The big 4 – 0. This birthday always seems to be marked with a negative outlook or a gloomy cloud hanging over it.
Guess that means it’s all downhill from here—the best years are in the past…right?
HA! Not. even. close.
And if you’ve been made to believe this, or even suspect that it may be true, you’re not alone.
Likely you’ve heard the “over the hill” comments or seen decorations at a 40th birthday celebration (maybe even yours). If you just google “At what age is over the hill,” Google so graciously generates “40.” And sure, 40 feels like a big deal—because it IS a big deal.
Celebrating that milestone means you have survived (and at times thrived) through FOUR decades—that’s 14,610 days (give or take a few for leap years). Considering that just 100 years ago the average life expectancy for most women was barely more than 40 years…hitting this milestone birthday means you have lived a lot of life already.
And in the last 100 years thanks to science, modern medicine, and improving social conditions, we have doubled the average life expectancy of women from around 40 to almost 80 years. So that means you have a lot more left to live. Even still, one could easily look at that projected timeline and get worried that our life is halfway over, that we haven’t done enough, that we have wasted time that we will never, ever, get back.
But it isn’t all downhill from here.
So then, why do people say that it is? Why do people even think it?
What happens when we enter our 40s is that our body begins to change physically and mentally. So while we are hearing and seeing these words and phrases about the next phase in life being the downhill part, we are also physiologically noticing that things just aren’t exactly as they used to be.
Maybe we aren’t sleeping as comfortably, we may be carrying an extra few pounds despite our best efforts, and our skin complexion may also be changing. These changes can make us more aware than ever that we are entering a new and different phase of life, and dare we admit it, these changes may actually make us start to believe that those rumors that the best years might actually be behind us…are true.
But we are here to tell you—it only gets better from here…you’re not even close to heading downhill. Your forties will be fabulous (and by that, we mean amazingly wonderful and extraordinary).
That saying is only meant as a reminder that life is not infinite. A reminder not to get stuck in the past, in what has been, or what could have been. A reminder to begin to embrace every moment with immediacy and joy because you no longer have the naivete or impulsivity of youth.
If you are quickly approaching 40, you’ve just recently celebrated that milestone, or are celebrating another birthday milestone (or know someone who is), that message likely resonated with you.
If so, take a pause and reflect on your life for a moment. Truly celebrate the fact that you’ve made it this far and honor all that you’ve accomplished—big and small.
Reflect, and then move forward with your life.
You have likely already lived a much longer life than those who came before you, and you are well on your way to living an even longer one.
This is a moment of celebration.
Your past is behind you, and starting from this very moment (whether you are 20 or 65 and beyond), there has never been a better time than RIGHT NOW to be open to all that the future holds, and to get intentional about how you will spend your time and energy.
Now that you have given your life the respect and honor that it deserves—no matter how big or small the accomplishments or memories, let’s get to work moving forward to living this next phase of life in an even more purposeful way.
If you just can’t imagine what that would look like then read stories of other women and how they have begun to live intentionally like our founder, Ruth Soukup. Or read books like Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (p.s. don’t watch the movie, actually read, or listen to the book—it’s much better).
Live with intention.
It is time to take control of your narrative and make this next phase of your life all about YOU and living the life you want…be intentional with your time and your life.
Living intentionally just simply means living your life with meaning and purpose.
So to help you set your intentions for your next phase of life, here are 5 ways to make your 40s (and beyond) fabulous:
- No mistakes, only lessons. Don’t waste your future focusing on the mistakes of the past—and don’t prevent yourself from moving forward for fear that you may mess up again. We all mess up from time to time. We all make choices that we are not proud of. None of us are perfect, and that is where life is learned. It’s okay. We all struggle sometimes with the fear of making mistakes, but reframing and getting past that fear can truly help you create a life you love.
- Focus on what matters most to you. Identify what you value most, and make those values the center of all that you do. Whether that is in your day-to-day life, or in your business or at work. If you aren’t sure how to identify your core values, listen to this podcast episode on the Do It Scared® podcast that Ruth recorded all about this.
- Wisdom is a gift if you choose to accept it. You’ve unlocked the potential to make the next 40 so much better. No matter what you have or haven’t done in your past. By reflecting back on the lessons from your previous years, you harness the wisdom to influence your future in a much more direct and purposeful way. With wisdom, we know how to live life to the fullest while also remembering where our time and energy is best spent. The wisdom to listen to our intuition and our body. The wisdom to know when to care, and to know when to let it go.
- Change is inevitable, work with what you’ve got. There are lots of changes that happen in our 40s and beyond, but that is just part of life and something that we have to embrace and work with, not against. Acknowledging that we can’t eat the way we used to when we were in our 20s means that we have to be more intentional about our diet. If you know that eating out all the time or eating certain food makes you feel less than stellar, listen to those cues from your body. Maybe it’s time for a diet change? If you feel stiff when you don’t move around as much, then listen to those cues from your body and incorporate more movement into your daily routine. What can you do to make yourself feel your best every single day?
- Try new things. Have you always wanted to play an instrument? Learn a new language? Learn to paint? Visit a new place? Say no to things that leave you feeling empty or unappreciated? Paint your living room a bright and vibrant color? Then DO it!
Think of something you have always wanted to do. What’s held you back in the past? What’s stopping you from trying it now? Find a way, and do it anyway. If you’re unsure how to plan big goals or aren’t sure that you have the proper tools, you may find these resources useful:
So if you were duped into believing the myth that the best years are over, challenge yourself to live with intention. Take control of your life and your narrative. Live the next parts of your life better than you ever thought possible—be fabulous, and accept nothing less.