40 Things I Don’t Know by Age 40

I turn 40 today.

I’ve seen lots of people share the wisdom they’ve gained over the years on their milestone birthdays.

I still have plenty of stuff to learn so here are 40 things I don’t know at age 40:

1. I don’t know why sports losses still put me in a bad mood. You don’t get to pick your sports allegiance as much as you’re born into it. I was born into a Michigan family. I love Michigan football.

I don’t watch sports nearly as much as I once did because little kids don’t have the patience for it but a bad loss (and there have been many) still stings.

It’s a horrible emotional investment yet all sports fans subject themselves to it.

Why do we care about this stuff so much?

2. I don’t know how to do self-promotion. I’m an introvert at heart. I waver between jealously and contempt for people who are good at self-promotion.

Someone once told me blogging is sales for introverts so maybe that’s why I started this website in the first place.

3. I don’t know how to answer text messages correctly. If I don’t do it in the first 5 seconds it’s like it never happened.

4. I don’t know how to find the right work-life balance. I love my family and I love what I do.

When I spend a lot of time on work I worry that time could be better spent with family.

And when I spend time away from work I worry I’m not doing enough to further my career.

I’ve managed to make it this long without ever having a job that requires late nights or weekends performing busy work so I can’t be too far from equilibrium. If I want to put in some extra time it’s because I enjoy what I’m working on.

I guess the good thing is no one has this all figured out.

5. I don’t know when I became so boring. One way I’ve found the balance between work and family time is by cutting back on social activities.

Going out all the time was the logical activity to fall by the wayside since I prioritize things like work, family time, reading, writing, working out, TV, stuff like that.

When I was in my 20s this would have seemed sacrilegious when “going out” was the only thing that mattered. Now I don’t mind not going out as much.

To be honest, it actually makes those times we do go out more meaningful since they’re fewer and far between.

Someone once told me abundance is the enemy of appreciation. It took me many years to realize this.

6. I don’t know what took me so long to start eating healthy. Growing up I never watched what I ate. At all.

I played sports, lifted weights and had a relatively fast metabolism. Well, 2 out of those 3 dropped off as I got older.

I really overhauled my diet once twins were in the picture for us. I knew I was going to need more energy. I still eat junk food and carbs but typically only on the weekends or vacations.

The result is I feel healthier at age 40 than I did at age 30.

7. I don’t know if the higher-priced car wash is actually better. Can you actually tell the difference between the express wash and the deluxe wash that costs double the price?

It’s all water and soap and spinning brushes, right?

8. I don’t know if I’m a righty or a lefty. Now hear me out.

I write with my left hand. But I throw a football and baseball righty. I kick with my left foot. I play basketball with my right hand. I play tennis with my left hand. I golf right. I eat with my left hand.

What’s the word for this?

Should I be on Stranger Things?

9. I don’t know why my dog always pukes on the carpet when there is so much hardwood floor space available. Every. Single. Time.

10. I don’t know why I always forget someone’s name immediately after they tell it to me. I’m awful at this. It’s like I’m talking to Charlie Brown’s teacher every time someone tells me their name.

11. I don’t know if the internet has been a net negative or positive on humanity. The internet has been a huge net positive for me personally. It’s changed the trajectory of my career. It’s allowed me to meet new friends, colleagues and business partners.

It’s given me the opportunity to work from West Michigan for a company headquartered in New York City. This would have been impossible 15-20 years ago.

For others, the internet has broken their brains or made their lives miserable.

The internet makes it far easier to communicate, do business, work and connect with people all around the globe.

It also makes it easier to compare yourselves to others, spread hate, troll and say things to others you wouldn’t dare say in normal life.

12. I don’t know what kind of person I’m going to be at age 60. In some ways, I’m the same as when I was 20. In other ways, I’m a completely different person.

Life is bizarre in that the older you get the more you feel like you’re done improving or changing yet it just keeps happening.

13. I don’t know what it is about water that makes me happier. Being in the vicinity of water is my happy place.

A restaurant with a deck overlooking the water. Lounging on the beach reading a book. Hearing the waves crash from a hotel balcony. Tubing down a river with a cooler full of beer. Going for a jog by the lakeshore. Paddleboarding on a calm lake.

Oceans, lakes, rivers, pools, it doesn’t really matter. It all puts me in a better mood.

14. I don’t know what form my mid-life crisis is going to come in. I’m not a big car guy so a convertible is out of the picture. I don’t golf. I can’t see myself becoming a big BBQ smoker guy.

Wait, it already happened. I started a podcast.

15. I don’t know how to deal with crazy sports parents. My kids aren’t quite there yet but my oldest daughter is 7 and getting close to the stage where parents begin taking this stuff way too seriously.

I can already tell I’m not going to be able to deal with the parents who try to live vicariously through their children.

Soccer parents are the worst of the bunch so far.

My goal will be no yelling. Just cheering and encouragement. I hope I can stick to this plan.

16. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the stock market. Admitting this was a lightbulb moment for me as an investor.

17. I don’t know where interest rates are going next. I recall sitting in on an endowment board meeting in 2007, in the pre-financial crisis days, where a number of very smart people made the case interest rates couldn’t possibly go any lower than 5% in our lifetime.

It’s possible more people have been wrong about rates than stocks since I’ve been involved in the markets and that’s saying something.

I have thoughts on this but no clue what will actually happen.

