40 before 40: Random acts of kindness

Back when I was 29, I remember stumbling across an article on line, “30 things to do before you’re 30”, and having a last minute panic as I realised I had never played the ukulele, been to Thailand, or even perfected the art of a cheese soufflé. And as 30 came and went, I promised myself that by the time I hit 40 I would have a list so long of all of the amazing and impressive things I had done in my third decade.

Only, I’m 39 tomorrow and I’ll be honest with you, that list doesn’t have many entries. And whilst I’ve been busy giving birth and raising children, and I’m so proud of how far I have come in the last decade, sitting here now, scrolling through “40 things to do before you’re 40” posts, I’m realising the odds of me mastering Taekwondo, or even just winged eyeliner, are pretty unlikely.

So instead I’m ditching the list, I’m scrapping my plans, and I’m switching it up. Instead of trying to do 40 things for my own benefit, I’m going to do 40 things for others. Because the truth is, I’ve got a pretty wonderful life for the most part. We have four healthy children, a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, a fridge full of food, and we are fortunate enough to enjoy countless opportunities, none of which I take for granted. So over the next year I plan on spreading a little kindness by helping others and hopefully, in just 12 months time, I will be sat here telling you that doing all of these selfless acts were far more rewarding than skiing in the Alps, horse riding at sunset, or slaving in the kitchen trying to master that soufflé. At least, that’s the plan…..

1. Gift a copy of your favourite book to a friend.

2. Donate to the women’s refuge.

3. Leave a sticky note on a changing room mirror to tell someone they look beautiful.

4. Leave cold bottles of water for the dustbin men or postman on a hot day.

5. Put out/take in your neighbours bins.

6. Cook an extra portion of dinner for someone who lives alone.

7. Pay for an extra coffee in the coffee shop and ask them to give it to the next person that comes in.

8. Add something extra to your weekly shop to donate to the food bank.

9. Bake a cake for an elderly neighbour and send them a slice with a teabag.

10. Take a hot drink to a homeless person.

11. Sign up to be an organ donor.

12. Support small businesses, and encourage others to do the same.

13. Let someone go before you in the queue.

14. Leave random ‘open me’ envelopes with kindness notes in public places to make others smile.

15. Give someone a genuine compliment.

16. Leave the pound in the shopping trolley next time you shop.

17. Create a care package for a new Mum.

18. Forgive someone.

19. Offer to babysit for a friend.

20. Send someone flowers.

21. Volunteer your time.

22. Donate money to a worthy cause.

23. Teach someone something new.

24. Reach out to an old friend, share your favourite memory together.

25. Donate your talents.

26. Run a 5K for a good cause.

27. If an old person strikes up a conversation with you, always talk back. You might be the only person they talk to that day.

28. Offer to help a Mum with a crying baby.

29. Buy a friend a bottle of wine and share it together.

30. Be kind to someone who has shown you unkindness.

31. Organise a fundraiser.

32. Ask elderly neighbours if they need something from the supermarket.

33. Send someone a hand written letter.

34. Gift someone a lottery ticket.

35. Offer to walk someone else’s dog.

36. Donate clothes to the clothing bank.

37. Ask someone how they are doing and really listen to their reply.

38. Promote your friends businesses, projects, and plans.

39. Smile at strangers.

40. Ignore negative voices in your own head. You deserve kindness, too.

Thanks to Laura, Suzy, Lianne, Charlotte, MeganSophie, Lisa, Clare, Kayleigh, Jennie, Cassie, Emma, Jen, Nadia, Emma, Amanda, Kate, for your contributions.



  1. January 22, 2019 / 4:26 pm

    Perfect, so many fabulous ideas there and you have given me a few to add to the things I like to do. Far better than tickijng off someone else’s list of what you should do before you’re 40. Mich x

  2. January 22, 2019 / 4:50 pm

    I think that this is a far better list than learning something you don’t have a passion for just because it is on some silly ’40 before 40′ list or similar – we can always do with being a little kinder to others

  3. January 22, 2019 / 4:53 pm

    This is a wonderful idea! I have bookmarked this for inspiration! 🙂 Thankyou for sharing.

  4. January 22, 2019 / 5:55 pm

    These are some lovely things to do, I remember last summer the postman was talking about how hot it was and I offered them a drink and they said no one ever does that! Which surprised me I always try and ask if they stop to chat now.

  5. January 22, 2019 / 8:25 pm

    I love your list, I never thought to do this when I turned 30, 40 or 50 but can say I have done a lot of your list so not doing too bad x

  6. January 23, 2019 / 9:08 am

    Oh I love this! I love making lists of things to do and the fact that these are all acts of kindness is even better 🙂

  7. January 23, 2019 / 9:10 am

    I think this is such a nice idea, and one we can all take some practice from. Something which can make someone else’s day better is always a good shout x

  8. January 23, 2019 / 9:36 am

    I love this idea! I always feel so pressured by the bucket list style ’30 before 30′ challenges and much prefer this! I may even do it myself before I turn 30 this summer.
    C x

  9. Elizabeth O
    January 23, 2019 / 10:09 am

    wonderful idea! this is such an inspiration! Thank you for sharing this so many fabulous ideas.

