40 over 40
9 min read

40 over 40

Nope this is not a Forbes list. Infact quite opposite of that. Everything Forbes will not disclose vulnerably is what you will hear today and that too from my personal experience.

40 life advices from someone who is little over 40 is here. I don't know what you will do with it. You have three choices in front of you: laugh or learn or let go. I'll leave that to you.

Before we dig into advices (a scary word), it is important to give you some backstory.

These advices are not from someone who belongs to a Kardashian family. It is from someone who comes from a humble background. Born, brought up in a little town deep south (Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India). My both grandfathers, paternal and maternal side come from an agricultural background. All they know is how to read the weather, sow the seeds, harvest on time and give it off to someone. The cycle repeats year after year and it is continuing till date.

All they told me is, I am girl child and hence it is gonna be much harder out there (and they are 💯 right). They want me to escape the rat race of agriculture. Little did they know what is a rat race actually. 😅

Both my grandparents knew how hard it is to make ends meet with agriculture so they ensured their kids had the necessary education to move from a village to a town and have a government job. The product of this thought is both my parents.

My father was a professor of Genetics, a double PhD, a renowned prof in his domain and my mother was a chemistry grad with a PG Dip in Home Science, ended up as a house wife given that her kid (me) was sick from birth. My life was a sandwich between educated parents and agricultural background. In the Maslow's hierarchy we moved up one notch from food water shelter to security and safety from my grand parents to parents.

This time my parents told me, education alone is not enough and I must have power to excel. So they put me in schools which produced the creamy layer kids. They drove me nuts to excel in every exam out there and come out in flying colours. I did my best but not up to their expectations for sure. I escaped the security safety trap of a government job and took up a private sector job. My parents didn't like it when I rejected power (UPSC) and went the software engineer route. They were absolutely scared for my career as the year I passed out of engineering was 2000. Y2K was happening and everything was unpredictable.

I escaped the security safety slab of Maslow by escaping my country. I flew miles across the ocean to earn in USD. What took me one year to earn here in India, was earned in one quarter (sans all the commissions my company took for body shopping my brain). This was exciting.

I found my mate from my gang at work and we both escaped our lower middle class lives and got into a position where we could buy our first car, our first home, have a child with a different passport and give more fodder to our parents to talk about how life is in America.

The foreign land exposure showed me how little I knew. I felt very small. I realised how big this vast universe is. As a unit we moved one inch higher every passing year to a point we could escape food, water, shelter, safety, security, jobs and to a point where I could retire from the actual rat race.

I wetted my feet in to entrepreneuship for the first time. It taught me a lot more than a decade of working for others did. It made me a different person. It gave me perspectives that exponentially made me a better person inside.

Here I am sharing my four decade of experience with you all.