18. I don’t know why my patience is so inconsistent. I’m a pretty even-keeled guy. Rarely too high or too low.

When it comes to the markets I am steadyhanded. The majority of my emotions have been automated out of my portfolio and I’m a better investor because of it. In fact, I get more excited when the stock market is falling because I know it presents an opportunity to buy at lower prices.

That’s long-term patience. There are many situations where I have zero short-term patience.

Waiting in lines. People who chew gum with their mouths open. People who use speakerphone in public places. Terrible drivers on the road.

Here’s the problem — losing my temper in the car has never solved this problem. There are always going to be horrible drivers on the road. Yet I still can’t help myself.

19. I don’t know how much help you can actually provide as a parent when shaping your children. We have boy-girl twins. They have both grown up in the same household, with the same parenting at the exact same time.

Yet they couldn’t be more different, whether it’s their looks or personality or behavior.

Most of us would like to believe we’re shaping lives as parents but I wonder how much control we even have. I guess the best you can do is try to avoid teaching them the worst behaviors and support whoever they turn out to become.

20. I don’t know how the crypto stuff is going to play out. This is probably the biggest topic in finance I’ve changed my mind on over the years.

I went from being super-confused to mildly interested to a believer that something big could come from this space.

I just have no idea what the massive use-case is going to be.

21. I don’t know why I’ve never had a cup of coffee in my life. Maybe it’s the smell. It could be I just don’t like hot beverages.

And the crazy thing is I am the farthest thing there is from a morning person.

Somehow I’ll probably go to the grave never trying coffee (and I’m OK with that).

22. I don’t know why I never use emojis. For some reason, I have an aversion to emojis. Typing the smiley face with a semi-colon and parentheses is about as far as I’ll go.

I’m not anti-emoji and I know that’s how people communicate these days but for some reason I just can’t bring myself to communicate this way.

Irrational? Probably.

Am I going to start using them? Unlikely.

23. I don’t know how to give useful career advice. I couldn’t have planned out my career path if I tried. There are so many breaks that went for or against me that seemed inconsequential at the time.

Then there are all the jobs I wanted but thankfully didn’t get. Or the plans I had that never came to fruition.

It feels like if you ran the simulation of my life 1,000 times I would end up doing what I’m doing now maybe 100 times.

Your career path is made up of some combination of intelligence, your ability to sell, hard work, luck, connections and timing. And it’s impossible to know which of those factors play the largest role in where you end up.

24. I don’t know how to completely let go of all past regrets. Maybe it’s because I’m getting old but I do think about the past a lot.

Most of these regrets stem from being young and dumb so hopefully this is a sign of progress since I didn’t really get it at the time.

25. I don’t know if 2-for-1 shampoo plus conditioner actually works. My wife uses separate shampoo and conditioner bottles. Mine is a 2-in-1. My kids have the 3-for-1 that also includes a body wash option (and it’s tear-free).

So which one works best? Does it matter if you mix them? Is big shampoo just messing with us by making people buy separate shampoo and conditioner bottles?

26. I don’t know what happened in the last season of Lost. I loved Lost. The first few seasons were hands down some of the best television I’ve ever seen.

I still remember being blown away by the “WE HAVE TO GO BACK!” cliffhanger.

It was possibly the most mysterious build-up of any TV show ever. Lost had a chance to go down as one of the best TV shows ever.

And then…ugh that final season. It was like a wonderful novel where the author doesn’t have a good ending in mind ahead of time that ruins the rest of the book because of the bad taste it leaves you with.

Jack, Sawyer, Kate, Jin, Sayid, Locke, Michael, Claire and Charlie deserved better.

27. I don’t know how to do small talk correctly. Talking about the weather to complete strangers has never been my thing.

I prefer more meaningful conversations. Like why didn’t Sawyer from Lost have a bigger career after the show ended?

28. I don’t know why I had to take calculus in college. Feels like I would have been more prepared for life if I took a class on how to do my taxes or change a flat tire.

29. I don’t know what’s going to happen with climate change in the future. After witnessing grown adults complain about wearing a mask more than my 7 and 4-year-olds, I’m not optimistic about people sacrificing to save the planet.

Maybe science will save the day again.

But just in case it doesn’t, I’m a buyer of real estate around the Great Lakes.

30. I don’t know why it’s called pair of pants when it’s just one pant. Maybe it’s because “I’m putting on my pant” sounds weird.

31. I don’t know why they’re called fajitas and not just tacos that we didn’t finish putting together. I had fajitas for lunch yesterday. They were still excellent even though I had to finish putting them together myself.

32. I don’t know why it took me so long to start writing. This blog is the first thing in my entire life I actually enjoyed writing.

Writing has forced me to read more, learn more, think more and interact with more people and ideas.

I nearly ended this blog six months into it when no one was reading it beyond friends and family and I thought I would run out of stuff to write about.

Now I can’t imagine gathering my thoughts any other way.

33. I don’t know why I’m not too worried about turning 40 today. When I was a teenager, 40 sounded like an incomprehensibly old age.

Now that I’m here it doesn’t really register.

I’m happy and healthy. I thoroughly enjoy my job and the people I work with. Having a family has brought more joy to my life than I ever could have imagined.

Forty’s not that bad.

34. I don’t know how to count lists correctly. I’m sure there are way more things I don’t know but this is getting long and I’m still learning how to finish strong.

Thanks for reading.

Further Reading:
My New Goal in Life: Avoid a Mid-Life Crisis

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