10 things every woman should do before age 40
There are ten things every woman should do before age 40. Many women take an entire lifetime to discover these ten things for themselves. They would give anything to have discovered what you are about to read at your age.
1. Develop the courage to make difficult decisions rather than just let life happen to you.
That job, you know, the dream one that was offered to you, but it means moving to take it? Take it. You’ll wonder about it the rest of your life if you don’t.
If you decide not to take the job or opportunity of your dreams, then apply yourself wholeheartedly to your current work or situation. No whining about what you gave up or what could have been. Make a definite decision, stick with it and make the most of it.
When and if another opportunity, perhaps one with less risk involved, later presents itself to you…go for it! Most people would consider themselves very fortunate to have had access to two unique opportunities in one lifetime.
Lucky people make their luck. They do the footwork and keep their eyes open for opportunity. Then they weigh the risks before making their decision.
The more definite decisions you make, the better and faster you get at making them. Before you turn 40, get off the fence and make that decision! You may have many years of regret if you don’t and much satisfaction if you do.
2. Determine what your values are and live your life with confidence.
Our values are shaped by our parents, the religion we were brought up in and other outside forces. We may never consciously consider what our values are. If we learned stealing is wrong, we were taught honesty. But is honesty our most important value?
Make a conscious list of your values. Five values to live by may be enough. Once you’ve decided what your values are, then you will find decision-making easier. If kindness and fairness are two of your values, then you’ll be able to make the decision not to date your best friend’s boyfriend, no matter how perfect he seems for you.
Making decisions that correspond with your values will help you be yourself in all situations. Many women do not develop self-confidence until later in life. Be true to yourself, stick to your values and discover confidence for all of life’s situations.
3. Reconsider your spending habits.
When it comes to money, there are two basic types of people. There are those who already determined how to save money while still in high school. Then there are those who figure they’ll worry about tomorrow when tomorrow gets here, and in their 40’s tomorrow becomes a rude awakening.
Here are three, simple, excellent ways to save money. Do all three. One is to open an account at a credit union. In the one account, have five categories numbered 1-5 and label the categories house, auto, health care, college, fun (or according to your needs). Instead of one lump sum, as in a savings account, your credit union categories will let you know immediately if you’ve saved enough money for new tires and next semester’s tuition.
The second way is to take advantage of any plans that your employer will pay in for you. Match what they pay in or vice versa. The third way is to open an IRA, if your employer hasn’t already done so. Open the IRA as early in your 20’s as you can and put the maximum allowed per year. Depositing every year in your IRA will give you a savings every April at tax time, and will make your 40’s ever so peaceful.
You will also need to live within your means, in order to save money. This means that you will not spend money you don’t yet have. Also, make your deposits in your credit union categories, before determining what you have for spending money. Avoid debt by learning to delay gratification. If you receive a box of chocolate and eat it all the day you received it, then you need practice in delaying gratification. Start with that box of chocolate. Then consider leaving your checkbook and credit cards at home, so that you are only making planned purchases. Find pleasure and security in watching your savings grow, rather than filling your home with stuff.
If you’ve been frugally saving for most of your life up to this point, make sure you are also spending money on fun. Putting off fun until you retire could be a grave mistake, pun intended. Spend and save in moderation, so that you can enjoy the present, while preparing for the future.
4. Develop gratitude by living in the present.
Appreciate what you have, because life goes by very quickly. Everyone wants more than they currently have. If renting, you may want a home of your own. If single, you may want to find that special someone.
In order to attract more bounty into your life, you must appreciate what you currently have. Otherwise, if you do acquire more, how can you be sure it will be enough? Many people go into debt trying to buy satisfaction that always remains elusive.
Make a concrete change by beginning a gratitude journal. A spiral, yearly, student planner works well. Write three to five things you are grateful for daily. (You may choose to tie this writing time into a prayer and meditation time. Doing so would give the experience greater depth and give you more insight.)
In the beginning, you’ll start with vague things you are grateful for, such as “The sun is out.” Then you might write that a phone call from a friend came at a good time and cheered you up. On a bad day, you might write “I had an accident with the car, but I’m grateful no one was hurt.”
Your journal serves as a history of your life. You’ll have it as a guide to self-knowledge. “I never realized how happy dancing makes me.” Spend five minutes a day writing what you’re grateful for and, before the year is out, you’ll realize that your life is rich in blessings. Whether you’ve reached your goals or not, you’ll be able to enjoy the present. Living in the present is a skill many people do not have.
5. Step outside of your comfort zone and have an unforgettable adventure.
Immerse yourself in something different for a week, month or summer. Save some money up for your adventure, and then when you are between jobs make your escape. Up through age 29, there are many opportunities to inexpensively enjoy Europe. You could go as temporary work help in hotels (serving food), farms (working with horses), private residences (child care), camps (childcare, tennis instructor, golf instructor, drama teacher, etc.), and schools (teaching English). You would live with European families and get immersed in the language, culture and traditions. Besides room and board, you would also receive some pay, but you would have to pay for your airfare, visa and personal expenses.
Start looking this summer for jobs next summer. You need six to nine months of preparations from the time you apply until the time you arrive at your destination. Research on the Internet. You’ll need to seek an employer who routinely hires seasonal employees, so you can smoothly get through the red tape of immigration policies and other barriers.
You could also look into working as a children’s activity director, social director, hostess, etc. on a cruise ship. If you absolutely can’t travel overseas, consider a camp counselor experience in another state. Maybe you’ll be rafting or horseback-riding or hiking in the wilderness.
