I am no longer blogging here at Little Nuances, but I would love for you to join me on my author website www.leewarren.info.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

10 Things That Surprised Me After I Turned 40

In the past three years, I’ve spent more time reading business books and visiting websites about marketing than I ever have. That’s just where I am in life right now. I’m not interested in marketing for the sake of marketing, but rather because I genuinely want to entertain or meet the needs of people with my writing.

Yesterday, I happened across a marketing blog called Bloghound that contained a post about how a person can make his or her business blog worth reading. One of the suggestions was to write a post about “10 things that surprised me about . . .” and instantly I knew what I had to write. I’ve been thinking about several seemingly unconnected principles as of late. They all came together when I saw the suggestion to write about things that surprised me.

I’m 42 now, which seems hard to believe, and frankly, I’ve been rather surprised by some of the conclusions I’ve come to since turning the big 4-0. Here are some of them:

1. Life is short. I always knew this, but I feel it now.

2. Dreams die harder than they used to. When I was young, I had all of the youthful exuberance you see in so many young people today. When most of my dreams didn’t materialize, I always had the next dream, so I never fretted all that much. Now when a dream dies, it really does feel like a death. But I think I’m learning to trust God more now than I ever have as a result.

3. I’m less certain about certainties than I used to be. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Difficulties, brokenness, and trials in my life have made me look at the other side. I rarely looked at the other side 10 years ago.

4. Life is local. You’ve heard the old saying that all politics is local. If I understand that saying correctly, it means that if our local leaders are busy doing their jobs, then our nation will be fine. I used to desire to change the world, but I’ve learned that most of the people who changed the world (in a good way) never had their sights set on doing so. They lived locally, fought locally, loved locally, and one day, another community caught wind of their work and embraced it and it became viral.

5. It’s not pace—but rather depth—that matters. In my 20s, I lived a fast life because I believed I would miss out on what life had to offer if I didn’t. These days, I keep plenty busy, but I hover more. I dig more. I’m not only happy to go slow, I prefer it now. I’m not talking about making decisions or performing life duties. Instead, I’m talking about things like reading, listening to music, talking to friends, watching a movie, etc. In the past I wanted to experience everything as quickly as possible. Now I want to savor everything.

6. You never really arrive. I’ve known people who are older than I am who seemed like they had everything together. What I realize now is that I was moving so fast that I missed the truth. Arrival is a fallacy. Progress should be the goal.

7. Listening is hard. I’m guessing that everybody believes he or she is a good listener. I felt that way until recently. I have a couple of friends who remember nearly everything I tell them and that always impresses me. The fact that I can’t do that tells me that I need to listen better, so I’m making a conscious effort to speak less and listen more.

8. Common interests matter. I’ve been surprised by how close I’ve gotten to friends in recent years based on common interests. I know that the old adage says that opposites attract, romantically speaking, and that may be true to some degree, but being attracted, romantically or otherwise, only goes so far.

9. Qualifications matter when it comes to criticism. I believe I’m more open than I’ve ever been to listening to criticism, but I’m far less open to listening to it from people who don’t have real life experience. Everybody has an opinion, but not all of them are equally valid.

10. Life is cyclical. There was a time in my life, before I understood this to be the case, when I was fatalistic in my thinking if the “wrong” political party got elected or if “nothing was going my way.” Once I saw things cycle around a couple of times, I settled down. That doesn’t mean I am not passionate about what I believe. It just means I don’t panic or get upset when my way isn’t prevailing.


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