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Like many friends and former classmates, I turned forty this year. It was interesting to see how people celebrated (or not). There were a few Vegas trips. There were a few parties. There were a few moments of contemplation. Mostly I saw a renewed energy and excitement about the future that we haven’t always associated with turning forty. My generation seems to be grabbing forty with gusto and running with it.

Entering a new decade gives me the opportunity to start with a clean slate, to forgive (or at least let go of) things from the past, and decide how I want to approach the next ten years.

This post began as a list of things I would tell my younger self, but I’m not sure Younger Me would heed Older Me’s advice anyway. Why dwell on things I think in hindsight I should have done differently? I can’t change my past choices or sins of omission, and if I could I might not have the great life I’m enjoying today.

So instead I’ll just share some things I’ve learned along the way–things that will help me maintain a positive, future-focused, give zero f*cks attitude I want to have into my forties.

I also want to thank my younger self for setting many things in motion that have resulted in success and stability.

Forty Lessons and Forty Blessings:

  1. Thank you for saving lots of money on a small income in your twenties.
  2. Don’t send that long email.
  3. Save even more money.
  4. Thank you for going after the MBA. It opened many doors.
  5. If he’s just not into you, that’s okay. Don’t question it. Just move on.
  6. Take care of the pain, whatever kind it is. Sooner rather than later.
  7. Don’t send that long email!
  8. Thank you for being active and healthy from a young age and maintaining that habit.
  9. Don’t panic. Hang onto your stocks.
  10. Listen to your gut and act accordingly. It is ALWAYS right.
  11. You’re thin enough.
  12. Marriage and/or relationships are not a life goal or a validation of your worth. If it happens, cool. If not, cool.
  13. Stand up for yourself physically and verbally.
  14. Make waves.
  15. Abuse doesn’t have to be physical.
  16. Being single is not a personal attack inflicted upon you by society.
  17. Enjoy your family. Ask them questions about their lives.
  18. When someone tells you who (or what) they are, believe them.
  19. It gets better.
  20. Thank you for starting your 401(K) the second you got a job with benefits.
  21. You can’t demand love or attraction.
  22. Don’t wait until you’re almost forty to use sheet masks. They’re AMAAAAZING!
  23. Set boundaries and dealbreakers and be brave enough to stick to them. Some things can’t and shouldn’t be compromised.
  24. Learn how to negotiate for a better raise and actually do it.
  25. Learn from your mistakes. Don’t worry, there will be plenty of them.
  26. Journal your thoughts, feelings, observations, and insights.
  27. Don’t send that long email!!
  28. Thank you for taking the risks on going back to school, taking jobs, and buying a home.
  29. Add 1% to your retirement fund with each annual merit raise.
  30. Those conflicts you’re imagining? They’re most likely not going to happen. Spend your free thought time on daydreams, not nightmares.
  31. Meditate more often.
  32. Thank you for building the habit of reading voraciously from a young age. Books are still a delight.
  33. Focus on the moment, not what you plan to say or what you wish you would have said.
  34. Let it go, and it will come back to you in ways you could have never imagined.
  35. It’s okay to not know what you “want to be when you grow up.” Opportunities come when you are open to change.
  36. Thank you for working to live, not living to work. And on the other hand, thank you for working hard.
  37. Adopt an attitude of gratitude. Appreciating what you have rather than complaining about what you don’t have is a much more enjoyable state of mind.
  38. If a situation hurts you or doesn’t serve you, LEAVE. You don’t owe anybody anything.
  39. Thank you for making life-changing and life-enhancing decisions. (Rejoining taekwondo being one of them, of course).
  40. Enjoy what’s happening right now and all the wonderful things that are to come.

 

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