Bonus: one life well-lived:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
Find a cause.
We all have a mark to make in this world. Find something that makes your heart sing (or cry) and work for that cause!
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 list and stick to it. Do not settle for anything less than awesomeness.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: 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: Gareth Williams/Flickr