There are always going to be lessons in life that we wish we had known sooner.
We should’ve never invested in that stock. We should’ve prepared more diapers. We shouldn’t have been so worried about what people thought about our bodies.
We spend so much energy and countless hours on things that, in the bigger picture, don’t actually matter.
By the time we’re 40, it often feels too late to hit the restart button on life.
To help save you from the pain of wishing you had known something earlier, here are a few lessons that you can learn now before you hit 40.
1) Don’t Sacrifice Your Own Happiness
You don’t have to set yourself on fire to keep other people warm.
When we’re younger, it’s easy to feel like we have a finite amount of energy to give to others.
Life is too short. Do the things that make the most sense to you. Don’t sacrifice your own energy just to make the people in your life who wouldn’t even be there in the next ten years happy.
2) Make The Choices That Make You Happy
It’s difficult to see the big picture, so we tend to make choices that reap short-term benefits.
Too often these choices come with some cost that we’re not able to perceive.
At the end of the day, you’ll inevitably be judged or cast away; the only person who will be there for you is you.
So why not make the choices that make you happy now?
3) Do The Things You Want To Do Now
If you don’t want to learn salsa dancing now, who’s to say you’ll want to start doing it ten, or twenty years from now?
Too many of us fall into the future trap: thinking that the future holds the perfect timing, the perfect opportunity to start.
Instead of chucking it up to the indefinite future, why not carve out the time and invest your energy into starting now?
4) Quite Stalling Pleasure
Self-indulgence doesn’t have to be reserved for the perfect moments.
Use that luxury foundation you spent so much money on. Pop open that special bottle of wine you’ve been saving for a unique occasion.
Waiting until the perfect moment is bound to set you up in an endless loop of anticipation.
Instead of constantly looking towards the future, celebrate the moments you have now.
5) Stick To Your Nos
The boundaries we set eventually define who we become as women and human beings.
Don’t be afraid to reinforce your boundaries, assert your morals, and uphold the world to your standards.
Your older self will be grateful knowing that you’ve set the foundation to success by saying no to distractions and negativity.
6) Dignity Is More Important Than What Others Have To Say
Clouded by self-doubt, it’s easy to feel like other people’s validation is where your true value lies.
As we grow older, we’ll eventually realize the fickleness of other people’s emotions and opinions.
You’ll come to understand that what other people say about you is a product of their own environment; it has less to do with you and is more about a reflection of who they are.
7) Exercise Even When You Feel Young
Don’t let aging sneak up on you.
The best time to exercise and take care of yourself is precisely when you can, not when you should.
As with all things, prevention is much better than cure.
By setting a healthy foundation for the future, you give your older self the opportunity to age gracefully and enjoy a healthful lifestyle.
8) Tap Into Your Personal Power
Successful women take responsibility for their lives and tap into their personal power. They don’t let insecurities get the better of them.
I know, it can be difficult in the best of times to not dwell on your insecurities.
But successful women know that overcoming insecurities start with embracing your strengths.
We all have them, even if we’re not always aware of them.
This is where you start to really tap into your personal power. It’s a process that takes time, but the more you work at it, the stronger you’ll feel — and the stronger it’ll be able to help you.
9) Look Into The Negatives
Patterns, when left unchecked, can define who we are over time.
Take the time to look into the negatives just as much as the positives.
Zoom in on questionable, doubtful, or even painful moments in your life because they offer insight.
The only way you can keep the past from repeating in your future, or your children’s future, is by making sure lessons are learned and taken note of.
10) People Change Over Time
There’s no guarantee that the people you love and know now are going to remain the same throughout the years.
Through fire and ice, you’ll come to realize that healthy bonds are meant to be tested and broken.
Don’t worry about keeping up with appearances; friends and even family members that no longer fit your curated life don’t necessarily have to be in it.
Be open to the possibility of cutting off contact with the people you love dearly.
At the end of the day, maintaining curiosity and honesty ensures that you’re putting yourself and your needs first, regardless of perceived obligations towards others.
11) Find Your Passion
Life can get lonely when you hit the 40-year-old mark.
It’s important to develop interests and participate in communities that can enrich your life well into adulthood.
Forget weekend drinking buddies and work cliques; invest in relationships and engagements that will continue to serve you as you age.
More importantly, now is a good time to understand who you are and what you like outside of your career and your social life.
Life can still be purposeful without a job, as long as you’re involved in something that resonates with you.
Seek out things that give you meaning, and start now.
12) Own Your Body
A study has shown that up to 84% of American women aren’t satisfied with their bodies.
It’s easy to feel insecure about your body when magazines and social media often show slim or curvy models.
But here’s the reality of it: they aren’t real representations of a woman’s body.
All bodies are beautiful, even and especially yours.
Learning to accept your body will free you from living a life of body image worries.
By the time you reach 40, you’re going to realize that worrying about what other people thought was a waste of time: you have no control over that anyway.
They’re all too busy worrying about their own bodies.
So take small steps today to own yours.
13) Time Is Your Most Valuable Resource
Spending a few extra hours at the office for a chance at a raise may not be as important as going home early and spending time with your family.
The office is always going to be there; work will never end.
But your kids are only 5 years old once. You only get to be 25 once. There’s no going back.
No amount of money has ever bought a single second of time, so spend it wisely.
14) Your Self-Worth Isn’t Equal To Your Net Worth
Just because you may not be earning much doesn’t mean that you’re behind in life or not worthy of love; there are millionaires who have burned bridges and live lonely lives, too.
It takes $0 to listen to your friend when they’re going through a rough breakup.
It doesn’t take any money to open the door for someone or help someone carry their groceries.
Being a good person is way more valuable than having 7 digits in the bank.
15) Get Serious About Getting Sleep
Hustle culture has influenced many to think that sleep is a waste of time. It’s not, actually.
Sleep is one of the most important things that you can do for yourself in the long term.
A study found that sleeping for only about 5 hours a night has a 15% increased risk in of mortality from all causes.
So do yourself a favor by getting at least 7 hours of sleep each night as soon as you can (or as many as your doctor recommends is needed for you).
It’s going to pay off as you grow much older.
16) You Can’t Make Old Friends
The friends that we meet as we grow up and try to make sense of the world are one of a kind.
There’s never going to be another group of friends that understand you more than them.
As people get older, it’s natural for your friends to start living their own lives and moving away — but that doesn’t mean you can’t still keep in touch.
Recent times have shown all of us that just because we’re apart doesn’t mean we can’t still be together.
While, yes, you can always meet new people. But a friendship that’s lasted 20+ years? That only comes once in a lifetime.
17) Speak Out When You Feel The Need To
There might be times when someone mistreats you or has been unfair to you.
It’s important to remember that you aren’t alone.
It’s unfortunate but it’s true: other women have had their own experiences with feeling mistreated, catcalled, or given unequal pay or opportunities.
Speaking up about it is difficult; it’s an act of courage. But when you do so, you lead the way for others to do the same.
By the time you reach 40, you’ll regret not speaking out when you knew you should’ve.