By Wendy Redden
I will be 40 in less than a year. I would be lying if I said that turning the big 40 didn’t bother me. It seems that 40 is a number where I believe I should have finally ‘arrived’ in life, or my life should be the perfect picture of a successful wife, mother, business woman or whatever other demanding expectation I put upon myself when I was younger. My life right now is pretty good, but if I could have planned it all out or done things differently – it definitely would not look like how it actually turned out. I am a blessed mother of two children and I do have a few accomplishments under my belt but I sometimes compare my life to others and it just gets me down.
As I reflect being on this earth for almost 40 years and I rewind to when I was in my 30s, I would have definitely done a few things differently. Luckily, because of some of my past challenges in my life, I was forced to learn new tools. Some of my past experiences forced me to do things differently which turned into a good thing eventually. Here are 20 brutally honest things women turning 40 want all women in their 30s to know.
1. Love and accept yourself – fully
I truly believe if I had accepted the good and bad parts of myself at a younger age, I would have avoided many of the wrong decisions that I made in my life. Once you know who you really are inside, you begin to accept and love yourself fully. Once you truly love yourself from the inside, you are able to love and accept others which provides a much higher probability of maintaining healthy relationships.
2. Feed your soul
Whatever your passion, or whatever you enjoy in life, make sure you feed your soul with what inspires you. If you are not sure what your passion is, try new things and find different activities until you find a few that give you that feeling of warmth, freedom and acceptance inside.
3. Find a strong support network
For a long while, I tried to do everything in my life in my own power and with little help from others. I later realized having a strong support network of friends and safe people to share my life with is so rewarding. Finding and cultivating new relationships with others that will love and support you no matter what is so important to have in life.
4. Be authentic
During some of my harder times in life, I wore a pretty and smiling mask on my face no matter what I was going through. Only a few close people in my life knew what was really going on during my hardest trials. Once you begin to show others you have ups, downs and struggles in life just like everyone else, you become more trustworthy and sincere to others.
5. Live for you
A huge part of my life was taken up by taking care of everyone else which resulted in having no time for myself. My motives and reasons for doing things were wrong which in turn made my life much harder than it had to be. You cannot make everyone in your life happy – ever. Once you begin to make the best decisions for yourself instead of others, life gets easier.
6. Don’t compromise too much
I could have avoided a few bad relationships if I would have figured this out when I was younger. Compromise is required in any close relationship because we are all different and have different wants. Compromise is a good thing most of the time if the compromising is equal on both sides. Once you give up your wants and needs the majority of the time in any one relationship, it’s time to re-evaluate that relationship and decide if it really is healthy for you to be a part of it.
7. Travel more
This might be my biggest regret. I did travel some when I was younger before I had children and it was wonderful. Money can buy you material things or memories. If I had thought about it this way before, I would have stopped making the meaningless purchases on material things and made sure I spent my money on at least one new destination each year. Traveling creates a sense of freedom and opens your eyes to the way others live in different parts of the world.
8. Worry less
I struggled with anxiety and lots of worry in my past. Worrying triggered my anxiety and it became an ugly part of who I was for a long while. Once you realise that worrying will not change your outcome, you begin to accept whatever is going to happen to you. You realise you will be okay no matter what. Once I stopped worrying so much about everything, my stress levels decreased immensely.
9. Stop Comparing
Sometimes I feel like I should be done with Facebook altogether. Comparing your life to your best friend whom you know really well is one thing, but comparing your life to someone’s life on Facebook is detrimental. Once you realize that comparing your life to others does nothing but bring your own self worth down, you eventually stop. There will always be someone who is smarter, prettier or better off than me and I have accepted that. The moment I start comparing, I immediately change my thought pattern to what I am thankful for in my life and keep moving forward.
10. Forget expectations
I had the Disney syndrome growing up, you know the one that you will meet Prince Charming, get married and live happily ever after? Well Disney can suck it because that is not real life. After I was on failing marriage number 2, I just threw all of my expectations I placed upon others in the garbage. Once you realise you can still have dreams about your life but with dropping the expectations regarding other people, you really start to live your life in the moment. An expectation placed on someone else is actually just a premeditated resentment.
