7 Signs You Are Letting Yourself Go

I remember going to the gym when I was 18 years old. I played basketball with a group of adults there and lightheartedly made fun of the 30-somethings for stretching before we started to run full court. “Someday, kid,” they’d say while trying to touch their toes. Well, someday arrived. I started playing ice hockey at age 36 and could barely get back to the bench after my first few shifts on the ice. I was so winded, and my legs were sore for a week following my first game. Those 30-somethings were right.

I wondered, “Am I letting myself go?” Maybe. But physically isn’t the only way we tend to let ourselves go as we get older. We start slacking in many other areas, too. If we want to be around for the long haul, to raise our kids and love our wives well, we must put in the work. Here are 7 signs you are letting yourself go.

1. Your phone usage goes up.

I get an alert on my iPhone every Sunday morning. With an annoying notification bell, it announces, usually, that my smartphone usage increased in the previous week. It’s an annoying digital declaration that I am letting myself go. That smartphone has way too much control over my life. I’m sure you are just like me, checking sports scores, email, or Twitter at all hours of the day. The average person taps, swipes, or scrolls on a smartphone around 2,600 times per day. Maybe you’re reading books on your phone, but I’m guessing not. If you spend hours a day on Amazon or TikTok, you’re letting yourself go.

2. You don’t take your wife on dates.

I’m guilty of this. I say that I prioritize dates, but all too often, my wife is the one taking the initiative to find the babysitter, book a restaurant, and plan those few hours together. That’s a sign that I’m letting myself go. I used to plan these elaborate dates where we’d walk on the beach and do scavenger hunts. Those were great, but, truthfully, dates don’t have to be over-the-top to be meaningful. Pick a night to spend an hour or two on the porch together with some music, wine, and conversation. Simple is a winner, and just by making the plans, it shows you’re not letting yourself go.

3. You only want to do “fun” things with kids.

I work away from home half the week and have found myself returning home ready to play with my three kids. There is nothing wrong with that plan, really. We should want to spend time with our kids! But I’ve found that going into immediate play mode when I come in the door can create a two-parent system, where my wife is the one stuck doing the dirty work of overseeing school assignments, chores, and discipline. I was letting myself go by trading in my authority duties for the buddy role. Don’t stick your wife with the tough stuff, leaving all the fun for yourself. Balance them both and show your wife that you’re equal partners in those tough parenting tasks.

4. You let chores stack up.

I was pretty good about getting things done quickly when I was younger, but lately, I’ve become a Grade-A procrastinator. Inevitably, this stalling leaves me angry. When I let my chores stack up, I end up having to do them all at once, usually on a weekend, which wastes a day. Even worse, so many to-dos stack up that the chores end up becoming a burden for others. My wife hates when I fail to put away the dishes. The last thing I want is relational fallout, so it’s better to tackle my tasks in pieces than to cause unnecessary problems at work or home.

5. You haven’t tried something new lately.

I have a few favorite sayings, but one I say all the time is this: “Be willing to struggle at something today so you can be great at it forever.” Essentially, don’t be afraid to try new things. I started woodworking during the COVID-19 pandemic. I bought all kinds of tools that I probably didn’t need and started making wooden crosses. I thought it would be a fun Easter project. The first one was awful. It broke in the planer, I didn’t sand it properly, and the “finished” piece looked like something a third grader would turn in for an abstract art project. I wasn’t satisfied, but I kept it. I put it next to the ones I make today, over a year later, and smile seeing the difference in quality. Today’s are much better, and I hope next year’s are even better. Try something new, stretch your brain, and be creative.

Being content to never step out of your comfort zone is a sure sign you are letting yourself go.

6. You stop traveling.

The world has 193 countries. I’ve seen two. Not everyone can afford to be a globetrotter, but doing the same old, same old gets, well, old. Spice up weekends or the family vacation by trying something you’ve never done or seeking out places you’ve never been. Don’t have the budget to jet off to Spain? No worries. Try a Spanish restaurant instead. Do you always stay at a family lake house or cabin in the summer? Vary the vacay by taking a day trip to a new sightseeing spot. When we lose our sense of adventure, we lose the joy of discovery. Being content to never step out of your comfort zone is a sure sign you are letting yourself go.

7. You stop exercising.

This is the most obvious one. I’ve always been athletic, but recently, my wife and I went on a hike in the north Georgia mountains, and it kicked my butt. It was a few miles, basically straight up. We got to the top, and I was winded. I was a little surprised by how weak my legs felt. I’m not super muscular, but it made me wonder if I was only still considering myself athletic now because I was legitimately athletic when I was younger. It’s important to prioritize your physical health if you want to be around a long time for your family. The Mayo Clinic suggests the average middle-aged man should be able to do 15 to 20 pushups, 35 sit ups, and run 1.5 miles. Can you? Start small if not. It’s never too late to begin improving your physical health.

Sound off: What are other ways you have noticed you are letting yourself go?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Is there anything I used to do with you that I’ve stopped doing and that you’d like me to do again?”