Normalise not having it all figured out by 40

Do you want to know who has it all figured out by 40? No one. So, stop putting so much pressure on yourself to do that - or shaming yourself for not being there yet.


In my experience as a coach, one of the biggest limits we put on ourselves is age.

“I’m too old” or “it’s too late” are things I hear frequently and every time we say them, we dent our own confidence and self-belief. If you are someone who has bought into ‘life milestones’ based on doing certain things by a certain age then you are trapping yourself in someone else’s idea of what makes a happy and fulfilling life, instead of working out for yourself what is going to create this for you. You’re also highly likely to find yourself feeling confused and disorientated when you hit those milestones and don’t get the validation you thought you’d feel. Because nine times out of 10 that’s the result.

Why do we even have limits around age?

Social conditioning - the dominant cultural narratives we absorb via our networks, media etc. - puts a lot of emphasis on age being relevant. And this is reinforced by the examples we see of people of a certain age only doing certain things - and not doing others. This can create a huge amount of pressure to tick off certain things by a certain age before you ‘run out of time.’ Or before certain things become 'impossible.' And 40 is often the deadline we seem to set ourselves. I guess it’s roughly midlife by most estimates.

But you really don’t have to look far to find examples of people who are doing things outside of the age limits that social conditioning tells us exist. Are those people exceptions to the rule or are they just the only ones who have decided that the rules are wrong? Start a family, run a marathon, build a business, find your voice, start setting boundaries, swim the Channel... people do these things at 25 or 52. Age is not the determining factor - and you are wasting your one wild and precious life if you tell yourself it is. 

Age can be many different numbers...

When we talk about age it's our chronological age we mean - the number of years that we have existed on earth. But this is just one measure of how 'old' you are - you also have:

  • emotional age (maturity)
  • biological age (how old your cells are)
  • mental age (intelligence)
  • subjective age (how old you feel).

When you really think about it, is chronological age actually the most relevant metric for life - or is paying attention to it just a habit? These other metrics allow you to acknowledge the individuality of your life and what is actually relevant to you, rather than impaling you on some generalised standard that can vary hugely from person to person.

Confidence comes from knowing your own mind - and making your own plan

I think we should ignore chronological age. Why? Because there are so many things that have so much more influence over what you’re capable of at any stage in life than how many years you've been on earth. Including:

Physical fitness

There are 50-year-olds on TikTok learning callisthenics for the first time and being able to walk on their hands by 53. You don’t have to deteriorate as you age - many people sustain strength and mobility and some even improve it (I'm way fitter in my 40s than I was in my 20s or 30s). 


Do you feed your body and brain with sunlight, stimulation, activity, joy, pleasure, connection and learning? If you feel low on energy, bored, useless, past it, on the shelf etc. your lifestyle choices are likely having more influence on how you feel than your chronological age.


Smoking, alcohol, poor diet, overeating, undereating, inactivity, lack of sleep. All these things influence biological age and this is way more relevant to your daily life experience and what you're capable of. Unlike chronological age, you can turn back the hands of time on your biological age by changing your health habits.

Your mindset

Are you still stuck in the hard experiences of your childhood, hung up on a past hurt, too anxious to take risks or feeling trapped in negativity about no longer being young? Whatever you’re filing your mindset with is going to influence how you behave. So, it will directly affect what you’re capable of, no matter what age you’re at. If you don’t believe things are possible you won’t even try to do them. That's going to hold you back more than anything else.

Did you know you can change a negative or people-pleasing mindset for a much more optimistic, boundaried and encouraging one? Book a discovery call with me and ask me how if you’re curious.

Take some action and forget about your age

That number on your birth certificate is not the determining factor in what you can - or can’t - do. This is why age-related milestones that are built on ideas of fitting in with what other people have done at that age are so pointless. You are a unique individual so start acting like one.

What you can do instead: 

  • Mindset stories around age milestones are bullsh*t social conditioning. Why are you limiting yourself to a generic and old-fashioned view of life? Challenge them and change them.
  • What’s the real problem? Often, an obsession with age milestones is an avoidance of something else - you don’t like your body, your job leaves you cold, you aren’t being yourself with the people who matter. 
  • Where do you lack confidence? Self-belief is more powerful than ticking boxes. Build that up and you’ll free yourself from comparison and worrying what others think, whatever age you are.
  • Give yourself a break! Can you hear how hard you are on yourself? Try celebrating everything you have achieved - and everything you are right now - instead of focusing on what isn’t there and see how much more motivated you feel.

Life isn’t linear. Ticking off milestones so that you can fit in with the majority - or compete with others - won’t make you happy. Work with me and I will empower you to see your true value and real potential so you can start living authentically and true to what matters to you. I want to help you to love every day in your beautiful skin and relentlessly go for the life you want.

And btw do you know who has it all figured out by 40? No one. At least no one who has real self-awareness and is being honest about their experience. And do you know what you can’t do over 40? Nothing. Part of being truly resilient is throwing off these limiting beliefs about what is possible for us. I am here to help you stop living a limited life like this and find out how it feels to be free and fulfil all your potential.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Winchester, Hampshire, SO23
Written by Alex Pett
Winchester, Hampshire, SO23

Alex is an ICF trained and NLP cert coach focused on helping people to deepen their resources to adapt and bounce back - and go on to thrive. She works with resilience to help clients build confidence, motivation, recover from burnout, set boundaries, find joy and move beyond limiting beliefs. Clients achieve tangible change in 6-9 sessions.

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