There are certain milestones in life that we look back fondly upon, nostalgically recalling the struggle to reach them, followed by the satisfaction once we got there. Life is grounded in purpose, it is given meaning by achievement, things that we can look back on the end of our time and say, ‘I did that’. From passing a driving test to having children and retiring after a long and prosperous career, while it means different things to different people, fulfilment is the key to happiness.

In the list below, we take a look at some of the most common goals set by men to reach before their 40th birthday. We will refer to the influential American psychologist Abraham Maslow and his Heirarchy of Needs theory. He split a pyramid into four sections, with the most fundamental of needs at the bottom, to the most important at the top. We view some of the qualities that psychologists believe are essential for emotional and physical fulfilment. Needless to say, achievement and accomplishment are often individual and subjective, but here’s a rundown of a few popular goals.

Finding a Purpose or Road to Travel Down

While this can mean many things to many people, it’s recognised as an important factor to mental well-being. Maslow put this near the top of his pyramid in the “esteem section” (achievement, respect of others). He believed that in order to reach a state of mental equilibrium, one must find purpose in life. This can be in a career endeavour, or a creative mission.


An Understanding of the Self

This would fall under the self-actualisation column at the top of the pyramid. Maslow believed that in order to find mental peace, it’s important to have a deeper understanding of oneself. It can be central to your mental stability that you’re not adopting a fashion sense solely from magazines or having a music taste just so you can fit in with your friends. Using sites like this, find art and photography that really speaks to you as a person, instead of just what you’ve been told is ‘must-have’ art for your home.


Maintaining Strong Relationships

By the time one reaches 40, many friends have come and gone, possibly many partners too. With every fall out and possible betrayal, lessons will have been learnt along the way. The ability of self-awareness is something that comes with age, and learning how to deal with people and situations comes along with it. By this age, explosive arguments and precarious friendships should be a thing of the past.  This falls under Maslow’s 3rd column of “love/belonging”.


Staying Healthy

While Maslow lists the most fundamental things that keep us alive at the bottom of his pyramid, such as breathing, food, water, sex, homeostasis, etc., he puts “security of body” in the next most important column. Meaning that while it isn’t necessarily imperative to have a six-pack, it is important to stay healthy and in shape, as well as to take care of your skin. The psychological benefits to this are immeasurable.