It's funny: growing up, you look at the mid-life crisis as something to be avoided. "No way man," you think in your teens, "I'm never gonna have to go through that, cuz I'm gonna rock HARD for f'n ever!!"
Now, to be fair, forty is far from middle-age. Calling it a "mid-life crisis" is a misnomer (is it? it's halfway to eighty, after all). But realistically in the man's world there's a big dip in testosterone levels starting at about age 30. The physiological effects of this are obvious, but strangely enough the psychological effects seem even more potent. It suddenly becomes obvious that there's too much meat around the midsection. Hoisting your butt off the couch to get a snack is an effort. Hot college girls are still hot, but you know that to them you're just some old guy (who could hang out with their dad). And you know that you'd have to get your doctor's permission to chase them anyway, or run the risk of serious injury to your poor ticker.
Here's the thing guys: you know that's all bullshit, right? You know perfectly well that with a little added motivation, some books by well-known health and success gurus, and a good dose of "I'm finally old enough to do the shit I wanted to do when I was younger but everybody said was a waste of time," all of these things are easily rectifiable.
Here, just for fun, is a goofy bucket list of things to do before you reach forty (or if you're past forty, get your doctor's approval to try):
Get some muscles.
Or get them back. Either way, lose the gut and man back up a bit.
Jump out of a plane.
OK, I'm not a big adventurer, but I think it would be fun. Or at the very least...
...go zip lining
I did the kiddie version at all sorts of parks when I was a kid. Here they give you harnesses. This doesn't even look scary--but it sure as hell looks like fun!
Get a tattoo (preferably something symbolic of a mythology you never fully believed, or in a language you've never spoken once in your life).
This is an aesthetic choice I'll leave up to you. My thing has always been to put this off, largely because now it's nothing but a fashion accessory that will generally look like shit 20-30 years from now. The flip side is, your mom always said not to...but now that you're pushing forty, who makes the rules in your life, dude?
Get a black belt...
...in something, just so you have one. And no, I don't mean in Lean Six Sigma...something where you break boards with your face.
Eat some edible plants that grow wild where you live.
You'll become a guru in no time, and nothing mans you up more than a return to tribal knowledge. Be sure you actually learn which plants are edible though, and stay the hell away from mushrooms!
Revive the Renaissance Man.
Get a diploma in a completely unrelated field. Nobody has ever had too much knowledge about the world around them.
Buy a motorcycle.
Never ride it. Sell it.
Buy a motorcycle.
Learn to ride it. Take off for a week with nothing but your wallet and a change of clothes (maybe solve mysteries and stuff). Chronicle the results. Sell the bike when you get home, along with a detailed outline of your adventures for the next guy to follow.
Completely change your eating habits.
It doesn't matter what "diet" you choose...just do something totally different. Adopt a zero-carb approach. Eat only local organic. Go vegan. Chronicle the results, and sell it as an e-book two years from now.
Create a business.
Fail at it. Repeat. Chronicle the results and sell it as an e-book.
Create a business.
...and actually be successful.
Attend a film premiere...
...with a 20-something fitness model. Even better if it's her film. Not great if it's a porn film.
You know what? Screw it...
Attend a porn film premiere as the lead actress' date.
That's still dude-awesome.
Release an album.
Please only do this if you actually have some musical talent...or run the risk of being THIS GUY.
Take a college chick out for an expensive dinner.
This will be the highlight of her college career I'm sure (as long as you're more interesting than the douchebags she usually hooks up with). Even better...don't sleep with her! That'll mess with her head!
Sell your favourite thing.
Then put the money in your kid's college fund or a savings bond. No kids? Do it anyway...you might some day.
Get in the habit of giving random stuff away.
I love this one. Put a buck in the meter when you go to leave. Tell the cashier at the restaurant to use whatever is left on your gift card for the next person to pay (even if it's enough to buy their whole meal). Buy an extra coffee and hand it to the next person you see.
Start something over again.
But this time, start with a plan. I'm a big advocate of this, but like most people I tend to shy away from it. It doesn't have to be big (like, starting your career over again). It could be as simple as emptying your cupboards and buying new plates and glasses. Or something bigger, like wiping out your DVD or CD collection, or swapping out one entire room of furniture. However you want to approach it, this is your chance for a "life mulligan," where you can just take another shot at it with a clearer idea of what you want. It's surprisingly liberating.
Have lunch with one of these guys:
- Mark Zuckerberg
- Tim Ferriss
- Eben Pagan
- Vin Dicarlo
- Vince Delmonte
- Bob Parsons
- Derek Sivers
...but don't ask them for business advice. Just shoot the shit like a couple guys grabbing a bite to eat. You'll learn WAY more that way, I promise.
I don't mean assemble some Ikea furniture. I mean get some wood and put something together. It can be a book case, or it can be a gazebo for the back yard. Hell, make it a spice rack. It's almost cliche to think that men need to build something in order to feel manly, but there really is something awesome about people looking at your craftsmanship and saying, "I love this! Where did you get it?" Answering, "Oh that? I built that last summer," is by far the coolest feeling in the world (especially if you say it like there's nothing to it).
Take a vacation by yourself.
This one is odd, but when you're single you almost never think of taking a trip anywhere. Yet the idea of going off somewhere totally solo and just exploring at your whim is one of the foundational principles of a world lifestyle. Pick a spot and go.
Learn another language.
Even better: learn a non-European language, then take your solo vacation there. Do this with any location in the world you want, and make it an annual trek. Even if you do couple up, keep this habit and tradition. Some day your kids will become citizens of the world too...an advantage and an experience they will always treasure.
Spend money on experiences instead of stuff.
This, I'm told, is one of the defining features of the happiest lives. They do things, rather than collect things. And when you're retelling your adventures to your grandchildren, they're not likely to care which tablet PC you owned in 2012, or what kind of car you drove, or what your stock portfolio looks like. Tell them about the time you swam with dolphins, or rode an elephant. Or jumped out of a plane with a 20-year-old fitness model / porn star on the way to her movie premiere in Kuala Lumpur.
I've got three years left to tick stuff off this list (well, the stuff I want to do anyway). Time to get geared up!
Any other thoughts? Please share!