Vail Daily column: Forty thoughts on turning 40 | VailDaily.com
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Vail Daily column: Forty thoughts on turning 40

Assuming all goes according to plan and barring any unexpected and unwelcomed occurrences, I’ll turn 40 shortly after this column runs.

Professionally speaking, they (whoever “they” are) say your 30s are the time to find yourself and make progress along your chosen career path.

I’ve realized that, against all odds, I’ve managed to learn and grow both personally and professionally and actually accomplished this goal. I was also fortunate enough to have found my dream job as president of the Vail Valley Partnership (it’s not that great a job, you’d never want it).

I don’t know what “they” say about your 40s, and I’m not so sure that I want to know as it’s likely filled with thoughts of 401Ks, college savings accounts and impending health issues. That said, I might be in rare territory — I’m looking forward to putting my 30s in the rear view mirror and applying some of the life lessons and thoughts that I’ve accumulated like so much junk in the garage. A few of these life reminders:

1. Hearing “Welcome to the Jungle” on the car stereo brings me back to junior high. Hearing it on Classic Rewind reminds me I’m 40.

2. Don’t bemoan growing older. Some don’t get that privilege.

3. Speaking of, you’ll experience loss. Friends, family, pets. It’s not fair and there is no sense wasting precious resources whining about the lack of fairness.

4. Forgive and forget is terrible advice. Absolutely forgive yourself and without question forgive others. But don’t forget. If you forgive and forget, then you’ll be taken advantage of again and again. Instead of forgive and forget, live by the idea of forgive and don’t forget.

5. Have responsible fun. Responsible fun is never at someone else’s expense.

6. Collaborate. There is no need to go it alone; by going at it alone you’ll get frustrated by lack of progress and others will assume you aren’t a team player.

7. But make sure things get done. That takes leadership in a collaborative relationship. Displaying leadership to ensure things get done together will result in incremental success personally and professionally.

8. Volunteer. Give your expertise (and time) to a nonprofit or community group. It’s highly likely you’ll get more than you give.

9. The answer is yes, now what was the question? Borrowed from Rob Levine at the Antlers at Vail, this is a great life lesson.

10. Forget the golden rule and instead practice the “golden rule plus.” Don’t treat people how you want to be treated. Instead, take the Golden Rule a step further and treat each person as he or she would like to be treated. Not everyone wants to be treated the same way you do.

11. Recognize that no one is your “friend” on social media so they can listen to your political drivel (from either side of the aisle).

12. Things may look like they come easy to some folks out there, but chances are they don’t. Almost without exception, the most successful among us work the hardest.

13. People will do a lot for people they like and not much for those they don’t. So be nice to people.

14. Express gratitude and appreciation. Find something to be thankful for each day.

15. But make sure it’s genuine.

16. Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know” when you don’t know. Boom: Instant respect.

17. I don’t care what you do (within legal and ethical boundaries, of course) as long as you can give me a good reason for doing it.

18. Be mission driven. Always strive to meet your personal or professional mission and be sure to re-evaluate efforts to ensure they haven’t gotten off-track.

19. Surround yourself with people that push you. Nothing else will determine your success — or failure — more than those you associate with.

20. Have balance in your life. If you only row on one side, you’ll end up going in a circle.

21. Make the best decisions based on the information you have, and don’t worry about what people think about you. Winners make decisions and act upon them; losers wonder what everyone thinks.

22. Always work like you are the underdog. Underdogs work harder and want it more.

23. Successful people look for opportunities to help others. Unsuccessful people look at “what’s in it for me?”

24. Big ideas matter. But remember, it is small steps that get you to the big ideas.

25. Children make you be the person you need to be.

26. Ask questions. It’s the only way to ensure you’re moving in the right direction.

27. But don’t ask too many questions (or the same question more than once). Asking the same question over and over means you are incapable of listening. Or worse, that you’re incompetent.

28. Be selfish. You can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself.

29. But don’t be too selfish, because it’s not about you.

30. Embrace fear. It’s a tremendous motivator.

31. Most people do a lot of things. Not many people accomplish a lot.

32. Discipline usually equals success.

33. Celebrate other’s success.

34. Fair is a four-letter word. Life isn’t always fair.

35. Don’t be a victim.

36. “Because that’s the way we’ve always done it” is lazy.

37. Don’t drive slowly in the fast lane. Everyone will hate you, and it will be your own fault.

38. Things are not always as they seem, but don’t let that discourage you from moving forward.

39. The most unoriginal idea for a column around your 40th birthday is a list of forty life lessons.

40. If you hear banjo music in the woods, then run.

Always stretch the rules sometimes. It keeps people on their toes.

Chris Romer is president and CEO of Vail Valley Partnership.


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