  10. Monidipa Dutta
    January 23, 2019 / 1:03 pm

    You are indeed a nice person. The most obvious benefit of kindness is that you make others feel good. And in making others feel good, you inspire them to want to do something kind for you or for someone else. When you commit a kind act, those around you will take note and your kindness can have a ripple effect.

  11. January 23, 2019 / 2:07 pm

    What a lovely idea to mix up a 40 before 40. Good luck and Happy Birthday x

  12. January 23, 2019 / 2:26 pm

    This is such an amazing idea and so many great ways you have shared too! I think we can all be a little kinder to others and there are some great simple and easy things we could all be doing once in a while shared in your list. I will be trying to implement some of them myself so thanks for sharing!

  13. January 23, 2019 / 6:18 pm

    What a fab idea for a post and it is nice to nice. Cook an extra portion of dinner for someone who lives alone is a great idea xx

  14. January 23, 2019 / 8:30 pm

    I really love this idea, what a great way to show kindness. I can’t wait to see how you get on.

  15. January 24, 2019 / 9:13 am

    So you didn’t master taekwondo? What a shame! Nor the souffle? What were you doing with your time?! Lol. I always put lottery tickets in birthday cards (and kinda hope they won’t forget their dear friend if it turns out to be a winner!) It’s the little things in life that mean the most I find

  16. January 24, 2019 / 9:59 am

    This is such an awesome and beautiful list. It definitely makes me think of things to do for others. And things I would still like to do for others. Thank you for the great inspiration.

  17. January 24, 2019 / 10:06 am

    This is a great idea. I’m 41 now and I never put together one of those bucket lists, I didn’t see the point. But a kindness list makes so much more sense and is more achievable! I bet you tick them off in no time.

  18. Konstantina Antoniadou
    January 24, 2019 / 12:25 pm

    My city always have the best events when it comes to healping people. That’s a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing.

  19. January 24, 2019 / 2:14 pm

    These are all fantastic ideas, if every one picks just one or two, the world will be a better place!

  20. January 24, 2019 / 2:43 pm

    This is so lovely – I’ll be turning 40 next year and have to say I find great satisfaction in acts of kindness so here’s to more of them!

  21. January 24, 2019 / 4:23 pm

    the search for everyday kindness is a resilience act! Against all the terrible aspects of life, to resist the world constantly telling us we must be cruel not to succumb. But the truth is we must be resilient and kind.

  22. January 24, 2019 / 5:50 pm

    Good job on switching it up from things you want to do to the things you’re going to do for others. I did read the whole list and they’re all great ideas. God bless you on the list.

  23. January 24, 2019 / 6:38 pm

    I absolutely love this idea! I might just have to borrow it and start doing this myself. Thank you for the inspiration.

  24. Helen
    January 24, 2019 / 8:49 pm

    I really love this idea! I’m sure you will feel so much better ticking these off than 40 things other people think you should’ve done. I’m going to try do some of these myself this year.

  25. January 24, 2019 / 9:06 pm

    I love this idea. And no way do you look 39! Happy birthday to you.

  26. January 24, 2019 / 9:51 pm

    These are great! Thank you for writing about it! I did something similar when I was about 21 that went viral on Twitter. It was a 30-day random acts of kindness challenge. It picked up so much steam that I got invited to speak at TED, the biggest achievement of my life and it all started as just an experiment to be kind 🙂

    My talk was titled what if you didn’t need superpowers to make someone’s day 🙂

    Hope you keep doing them!! Good luck!

  27. January 25, 2019 / 9:03 am

    These are some lovely ideas. If everyone did this imagine what it would be like?! I’ve done a few of these, I must endeavour to do more

  28. January 25, 2019 / 10:21 am

    These are all absolutely wonderful ways to show kindness to people 🙂 I always buy a few extra coffees in McDonalds near to Christmas and then hand them out to the homeless. But I really should try harder to make a difference during the rest of the year too. Thank you for the reminder 🙂

    Louise x

  29. Elle
    January 25, 2019 / 1:23 pm

    Number 38 really stood out to me “Promote your friend’s businesses, projects, and plans.” I really try to be that friend that supports others.

  30. January 25, 2019 / 9:36 pm

    This list is amazing. We should all try a little kindness. It pays to be kind.

  31. January 26, 2019 / 12:13 pm

    This is such a lovely idea, hope you manage to do them all

  32. Jennifer Prince
    January 28, 2019 / 8:22 pm

    I love the one about making food for someone who lives alone. It’s a sad thing to have to think about, but blessing others is always good!

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