Pamela Redmond Satran wrote a list after her thirtieth birthday of what she wanted to tell younger women. It was a list of what Satran wished she knew before the big 3-0 milestone arrived. It is still wildly popular on the internet and is mistakenly credited to many, including Maya Angelou. Her list originally appeared in Glamour magazine in 1997 and is titled “30 Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know by the Time She’s 30.”
So many huge life changes happened for me months before reaching my fortieth birthday, with significant growth and discovery as a result. Recently writing out my own list of 40 things helped me to realize how much I have learned in these last several years. The challenges made me wiser; I am confident I would not have been able to add so many items to the list I find essential without the bumpy ride these last three years.
Enjoy the list, disagree with me, suggest other items, or make your own list. It’s a fun exercise that I found worthwhile. Surprisingly it wasn’t as easy as I would have expected.
By 40, you should have:
- An exercise regime.
- A passport with stamps in it.
- One fabulous, comfortable pair of high heels.
- A well-stocked pantry, making it possible to make a meal at a moment’s notice.
- A cordless drill and know how to use it.
- A bucket list and be checking things off now.
- A nice set of cloth napkins and actually use them.
- Experienced a bad relationship and raised the bar as a result.
- The perfect little black dress (or two).
- Respect for yourself and others.
- Laugh lines you are proud of earning.
- Appropriate outfits for a funeral, wedding, interview, and cocktail party.
- A mammogram annually–no excuses!
- Clearly defined boundaries.
- A standby meal you can whip up at a moment’s notice (from your well-stocked pantry).
- An understanding of who your true friends are, limiting your energy and time with the rest.
- A male friend for a guy’s perspective.
- A well-worn, go-to, dog-earred cookbook that you trust and know like a friend.
- An understanding of what you want out of life. And actually be working towards it.
- Enough memorable life experiences to write a memoir.
By 40, you should know:
- How to be happy.
- What it means to be beautiful.
- Who you are and embrace what makes you unique.
- How to say no without guilt.
- That money really doesn’t buy happiness.
- How to count blessings in challenging times.
- How to walk away from an unhealthy relationship (platonic or romantic).
- To live without regret.
- Perfection will never be attained and to be at peace with that.
- A person’s actions are more important than their words.
- Seemingly hopeless situations will improve with time.
- How to forgive and ask forgiveness.
- To embrace your past; it shaped who you are.
- People won’t change no matter how hard you try to make them.
- How to ask for help.
- Love is not enough for a successful relationship.
- To take responsibility for your actions.
- To buy the fabulous, impractical shoe on sale; it will haunt you otherwise.
- To avoid people who hold grudges, seek revenge, and cling to bitterness.
- Life isn’t a dress rehearsal.