  1. Luck is real. You can call it whatever (an unfair advantage or leverage or sheer discrimination) but I call it as luck. You need to be lucky to get things done the way you envision. You can work towards enhancing the probability of luck but that is all you could do. As a woman of color, average intelligence, amazing mindset I needed luck to be at the right place at the right time for things to fall in place. It was an uphill journey to move up the value chain. It takes enormous effort to put up with the human bullshit, inefficiency and ineffectiveness. Luck is real. Grace is real.
  2. Your life is a sum of your choices. Big and small choices determines the big and small consequences in your life. You get to pick the choice but you don't get to pick the consequences. Be aware.
  3. At the time of making any choice, you will never have 100% information to make an informed one. You make your choice anyways. The question is did you utilise whatever information is available to you to make that choice to its fullest? I have noticed that many times we don't.
  4. Thinking is an amazing tool we all have. The flip side is, thinking is energy intensive. Our brain plays tricks not to make us think effectively as it guzzles energy. But if you can go past your brain's silly tricks, your thinking will help you save ton of time, energy, effects and consequences. Many people don't know this treasure is inside us. Thinking is your ally.
  5. What you want from you >>> what the world wants from you.
    Understanding me in particular and human in general helped me make better decisions.
  6. Learning keeps our brain excited and young. The day we end learning, that day we grow older in our heads and hearts.
  7. Health curve by default goes down as you age biologically. You can work towards flattening the curve a bit and drag the ageing but that is all we could do. All said and done ageing is real. The biological clock surely is ticking.
  8. Your relationships need constant nurturing. It is like a garden. Prune it, weed it, water it and ensure you care about it everyday. It fades off if you don't keep it interesting and healthy.
  9. Boredom is real. When we get bored, we search for exciting things. The peril is, to escape boredom we search for excitement and that can take you to places where you don't want to be. Just knowing boredom is real makes you wiser.
  10. When your children are growing and parents are ageing, your living expenses double (applies if you care about your children and your parents) . Just knowing this will enable you to plan your finances better.
  11. When you have a life partner your age, you both grow at the same time but at different paces and in different directions. Your mid-life comes at the same time but with different intensity. Be aware. Don't expect your sweetheart to be the same. They grow, they evolve and they keep discovering themselves. You do the same with you. Don't be surprised if you both become two different people compared to where you started.
  12. All human relationships are by default value based. We exchange value. Harsh but true. The secret sauce for successful relationship is make sure you care about them and not about you in a relationship. Don't hold back an apology. Don't be scared to clear the air everyday. If the other party follows the same secret sauce, you both have a great intersection. Good luck!
  13. Over communication is the best tool to keep human relationships on. They need DOSE (dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and endorphin) every now and then. Know their needs and act accordingly. Everyone is driven by their needs and wants. It takes intelligence to put yours aside and look deeply into what the other person wants. Be that intelligent person, you will excel.
  14. Kids are a 20 year project at a minimum (if not more). Have them early. You will handle them better. I advice you to have children in your 20s so that they grow up and leave you alone in your 40s. I really mean it.
  15. Especially women, your biology goes for a toss post 40. In your perimenopause your estrogen goes low and your cognitive function starts declining. Taking stress, handling tough scenarios and fighting the value chain gets harder and harder. Quit the rat race if you can by your 40s. You need time for yourself as your estrogen throws you up and down.
  16. We are taught to be candle sticks in our culture. You burn and you give light to others and then you perish. That is BS. Prioritise yourself over everything else. In other words SELF CARE first. Without you being in your best shape, you cannot serve your environment the best.
    Hurt people, hurt others. Healed people, heal others. Which one do you want to be? Choose wisely!
  17. You can't change the world. You can't change the people around you. You just can't change anything. The only thing you can do is, change yourself. Be kind, pleasant, forgiving, loving and you seem to do very well even among nasty people.
  18. If you don't have an answer just smile. The best jewellery you can wear on you as a woman (or a man) is a lovely Duchenne smile. That seems to work very well with all kind of human beings including the skeptics, panics, crooks and nasty ones.
  19. Your threshold for bullshit increases as you age. You become more accepting, forgiving and kind. Your impulse cools down. I guess this happens because of the life experience as you would have seen many more in the path. Work towards increasing your threshold everyday and you will be surpirsed how much you can handle all by yourself without loosing it.
  20. All you need is 5 good friends this lifetime. I am not talking about people who shape you into the next Elon Musk. I am talking about people who truly care about you, love you for who you are and want you to be well. They need not be the smartest people on the earth. For some strange reason they love you and that is more than enough. Nurture this relationship consiously. They are your treasure and they make your life into a better one.
  21. Don't search for mentors. They don't exist in the form we want them. When you seek, the right mentor appears in the form of a Twitter thread or a book or a blog or a serendipitous youtube video or a real person. They are not a concierge service. Don't expect them to be one. Be grateful to everything everyone shares. Take what you can absorb and leave the rest.
  22. Don't judge people. Judge their ideas. It takes you far and fast.
  23. You have all the right to say NO to things. There is no obligation to say yes. By default start with a NO and let the other side convince you to YES. Till then stick to your NO. All resources are limited. In an information rich and time poor society, start with a NO by default.
  24. When you are 40, you are 2 steps ahead of someone and 2 steps behind someone. Choose to network with someone ahead of you and behind you so that your giving and taking is balanced. Do this every week.
  25. Clarity is unclear. The only way to make it clear is with progressive action. So experiment a lot. Act on stuff you care about and learn how it works in a sandbox before you try it in a big scale. Let's say you want to start a restaurant. Choose one customer and serve them from your home kitchen and see if you enjoy it before dumping lakhs of rupees into starting a restaurant. Make big decisions with more clarity. Take your time. There is no rush.
  26. No one has figured it all out. We all figure it out on the go. So don't expect answers from anyone. Expect only frameworks and guidelines at the max.
  27. Typically, you don't know what you are doing when you do it. You only collect dots when it is happening. You connect the dots only later. Only in reflection you learn what you did and how it worked. So reflect everyday and keep learning.
  28. When your loved ones suffer, you suffer more than them. You feel helpless, responsible and guilty. Don't. This is a part and parcel of living and loving people with all your heart.
  29. Read a lot. Books are your best friends. You don't have to finish a book that is not exciting you. You still have a lot of ground to cover despite rejecting many books.
  30. Get out of debt as quickly as you can. Debt kills you financially and mentally. Your financial freedom starts there.
  31. Eat less. Move more. Sleep well. This should help you flatten your ageing curve to a large extent.
  32. Get minimal. Become boring. Wear similar things. Eat similar things. Do same things everyday. It helps you live a creative life. Be bored to be creative.
  33. Focus a little. Diffuse a lot. You can't keep up with 80-100 hour work weeks anymore. Learn how to focus deeply for short sprints and take long breaks. It helps you do amazing work when your body is declining.
  34. Be prepared to hear death news more often at this age. Some will be shockers to you. Some are expected. Be brave to handle this. It is coming.
  35. Therapy becomes a necessity when you have a busy and stressful life. Learn about your brain and body much earlier so that you can use your therapist well.
  36. Don't give unsolicited advice to young people. They see you as ancient and outdated though you are much younger than them at heart. The only thing you can do is earn their trust and respect by being who you are.
  37. People now call you ma'am and miss. Be ok with that. You can call younger ones sir and ma'am so they stop irritating you.
  38. Worst thing that can happen is, in wedding the groom and bride fall at your feet for your blessings and your cousin's kids call you periamma (big mom) 🙈
  39. You will love your couch more than any other part of the world. Get used to it. There will be a point in life where you feel all vacations are same and planning for them is tedious. You will love your home more than anything.
  40. You get what you pay for. Stop wasting time by bargaining. Quality has a price and you must pay for it. I call it life tax. You either spend time or money or energy. It takes intelligence to optimize all parameters.

You cannot prepare for your 40s when you are in your 20s. That is not why I wrote this post. Live your 20s and look forward for your 40s. It is an exciting new phase of life that is awaiting you. Don't become old and dead before you become old or dead.

🥂 to ageing!

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