Celebrating 40 Laps Around the Sun

Published on February 24th, 2021

It's incredible how much emotional baggage humanity places on certain age milestones. When I was younger, I remembered the birthday cards my aunts and uncles would get when they hit the big 4-0. Humorous as they were, the theme was consistent: they were officially over the hill. It's such a powerful visual that reflected what so many often felt. I grew up in small-town America, where many adults would refer back to their high school years as their glory days. Hitting age 40 was simply a stark reminder that they were even further removed from what they believed to be the best years of their life.

I despise this notion.

To be clear, there are times that I wish I could go back in time to my younger years. My wife will be the first to tell you that I'm a nostalgic person that loves living in my memories. Also, I have suffered a few permanent injuries that prevent me from playing sports that I used to love. And like most people, I've made many mistakes along the way that I wish I could go back and fix.

However, I love this speech by Matthew McConaughey when he won an Oscar for Best Actor.

This idea of chasing who we will be ten years from now is a powerful visual. As I exist here at age 40, thinking back to where I was at age 30, I am certain I would be proud and excited about who I was to become. No, I am nowhere close to the path I thought I would be on. And yet, where I have ended up is better than where I could have imagined back at age 30.

Now to Look Forward 10 Years

If I subscribed to the over-the-hill metaphor, my feelings about what life might look like at age 50 would be somewhat sad and depressing. If the best was behind me, what would I look forward to getting further and further away?

In contrast, there is a different visual that I subscribe to: the compound growth curve. Here, the best is not only yet to come, but all the skills and experiences of my past become the very seeds by which I grow a better future. And it comes more rapidly with each passing year as these skills and experiences stack together.

I've been blessed that I pivoted my career after college to move into the tech startup space. Initially, it took a while to build momentum in this new space. However, one key success led to a breakthrough to a new career opportunity. And then again. And then again. This series of victories leading to bigger opportunities to make an impact continues to this day.

Sure, there are dips and setbacks along the way. Some major issues hit my family several times, and that required a lot of regrouping. That's why the compound growth curve is simply an illustration, not an exact reality. Still, the overall direction is what excites me.

What Will Life Be at 50?

When I turn 50, my daughters will be 16 and 10 years old. I can't wait to see who they become. I suspect my wife and I will be living on our dream farmhouse by then or well on our way in the planning phase. I will have helped build out my current company (Contact Mapping) into a successful business. I will likely mentor, advise, or invest in several other people and companies along the way. Maybe someday I'll even get that flying car.

It's an exciting path ahead! I used to fear growing older. Yes, there are some health annoyances along the way that will need to be dealt with. But overall, I am confident I will be proud of who I become when I finish my 50th lap around the sun—time to start the chase.

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About Rick Manelius

Quick Stats: CXO of Atomic Form. Graduated from MIT in '03 (BS) and '09 (PhD). Life hacker and peak performance enthusiast. This blog is my experiment in creative writing, self-expression, and sharing what I've learned along my journey. For more information, read my full bio here or contact me.