I was doing my usual avoidance of studying by taking a break and trolling the internet to find some of favorite trends online and off, when I stumbled upon this post about 50 things to know by the time you’re 50. I read the first paragraph, which led me to the Glamour Magazine 30 Things Every Woman Should Know By the Time She’s 30.
(You know where I’m going with this, right?)
So, naturally before I read the lists, I wanted to check and see if there’s a list of the 40 things every woman should know by age 40. There is an article about the 40 things every mom should have and should know by 40, but this really didn’t cut it for me, since I’m not a mom. There’s 40 Things Every Woman Must Know About Men, Love, Sex and Relationships – but again, missed the mark. Don’t really care, because that is one tiny fraction of my entire life. Strike two.
So, I didn’t bother looking for a strike 3. This is a hint from the universe that I need to lay down my 40 things by 40 right here, right now.
Let’s do this.
The 40 Things Every Woman Should Know/Be/Have/Do By Age 40:
1. Have at least $100,000 saved in retirement. It would be better if you had $250K. Even better with even more. And I’m not talking a joint account here. I’m talking your very own personal IRA, 401K, 403B, etc. Not. Joint. Just. Yours.
2. Earned a college degree. If you don’t have one and hit 40, it is never, I repeat, NEVER too late to go back. I’m in law school now with friends well into their 50s. One of the admins at work just completed her Associate’s Degree. I say, bravo. Because education is really the one thing they can never take back from you. And, the more educated the woman, the more likelihood she’s going to be independent in a lot of other ways.
3. Have had at least one great love that took a long time to get over. I’ve had my share. It builds character. Jane was right.
4. Have at least one ex that you would still like to have a beer with. Just one. Any more than that – you might start living in the past, and I don’t want you to do that. Besides, there was a reason it didn’t work out. Don’t over analyze.
5. Have a place of your own. Does that mean buy a house? Not necessarily. That would be next to impossible in NYC or San Fran or Paris. But that place can be yours–you can rent it. It can be a co-op. It can be a walk up. The point? It’s your personal space and you’ve dared to live alone.
6. Decided one way or the other if you really want kids. I’m 98% sure I’m never going to have a kid. I think college and law school both make me appreciate not procreating. But you really should have this figured out by the time you hit 40.
7. Traveled to at least 5 other countries besides the one you live in currently. The older I get, the more I value experiences over things. If you don’t travel, why not? Do it. I’m so invigorated when I go on my travels, and when I come home and explain the places to my friends and family.
8. Written something published somewhere. I don’t care if you’re a professional writer or not. I don’t care if you were an English lit major or not. I just want you to document that you’ve thought and analyzed for yourself about something…anything. We’re all here for a reason. Share.
9. Have or had a pet. Unless you’re allergic, having a pet is one of the greatest relationships one can have with another being on the planet. My cat, Bob, has been with me since he was a kitten, now about 17 years ago. He’s had some major health problems, but he’s still with me. He’s been with me through the breakups, the moves, the let downs and the good times. Where else are you possibly going to get this kind of relationship?
10. Learned from a tragedy.
11. Sang in public. Preferably sober.
12. Ate something that initially freaked you out…and now can’t get enough of it. For me, that’s sushi. (Although, there was some freaky stuff I tried in China, and I still don’t dig it. But I tried it.)
13. Fought for a cause…or two. Or more. You should have fought for a cause bigger than yourself by now.
14. Paid off all your loans. OK, I’ll let you keep your mortgage if you still have one, but other than that? You really should be done with student loans and doing stupid stuff with credit cards by 40.
15. Have some enemies. ‘Enemies’ is a strong word, but if you did something from bullet 13, chances are you made a few enemies along the way. That’s good. That means you pissed someone off enough for them to be mad at you. You made them take notice. Booyah.
16. Be awesome at one thing. It would be great if you were awesome at more than one thing. I can’t be awesome at one thing, I have to try a lot of things. But if you’re doing and rocking the very best you can be and do with at least one thing in your life, you’ve arrived. Congrats.
17. Asked at least one boss for at least one raise in your life. If you haven’t had this battle fought for yourself by yourself, who will?
18. Haggled. On something else. The China Pearl Market was one of the best places to play this game and learn how to negotiate. Ironically, I went there for a Chinese Law course, but I think the other students and I had more fun learning how to negotiate there than any mediation or negotiation stuff learned in school. Besides, ZOPA is cooler when it involves a watch or a pearl necklace in the end.
