40 Things to Do from Age 40 to Live a Regret-Free Life

Madhusudhan Anand's Blog
10 min readMay 24, 2024
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I m turning 40 next year. As I enter my 40s, I have understood that life often will present itself with a unique blend of experiences, responsibilities, and reflections. This decade can be transformative, filled with opportunities for growth, fulfillment, and joy. To help navigate this journey, I’ve researched from many books, spoken to a few of my mentors and coaches, and compiled a comprehensive list of 40 things to focus on from age 40 onwards. These suggestions encompass various aspects of life, including health, finances, relationships, personal growth, and more. Let’s dive in!

1. Prioritize Your Health
a. Regular Check-ups:
Ensure you get regular medical check-ups. Detecting potential health issues early can lead to better outcomes.

b. Exercise Regularly:
Incorporate both cardio and strength training into your routine. As John Ratey states in his book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, “Exercise is the single best thing you can do for your brain in terms of mood, memory, and learning.”

c. Balanced Diet:
Adopt a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food emphasizes, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

2. Financial Planning
a. Save and Invest:

Focus on building a robust retirement fund. As Suze Orman highlights in The Money Class, “A secure financial future requires consistent saving and wise investing.”

b. Diversify Your Investments:
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Diversification can mitigate risks and enhance returns.

c. Eliminate Debt:
Aim to clear high-interest debts. Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover advises, “Live like no one else, so later you can live like no one else.”

3. Foster Relationships
a. Strengthen Your Marriage:
Invest time and effort into your relationship with your spouse. As Gary Chapman notes in The 5 Love Languages, understanding and catering to each other’s love languages can enhance intimacy and connection.

b. Bond with Your Children:
Be actively involved in your children’s lives. Quality time spent together can build strong, lasting bonds.

c. Maintain Friendships:
Stay connected with friends. Social support is crucial for emotional well-being.

4. Career Development
a. Continue Learning:

Never stop learning. As Carol Dweck discusses in Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, “A growth mindset can lead to success in every endeavor.”

b. Seek New Opportunities:
Be open to new roles and challenges that align with your passions and skills.

c. Balance Work and Life:
Strive for a healthy work-life balance to avoid burnout and enjoy life more fully.

5. Personal Growth
a. Set Goals:

Regularly set and review personal and professional goals. As Brian Tracy states in Goals!, “Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.”

b. Practice Gratitude:
Maintain a gratitude journal. Reflecting on what you’re thankful for can increase happiness and satisfaction.

c. Volunteer:
Giving back to the community can provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment.

6. Mental Well-being
a. Mindfulness and Meditation:

Incorporate mindfulness practices into your daily routine. According to Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Wherever You Go, There You Are, “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”

b. Seek Therapy if Needed:
Don’t hesitate to seek professional help if you’re struggling with mental health issues.

c. Manage Stress:
Find healthy ways to manage stress, such as yoga, exercise, or hobbies.

7. Importance of Spouse and Family
a. Regular Date with Spouse:

Keep the romance alive with regular time spending with spouse. I love going out with Veena the same way I loved going out with her when we were dating way back 15 years ago.

b. Family Vacations:
Plan vacations that allow the family to bond and create lasting memories. I and Veena have been constantly ensuring that we do this once every 3–4 months. With our second child coming in, we have started to do this even more.

c. Communicate Openly:
Maintain open lines of communication to resolve conflicts and strengthen relationships.

8. Lifelong Learning
a. Read Regularly:

Reading can expand your knowledge and provide a constant source of inspiration. Veena reads more than I do. I hope to keep up with her.

b. Take Courses:
Enroll in courses that interest you, whether for career advancement or personal growth. For the last ten years, I cannot think of a period where I was not enrolled in or pursuing a course. Thanks to my life coach, Dipankar, who has made this a habit in me. As he has coached me, I’ll keep learning something of interest till the last day of my life and implement it to the best of my ability.

c. Attend Workshops:
Workshops and seminars can provide hands-on learning experiences and networking opportunities.

9. Financial Security
a. Emergency Fund:

Maintain an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses.

b. Insurance:
Ensure you have adequate health, life, and disability insurance.

c. Estate Planning:
Create or update your will and consider setting up a trust to manage your assets.

10. Embrace Hobbies
a. Pursue Passions:

Engage in activities that bring you joy and satisfaction.

b. Join Clubs:
Joining clubs or groups with similar interests can provide social interaction and enrichment. I recently joined Gold Gym, Writers Club, and several AI and climate groups. I engage actively and contribute.

c. Try New Things:
Don’t be afraid to explore new hobbies and interests. I learnt this from the book “Outlive” and also from the book “When breath becomes air” .

