40 Things I Learned Before Turning 40

In the days leading up to New Year’s Eve I started to ponder what had the last 12 months taught me? These thoughts always start when I’m back home for the holidays, when things slow down for me after a busy year. There’s also nothing quite like being back in your hometown, the house you grew up in, that brings about nostalgic feelings — reflecting on how far you’ve come.

My NYE post has become a tradition for me for the past six years and looking at it now, it was sparked by a year of new adventures. I’d started living on my own in Melbourne, spent five weeks travelling around the US on my own, visited some incredible places, made new friends, reconnected with some, lost others. I can still remember writing the post that first year, sitting in the airport, listening to the One Republic’s song, I LIVED. It made me realise what a year I HAD LIVED!!! How much I’d LEARNT, about the world, about others and about myself.

So in 2020, a year where many had the highest of expectations for initially, but then played out with more plot twists than an episode of Game of Thrones, I felt a little apprehensive about my usual NYE post. It was a difficult year for everyone with the disruption that Covid bought about, not to mention the range of other challenges globally that 2020 issued.

I’ve mentioned numerous times that I’ve been fortunate that my Covid experience was minimal compared to many others within Australia and globally. I wasn’t sure if it would be insensitive of me to go sprouting about how the experiences in 2020 had supported my growth through the different lessons I’d learnt, when I know for some, it was a year that success meant, just making it through to December 31.

At the same time, I didn’t want 2020 to slip away without acknowledging the wisdom I’ve acquired through the range of experiences I’ve had in the previous 366 days. It then occurred to me that I’d be turning 40 in 2021 and there was almost 40 weeks until my birthday and what a way to celebrate the lead up to this next decade on Planet Earth, then to countdown 40 lessons I’ve learnt before 40.

I read a great article, (which I’ll share below), that reinforces my long held belief that we need to always look for silver linings. It acknowledges that 2020 was not the year many of us would have chosen, and suggests that we don’t necessarily have to write a dark, ‘good riddance’ ending to the year. It highlights the importance of recognising the wonderful things that have happened, that you can find meaning in, that become part of your story. We can’t delete our history and by only focussing on the negative, we are essentially throwing away part of ourselves when we don’t allow ourselves to give our COMPLETE history, which includes the good.

Every year I have taken this sentiment towards writing my NYE post. Over the years, and particularly in 2020, it’s been popular to take the negative approach and deny ourselves to feel positive emotions like happiness and gratitude. My reflections often come from challenges, losses and setbacks, where I allow myself the opportunity to embrace the learning from what I went through.

So 40 Things I Learned Before Turning 40 will be a collection of lessons I’ve learnt over the years and already I’ve had so much fun looking back as I ready my list. I’ve scoured through 347 NOTES in my phone from the last 10 years — collections of quotes, my own musings, things that have inspired me from the books I’ve read, music I’ve listened to, movies/TV shows I’ve seen, places I’ve been, experiences I’ve had, conversations with family, friends and sometimes strangers.

I’m so excited to take this opportunity to look back at the person I was, over the last four decades, that have led me to be the ME! That I am today.

I hope you enjoy the journey as much as I do recounting it.





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Mitch Robertson

Mitch Robertson

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