I’m here to tell you that being in your 40’s is awesome! If you haven’t gotten there yet, I promise you, really, this decade is so good. I’m 48 so I feel I can say that with confidence. If you are in your 40’s like me, I’d love to hear if your experience is similar to mine. I often say “turning 40 was so great I wish I’d done it 5 years earlier.” Because when I turned 40, I began to design a powerful, intentional, grateful life for myself. (Scroll to the bottom of the post for great books about intentional living.)
A light bulb turned on in my head when I turned 40. It said “whoa, you will not be alive forever. You only have so much time on this earth. If you’re lucky you are only half way done with life.” On the heels of this realization I asked myself-hey! what do you want to do with the time you have left? Are you spending your time the way you want to? I didn’t want to merely float through my life, I wanted to design a powerful, intentional, grateful life. (Get my FREE printable, “Design a Powerful, Intentional, Grateful Life!”)
Start with the “Woo-Woo” Exercise
Let me digress for just a moment. When I lived in NYC for two years after college my roommate insisted I go to a weekend retreat with her. I’m fairly sure if I had signed up for whatever it is they wanted me to sign up for I’d have been in a cult. One exercise I participated in was awesome though!
- Sit in a chair, in a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted. Imagine your life at 65, down to the tiniest detail.
In my mind, when I was 65 I was going to live in a large blue Victorian house on the edge of a lake. On the top floor would be a room filled wall to wall with books. Next to the window would be a cushy armchair and table so I could glance up at the lake while I was reading. In the center of the floor would be an easel for my painting. The grandchildren would visit me occasionally and we would paint together and I would read them good books.
2. Now, imagine your life at 55. Again, down to the tiniest detail.
3. Again. Imagine your life at 45. Go down in decade increments until you reach your own age.
Are You On Track?
If you are like me you may have this large A-HA moment when you realize that you are NOT on the trajectory to be where you hope you will be at 65. See, nowhere in my vision did I have the corner office, where I’d worked myself to the bone so I could have a slightly larger rat trap in the city. Not long after this exercise I left New York City for Chicago, where a vast majority of my friends lived having come from nearby Indiana University.nowhere in my vision did I have the corner office, where I'd worked myself to the bone Click To Tweet
Design Your Plan
When I had my light bulb moment at 40 I set about getting really clear about what I wanted for my life. I wanted:
- to savor the time with my family and create memories, whether through travel or just having the time to enjoy simple, special moments (like watching The Walking Dead together every Sunday night with a bowl of popcorn).
- more time with friends.
- time for activities that nourish me-like reading, needlepoint, gardening, and crafting with my kids.
And more importantly, in getting really clear on my life, I faced what I didn’t want. I didn’t want:
- to be so busy I didn’t have time to enjoy my family and became cranky
- a job that I wasn’t completely passionate about.
- to be around people who made me feel less than
By detailing what I did and didn’t want, it became very easy to say no.Say NO to the people and things that don't fit into your vision for your life. Click To Tweet
The Power of Intention
I learned what I wanted, what I didn’t, and how to say no. (If you have an issue saying no, see my post How to Volunteer with Intention for suggestions on how to say no nicely.) And miraculously, I became so happy because I felt in charge of my life for the first time in a really long time. This gets bantered around a lot, but it’s true: I began to live with intention.
And perhaps having gone through my “Oh no I won’t live forever” moment things around me became so much sweeter, meant so much more. I began to smile at small children throwing tantrums in the grocery store. “Remember those days?” my mind was prodding me. “Wasn’t it fun with when the kids were little?” And truthfully, my mind also whispered “Isn’t it nice you don’t have to shop with toddlers throwing tantrums anymore?”
The Greatest Gift: Gratitude
As I began to live with more intention, according to my plan, noticing the sweet moments and beauty around me, I was infused with gratitude. I am in my 40s. I have made it this far. Still healthy. Still married to the same man. My children are healthy. They have wonderfully found a passion in life at their young age. Being filled with gratitude is the greatest gift. It’s by-product is contentment. I must say in my 30s it was easy for me to wish. To wish for:
- a better body
- more money or a lucrative job
- a bigger house
- nicer clothes
- trips to far away places
And suddenly, that all fell away. Now when I walk into someone’s larger, fancier house I think: wow, this is pretty. Not-oh I wish my house were this big! Now I’m not saying I don’t have plans to decorate or get to the gym more, but largely I am completely happy with the gifts I have been given.
Go Out and Design Your Life
Don’t just live a life. Design your life. Get my FREE printable, “Design a Powerful, Intentional, Grateful Life!” This is a form I turn to again and again when I feel I’ve gotten off track, or that I just need to revisit the direction I am going.
Design a powerful, intentional, grateful life. The power to chart my own course, living intentionally, this sweet realization of the beauty around me. gratitude, and contentment. All this is worth a few wrinkles and sagging. Because let’s face it, we all-by the Grace of God-get to be 40. Embrace the age. It’s going to be great!!
Want to Read More about Intentional Living?
These books get rave reviews. I hope you find one that speaks to you about designing your own powerful, intentional, grateful life.
Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequist
Intentional Living by John C. Maxwell
Living with Intent: My Somewhat Messy Journey to Purpose, Peace and Joy by Mallika Chopra
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