“Years ago, it had occurred to me that Darwin and Nietzsche agreed on one thing: the defining characteristic of the organism is striving.” — Paul Kalanithi, When Breath Becomes Air

11. Cultivate Friendships
a. Stay Connected:

Regularly reach out to friends, both old and new. I don't have a lot of friends, but I have a few. Some I haven't even met for years. But I have started trying to meet them, talk to them often, and tell them that I’m there for them in their hour of need. Staying in touch with them helps me feel connected and gives me perspective.

b. Support Network:
Build a support network that you can rely on during tough times.

c. Celebrate Milestones:
Celebrate your friends’ achievements and milestones.

12. Travel
a. Explore New Places:

Travel can broaden your horizons and create unforgettable experiences. I learned this from my many treks. My motorcycle rides are fun. I recently bought all the camera gears, and I am excited to learn video editing and handling the camera to tell a story.

b. Cultural Experiences:
Immerse yourself in different cultures to gain new perspectives.

c. Plan:
Plan your travels well in advance to ensure a smooth experience.

13. Stay Physically Active
a. Join a Gym:

Joining a gym can provide motivation and access to various fitness resources.

b. Outdoor Activities:
Engage in outdoor activities like hiking, biking, or running.

c. Sports:
Participate in sports to stay fit and meet new people.

14. Healthy Eating
a. Home Cooking:

Cook more meals at home to control ingredients and nutrition.

b. Nutrient-Rich Foods:
Focus on nutrient-dense foods that support overall health.

c. Avoid Processed Foods:
Limit intake of processed and junk foods.

15. Sleep Hygiene
a. Regular Sleep Schedule:

Maintain a consistent sleep schedule to improve sleep quality.

b. Comfortable Environment:
Create a sleep-friendly environment in your bedroom.

c. Avoid Stimulants:
Limit caffeine and screen time before bed.

16. Manage Finances Wisely
a. Budgeting:

Create and stick to a budget to manage your finances effectively. Here is a downloadable guide I made to help you track your budget.

b. Financial Goals:
Set clear financial goals and work towards them.

c. Financial Education:
Educate yourself about financial planning and management.

17. Cultivate Positivity
a. Positive Mindset:

Cultivate a positive mindset to improve overall well-being.

b. Affirmations:
Use positive affirmations to boost confidence and motivation.

c. Avoid Negativity:
Distance yourself from negative influences and environments. Block all negative news channels, politics, race/ethnic/religion-based negativism, etc.,

18. Spiritual Growth
a. Reflect and Meditate:

Spend time in reflection and meditation to connect with your inner self.

b. Religious Practices:
Engage in religious or spiritual practices that resonate with you.

c. Nature:
Spend time in nature to feel a sense of peace and connection.

19. Professional Networking
a. Attend Events:

Attend professional events and conferences to expand your network.

b. LinkedIn:
Maintain an active LinkedIn profile and connect with industry professionals. If you’ve seen me on Linkedin, you’ll know how active I am on it for this reason. Add me to your LinkedIn profile if you haven't already done so. I share a lot of tips and well researched, useful information regularly.

c. Mentorship:
Seek mentors and offer mentorship to others.

20. Give Back to the Community
a. Volunteer:

Volunteer for causes you care about.

b. Charity:
Donate to charities and support those in need.

c. Community Involvement:
Get involved in community activities and events.

21. Personal Reflection
a. Journaling:

Keep a journal to reflect on your thoughts and experiences.

b. Self-Assessment:
Regularly assess your goals and progress.

c. Gratitude Practice:
Practice gratitude to appreciate the good in your life.

22. Cultivate Resilience
a. Face Challenges:

Embrace challenges as opportunities for growth.

b. Learn from Failure:
View failures as learning experiences.

c. Adaptability:
Cultivate adaptability to handle life’s changes effectively.

23. Enhance Cognitive Function
a. Brain Exercises:

Engage in activities that challenge your brain, such as puzzles or learning new skills.

b. Stay Curious:
Keep a curious mind and continuously seek knowledge.

c. Social Engagement:
Stay socially active to keep your mind sharp.

24. Importance of Family Time
a. Family Meals:
Have regular family meals to strengthen bonds.

b. Celebrate Traditions:
Celebrate family traditions and create new ones.

c. Support Each Other:
Provide emotional support to family members.

25. Practice Self-Care
a. Pamper Yourself:
Take time to pamper yourself with activities that make you feel good.

b. Mental Health Days:
Take mental health days when needed to recharge.

c. Boundaries:
Set boundaries to protect your time and energy.

26. Sustainable Living
a. Eco-Friendly Choices:
Make eco-friendly choices in your daily life.

b. Reduce Waste:
Reduce waste and recycle whenever possible.

c. Conscious Consumption:
Be mindful of your consumption and its impact on the environment.

27. Seek Adventure
a. Try New Experiences:
Seek out new experiences and adventures.

b. Step Out of Comfort Zone:
Step out of your comfort zone to grow and learn.

c. Embrace Spontaneity:
Allow for spontaneity and unplanned adventures.