As a single female traveling to distant lands, you’ll want to research safety issues before you leave. Get objective opinions about the cruise lines, the European employer or the US camp director from Internet sources, before you commit. Consider taking a women’s self-defense class. You want to feel physically and emotionally safe on your adventure.
6. Apply moderation when it comes to taking care of your health.
Avoid extremes and develop a healthy routine. As you age, it becomes harder to keep excess weight off and to find motivation to exercise. Also, addictive habits become harder to break and more healthcare issues come up.
Rather than extreme diets and exercise plans that you are unable to sustain, try to do things in moderation. Eat well-balanced meals that include all food groups and exercise three times per week. Make the exercise be a fun time with friends. Have your Monday walking friend, your Wednesday night volleyball friends and your Saturday morning YWCA friends.
Be honest and recognize your addictive behaviors. Get support-group help if you are excessively eating, drinking, gambling or having multiple partners. Also if you are smoking or doing drugs and can’t quit. It is painful to look back on a decade that one wasted with unhealthy behaviors. AA, GA, NA, OA and Al-Anon are international organizations that will help you recover your life.
Find a way to obtain health insurance, even if it means getting a $1000 deductible. Get a second opinion when your gynecologist recommends a hysterectomy. Twice as many hysterectomies are performed in the US as in Europe. Radical, surgical removal can be too drastic a solution for fibroids and other minor health issues. Your female body parts are worth fighting for. Do your research on the Internet, at the library and via a neutral second opinion from perhaps an oncologist in another town. Learn to be your own advocate when you go to the doctor, by researching your condition and keeping notes about past visits.
Lifelong, healthy activities in moderation may ensure that you have a healthy, long life.
7. Enjoy a healthy love life.
There is emotional intimacy and physical intimacy. With emotional intimacy, you feel understood, cared about and appreciated. You share private jokes, reflect on memories, give each other encouragement, are comfortable with silence, and listen fully. You know the other’s dreams and goals and try to help them reach their potential.
A relationship that lacks emotional intimacy is lonely. Emotional distancing behaviors include teasing that is not mutually enjoyed, belittling, sarcasm, chronic criticism, harsh judging, self-absorption and excessive competitiveness between partners.
There can be physical intimacy without emotional intimacy, but there is little to sustain the excitement when the newness of a relationship wears off. With your special person, there needs to be give-and-take in physical intimacy. Both partners should know their needs and express themselves freely. They should also consider the needs of the other.
If your intimate life with your significant person is not satisfactory, take the responsibility to improve it. Read and research to learn more about your body and emotions. Then communicate your desires in a positive way.
Intimacy can improve with age. Do not accept less-than-satisfactory experiences now or later. You are worthy of a healthy love life.
8. Accept others for who they are and get a life.
The only person you can change is yourself. If you are super neat and your roommate is a slob, set the boundary that they keep their mess away from your side of the room. Then get a sense of humor, until you can request a new roommate or learn to appreciate this person’s other qualities.
If your coworkers are dysfunctional, in your opinion, develop more self-confidence. Improve your skills with the help of supportive friends. When you feel better about yourself, other people’s actions will bother you less. Then you can stop complaining about them.
Remember it’s not all about you. The people in your life weren’t put here to serve your every need. Life is made up of compromise. If you are being a people pleaser to an “it’s-all-about-me” person, set some boundaries. Spend time with healthier and more supportive friends and family members. Build up your self-esteem so that you can be yourself, rather than walk on eggshells around this needy person.
If your spouse has destructive behaviors, such as violence or addictions, consider your safety and that of your children’s. You may need to remove yourself from the relationship, rather than hope that the person will change. However, if your spouse’s behaviors are simply annoying, focus less on his imperfections and more on changes you can make.
9. Record the words of wisdom of the older women in your family.
Keep a loose-leaf notebook with at least one page per family member, or make a video collection. Families are spread out and family knowledge and traditions can get lost or forgotten. As you age, you’ll have many unanswered questions. What countries did Grandma travel to? How did my cousin make that great bread? Was it baby oil that kept Mom’s skin so smooth well into her 70’s? Are my gallstone troubles hereditary?
Write down comforting or funny phrases your relatives say, the advice they give you, the medical history they mention and the wisdom they share. When you are the age they are now, your notebook will be the next best thing to having your family members there with you.
Oh, and don’t forget to include a page of advice from yourself. Maybe what you learn and write down in your 20’s will come in handy when you need to understand your daughter’s perspective.
10. Think about the big picture and get as much education as you can.
Most people regret that they didn’t get more education or study the right thing. If you are in high school and it seems like everyone is nagging you to get good grades, take the hint. The younger you are, the easier it is to retain information. Balance your school work with a team sport or club. It prepares you for getting along in the working world. If your school offers a public speaking course, take it. Overcome your speaking fears and you will have an edge in interviews for college and work. Make time for fun with your friends, but make school your priority.
You will be even more challenged to find a balance in college. It will be the most wonderful and exhausting thing you’ve ever done, but you’ll never regret the sacrifice of time and money.
If you didn’t finish high school, get your GED as soon as possible. The older you are, the harder it will be, due to more demands on your time.
Don’t let a low income stop you from increasing your education. There are grants available to women of all ages. Look for them on the Internet. Don’t procrastinate. The longer you wait to increase your education, the more obstacles you will have to overcome.
Pat yourself on the back if you are already applying some of these ten concepts to your life. Your 40’s will be a time to reflect on a life of few regrets.