19. Kept one man in your life for all the wrong reasons, and then finally let him go. This again is a good educator.
20. Failed at something. Horribly. Terribly. And totally learned from that experience. I fail on almost a daily basis now, but I view it as just another step closer to something actually succeeding. You won’t know until you try.
21. Fired someone. This sucks, but it is an important teacher.
22. Hired someone. This rocks, and it also is an important teacher.
23. Studied something just for fun. No grade. No college credit. Just. Fun.
24. Built something from IKEA on your own, or built something on your own with your own two hands.
25. Restored something. I’ve rehabbed many houses in my day, but my favorite all time project was taking the heat gun to the front door of my last house built the in 1920s. They don’t build houses that way anymore, and that also went for the door. It had about 7 layers of paint on it, but I burned it all off, sanded it down, stained it and sealed it. Immediate gratification–and a restored beauty to an awesomely beautiful 2 inch thick solid wood door. I also unearthed a fountain in the backyard of that house. Totally. Amazing!
26. Had a bad hangover. It too builds character, and reminds all of us not to overdo it.
27. Got fired or laid off. This one may be controversial, but when I was laid off from the one and only job I was ever “let go” from, it changed me. I now view work very differently because of it. I highly recommend the experience (although, don’t turn into a slacker and/or do something illegal just to mark this off the list…)
28. Have been or be a driving force in someone’s life. Not just your own. Be someone that someone else looks up to and admires.
29. Flown on an airplane.
30. Have a passport, ready to go at a moment’s notice.
31. Been on a subway/metro/mass transit. (I know, tough for some cities…eh hem…Indy…but to experience the metro, the tube, the NYC subway, or even the subway in Beijing makes you appreciate mass transit…AND at some times, your car!)
32. Realized that you are mortal. I have creaky knees now. I also have a thing in my ankle that bugs me if I wear heels all day. Realizing that even Supergirl is going to one day depart is a strong motivator to start getting some serious dookie done.
33. Written a book. I know I said published something earlier – and if your published work was a book, you can knock out 2 on this list. Awesome. But, everyone has at least one book in them. What’s your story? Write about what you know, and enjoy the ride of writing a book.
34. Spoken in front of an audience of at least 250 people. Under that number is a normal gig. Over 250 is when things get serious. My last 250 audience was at a work function. It’s hard to reach the peeps at the back of the room. Being a rockstar in this arena is hard for me. But I do speak whenever I can, to as big an audience as I can, because it helps push me beyond my comfort zone.
35. Considered running for office. I know what you’re thinking–WTF?!? I know. This one sounds a little crazy. ESPECIALLY with Washington DC being dysfunction junction right now. But we really, really, really need some more awesome women in politics. It’s totally a boys’ club right now, and I personally have considered running for office myself. What is my answer on this? Stay. Tuned.
36. Started at least one venture. I didn’t say company necessarily here. You could have started a cause from scratch, a business (for profit, NFP, or somewhere in between), an idea, or even a movement. Just please have started SOMETHING by age 40.
37. Have at least 6 months of a Oh Sh*t Fund set aside. (Call it a Rainy Day fund if you like for PG-13.) Whatever. Just have 6-12 months of $$ set aside in case you do get laid off, or something crazy happens.
38. Have a will, durable power of attorney for medical, living will, and a plan for death. Sounds a little morbid, but do you really want to put all those burdens on your family and friends when they are totally wigged out that you’re on life support? Here’s my solution: TRIP OVER THE CORD if I’m on life support, please! (And yeah, I do have all the legal documents above.)
39. Play. Make fun time happen. We get so serious as adults (see 38.). We must get over this.
40. If you don’t like where you are when you hit 40, change it. Thanks, Dr. Obvious. While it may sound obvious to some, being 40 isn’t a death sentence. It’s statistically the beginning of the second half of your life (if you live to be the average age of 80). Think about it. You still have a LOT more living to do, so if you’re feeling stuck or in a rut or you’re just not in the direction you want to be in, YOU have the power to change it, and probably ONLY YOU. So, get to gettin’!
There. I’m off to read the 30s list to make sure I didn’t miss anything, and the 50s list to see what I have to look forward to. For the rest of you – enjoy my list for 40 Things Every Woman Should Know By 40! And regardless of my list, make sure you’re following your own list – whatever that may be.