40 Lessons I’ve Learned in 40 Years

“When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished by how much he’d learned in seven years.” – Mark Twain

I recently celebrated my 40th birthday (as much as I kept hoping it wouldn’t happen). It’s impossible to not see 40 as a milestone – there’s so much stigma associated around that number, especially for women. Just look up “After 40” in the Books section on Amazon.com and you’ll find a plethora of titles geared toward what we can, can’t, shouldn’t or should be doing, wearing, thinking – all after hitting the big 4-0.

I’ll admit I got a little grouchy about it. But after it happened, I didn’t feel any worse – and in fact, felt oddly that this milestone is really one that kicks you in the ass to look around your life and decide if you’re happy with it – and if you’re not, why not and just what the hell are you going to do about it? It has also pushed me to look back and think about what I’ve learned, what I’ve applied from those lessons and what I still need to push myself to do, try, apply, accomplish, or otherwise still explore. Here are 40 things I now know – whether or not I’m applying them (yet).

1) There is never a “right time” for a lot of things: having babies, getting married, starting  your own business. No one can tell you the right time – you just have to trust your gut.

2) People have a lot of opinions – you can listen to them but you can’t live by them or you’ll go insane.

3) It’s okay to say no. (In fact, I should say no more often.)

4) I say “I’m sorry” way too much.

5) No one can prepare you for what it feels like to be a parent and how it will infinitely and constantly change and challenge you.

6) Your childhood experiences stay with you forever – whether you want them to or not. (Remember this often if you are a parent.)

7) There can never be too much: fun, laughter, friendship, food. There can be too much: sun, wine, tears, pressure.

8) Women need to support each other more.

9) Forgiveness is a powerful thing.

10) Sometimes the hardest thing to do is let go.

11) There’s never enough time in the day. So learn to manage it better. (I suck at this.)

12) Listen to what your kids say – they have a lot to teach you.

13) Regret is a wasted emotion.

14) For me, true and trusted friends are rare and should be treated with the greatest of appreciation and care and never, ever taken for granted.

15) Truly knowing yourself is one of the greatest things in life.

16) There’s no possible way everyone will like you. And that’s okay.

17) I do not want to discuss religion or politics at any dinner party, ever.

18) Sometimes you need to be selfish.

19) Some people are too selfish. Recognize them and decide if you can accept them the way they are or not – move forward accordingly with them in your life – or not.

20) Music is good for the soul. So is good wine, food and love.

21) Life really is short.

22) You can’t be honest with anyone else if you’re not honest with yourself first.

23) Saving for a rainy day is well and good, but so is having a little fun today.

24) Spend time often with your spouse alone – no matter how much you love your children and think no one on the planet is good enough to babysit.

25) Vacations don’t have to be extravagant. Take a day off, go shopping, have wine with lunch, get a massage, watch a movie – whatever gives you a reprieve from your normal routine and daily stress.

26) You can never say “I love you” too much.

27) Inspiration can be found in unexpected places. (I’m always looking for it in church or conferences and I need to give that up.)

28) My religion is not your religion. And that’s okay. We can share this world – even like each other – anyway.

29) Monsters exist.

30) So do miracles.

31) It’s okay not to get credit – do it anyway.

32) Some things can’t be fixed.

33) The most uncomfortable things are probably the things I need to work on the most.

34) I haven’t been dancing enough.

35) Caring what others think is exhausting.

36) It’s not hard to show someone how much you love them every day.

37) Be careful of your judgmental self. “So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” (John 8:7)

38) I suck at card games.

39) I believe playing hard is just as important, if not more important, than working hard.

40) I still have a lot to learn.

This entry was posted in life, Personal, Random musing and tagged , , , , on by .

