares. People have their own issues to deal with. Give yourself room to succeed.

5. Build confidence in people. The greatest gift you can give people is the confidence and support they need to act.

6. Invest in experiences. Nothing else matters beside the moments and the memories you create with family and friends. In your career, choose experiences over money every time.

7. Get uncomfortable. Making moves and doing things that make you uncomfortable are critical to growth and building confidence. Once you prove to yourself you can do something, you move forward. 

8. Rip off Band-Aids. When dealing with tough situations or conflict, address them head on and immediately. Listen. Talk. Engage. And then move on. Don’t let yourself stir up unneeded stress and concern. Life is too short.

9. How you prioritize time is who you are. Stop and take a look at how you spend your hours and days. It says everything about who you are and what you value in life.

10. Be a child. Don’t let yourself grow up completely. Take time to be spontaneous and do things that seem absolutely ridiculous. Especially do this with your children. There is a very small window of time when your kids will splash in puddles with you.

11. Learn from your elders. If you’re lucky enough to have your grandparents in your life, spend time with them. Ask what advice they have for you. There is deep wisdom there.

12. Build lasting friendships. Keep a close circle of long standing friends and hold those relationships true and dear. 

13. Focus and discipline trumps everything. These two things make dreams happen. There are no other hidden secrets to maintaining health, achieving personal fulfillment, or succeeding at work.

14. Time is the currency you should care most about. Stop thinking how you can accumulate more things. True wealth is measured by how free you are to spend your time.

15. Get out of town. Traveling and exposing yourself to new places and cultures can change you for the rest of your life.

16. Live adventurously. Be curious and take risks in both life and your career. The biggest risk you can take, is not taking any at all.

17. Cut out the negatives. Remove yourself from the people and things that bring you down or take you away from your center. 

18. Fail. Get up. Move on. Repeat. 

19. Be ambitious -- but keep your perspective about what’s important. Ambition is an important ingredient in success. But don’t let ambition cloud your judgment on what is most important in life. Career success is great, but not at the sacrifice of friends and family. And never let others try to define what they think your career path or priorities should look like. 

20. There are no grown ups. Everyone is trying to figure it out – all the time.

21. Stop doing things you don’t want to do. Do not let others dictate your time and activities based on their agenda. Set the agenda for your own life.

22. Parenting can be simple. The biggest secret to parenthood is showing up, being engaged and active. And, embrace the fact that you have no idea what you are doing.

23. You absolutely will become your parents. You will say things to your kids that make no sense, just to end the discussion. Because you can. 

24. Your resume does not matter. Your relationships do. The simple most important thing you can do in business is to build a powerful and real network. LinkedIn contacts don’t count as a network. Meaningful relationships do. 

25. Everyone has ideas. But nearly no one takes action. Be action minded and you will win every time.

26. Let nature take care of you. It will reset you and calm you, if you let it.

27. Don’t live in the future. It’s easy to constantly wait to do things until you have more money or more time. Live in the present. Don’t risk today thinking you can buy freedom later.

28. Apologize to your kids. When you act irrationally and jump down their throat because of your stressful day, acknowledge and apologize. Show them the behavior you expect of them. 

29. Give generously. Share your time, talents or dollars with those who need it. By helping others grow and advance, you move forward as well.

30. Know your anchors. Learn the things you need to keep you strong and grounded.

31. Show gratitude. Do this daily. Be thankful and appreciate what you have today, before it is gone tomorrow.

32. Embrace who you are. Once you embrace who you are versus what others want you to be, you will find strength and courage. 

33. Say I love you. You realize how important it is to communicate these words once you hit middle age. Start sooner.

34. Turn down the volume. Life gets noisy with experts and critics constantly shouting. Just because they talk loudly doesn’t mean they always know what they are talking about. Seek out wisdom but in the end follow your gut.

35. “I don’t know.” Be willing to say these three words. It’s not about having all the answers; it’s about being fearless about figuring the answers out. 

36. Mind your health. Your metabolism will slow down. I promise.

37. Be a maker. Get your hands dirty. Create and build things – do whatever activities force you to engage differently and make something from nothing. 

38. Make a plan. Write it down. And work on it every single day until you achieve your goal.

39. Be reasonable. The world needs more people that can calmly and confidently share their point of view, listen to almost anything and empathize with others.

40. This road ends. At 40, you realize that you really are mortal. Cherish your time and stop compromising.

About The Author

Brendon Schrader is the Founder and Executive Editor at Indypendently. He resides in the ‘Bold North’ of Minneapolis and is always up for a good cup of coffee. Brendon has published in Fast Company, Forbes, and Inc. Magazine.

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