I survived turning 49-years-old. I have now officially outlived my dad. Time certainly flies when you are working and raising a family. I’m here to tell you that it’s never too late to dust off an old dream and execute a midlife attempt at making it come true.
Are you wondering about what to expect when you turn 49? Well, life in your 40s and beyond is about creating your second act.
You ought to expect that you’ll be longing to set right the mistakes you made in your 20s that are still having an impact on your life. You will question the decisions of your past, and you will take a good hard look at where you are.
Midlife can have you coming to grips with aging and accepting that you are no longer the same person you were in your 20s.
Middle age is facing certain changes that you cannot control like family or your friends getting sick or a dear friend relocating to another city; a few will experience divorces, a couple may initiate affairs, your children get married and move out–all manner of life’s big changes pop up. And while these dynamic midlife experiences occur, you will find yourself also questioning your health, your accomplishments, and your finances. You will ponder the years you will be an empty-nester, living alone, or you will reflect on why you chose not to have children.
Everything becomes an effort in self-exploration. Buy yourself a good journal. Promise yourself you’ll be fearless.
8 Truths About Turning 49
1. If you are in an unhappy, unfulfilling relationship, you will want out.
Some people begin affairs during their 40s, while others too afraid of drastic change move into separate bedrooms in the same house. A few will shop for encounters on the Internet. Others fearing midlife will begin revisiting bars as they did in their 20s. But if you are in an unhappy relationship when you hit midlife, you will search for a way to get out. If you can’t afford to get a divorce, then you will find a way to leave emotionally. But you will check out.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that dissatisfied women ages 40 to 59 have the highest rate of depression of any age or gender in the U.S. More disturbing, the National Center for Health Statistics recently reported that the suicide rate for middle-aged women, ages 45-64, has increased by 63% since 1999. (Source: Psychology Today).
It’s important to look at why you are unhappy and do something positive to change your life.
2. You will have to address years of not taking care of your health.
If you don’t always eat your veggies, you drink a little too much alcohol or sodas, have a severe sweet tooth, and you don’t exercise much–in your 40s your body will force you to look your unhealthy lifestyle habits. If you are a woman, who pushes yourself hard by staying up late at night while surviving on six hours a sleep a night and four cups of coffee during the day, by the end of your 40s your body will probably be telling you to f-off. I kid you not. Your body will straight up turn on you and will demand that you sleep more, eat better, and exercise or you won’t be hiking those places on your travel dream bucket list.
Recent studies reveal that general life stress, including perceived stress and life events, in mid-life is significantly related to Cardiovascular disease risk and mid-life subclinical heart disease in the majority of studies. (Source: Women’s Midlife Health Journal).
Taking better care of your health should be a top priority.
3. If you hate your career, you will be looking for a way out.
When you are in your 40s, you will find the job you hate almost intolerable. If you are smart, you will take some classes and be re-trained to do something else. If you are brilliant, you will take courses in something you used to love doing. Either way, if you don’t enjoy your career, you will seek change and change your job you will.
Studies demonstrate that women in midlife maintain high levels of mental health when they are performing the tasks that they enjoy most, regardless of the status characteristics of their occupation. (Source: Journal of Health and Social Behavior).
Doing what you love and enjoying a life’s passion for the tasks you undertake become vitally important in the second act of your life.
4. If you have invested wisely and handled your finances, you will begin to reap great rewards.
If you have planned well and taken care of your financial details, the 40s are when things begin to come together. Big promotions can happen, and you can find yourself in a comfortable financial position, able to start traveling and enjoying the fruits of 20 years of career labor. If you’ve taken care of yourself–you don’t feel old, so life takes on a pleasant glow as now you can enjoy better wine, better food and appreciate all you have done to get where you are.
However, women’s longevity compounded by gender wealth gaps makes financial decisions important for midlife women who are behind financially or have suffered catastrophic financial loss need to take the necessary steps towards achieving some form of financial stability. While many women feel confident in most financial tasks—as confident as men—there is one missing piece: investing. (Source: Women & Financial Wellness: Beyond the Bottom Line).
