This is a series of articles about how to reinvent yourself at 40. My goal is to walk you through my thoughts and personal experience and make you think. I warn you upfront: I will ask more questions than give answers.
You may be already thinking: what does any of this have to do with traveling? A good question, I may say. My answer is not that simple. If you search the Internet for travel blogs, you will find that most of the adventurers are younger people or retired folks. By younger people, I mean well under 40 before settling down.
Most people in their forties didn’t travel around the world when they were younger. They think they never will because it’s too late. It’s not that people feel old. It has more to do with responsibilities: a family to take care of, a career to hang on to, debts to pay including a mortgage, and so on. They have settled down.
At age 40, most people have stable lives and don’t think about putting everything on hold for adventures. Short vacation periods aren’t enough but are the norm. I see a lot of people resigned to the life they have. Although they’re not unhappy, they don’t do anything to improve. They stopped building a more meaningful life for themselves. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that married people with kids and a stable life are unhappy. I disagree with the previous sentence. What I mean and intend to challenge is that people use those responsibilities as excuses.
You Only Live Once
For the sake of simplicity, let’s take the average life expectancy to be around 80 years old for both sexes. This means that 40 will be mid-life if we’re lucky. So why be so resigned when you still have half your life to live? We only have one life, we have to make the best of it. There is no rehearsal, we have to get it right the first time. So if you’re not happy with the way you’re life is going, why not figure out how to reinvent yourself at 40?
I never married. Not because I didn’t want to, but because I never found a partner that I wanted to spend the rest or my life with. I believe in love, but it has to happen naturally. If it doesn’t, It’s just not meant to be. Everything happens for a reason. Cliché or not, this is what I believe in. Maybe I’m just too picky, but I never stayed with someone just for the sake of not being alone. As a consequence, I don’t have kids. Again, not because I don’t want them. Let me tell you right now these are not the reasons I went on my worldwide travels.
The Educational Path
I followed the educational path and had a good career. More about this education path will follow in the next article of this series. Being good at managing IT projects and helping shareholders get richer, making money in the process to buy more stuff that I didn’t need wasn’t enough. I wanted to feel more useful and give back a little. A bit more spirituality in my life sounded good. I fell in love with the idea of disconnecting from the capitalist society we live in. Our world is dominated by banks, governments, and corporations and that doesn’t sound sexy to me. Oh, and I wanted to see the world.
After turning 40, maybe due to a midlife crisis, I left my job and decided to travel the world so I created my worldwide travel project. Even for a single guy like me, trading a good job for adventures was a risky move. The truth is, I don’t regret the decision. This is where we finally relate traveling with how to reinvent yourself at 40.
I can think of many reasons why traveling can change you in a way that you become a different version of yourself:
- Opens-up the mind to new things
- Gets you out of your comfort zone
- Helps you meet different styles of people
- Creates new awareness
- Lowers your standards: you learn to live with less
- Frees you from restrictive routines
- Gives you the power to decide your own path
- Makes you stronger (facing different realities)
- Makes you a problem solver (if your weren’t already )
- Helps put things into perspective (you see problems greater than your own)
- Gives you new ideas
- Helps you dream
- Makes you want to give back
- Makes you feel good
How To Start Over?
I have to be honest: I still haven’t completely figured out how to start over. The one thing I know for sure is that after traveling the world, I can’t go back to how it used to be. I need to figure out how to answer the question “how to reinvent yourself after 40?” I know I’m on the right path.
One important fact that helps is that I know that the new version of me is better than the older version. Gaining a new perspective on things makes things easier. I now value the littles things that used to go unnoticed. Everything is more intense. A simple conversation. The moments I spend out of my house. What other people say. I never cared about what people thought of me and I still don’t, but I notice what people say and sometimes it astonishes me. Sometimes I just listen and get bored by the conversation. Everything sounds the same. Every moment counts and I feel we waste a lot of time on trivialities. I used to be like that.
After my worldwide travel project, I felt a kind of hangover. It wasn’t what some people call the travel bug. My hangover was something deeper. I’m a goal oriented type of person. I have a vision and make it happen. In my hangover period, I didn’t have a vision. It was actually quite overwhelming. I knew and felt I could do anything I wanted, but I didn’t have a clear vision of what I wanted to do, so I felt kind of lost and tried several things.
The good thing about trying is that you understand what you don’t want to do. I found this to be a privilege. Maybe it’s also a good strategy to teach our young ones before they commit to something they don’t actually like. Focusing on our strengths is a good strategy, but it shouldn’t be the only strategy.
Learning new skills is also a good strategy and even changing area can be great if you find something that interests you. People tend to stick to what they know, but I find that nowadays, you can learn almost anything. Don’t worry, I’m not going to be a physician. The point is, just because you have a degree, you don’t have to stick to that area of expertise.
How to Reinvent Yourself at 40 Part I: Conclusion
I think the most important conclusion is that everything makes more sense to me right now. After traveling the world, I feel I’m a different person, for the better, without a doubt.
Traveling can have a big impact on who you are, especially after long term travel. You don’t need to leave everything behind like I did. Taking some time off to do the things you have always wanted to do can make a big difference. Traveling can be a boost to help you follow your dreams. Traveling can be life changing inspiration.
You can even share this time off with your family and connect in ways that maybe you haven’t before. You will treasure those stories with your family and friends for the rest of your life.
A worldwide travel project won’t solve all your problems or doubts. If you’re anything like me, worldwide travel will take you to another level of mental health that can inspire you to reclaim your life and live the way you want to
Do you feel something is missing? Are you happy with your career? Is your personal life fulfilling? Are you facing a midlife crisis? Are you happy? These are some of the questions I will have a deeper look at in the next articles. Maybe you will connect to some of these deep inner thinking issues most of us go through when we reach our forties:
- Part-II: Career, How to Reinvent Yourself at 40
- Part-III: Life Fulfilment and Happiness, How to Reinvent Yourself at 40
- Part-IV: The Meaning of Life, How to Reinvent Yourself at 40
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