On (my) becoming 40

Marta López

 

Yes, yes. I’m officially a grown-up woman!

1. Thank God Modernity

In former times, being 40 years-old would probably mean weakness, sickness, or even the prospect of an early death. Fortunately, our days are much more benign now, and at this age, humans are more capable of enjoying life than in any time in History. Work, nonetheless, continues to be — at least for the majority — our main occupation… Is that so bad?

2. The Questions

If you have been there already, you might know that reaching the rough middle point of one’s supposed life expectancy can shake our deepest beliefs. It happened to me one year ago, when a couple of simple and essential questions, “what do I want to take from this life?” and “what do I want to leave when I depart?”, appeared to me, just as ghosts in the middle of the night, preventing my rest and peace of mind.

3. The Answers

And for a few weeks, several thoughts hovered my pillow, landing and taking off, lurking and leaving, reluctant to accept that if they stayed, they would shape my destiny henceforth. Eventually, after many sleepless nights and headaches, I managed to catch the two winning answers: Fun and Legacy — two ethereal concepts that hold, from my point of view, very strong meanings behind.

Fun

First, I cannot imagine the pain of leaving this world with a sense of utter passivity and numbness. Good lifes are spent having great times, laughing, loving and sharing, eating and dancing, and of course, since we work everyday, doing enjoyable work. Fun is, for that reason, something I now appreciate and pursue, as much as (or sometimes even more than) money. I mean it.

The very curious thing I have observed is that the more people focus on having fun and delivering the best possible service, the more opportunities show up for them, the more other people recommend them and, in the long term, the more their businesses take off and start to leverage. Fun is for many the secret sauce to success.

Legacy

On the other hand, who wouldn’t like to be remembered and honored by their children and peers for something meaningful and impacting they left to the world? That is called a Legacy: a concept, a movement, a service, a product, an attitude, a paradigm, a positive trend, a change in minds… or anything that leaves the world in a better state than before. Who wouldn’t love to achieve something so great? I’m still figuring out which will be mine and how I will sow it.

5. My strategy

Bearing those answers and observations in mind, and taking into account my shortfalls and uncompleteness to this regard, I decided then to plan and execute an important shift in my career; one that would lead me, if everything went well, to a happier and more fullfilled version of my working self, in a personal quest to get closer to those ambitious life and work goals: having fun and leaving a (still unknown) legacy.

The strategy consisted, among other things, on:

  1. Reviewing my life priorities,
  2. Focusing on offering better professional services,
  3. Improving my networking opportunities, and
  4. Giving value back to the community.

And, truth to be said, after a tough year of strong work, some sleep deprivation, new contacts and clients and tons of mistakes, I am happy to acknowledge that my strategy started to work out quite well. I do feel more fulfilled and satisfied now, not only in work, but in all aspects of life. Still there is a long long way to go — so long I actually wish I had started acting on this a a decade ago, or even two! Why does wisdom arrive so late?

6. My Mantras

Now, whenever I look back at my tortuous professional pathway, my many errors and my humble position so far, I would love to find some clever piece of advice from someone who knows me very well but dwells in the future. I guess this doesn’t exist. However, one still learns a few things during the journey. Lessons that, with time, begin to seem like truths, and they fit us so well we accept them like mantras.

Didn’t you get to know yourself over the years and develop a constructive selftalk? I did. Here are my current truths and their correspondent mantras.

  • Things are rarely what I expect from them. Life is different from what I thought it would be, 20 years ago, 1 year or even week ago. Life is aways changing and surprising, so please, no drama:

Do not expect: work and accept”.

  • I give up doing certain things but take on others enthusiastically. As life changes, so do our choices. I like to consider myself a constant “Minimum Viable Product” (something very far form perfection that works and get things done), whose winning features are yet to be implemented…

One is always a “Work in Progress”.

  • My contact list and acquaintances are my biggest professional asset. For the sake of business and mental health, let’s get well with people, and

Everyday, let’s build and nurture our network.

  • My biggest professional perk is also my daily challenge. Working remotely is a huge benefit for me; however, being an extrovert, I do need people around. Virtual is great, but eye in the eye, a warm handhsake and real coffee shared at the table is just priceless.

Keep connections real.

  • Celebrating life together becomes much more important than owing, receiving or even giving. Everyday should be a huge celebration of Life and Work!

Let’s find meaning and fun in everything we do.

Regardless of your age, I invite you to reflect on your path, your big questions and answers, your truths and your mantras, not caring too much about wrinkles, weight or white hairs. At the end of Life, what does really count for you?

Let’s live on, deliver great work and have lots of fun!

(I’m ready for 40 more).

Article originally published in my LinkedIn account.

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