I recently watched an episode of The Crown, in which Prince Philip struggled to accept the reality that he was no longer a spring chicken. It got me thinking that at 43, it’s probably a good time to take stock of my own feelings on this ageing situation. Instead of focusing on the negatives (developing unexplained aches and pains, sprouting body hair in strange places, inability to process alcohol, etc, etc, etc), I thought I would list my top 3 things that I’m starting to appreciate about getting older.
- I’m still alive and kicking!!
200 years ago, there wasn’t a country on earth that had a life expectancy of over 40. Nowadays it’s fair to say that unless I’m relatively unfortunate medically (heart attack, cancer, etc) or manage to get myself killed doing something stupid – about an equal probability for both scenarios I reckon – I’m hopefully only just over the half- way mark. I’m also really grateful that I’m still physically able to play with my kids, try new sports like surfing and skateboarding and mostly remember where I left my car keys (usually in the car).
- It’s my party, I can do what I want to
One of the best things about getting older is that you stop caring so much about what others think of you. That means you can spend more time doing things you want to do with people you actually like. Want to go out to this new pretentious bar that just opened? Uh no, but let’s meet tomorrow morning for breakfast or a hike. You should really try cycling – everyone is doing it. No thanks, my legs don’t enjoy endlessly going around in circles and to be honest, all that equipment seems like a bit of a mission.
I still love trying new things but I’m more than happy to pull the plug early on them if I’m not actually enjoying myself.
- Winning isn’t everything – who knew?
All my life I’ve followed the philosophy (shared by the great Ricky Bobby in Taladega Nights) that “if you ain’t first, you’re last.” Sure, it’s been useful in helping me succeed in business and sports, but I have definitely taken it too far on many occasions. At work I pushed myself and everyone so hard to be number 1 that I completely burned out. I couldn’t even go for a simple jog without trying to chase down some elite triathlete who had the nerve to pass me on the promenade.
These days I’m starting to understand that winning at all costs is all a lot of bullshit. It’s okay to just lie on my surfboard and marvel at my surroundings. It’s okay if I haven’t got 100 000 subscribers to my blog in my first year. It’s not okay however, to hit three backhands in a row into the net (this is all still a work in progress, okay).
The added benefit of not being obsessed with winning all the time is that I am more willing to open myself up to new experiences and ideas. Whether I’m falling around in a yoga class or muddling my way through my first online course, it appears that being less afraid to fail makes for a far more interesting life.