About Christine Perkett

I've spent my career coaching CEOs, CMOs, and COOs on how to best market and grow their companies, how to inspire and motivate their workforces, and how to manage in good times and in bad. I'm a serial entrepreneur who has founded three companies. I've received numerous accolades and awards including being named a “Top 100 Must Follow Marketing Mind” in Forbes, a 2020 Top 50 Social Media Influencer in Planable, a “Boston 50 on Fire” finalist, a “Top CEO to follow on Twitter,” a “Top 50 Social Media Influencer on Twitter” by Vocus (now Cision), and one of the 250 Most Influential Women Leaders by Richtopia since 2015. I've been featured in numerous outlets for my expertise including Associated Press, ABC, New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and many more. I am also an adjunct Professor of Digital Marketing and Media at Northeastern University in Boston. I champion women in business and enjoy helping others make their dreams come true. Personally, I 'm a mom to four who loves dogs, the ocean, fashion, marathons, wine, humor and kindness.

10 thoughts on “40 Lessons I’ve Learned in 40 Years

  1. Jeffrey Heinichen

    Wow, although I am a bit over 40, the trip you took me on in your “40 things” was well worth the ride.


    1. chrisperkett Post author

      Thanks… I think? 🙂 Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts, Jeffrey. I appreciate it.

  2. Stephen Dill

    Christine, a few decades ago I decided 120 was a realistic lifetime and I began ignoring other people’s “reality” in order to create my own. Napoleon Hill only confirmed it for me with “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve.”

    So in my book, you are one-third of the way through your trip along your path in this life. Over time I decided that thirds were a good proportioning of those 120 years:
    1) 40 years to discover the plan
    2) another 40 years to work the plan
    3) enjoy the results of your plan for the last 40 years

    Suddenly that mainstream view of 40th birthdays was no longer valid. Instead, it was a jumping-off point for most of us; the stage of our lives where we really swung into gear and made a difference in the world. The time when we set in place a history for our progeny to look back on and learn from. That seemed so much more productive, promising, and inspiring than “downhill.”

    There are a few who do it younger and a few who wait even longer to find their calling (Buckminster Fuller the most notable who comes to mind), but clearly most of us are just finding our focus as we hit 40. So take heart, you are one of the stars of your generation, clearly on a path of greatness and destined to leave a marvelous legacy for your children’s children.

    Those of us who are fortunate enough to call you a friend are blessed to have you in our lives. And as outgoing and fearless as you are, we are excited to know that so many more are going to be equally blessed in the future.

    Congratulations on a fantastic first third!


    1. chrisperkett Post author

      Wow, Stephen, thank you. I love your “reality” and think I will have to follow your lead – that’s so much more inspirational than heading “downhill.”

      I’m very touched by your compliments, thank you. And thanks for the encouragement!

      To the next 40!

  3. Lisa Dilg

    Many times, I don’t like these lists because they end up being totally self congratulatory, but I really liked yours. Some things I have been trying in my own life – 13 especially. And I still like to play cards and ping pong with you, even if you aren’t that great 🙂

    My biggest one that I told you earlier – is tell people the nice things you are thinking about them – don’t save it for a eulogy. It takes people off guard sometimes because they wonder what your angle is, but its shocking how much a kind word and a compliment means to people and how long it lasts in their head.

  4. chrisperkett Post author

    Thanks for leaving a comment, Lisa. You’re right – compliments, especially the unexpected ones, go a long, long way.

    I like your new commitment to telling people what you think and not saving it for eulogy. Makes total sense to me!

    I still like playing cards too – even if I’m bad at them (or mostly just can never remember the rules) – once in a while, I get lucky and win!


  5. Heidi

    I love this list. Yay! for numbers 4 and 17, oh…and all the other ones too.

    But mostly I love it because it is genuine and real. Instead of taking the easy way out and pretending everything is just fantaaaaaabulous all the time, you – super gorgeous, successful CP – were honest about the ups and downs via your life lessons.

    I can so relate to so many of the things on this list – and it makes it all the more meaningful knowing that you risked your privacy for the sake of making honest connections. Thanks!! I’m off to share it with my peeps.

  6. chrisperkett Post author


    Thanks for getting it. 🙂

    I struggle with that whole positioning thing, as you know. So your comments are very much appreciated. Being genuine and real can be tough in our business! At the end of the day, I’m human and I want to work with people who can appreciate that and all that comes with it. I don’t do faux well at all.


    1. chrisperkett Post author

      Thank you for asking, Coralee. Not a problem at all – I just ask for attribution and a link back, of course. Thank you!


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