Our 40s are a period of reflection. As we come up for air from the first half of our life, we then begin to wonder what we should do with our lives in the next half? There are lessons to be learned, changes to be made, and a whole bunch of potential awaits, for both late-bloomers and people who have been living it large already. So what’s the life advice for your 40s you need to know? We spoke to, Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse, master storyteller, who has devoted her life to helping others rewrite their stories whose latest book Storytelling Legacy: Everyone Has Stories—What are Yours? to get her essential life advice for your 40s, as well as her perspective on what being a woman in her 40s in today’s world looks like with the benefits of hindsight.
What are some things you would go back and tell your 40-something year own self?
At 40, be very good to yourself. Self-care (sleep, regular eating, lots of exercise and healthy connections) will determine how the rest of your life will go. 40’s and 50’s are “turning point” ages.
What are some of the biggest issues women in their 40s are facing today?
Overwhelm, not enough time, clock ticking in relationships, life is operating “at its peak”.
What can we do about them?
Remembering that overwhelm is simply a sign of “not” making enough choices, clutter is about “not making choices” and not enough hours in the days is about “not making enough choices”. Theme here, “go forward and choose along the way”. It means getting comfortable with “letting go “ of people, activities and things.
What are some life lessons you’d like to impart on women turning or progressing into their 40s?
Simplify. In order to find all the good things and the things that make you happy, your job is to “make room” by living more simply.
What is the best way to conquer your 40s?
Don’t see them as “something to conquer”. I see the forties as rich time to change direction and look forward to each decade as it comes along. Sometimes the best focus for the 40’s is to turn the sail of your private ship and decide which directions (s) you want to go.
What are some of the things we should do before turning 50?
The best tools are daily exercise goals, getting one’s body ready for the next few decades, let go of worn out relationships and make plans for the next chapter in life. The 40’s are the perfect evaluation, choices and directions you want for yourself as the ships starts sailing in a new direction.
What should we stop doing in our 40s?
Hanging on to old relationships from which one has grown, hanging on to lifestyles that aren’t preparing for a healthy future. Buying things that one will need to downsize from in the 40’s and 50’s. This is not a good time to accumulate. It is a time to evaluate.
Any advice for women wanting to totally rewrite their own story in their 40s?
I would suggest that the 40’s is a perfect time to rewrite one’s life. Take each of your past experiences. Choose to either celebrate it, document it (pictures, videos and stories) and hang on to them, and also know what, who and how to eliminate what you don’t want to repeat, take along or plan to enjoy. This is the evaluation decade.
Do you have any particular story you would like to share which you think would resonate with our readership?
My forties were the end and the beginning of many things. It was the end of accumulating things of no current value or sparks of joy. It is important to understand that I have kept many things and some are reaching vintage. However, I don’t keep anything that doesn’t invoke a “spark of joy”.
The forties were also the time that I cemented in my “need to exercise and move”. Whether I was in my neighborhood, along a country road, living in a city or sailing on a ship. walking each day became as regular as brushing my teeth. I still walk 2 miles a day and if all my miles were laid out in a row, maybe I’ve walked across the US. It is as familiar as breathing. It was the time that I decided to never work again. Mind you, there have been many 12 hour days of work, but I don’t consider it work IF I love what I am doing. That way my activities become my passion and I am very passionate about life.
One of my favourite stories is: Walking through an airport in Chicago, a little boy came running up to me and said, “you are the lady in the red dress”. I said “yes, I am”. At that time, I had made a movie and made a decision to always wear something bright and different in each major presentation I made publicly. I could repeat the outfits, but each was chosen for a reason. Never again, did I wear grey, brown or anything dull. Later in life, I kept the same plan for zoom calls, interviews, family movies etc. Women and children may not always hear or be interested in “what you said”, but they rarely forgot what you wore. I was also the lady with the striped green and white dress who wore glasses that also had green and white frames. The moral of this story is “stand out, own your space and enjoy it”. You matter!
Anything more life advice for your 40s to add?
Enjoy the 40’s and remember. “You are the captain of “your ship”. Sail away!
Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse has devoted her life to helping others rewrite their stories, and is a master storyteller. In her latest book, Storytelling Legacy: Everyone Has Stories—What are Yours?, Sharon finally shares her story, with tales of celebrity, culture, humor, spirituality, travels and much more. She is a nationally known consultant, family therapist and author of 23 books on everything from personal development to relationships to caregiving.