“Life really does begin at 40. Up until then you are just doing research” Carl Jung
Entering our 40s can be a time of trepidation for some women so I thought I would share some of the amazing things I’ve realised about being in my 40s. These are thanks to my own life lessons and those of some of the incredible midlife women I know.
1) I care less about more things and the things I do care about really matter to me
Now I’m in my 40s the things that used to bother or upset me just don’t seem that important anymore. I have life experience and the perspective that comes with it. I just don’t have the energy or inclination to worry about why that person just cut me off in traffic – they are probably just having a bad day. One of the best things I did for myself in the past 12 months was start listening to inspirational podcasts rather than the radio. I’m not really interested in getting worked up about what number Prime Minister Australia is on to or how bad the traffic congestion problem is. These just are not issues that matter to me and removing them from my daily life and replacing them with inspirational words has changed how I feel about the world.
There is a certain wisdom that comes from knowledge and experience. I chose to use that wisdom to focus on those things that really matter to me like my family, friends and those things that make me happy (see number 8).
2) I am young enough to change direction but old enough to do it wisely
For the first 20 years of my working life I was a corporate accountant. At 42 that was no longer enough for me. Through the power of life coaching I realised I wanted to change direction and train as a life coach myself. There are another couple of decades of working life left so I am young enough to make this change but I haven’t made the move lightly or too quickly. I ensured I was able to support myself financially while studying and building my new business. I regularly check in with myself and my intuition to make sure I’m still connected to this new vision for my life. Finally, I understand that having a successful business will take time and I have plans in place to support myself and my son during this time.
3) I care less about what others think of me and more about what I think of myself
“You probably wouldn’t worry about what people think of you if you could know how seldom they do.” Olin Miller
It has taken me most of my life to date to realise the truth of this quote by Olin Miller. In my 20s and 30s I really cared about what other people thought of me when they were likely focussed on worrying about what others thought of them. There is no time to judge other people when we are worried about being judged ourselves. I still care about what others think of me but that group of people is now small and select. It includes only those I’m very close to and most importantly it includes myself.
4) I realise experiences are more important than things
Living overseas first taught me this lesson. I was very fortunate to move to London right at the height of the need for accounting contractors. I earnt very good money and yet when I came back to Australia I had no money or possessions to my name. What I did have was memories of some incredible experiences I had in that four years. There was no West End musical unseen and no part of London unexplored. I travelled constantly, met some wonderful new people, had laughs and created memories that shaped who I’ve become. At the same time there were others I met who were in London solely for the money. They spent that same time working and squirrelling away their money. They came home and bought a house. There is no judgement on my part about which was the right path to take. We each choose what is important to us but 20 years on I would not exchange a minute of the time I spent experiencing life for a fancier house.
5) I’ve got more to offer in conversations
I’m a much more interesting person to have a conversation with than I was in my 20s. I’ve had so many experiences both good and bad since then. I’ve travelled the world, lived in another country, changed careers, dealt with a chronic illness, lost a baby and supported a friend through the end of her life. All of these experiences make for a rich life and lots of interesting anecdotes to share.
6) I speak up for what I want and have the courage to express my feelings
Bonnie Ware a nurse caring for terminally ill patients found one of the top five regrets of the dying was “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings”. Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming.
I have made a conscious decision not to let this be a regret at the end of my life. I find it has become easier in my 40s to speak up for what I want and follow my dreams. After all if I don’t nobody will do it for me.
7) I’ve stopped trying to be anybody else
“The essential lesson I’ve learned in life is to just be yourself. Treasure the magnificent being that you are” Wayne Dyer
There is so much peace that comes from just being myself. Learning to truly love who I am, what I have to offer and what I value took nearly four decades but now I’ve learnt the lesson why would I want to be anybody but myself.
8) I am more in tune with what makes me happy
Another wonderful thing about not caring what other people think of me is that I’m free to spend my time doing what makes me happy. I don’t care if what makes me happy is “cool” or not. If it makes me happy then it has value. One exercise I love doing is making a list in my journal of all the things that make me happy and trying to include them in my life whenever I can. A few of the things that have made the list are:
- Listening to beautiful music (I’m a huge musicals fan)
- Spending time with my son
- Taking myself out on a date to the movies
- Putting on some gorgeous essential oils, candles and surrounding myself with my crystals
- Going out for dinner with my girls and gossiping the night away until well past normal bed time
- Talking to my gorgeous coaching buddy and friend about what matters to us.
9) I no longer compare my life because I realise appearances are just that.
I am so grateful I grew up before social media. The pressure these days to give the appearance on social media of a perfect life must be overwhelming when you are trying to navigate the pressures of growing up. Now I’m in my 40s I’ve had friends with apparently perfect marriages get divorced, perfect careers leave their jobs due to the stress or perfect families secretly dealing with mental illness to compare my life to the glossy ones displayed on social media or elsewhere. Once you reach your 40s you understand life is about both light and dark for every single one of us. We are all on our own path, with challenges and joy so there is use wasting energy comparing ourselves to others.
10) I realise all the bad things that happened were lessons to learn and move on from
“Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first and then the lesson” Vernon Law
Now I’m in my 40s I find it much easier to recognise there will be a lesson to come from a bad experience even if I don’t yet understand what that lesson will be. This recognition comes from decades of experience. One of the most challenging periods of my life were what I call the “IVF Years”. Those years were filled with injections, medical procedures, hormones and so much loss. Now I have my beautiful son I can see all that I learnt from those years. I learnt I am a strong, resilient woman who is capable of thriving in the most challenging of circumstances. It helped me become a better mum, a better friend and a better person as a result of those years and I have learnt to be grateful for everything in my life.
I hope this list has given you a lot to think about and be grateful for. Is there anything else you would add to this list?
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