15 Things Every Woman Should do By 40.

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Need a life bucket list to shoot for? Here’s my ultimate list of the top things every woman should do by age 40. (Hint: these are achievable, realistic goals!)

I recently read a blog that outlined 25 things every woman should have by age 25. It was a lofty list that included things such as having a bank account with several months of living expenses stashed away, having a go-to coffee at the local coffee shop and of course an idea of who she desires to be.

I thought about how many of those items I had on that list. I had coffee covered, but only a handful of these things I had accomplished in my 20s, some in my 30s and some I was still working on in my 40s!

As I perused the list, I wondered where the things I had accomplished by 25 were. Things like marrying your high school boyfriend and subsequently divorcing, having small children to provide for and drowning in debt to the point of bankruptcy were all missing from this list.

See also: 35 Life Lessons I Learned Before Turning 35.

Sure, there are lots of women who followed the rules and lived out their 20s in single, soul searching bliss—dating and being trendy and finding themselves. But what about the rest of us? What about the ones who are a little bit unconventional? We take a bit longer. We live for experience. We are the impatient ones who rush into things thinking that our 20s mean we better figure it all out and quick. Then all of a sudden we wake up and we are knocking on 40s door and what have we accomplished?

After reading this article on 20somethings, I pondered this question in my own life. And I realized I have done a hell of a lot! Below is my list of things every woman should do by age 40.

1. Change careers at least once.

Between the ages of 25 and 40 I had been a Credit Manager, Barista, Professional Ballroom Dancer, Model and Teacher. Sure, some of these jobs had to pay the bills while I pursued other passions, but they taught me so much. I learned how to relate to people through all of these jobs which is a valuable life skill for any woman. I ended up realizing dreams as a Ballroom Instructor/School Teacher. More than one career gave me a sense of allowing myself to do what I was made to do while having the means to do it.

See also: How to Change Careers Mindfully

2. Do something “crazy.”

People might think that the crazy stuff happens in our younger years, but really, I didn’t start getting “crazy” until my 30s when I quit my job as an elementary school teacher to pursue my dancing career full time. If I had a dollar for every person who called me crazy, I could have retired right there. I don’t regret my “crazy.” In truth, it was a dream come true.

3. Live within our means.

My 20s were a blur of amassing credit card debt in order to keep up with not only expected appearances but also the necessities of life. My 30s were a lesson in humility in the form of bankruptcy and in learning to live within my means while paying cash for everything and rebuilding financial independence. I am still working to achieve this goal, even now as I move into my 40s, but I am much better equipped to budget and live within my own means.

4. Learn to be comfortable in our own skin.

Okay, I am still working on this one. But really making it a focus to be truly comfortable with who we are in our very own skin isn’t something that we accomplish without experience and age. With every passing year, I accept who I am just a little bit more. And it feels good to be me.

5. Be glamorous.

Just because we aren’t 23 anymore doesn’t mean we aren’t beautiful, vivacious and amazing. Glamor changes slightly as we get older. We don’t need to wear the tight spandex mini dress to go out dancing. A sleek, elegant LBD is far sexier and mysterious. With the right amount of makeup and attitude, we can all be glamorous.

6. Chase a dream.

To some, this can be categorized under “Do Something Crazy.” But really, wouldn’t it be crazier to have the most amazing dream that’s never realized because we were too afraid to pursue it? When I was in my early 20s I had my clear ideas of what life should be. Then the bottom fell out. I got a hard lesson that things aren’t always going to be the way they should just because we think they should be that way. Learning this made me realize the importance of my own dreams. Every step taken chasing a dream is one step closer to achieving it.

7. Visit another country.

What better way to gain perspective on who you are and your place in the world than by getting out there and seeing it!

8. Step out of our comfort zone.

When we allow ourselves to become too comfortable with our lives as they are, we become stagnant, complacent. Sometimes it’s good to just sit and be, but never be afraid to step outside of that self-created box. There is most likely something really amazing waiting out there!

9. Find a cause to believe in.

We all have a mark to make in this world. Find something that makes your heart sing (or cry) and work for that cause!

10. Make and live by a “soul mate wish list.”

Chances are if you are a single woman in your 40s, you’ve had a failed relationship or two (or more). Make a soulmate list and stick to it. Do not settle for anything less than awesomeness.

11. Learn not to settle.

Women our age know what we want. But we need to remember our worth. Knowing what we want out of life, in our work and our love relationships will help us gain focus and achieve our goals.

12. Start over—completely.

It is a scary thing to lose everything, and I am not suggesting that we give up everything we have established in our lives intentionally. But life happens. Not being afraid to start over and rebuild our lives again teaches us about impermanence, acceptance and fearlessness.