If investing at midlife is intimidating to you, consider joining one of the many great financial websites geared toward women. Voted one of the top personal finance websites for women, Clever Girl Finance® is a financial education platform aimed at providing women with financial guidance that will inspire you to pursue and achieve dreams of financial independence.
The Clever Girl team focuses on helping women become accountable, ditch debt, save money, and build real wealth. If you are stuck financially, check out the Clever Girl website at www.CleverGirlFinance.com.
5. In your 40s you know what exactly you want, and don’t want.
Everything becomes crystal clear in your 40s. You know what you want and what you don’t want. You find yourself speaking out for the first time without fear. It’s easier to say no and feel okay about it. You see you have real strength and manage to put your needs first.
Recent longitudinal research on the development of self-confidence has shown on average, self-esteem peaks at midlife. So if there is ever a time to push yourself to greatness, your midlife self-confidence should give you the needed boost to make your big dreams a priority.
6. Your heart calls you to do what you have always longed to do.
If you have ignored a big life dream, the 40s are when your dream voice comes screaming back into your mind, begging you to do something about it. If you used to paint, you’ll find yourself buying paint brushes and paints again.
If you used to dance, you will be looking for dance groups for your fitness level. If you used to write, you will begin writing again. You may even think about publishing your first novel. You will want to re-connect with your past loves and dreams.
The calling for midlife women to create a more fulfilling life based on doing what one loves may stem from the fact that studies have demonstrated that women who have a high career momentum at midlife score higher on measures of self-acceptance, independence, and effective functioning and also reported having better physical health. (Source: Journal of Occupational Health Psychology).
It’s as if your subconscious mind knows you’ll be happier pursuing the challenge of resurrecting an old dream and making it come true at this point in your life!
7. You will question your faith or lack thereof.
You may begin to doubt the religion you were raised in and launch an exploration of other faiths (or give up specific religious dogma all together), or your religious beliefs may strengthen, and you may find yourself participating in a regular spiritual practice like meditation or Yoga. But this time around you will make your spiritual decisions based on study and exploration–not your parent’s wishes. You will search for a deeper meaning to life.
And maybe midlife depression is a call to find our spiritual path. Research on female midlife depression and its relation to spiritual transformation reveals that midlife depression was the catalyst to a natural process of awakening consciousness, a rebirth of the spiritual self. Depression shifts to a disease of meaning for personal and spiritual growth. (Source: St. Catherine University)
8. You may consider having children or having “your last one.”
If you haven’t taken the time or found the “right guy” to have a baby, you begin to get real serious about this at 40. Those of you who’ve had children may miss the years when they were babies, and you may be considering having one last child. Having children under the age of 3 can be exhausting beyond anyone’s imagination, and this doubles as you reach middle age. Make sure if you are planning babies in your 40s that your marriage is stable or you have a nanny help you can hire!
First-time mothers are more likely to be 35 or older than their counterparts from two decades ago, according to the Pew Research Center. While the number of first-time moms between ages 20 and 24 falls, the number of births to women in their 30s and 40s keeps growing. In fact, in the past 20 years, the number of women having children in their mid-40s and beyond has tripled. (Source: U.S. News & World Report).
Your heart calls to you in your 40s to make life changes to align yourself with who you are meant to become in the second act of your life. If you’re smart, you will greet these changes with excited anticipation; if not, you may spend a lot of time crying on the bathroom floor
As you enter this midlife transition, buy yourself some good vitamins, grab a journal, start walking and drinking more water every day, and get some decent sleep in anticipation for the next 10-year launch of your new dream life.
You can do it.
Catherine Hughes is the founder, content director and editor-at-large of 8WomenDream. She is passionate about helping women step out of their own way and strike out into a world waiting for their special talents. She’s a published author and a former award-winning mom blogger. Catherine has helped companies both large and small create engaging web content, social media narratives, and unique blogging platforms. She claims to be a redhead, but don’t hold that against her.
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