Design a Powerful, Intentional, Grateful Life

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.)



Design A Powerful, Intentional,Grateful Life


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!

  1. 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

Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist

Intentional Living by John C. Maxwell

Intentional Living by John C. Maxwell

Living with Intent: My Somewhat Messy Journey to Purpose, Peace and Joy by Mallika Chopra

Living with Intent: My Somewhat Messy Journey to Purpose, Peace and Joy by Mallika Chopra

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28 Responses

  1. Sabrina Quairoli
    | Reply

    I can say my 40s are more stressful but in a good way. I am stretching beyond what I know to become an expert in an area that will help my clients. My husband and I have adjusted our plan. We like to do this when there is a life changing event like a promotion or increase in income. It helps us determine what we want to save money for and where we want to be in 5 or 10 years. I am grateful for a man who has been with me through all of it.

    • Daria Harvey
      | Reply

      I love how you and your husband are planning together for your future! That’s awesome! I hope you are exactly where you want to be in 5 years 🙂

  2. Jennie McLaws
    | Reply

    Beautiful! I completely agree.

  3. Lennae Stubbs
    | Reply

    I love the sound of the woo- woo exercise. It’s a great way to visualise where you want to be in your life, thank you for sharing it. I enjoyed this post, I’m still a good while before I hit my 40’s, but I know they will be awesome!

    Lennae xxx

    • Daria Harvey
      | Reply

      Lol! The woo-woo exercise is great at any age. Enjoy your ride to 40 🙂

  4. blair villanueva
    | Reply

    If I got so excited to reach my 30s, I would definitely more excited for reaching 40! I will find it as an achievement.

  5. Tasheena
    | Reply

    I love this post! I do agree that the Greatest Gift is Gratitude. I’ve learned sometimes we are so worried about what we don’t have that we forget about what we do have. This post is a reminder for me. Thank you!

    • Daria Harvey
      | Reply

      Thank you so much Tasheena. I agree. By focusing on what we do have we will be happier overall.

  6. Divya
    | Reply

    I had a difficult time turning 30 this year. I know each decade comes with a new set of gifts and special events, but it was hard to finally admit to myself that I’m done being in my 20s!

    • Daria Harvey
      | Reply

      It can be hard to hit those 0 ending birthdays. But you are exactly right, there are gifts with each decade. Enjoy your 30s!

  7. Rose
    | Reply

    I crossed that finish the beginning of he year. I can say I mature more and more. I can’t say I wish 5 years ago I was this age, lol I will take it one day at a time. I am more thoughtful and greatful then I ever was when I as younger. I also think that life at 65 changes everyday and I will have to just wait and see but, my ultimate goal is to travel when I’m older.

    • Daria Harvey
      | Reply

      I think many people are more thoughtful and grateful when they are older. I also would love to travel when I’m older. Best of luck to you!

  8. Sharon
    | Reply

    I LOVE that you say 40 is the BEST!! I can`t imagine being 40 … yet it`s coming fast! I love the intention and inspiration! Thank you

    • Daria Harvey
      | Reply

      Thank you Sharon. I promise-40 rocks! Best of luck when you finally get there!

  9. Amber Myers
    | Reply

    Yes, I always try to have gratitude. There’s no point in remaining miserable.

    • Daria Harvey
      | Reply

      Good for you Amber. It doesn’t help anyone if you are miserable.

  10. Marie Barber
    | Reply

    Im coming up to being 40 and ive been dreading it, like i would sudden turn really old or something but the fact is not much will change in a way to what i am now, ive already had a few of these moments in my thirtys preparing me for forties it seems 🙂

    • Daria Harvey
      | Reply

      I promise it will be okay Marie! Since you are so healthy I’m sure you will be fabulous at 40!

  11. Dot
    | Reply

    THanks for sharing this. A grateful heart is very important.

  12. TheTravel Ninjas
    | Reply

    Very interesting post for the holiday season, when things can easily go off the rails. We totally agree on gratitude being the greatest gift.

    • Daria Harvey
      | Reply

      Thank you so much Travel Ninjas. Yes, it is easy to let gratitude go by the wayside sometimes during the busy holiday season. I’m all for making it less busy.

  13. Jasmine Watts
    | Reply

    Woo- woo exercise sounds so good! I can say my 40’s will be awesome!

  14. Anosa
    | Reply

    Such a great post and advice, especially saying no to Things and people who are in beneficial to your plan.

    • Daria Harvey
      | Reply

      Thank you Anosa. It took me too long to learn that lesson and I am hoping my post will help others learn the lesson faster than I did.

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