13. Love with complete abandon.

We should never be afraid to love. When we are younger, we tend to hold back our emotions because we don’t want to appear weak. We want to shield ourselves from heartache and from feeling foolish. Loving freely and passionately allows us to experience all that love has to offer. We might get our hearts broken, but with the right person, loving with abandon can be truly amazing.


14. Tell someone exactly how you feel.

Often we try to be PC with our feelings because we don’t want to hurt others. In the process of considering how others might feel about our opinions, we lose our own voices. Having the courage to speak our minds tactfully shows a strong woman who can advocate for herself.

15. Write your story…a story. Just write!

Women our age have amazing stories to tell about life and love and all of our amazing experiences. Write it down.

Maybe you haven’t lived the perfectly planned out life. Maybe the path is full of twists and turns and rocky hills. But it’s also full of value, and passion and amazing stories and experiences that shape us into amazingly beautiful people. Maybe, like me, we can feel most accomplished in our coffee choices. It’s okay. We are still growing. We still have an amazing journey ahead. Embrace it!

Bonus: one life well-lived:

Bonus: If you just want to take it back to basics, here are 3 Buddhist tips for living life. Period. 

Author: Margaret Aguirre

Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Wikimedia Commons


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Margaret Aguirre

Margaret Aguirre is a Montessori teacher during the day and also runs her own Ballroom dance studio. She sometimes feels like her life is the epitome of irony, yet seeks to enjoy and experience it to its fullest. She writes to share her voice with others because her life experience is worth sharing.

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anonymous Dec 27, 2015 5:35pm

I’ve done all of those things. And I’m only 36. I guess I’m ahead of the game. It doesn’t feel that great. But I’ve had experiences.

anonymous Dec 23, 2015 8:51pm

Beautifully written – thank you! BTW I'm 48 and still working on this list 😉

anonymous Sep 21, 2015 4:28am

This whole article spoke to me. I’m up and leaving my country and starting fresh. I’m moving for the first time in my 29 years. When everyone is concerned about marriage and babies, I just hope to find myself, and live for myself. I feel my last year’s have been “people pleasing and putting others first. It’s my time to spread my wings and see how high I can soar. I may even write a story about it. Thanks to the author, posts like these just confirm I’m doing the right thing 🙂

anonymous Apr 16, 2015 7:48pm

happy sigh……doing everything listed above and then some. Glad you wrote this because now I don't feel like I messed up. God Bless!

anonymous Mar 23, 2015 8:25am

Excellent and I feel I have managed to be where I need to be in my early 40's. I constantly remind myself that not everything is "failed" just because it ended up not being part of the "plan". Thanks for sharing!

anonymous Mar 9, 2015 7:17am

Thank you, thank you, thank you…this article was divine timing for me. Nearly 38, moving forward past divorce, with a beautiful little girl, rebuilding from bankruptcy, learning to love again, forgiving myself, and releasing the past……….this read felt so good to me. Starting over in so many ways at times it is hard not to feel defeated but I am grateful to learn and move forward. As I find my flow again, I consider little things like the insight within thus article a little nudge of energy from the Universe telling me I am on the right path…

Much love and peace…

anonymous Mar 8, 2015 7:38pm

Awesome! article!….at first didn't want to read this because of the "should"…thinking it was another prestigious bucket list requiring a black Amex to fulfill, or "passion frenzy" encourage ment thing, with countries to visit and "tick off a list" or something…very grounded and real article and so appropriate and needed. Thanks!

anonymous Mar 8, 2015 6:51pm

Great article! I am 46 and I would add a couple:
Give back: I have been a volunteer in the community for nearly 25 years and currently serve on the board of a womens crisis centre. Volunteering opens your world and giving back simply feels good!
Find an exercise you love and you'll stick with it. I have been a runner for ten years and this has changed my life.

anonymous Mar 8, 2015 4:25am

It's a lovely piece – I'm just turned off by all the articles that proclaim what I *should* and *shouldn't* be doing. I'm trying to eliminate those words from my vocabulary.

anonymous Mar 7, 2015 8:24pm

I agree with absolutely everything you said and have had too or done almost all you mentioned. I am 50 this year and this is my year. I am stepping out of my comfort zone, pursuing a new career and very possibly on my own. Wow

anonymous Mar 7, 2015 4:33pm

This could apply to men as well, I am approaching 50 and lived a "crazy" life in my 20's and 30's now it is not so much about crazy as it is about making my dreams really and not settling for less than I deserve.

anonymous Mar 7, 2015 9:55am

Nicely done! Yet, I think most of these apply to any woman regardless of age, lifestyle, or creed. It's quite individualized on timing and it's appearance in our lives. I did a lot of these in my 20s and early 30s and now watch as life is shifting yet again with a child, relationship, and more. It's always shifting. It always will. When we reach the point of finally gaining the elder wisdom and I-got-this-ism, we're finished. What else is there to do? Keep the changes and discoveries, service to the world, and pushing edges going. It's how we transform and transcend! Every day, become a better "me." Thanks for sharing!

