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