11. Live to work, not work to live
If I could do it all over again, I would have tried a myriad of different jobs when I was younger or researched a lot of different careers and chosen one that fit me best. Once you decide on a career path that you could really see yourself doing for the rest of your life, you then become someone in the workforce that truly lives to work because they love their career of choice. Many people are stuck in jobs they dislike just to garner a paycheck and that is not an ideal existence.
12. Save for the unexpected
This should be a no brainer but I did not do this when I was younger. I am now watching my parents live out their retirement and it has me thinking about all the things I need to do so that I am financially secure when I am older. Life will constantly be changing and probably continue to throw you unexpected curveballs so saving for upcoming hardships is a smart and sound decision.
13. Give back more
I found out later in my life that I enjoy helping others. For some this could entail volunteering time with a charity, or taking special care of a close friend that is going through a hard time. Giving a part of your time to do something that benefits you in no way, shape or form keeps you grounded and thankful for what you do have. It is so rewarding to forget about your problems in life by taking time to invest in someone else. When you do something just out of the goodness of your heart and expect nothing at all in return, you surprisingly feel better about life no matter what is going on.
14. Forgive yourself and others
I lived a good part of my life bitter and angry about a few events that happened to me and for a while I truly believed it was 100% the other person’s fault. Once I realised that holding unforgiveness towards others and myself for past mistakes was holding me back from happiness, I made a change. It took me a while to be willing to forgive but I was able to work through it and experience freedom. Once you are able to truly let go of past hurts made by yourself or others, you see life and love in a positive light.
15. Don’t waste too much time on negative people
Sometimes it is hard to get away from negative people if they are your co-workers or your family. In some situations you do not have a choice but with actual friendships you can choose what type of friends you want to spend most of your time with. If you are on the end of a relationship where that person is a taker vs. a giver it’s time to set boundaries or slowly end the relationship. Once you begin to learn proper boundaries to set with people you would rather not have to deal with everyday, life becomes easier because you choose not to let that negative person affect you any longer.
16. No is a complete sentence
I have a hard time saying no. I want to say yes all the time and make everyone happy but that is impossible. If I do say no, many times I want to justify my no or explain the situation so the other person will feel better about my no. The older I get the more I realise that no really is a complete sentence and I do not have to justify every reason why I am not able to commit to an event or able do something for someone else. Once you are confident in your ‘no’, it’s easier to make decisions for yourself instead of others.
17. Think long and hard before you say ‘I do’
I am part of the divorce rate in America which is hard to admit but I now know what I want, desire and deserve in a mate. It is so easy to get caught up in the feelings and emotions of relationships. I considered the time invested with that person and I wanted more than what I currently had so I got married and hoped that things would change for the better. For myself in the end, they only got worse. If you don’t see longevity in your current relationship or you have too many “if onlys” with that person, then you might not be with your ideal mate. It’s much easier to end things with someone before they get too serious. If you have reservations about certain things in your relationship or you want to change core aspects of the personality of your partner, it is probably best to move on.
18. Stop and admire the little things
This is so simplistic but we currently live in a world where everyone is connected to an electronic device or the internet and it is becoming harder and harder to unplug and just enjoy everything that makes life worth living. Stop to enjoy a sunrise or sunset every once in a while, sit under the stars on a night with few clouds. Stop and smell the flowers. Go visit the ocean or the mountains and admire nature. We live in a world where Ferris Bueller is so right – “Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
19. Stop caring what others think of you
I so wish I would have figured this one out much sooner. I was so concerned with what others thought of me that I often times responded or did things for others because I thought that is what they wanted to hear or what they wanted me to do. Once I realised that what others think of me is really none of my business I was able to live life with right motives instead of wrong ones. Once you are able to be yourself and forget caring what other people think about you, life gets better because the worry and the expectation of pleasing others is removed. The truth is it is impossible to please everyone, so you need to focus on yourself and just wear the bikini anyway.
20. Embrace Change
When I was younger I wanted things to be predictable, to be stable and for the most part to stay the same. It felt safer to think that my life will be pretty much the same through the years. When I was then confronted with numerous changes all at one time, I did not handle it well. I have since realised that the only thing I can count on in life is change. Once you are able to embrace change and know that life can take a variety of different turns, you are up for the challenge and better suited to accept whatever comes your way.