28. Build Legacy
a. Create Memories:
Focus on creating lasting memories with loved ones.

b. Document Life:
Document your life experiences through photos, videos, or writing.

c. Share Wisdom:
Share your wisdom and experiences with future generations.

29. Focus on Well-being
a. Holistic Health:
Focus on holistic health, including physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

b. Mind-Body Connection:
Understand and nurture the mind-body connection.

c. Preventative Care:
Engage in preventative care to maintain health.

30. Stay Informed
a. Current Events:
Stay informed about current events and issues.

b. Continuous Learning:
Engage in continuous learning to stay updated in your field.

c. Critical Thinking:
Develop critical thinking skills to analyze information effectively.

31. Develop Skills
a. Soft Skills:
Develop soft skills such as communication, empathy, and leadership.

b. Technical Skills:
Enhance technical skills relevant to your career.

c. Personal Skills:
Work on personal skills like time management and organization.

32. Practice Compassion
a. Empathy:
Practice empathy and understanding towards others.

b. Acts of Kindness:
Engage in random acts of kindness.

c. Volunteer:
Volunteer your time and skills to help those in need.

33. Mindful Consumption
a. Financial Responsibility:
Be financially responsible in your spending.

b. Sustainable Choices:
Make sustainable choices in your consumption.

c. Value Quality:
Value quality over quantity in your purchases.

34. Emotional Intelligence
a. Self-Awareness:
Develop self-awareness to understand your emotions and reactions.

b. Relationship Management:
Manage relationships effectively with emotional intelligence.

c. Social Skills:
Enhance your social skills for better interactions.

35. Cultural Appreciation
a. Learn About Cultures:
Learn about different cultures to gain new perspectives.

b. Respect Diversity:
Respect and celebrate diversity in all its forms.

c. Travel:
Travel to experience and appreciate different cultures.

36. Strengthen Community Bonds
a. Neighbor Relations:
Build positive relationships with your neighbors.

b. Local Involvement:
Get involved in local community activities.

c. Support Local Businesses:
Support local businesses and economy.

37. Adapt to Change
a. Embrace Change:
Embrace change as a part of life.

b. Flexibility:
Be flexible and adaptable to new situations.

c. Continuous Improvement:
Focus on continuous improvement in all areas of life.

38. Practice Patience
a. Be Patient:
Practice patience in your interactions and life situations.

b. Delayed Gratification:
Understand the value of delayed gratification.

c. Manage Expectations:
Manage your expectations to reduce frustration.

39. Focus on Quality Time
a. Prioritize Time:
Prioritize quality time with loved ones.

b. Be Present:
Be present in the moment, putting away distractions.

c. Meaningful Activities:
Engage in meaningful activities with those you care about.

40. Live Authentically
a. Be True to Yourself:
Live authentically, true to your values and beliefs.

b. Avoid Comparisons:
Avoid comparing yourself to others.

c. Pursue Your Passions:
Pursue your passions and what makes you happy.

Bonus

41: Fuck Social Media

1. Social Media as a Distraction: Social media platforms are designed to capture and hold your attention, often leading to significant distractions from productive activities. The constant influx of notifications, messages, and updates can fragment your focus, making it challenging to concentrate on important tasks. As Cal Newport discusses in Deep Work, “The ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare at the same time it is becoming increasingly valuable in our economy.” Reducing social media usage can reclaim time and enhance your ability to engage in meaningful, uninterrupted work.

2. Oversharing and Privacy Concerns: Sharing too much personal information on social media can lead to privacy risks and potential exploitation. Once information is posted online, it becomes difficult to control its spread and how it is used by others. This can result in unintended consequences like identity theft, stalking, or other privacy invasions. As Sherry Turkle explains in Alone Together, “We are changed as technology offers us substitutes for connecting face-to-face. We are changed as we are given forms of digital communication that deceive us into feeling we are connecting with others when, in fact, we may be isolating ourselves from them.” By being mindful of what you share, you can protect your privacy and maintain greater control over your personal information.

3. Mental Health Impact: Excessive use of social media has been linked to various mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. The constant comparison with others’ curated lives can lead to feelings of inadequacy and dissatisfaction. Moreover, the addictive nature of social media can result in reduced real-life social interactions, exacerbating feelings of loneliness and isolation. In The Happiness Effect, Donna Freitas highlights that “the pressure always to present a happy face on social media creates stress and contributes to a decline in genuine emotional connections.” Limiting social media use can help improve your mental well-being and foster healthier, more meaningful relationships.

This is my list. With this, I hope to cultivate a fulfilling and regret-free life. I hope you do, too. Each point encourages growth, connection, and well-being, ensuring you live each day to its fullest potential. Remember, the journey is as important as the destination, so embrace every moment with gratitude and joy.

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Madhusudhan Anand's Blog

I write about Books, Climate, Air pollution, Research, Data Science, Entrepreneurship, Startups, Tech, Learning & Career