For the past several years I have been working part-time, side hustling, while being the full-time architect of my family. My thirties were truly a whirlwind of raising my-then-young children while building my career with a large paint company. Even though it was truly fulfilling in some ways, like a lot of women, trying to do it all culminated in career-burnout. This past year I have reflected on the first half of my forties, because it has become a time of great change and clarity.
My forties have been slower career-wise but very satisfying as I have been the full-time mother that I always wanted to be but perhaps was scared to admit. I know that working part-time was something that I wanted, but somehow got sucked into the vortex of career-building. And I wasn’t happy.
As part of the discovery-process, I have worked on myself a great deal, trying to become a better mother, communicator and partner. Your forties is a time in your life where you may strip away what you thought you should be in order to uncover what is really important to you. Seeing friends go through some really hard shit, and sometimes even fall far down into the rabbit hole can also be a huge eye-opener. Sometimes even it’s you that falls down the rabbit hole. If you get to this half-way point in life unscathed, you are probably the exception – with forty-plus-years of miles behind you, most likely you will have had a couple of bumps in the road.
These are 7 things that I have learned in my forties through both trial and error and self-discovery. I can only hope that the next several years, I will learn even more.
Enjoy the Little Things
There are so many unique, small moments that happen in life that you take for granted when you are younger – a sunset, holding your child’s hand, a dance recital, hilarious mishaps. I now find that since I have been using a smart phone to document so many more things, it’s made the small moments and memories much more poignant. You can look back on the 27000 photos on your phone – currently what I am sitting at! – and enjoy many more small moments from the past. I try not to totally live my life documenting for Instagram stories or FBook, but still, I am much more apt to capture small moments online. And so I appreciate them more too.
Being Older Doesn’t Mean You’ve Got it Figured Out
I always thought that when I got older, I would have certain things figured out. For example, I used to do some guest spots on CityTV’s Cityline, and the Live shows were torturous on my nerves. I used to think, ‘When I am older and more experienced, I will have this fear licked‘. Yea, nope. I still get very nervous over public speaking, even though I am older now and have more experience. Confidence is like a muscle, and you have to work on it, just like you would a muscle in your body. Being older just gives you a little bit of an edge, because you have probably done it more times – but it doesn’t mean you’ve got it all figured out!
Release What Weighs You Down
Get rid of the shit that weighs you down, be it stuff (like those boxes of old jewelry catalogues I am holding on to), or people – yes, it’s okay to delete those old high school friends from Facebook. Curate your life to be exactly what you want it to be, and don’t do things out of guilt or pressure or because you think you should. People will come and go from your life, and don’t feel bad about it. Even feeling bad can weigh you down – now is the time to only do, see, feel exactly what brings joy and happiness to your life.
Make Time For People You Care About
In your forties, you see people you love getting older, or getting farther away from you somehow. Like family members that live far away. Make time and try to stay connected, or re-connect. Technology has made it easier than ever to stay in touch. Create a group text with your cousins, even if you just send funny memes or photos from your childhood. I really try to text friends that I don’t see on a regular basis just to stay in touch, say hey, or let them know that I am thinking of them and care. It’s a small gesture, but you really have to make the time. Or life passes you by and then they are gone.
You May Never See Them Again
This is a tough one. But the truth of the matter is, you may never see them again – people that you shared moments with, had childhood experiences with or even work colleagues. They may be gone from your life forever. So, if they are really important to you, reach out. Time is passing, and it seems to be even more quickly in your forties because you actually still feel like the same young person inside.
It Doesn’t Matter What They Think
This is sometimes a hard thing to wrap your head around. But your forties are a time when you need to stay strong in your convictions, and go with your gut feelings on nearly everything. It usually doesn’t matter what others think, it only matters what you and your trusted few around you think.
A few years ago, I was having some nagging feelings about the company I was working for; what they were projecting as their mission was not exactly what was being carried out in their business. I finally was brave enough to voice my concerns to the head honcho, who I was lucky enough to have access to, and she said ‘It sounds to me like you no longer believe in this company.’ And exactly at that moment, I no longer believed anymore. I was a believer up until that point, but because that was her answer, I realized that I had to go with my gut. She didn’t really see my point, but just shut down my concerns. It was a huge turning point for me both personally and professionally. It doesn’t really matter what others think, because the only barometer you have to follow is your own instincts.
They Aren’t Going To Change
This has also been a tough thing for me to realize: at this point in life, people just aren’t likely to change. I mean, there are exceptions to every rule, but if there are strong behaviours in someone that they have always had up until this point, they likely aren’t going to change. Unless they really want to. That is the key – they really have to want to. So if your mother-in-law is super bossy and controlling, guess what, you are stuck with it! You either have to figure out a way to work with it, or not at all. Because they aren’t going to change.
What have you learned in your forties? Which of these resonates with you personally?
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