40 is the new 20, they say. But looking back on my twenties (and thirties), I definitely feel like a new and different person at age 40. When I turned 20, I was preparing to finish college, trying to figure out the next steps in my life, and starting my career as a scientist. When I turned 30, I had just finished grad school, and was moving to New York City to embark on a new career in marketing and media management. Both decades were filled with exciting times, but now I am ready for and looking forward to what’s next!
Entering this new decade, I am taking time to reflect on my life thus far: everything I’ve seen, heard, experienced, and accomplished, which has been A LOT. I’ve worked in completely different industries in various capacities, owned several businesses and realized many of my lifelong dreams. I’ve lived in the best city in the world, traveled the world, and established some great relationships along the way. I realize that there is so much I have already achieved, but there still is so much I want to do. Forty marks an important, sort of midway point in life, so there is a lot that comes both before and plenty to come after it. Based on my experiences, here’s my list of 50 things you should do before turning 40:
1. Develop a close, spiritual relationship with God, or whatever Higher Power you believe in.
2. Create a bucket list and get to work crossing things off of it!
3. Live on your own. Not with roommates, not with a boyfriend, but truly, by yourself, to experience the freedom and responsibility that comes with it.
4. Travel alone. Pick a place to visit and travel there – by yourself. Play tourist all alone and learn to enjoy your own company! It’s a liberating experience!
5. Own a pet. There’s nothing like a cute animal greeting you at the door when you come home, to put a smile on your face.
6. Travel to a place you’ve always wanted to visit. My dream destinations were Paris and Japan and both completely exceeded my expectations.
7. Travel to a place you’ve never wanted to visit. Who knows – you may surprisingly have the time of your life!
8. Dye your hair a crazy color, pierce or tattoo something, or get a complete makeover, just because.
9. Chop all of your hair off. Every woman should experience that at least once.
10. Cut friends out of your life who aren’t really friends. Time will show and tell. Remember, when people show you who they are, BELIEVE THEM.
11. Save and invest your money. It’s never too early to start building that nest egg.
12. Take yourself out on a date. Go to a fancy restaurant, the theater, the opera, or the movies – all by yourself!
13. Start your own business, or at the very least, take up a hobby. It’s important to pursue your passion and have a creative outlet that makes your heart sing.
14. Treat yourself to something you really love. Go ahead and splurge on that expensive handbag, new pair of shoes, or dream vacation. Just don’t go into debt doing it!
15. Visit some of the Wonders of the World, in your own ‘backyard’ or abroad.
16. Make a major, adult purchase – like a new car, or even a house or condo.
17. Get professional photos taken for no particular reason at all.
18. Eat dessert for breakfast. Just not every day!
19. Fall deeply, madly in love. Who knows, that person may one day become your spouse. 😉
20. Go to see your favorite legend play or perform. Whether you love sports, music or the theater, buy a ticket or two and go and see your favorite player or performer live. FYI: Prince, Sade, Madonna and Beyonce are all worth their crazy ticket prices!
21. Take a class in something completely random. Learn to fly a plane, take a home improvement class, trapeze lessons or an improv class – something crazy, unique or fun and fulfilling to you.
22. Become a mentor. Impart your wisdom with a budding young entrepreneur/lawyer/artist/writer/accountant/etc., or a group of them. The impact you’ll make in their lives will be immeasurable.
23. Find a mentor. Finding someone who will take you under their wing and really help to guide you in your career can be challenging, but is invaluable when you do.
24. Learn a second (or third) language.
25. Challenge yourself, face your fears and do something completely out of your element. Go scuba diving, snorkeling, shark diving, bungee jumping, whitewater rafting or even just getting on a plane!
26. Stay up all night. Whether it’s partying in Vegas with your girlfriends, or watching the sun rise with a beau, remember you won’t be able to do this forever, so do it while you still can! It’s always fun to recount those “Remember that night we…” stories with friends.
27. Go on a spontaneous road trip. Every vacation doesn’t need to be abroad. Sometimes the best places to visit are in your own area. Take a weekend and go for a drive and explore someplace random and new to you.
28. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter. It is so rewarding to give to those in need and provides a good reminder to remain thankful for all of the blessings in your life and the things you may take for granted.
29. Donate to a charity you really care about. And not just money – donate your time as well, to really see where your money goes.
30. Find a way to be a blessing to others on a regular basis. It doesn’t matter if it’s to family, friends or complete strangers. It feels good to give!
31. Maintain good health and get/stay in shape. Gravity and time are not on your side, LOL! Eat your fruits and veggies, take your vitamins and join an athletic group, like a corporate softball team, running club or Zumba class.
32. Learn to love everything about yourself. Self-love is beautiful.
33. Go on a girls (or guys) getaway with your closest friends.
34. Break a bad habit. You know that thing you’ve always done that’s not good for you? Let it go.
35. Try new foods. Go for the ‘tame’ – like alligator in NoLa – to the super exotic – like fried cat ears! (And yes, they’re a real thing in China!)
36. Learn how to swim and learn CPR. You never know when you might need these skills to save your own life or someone else’s.
37. Fulfill a childhood goal. Ever wanted to learn to play a particular instrument, take ballet classes or get into acting? Do it now!
38. Go to college, get an advanced degree and/or take continuing education courses in topics you’re truly passionate about.
39. Pursue and get your dream job. Don’t waste precious time working somewhere doing something that your heart’s not truly into.
40. Fly in Business or First Class. It is a true, luxury experience. But be warned – you won’t ever want to fly coach again!
41. Learn to not sweat the small stuff.
42. Make time to read all the books you’ve always wanted to read. For starters, try these five life-changing and/or amazing reads: The Holy Bible, The Alchemist, Freakonomics, Gone Girl and The Diary of Anne Frank.
43. Live in a city that you’ve always dreamed of living in.
44. Learn to loosen your expectations: of others, in your career, and of life in general.
45. Forgive someone who deeply hurt you.
46. Don’t be so hard on others, or yourself.
47. Become known for something. What are you an expert at? We’re all great at doing at least one thing.
48. Learn to trust your intuition. Your gut feelings won’t ever steer you wrong.
49. Work hard (and smart) for everything you’ve ever wanted in life.
50. Ditch any regrets and take every experience as a lesson learned.
There’s so much you can and should try to accomplish before reaching age 40 but remember, life doesn’t end there! There’s plenty more to do and see after the milestone age. The most important thing to do though is live your life the way YOU want to live it!
What are some important things YOU want to do (or have done) before 40?
What I’m wearing: S.H.E. Sleeveless Maxi Dress with Twisted Front via ideel (similar here and here), Swarovski necklace and earrings (c/o my dear Aunt Flo – thank you!) & Zara Leather high heeled sandals with bow.