Bust out the balloons, people, because TODAY is my birthday. I am friggin’ 39 years old; and it is St. Paddy’s Day to boot. Let me preface this piece with: I am blessed to be alive and to have my health, as well as the life and health of my closest loved ones. For all of those things and so many more, I am grateful.
With that being said, I am old. It hit me a couple of weeks ago. Since then, my right eye has been randomly twitching. Once I realized what was going on, I started to mourn my childhood. While I can act like a kid until I die, I no longer can pretend that I am anything other than…OLD. Ugh!
Being old sucks, right? I mean, as a teenager, I don’t ever remember thinking, “Wow, those ‘old’ people are awesome and are having the best time.” I’ve started to notice things like my post-pregnancy body is nowhere near as sweet as my pre-pregnancy body was.
With that said, I’m confused. Somehow many of my friends and family have done it; they got old. But in their case I’d say, they are pretty awesome and are having the best time. In addition, many of them look great in their 40s, much better then they looked in their 30s.
So, how’d they do it? I realized that’s really what all my anxiety was about. I took a hard look at my life (identity-crisis alert!) and realized I was not the person (or in the place) I had hoped to be by 40. First, I lamented all of the years I could have done things differently. And then I realized that I wasn’t 40…yet.
Holy shit! I have one year to get my life in order before I’m actually 40. Can it be done? I think so. Is it going to take some work? You bet. Am I up to the task? Hell yes! I just got a year of my life back; I can do anything.
So, after making this decision, I came up with a methodology to help me get there. How could I enter my 40s and be proud of who I am and what I have accomplished so far? I did some research and came up with the following tips for gracefully entering your 40s. I hope you find them as helpful and inspiring as I have. Next year, we will be those beautiful 40 year olds loving life and being awesome!
Four Tips for Gracefully Entering Your 40s
For some, the idea of meditation sounds silly. If you believe this, you are missing out on a great opportunity to strengthen your today and all of your tomorrows. For me, meditation quiets my brain, so I can focus on the ideas that are important to me.
There are countless podcasts on meditation and, literally, anything by Deepak Chopra will transform your life. Marie Forleo, multi-passionate entrepreneur and producer of MarieTV, has said that meditation is one of the most vital tools in her toolbox. And she’s not the only one, Jennifer Aniston, Ellen DeGeneres, Clint Eastwood, and Hugh Jackman have all been known to meditate too.
Does this mean that I want to be famous? No, but there is one thing that all of the people mentioned above have in common. They are all incredibly busy people, who juggle multiple projects, and, somehow, are still able maintain their success through them all. Do I think it is all attributed to meditation? Of course, not. These are all incredibly driven and intelligent people. However, I would bet that it’s made a difference for them. That’s why I will be spending a little time each day for the next year meditating. Perhaps you will join me? (If you do start to meditated, please share your experience and meditations in the comments below. Thanks!)
2- Plan for Success
Since meditation will clear my mind, I will have a focused way to work on my life plan and strategy. If your plan of action for your 40s includes winning the lottery, then it may be time to rethink your strategy. (I’ll bet that you won’t win it. Correct me if I’m wrong in the comments, but we both know that I’m probably right…) In any case, I’m a firm believer that you need a solid set of directions to get to where you are going. So, now is the time to build a plan for success.
For me, I want to roll into my forties financially secure and able to plan for the future, instead of just the now. Since my husband’s unemployment, in 2009, we have struggled to make ends meet. (Thank God for family and friends, because we could have lost everything during that time. If you have never lived through unemployment, consider yourself extremely lucky and do everything you can to avoid it at all costs. I could never have anticipated how long it was going to take us to recover from it, if we ever fully do…)
While we’ve become accustomed to “surviving,” I want more for or children and for us. So, I plan to follow the advice of Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy, their new book, “Living Forward: A Proven Plan To Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want.” I like that this book is NOT a budget plan, but rather a life plan. It takes a more holistic look at organizing priorities and completing the things that matter in life.
You should take a look at it or find another book to help you gain the confidence to create a plan for yourself. Trust me, if planning is a new concept for you, you are going to want some assistance.
3- Take Time Off
Once you have a plan in place, it is important to schedule some down time too.
Do you work in business? If so, you would know that goals need to be realistic, be achievable, and be sustainable. I don’t know about you, but when I don’t get time off, nothing in my life is sustainable. For me, “getting away from it all,” is extremely important. I would argue that this is the case for everyone.
If we don’t take a break to enjoy life, then why do we work so hard for it? For me personally, if I don’t intentionally take time off, I am forced to take time off, because of sickness. At the end of 2015, I was wound up so tightly that I got sick for over a month. I’m not talking about a lingering cough either; I’m talking full-blown bronchitis that was in danger of becoming pneumonia. It was awful and costly. Given the choice, I would have rather spent that couple of hundred dollars on me at a day spa than on antibiotics and doctors visits.
It took me some time, but I came to the conclusion that I had worked myself into exhaustion. All of it could have probably been avoided had I stopped to take care of myself. Due to this realization, next year, you can bet my life plan is going to include some premeditated time off. (There’s no moving gracefully to 40, if I’m dead.)
4- Express Gratitude
In those moments when I’m recharging, you can bet that I will be grateful for the time that I have been given to be quiet. I will also express gratitude for everything in my life.
You might be asking yourself, “When the world is full of jerks, and you work your tail off only to just get your bills paid for the month, why exactly should you express gratitude? What should you be grateful for?” Well, quite simple, everything. From the air that you breathe to the people in your life (good and bad), you are blessed. Recognizing the gifts your life had afforded you will help you to achieve happiness faster than if you never acknowledge blessings.
Don’t believe me? Google: Gratitude. You might be amazed at the number of people talking about it. People are clearly realizing that grateful folks are happier than those who are never satisfied with themselves and/or their lives. In the 2015 Lifehacker article, “Why Gratitude Makes You a Happier Person,” Kristin Wong explains, “Once you start embracing gratitude, a healthy dose of it can make your relationships better, make you feel more in control, and even get you through tough times.”
I’m not going to lie to you. When my husband lost his job and our world turned upside down, I didn’t feel like I had much to be grateful for. A stay-at-home mom at the time, I had to return to work, ask for an old job back, and become the primary financial supporter of the family. I was mad; I was pissed actually! I had done “what I was supposed to do.” I went to college and then got myself through graduate school. I married a nice man, who had a good job. We bought a house in the country and things were perfect, until he lost his job.
From that point it took me years to discover gratitude again. While my life is not perfect, it feels much better to be grateful for my blessings than to be suffocated by my hardships. Over the course of this next year, I am going to be even more deliberate able expressing gratitude, and I will use Janice Kaplan’s, “The Gratitude Diaries: How a Year Looking on the Bright Side Can Transform Your Life,” as my guide.
With all of that said about expressing gratitude, I appreciate you. Thank you for taking the time to read and to digest this post. While we may never speak, every view on this blog provides me with joy. I hope it provides you a benefit too.
There’s no doubt about it; I am blessed. I have a great family, a warm house, and many creature comforts that others would love to have. My loved ones have their health, and I have many days ahead of me. Just like many others before me, my birthday has brought on some serious self-reflection, which has given me the chance to plan for next year.
When I wake up on March 17, 2017, I will be 40. Old. As. Dirt. What that really looks like though is up to me. I don’t know about you, but I plan to use the tips above to get me in a good place before that day arrives.
In the meantime, Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you all. Are you having trouble stomaching the dreaded 40? If so, leave a comment below, I’m always happy to listen. 😉