The other week, someone asked me "What's one thing a woman can look forward to about turning 40?". I ended up coming with 15... thanks to my own life lessons and those of all the amazing women I have interviewed for 40:20 Vision. My mission in sharing 40-something women's perspective is to give younger women a head start!
1. You make decisions for yourself.
And you are happier for it. Yes, you have family/spouse/employees/pets, but you are no longer making decisions based on what you should do. You are making decisions based on what is right for you. It's liberating.
Head start: Try to think about what you would do if you were living on your own for your whole life. What would make you happiest, most fulfilled? What would you pursue? Of course you won't be, but it's a good exercise to get perspective on decisions that are right for you.
2. You tame the inner critic in your head.
You know that voice. The one saying you aren't smart enough, pretty enough, strong enough, wealthy enough. By 40, you know it well enough to tell it to shut up. You can tell it, "Slow down... I know that challenges are what change me and make me better. I know you are trying to help by telling me I am not ready... but I am ready. And I know if you are speaking up it is something that will make be a better person on the other side. Thanks for reminding me and egging me on."
Head start: When you hear self-criticism and doubt, say thanks but no thanks. I know you are there to protect me, but I am ready for this. I don't need you right now. Go away. Seems silly to talk to yourself, but try it.
3. You finally use your gut instinct.
Saving you the misery of indecision, paralysis by analysis and bad choices made over and over again.
Head start: When you have a sense that something is just not right... take note of it. Write it down. Come back to it next time you feel it and over time you will learn what to listen to. What helped me trust my sixth sense (aka gut) was writing. Every time I thought about taking something out and didn't, an editor or boss crossed it out for me. Overtime I learned to do it for myself. I realized it was the same with life.
4. You realize that all those people you think are so confident and lead perfect lives... are just as screwed up as everyone else.
Everyone has their own sh*t. You lose the instinct to compare, to keep up with the Jones or to fear missing out. You find out mean girls are just scared women. You learn that it's a waste of time comparing the worst of yourself (your insecurities and flaws) with the best of others (their Facebook profile, family pic, etc.). And on top of it all you realize your flaws may just be assets. Bossy is "gets sh*t done." Shy is a good listener. Too talkative is a thought leader. It's all how you use it.
Head start: Think about all the things you don't share on Facebook. Realize that everyone else has those too. Everything that is a movie in your mind is a 15-second commercial in everyone else's. They are much more interested in their own life than how not perfect your life is.
5. You get your silly on again.
You learn not to take yourself too seriously. You really do dance like no one is watching. You are like a teenager again... but less loud. It's not for show. It's for smiles.
Head start: Laugh at yourself. Dance like it's Snapchat. Do try this at home... consider the culture at work.
6. You ask.
You know your worth and you aren't afraid to ask for it. You realize that "you miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take," and there really is nothing to lose.
Head start: Ask a friend to let you practice your "asks" on them.
7. You have resilience.
Nothing is the end of the world. You have been through enough downs to know there eventually is an up. You know that yes, one day, the heartbreak will end. Eventually you will open the blind and see the window. There is always a plan B.
Head start: Think of the most embarrassing thing that happened to you in junior high? Is it as bad as you thought it would be now? Think of one decision that you thought was life ending... was it? Life is long. Time heals. So just give yourself time... and accept your sadness. It's part of life.
8. Sundays really are Fundays.
No, that doesn't mean boozing 'til you get the blues. You realize there is no use getting the Sunday blues worrying about what awaits you in the office Monday. You know you only have time to lose if you don't enjoy every moment of that Sunday. It's your weekend. Take it.
Head start: Think of your favorite thing to do. Do that all day long. Then have your favorite meal, watch your favorite show. Every time the thought of work comes up... replace it with thinking about what you are loving about the moment you are in.
9. You get rid of the toxic people in your life.
The friends you keep in your life have your back... you weed out the others. It saves a lot of emotional angst.
Head start: Think about the friends that drain your energy rather than give you energy. Keep track of it. Then try focusing more on the friends that give you energy. See what you gain. You don't have to break up with a toxic friend officially or dramatically. Just slowly stop engaging the way you used to.
10. You feel stronger. You get lighter.
Something just happens where you feel stronger in your body. Maybe it's the emotional strength of having been through pain and getting to the other side but you build emotional and physical muscle. At the same time you lose mental weight. Things just don't bring you down in the same way.
Head start: Find one workout/physical/mind-body activity you actually like doing. You don't have to be perfect at it. Don't let that get in the way of enjoying it.
11. You are more beautiful.
Any 40-something women who decides to eat well and find one exercise they like to do looks better than they did at 20. Yes, you may lose the baby fat or spring, but there is beauty in living a full life. You see yourself more kindly. You feel at home in you body, and it shows.
Head start: There has got to be a healthy food you enjoy eating. Make that an everyday pleasure. Keep trying this... add more and more to your palette. Educate yourself on nutrition. Indulge moderately. Chocolate is not endangered. So have a bite, or two, enjoy and know that it is not your last bite.
12. Public speaking gets easier.
You care less about looking stupid and care more about what you have to say.
Head start: Take an acting or improv class.
13. You stop feeling guilty.
You know your boundaries so you don't say yes when you mean no.
Head start: Start small. Say no to one thing you don't want to do. Notice how much time and pressure it releases.
14. You respect yourself.
Meaning you can see when someone else isn't respecting you and value yourself enough to form an escape plan.
Head start: Get a mantra. Remind yourself daily of your worth.
15. You rock your own style.
By your 40s, especially if you take care of yourself, you know what makes you feel good. You're not dressing to look a part that you're not. You're dressing how you feel. What's good is that you can try on different roles in your 20s with what you wear. What's even better is that one day it's not a role... it's you. And it's a powerful feeling. Point is, don't be afraid of a frumpy fashion future. The 40s are fun.
Head start: For now it is time to explore. Find what makes you feel great. Find your own version of a power suit.
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