anonymous Mar 7, 2015 9:46am

The key to everything is 42, which I will be turning in one month from today. So, I am hoping that 42 will be the year that I figure out what I want to do with my life. lol
I have done everything on your list. I just get caught up in my list and loving with abadon…

anonymous Mar 7, 2015 9:45am

Wow! I feel like I wrote this article!!!
I'm just glad I figured out all this stuff before 40, making the rest of my life appreciate minute by minute!
Thanks for the article!

anonymous Mar 7, 2015 7:56am

I agree with pretty much all you say here and I think late 30s and 40s are a very interesting and self expanding time in our lives…I´m almost 39 and not scared about crossing the fence! The only thing I didn´t quite reate to is when you say we must have had “failed relationships”…I don´t see a relationship that didn´t end up in “living together happily ever after” as failed…I consider relationships as trips, ways to get to know ourselves better, oportunities to share our humanness with a fellow traveller, paths to learn who we are in diferent contexts, what do we want and what we definitely don´t want. This encounters should be magic but not eternal by definition and the dance should be memorable however short. I´m really thankful for having had, and still have, so many chances to see myself reflected in another human being in such a raw and deep way and honestly I don´t think I would like to find “the right one” as the world is huge and there are lots of interesting souls around to exchange energy with and walk along a bit of this beautiful path. All we have is this moment and thinking that anything is going to last forever only blinds us to fully enjoy the present. Love forward!

    anonymous Mar 7, 2015 12:14pm

    The whole post is nice but your answer is better than anything I read today.
    Your words are perfect!!!
    If you don't mind, I'm copying this to my blog.

    anonymous Mar 8, 2015 7:41pm

    Beautiful! Total agreement here.

    anonymous Mar 23, 2015 7:12pm

    THANK YOU for your reply. It is MOST fabulous for me as I struggle to understand what my purpose has been, having been single and raising my daughter. Trust me, I know what the purpose was then, but she's leaving for college soon and I was so scared to be alone. I'm still scared, but your post helps calm my fears and remind me that I have a fabulous journey ahead of me.

anonymous Mar 7, 2015 7:54am

I had an idea of what I wanted to be when I was 25, but now turning 34 in a few weeks most everything has shifted under my feet and I’m back to figuring out what I want to be when I grow up…again. This was a very well timed article for me to read! Many thanks!

Emily Sumstine Nov 27, 2017 6:38am

Awe thank you! Somethings that I needed to actually read at this time in my life in my twenties. ❤️

Sarai Cruz M Sep 16, 2017 1:21pm

Wow! What an amazing article. Thank you!

Dee Anne Bostic Jun 25, 2017 10:00am

Re: Seane Corn interview...The subject of "privilege" is important, and is a hot thing to talk about today, especially in politics, but felt the sell on the idea of her own was a bit over done for me. Perhaps it's an age thing. I do see her passion for yoga and where she came from in the interview and that was impressive. The set-apart, privilege thing was not necessary, to me. Too bad I walked away with that, versus wanting to watch her videos or buy her products. Re:

Jennifer McMasters Jun 21, 2017 11:14am

I'm 51 and I've done everything on this list. I think you nailed it. I also moved to Europe. Perhaps not only visiting another country, but staying for at least a month was a huge one for me. It opened my eyes even more than I thought it would. I am still working on the last one. I couldn't agree more. We all have a story to tell.

Giovanna Brillembourg Mar 22, 2017 5:13pm

Great article! thanks for sharing!

Gina Cambridge Mar 19, 2017 3:28am

OMG just loved this... and so true! This is my story as well as many other women. I have done this list too, turning 40 I ran away to Europe on a oneway ticket, and now I'm turning 46! My moto now is Never Settle as I settled for way less than I derserved for too many years. Thank you.

Srebrenka Peregrin Mar 4, 2017 1:19pm

A beautiful, kind and encouraging article from somebody who has truly lived <3

Stefanija Rozite Jan 23, 2017 7:00am

"Be glamorous" Really????? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. Who needs the pressure. Be unapologetic is more to my taste

Crystal Plew Dec 27, 2016 2:29pm

I'm will be 40 this coming year and I have done or am currently doing all of these things. So I can keep focusing on the rest of my bucket list now �️��

Annie Railton Sep 29, 2016 7:03am

Wonderful, I turned 59 this year but am trying to live life on my terms, most of the list I have get there or are getting there. But for me travel, be glam, be not glam, learn always, change your life because you want to and maybe is better than no, most of the time!

Anne Obade Sep 10, 2016 11:14am

Wow! Too beautiful, the article. I'm 36 and I've done everything on this list. the beat, the good, the bad, the crazy, the wildest, and everything in between. I'm looking forward to my 40's with nostalgia, my bucket list is expanding now. Been there, done that. And more!