Lessons I’ve Learned at 45

It's My Birthday - Gretchen Hydo InternationalToday is my birthday. Happy birthday to me. I am 45-years-old. Damn. This birthday feels like a mixed bag. I don’t wish to be in my twenties when I was going out to clubs and the world was at my feet (although I do wish I had that skin). I am not yearning for my thirties where I had newborn babies and sleepless nights (but that sure was a special time). My forties have been different. I feel settled and like “I’ve got this” in a totally different way than I ever have before. I’ve reached many of the goals and dreams that I hoped for and I still have more that I am going after. I’ve stopped caring as much about what people think and care way more about what I think. I’ve let go of old ideas and things that don’t serve me. I’ve started to paint, meditate and actually sit on my couch and relax – whhhaaat?

There was a time in my life (not so long ago, it seems) when 45 seemed unimaginably old. Now I feel like I’m just hitting my stride. And I’ve learned some things along the way. In honor of my birthday, here they are.

  1. Most things don’t really matter. Some do, but most don’t. Most of the events and arguments and happy times that I thought were so important at the time now have little to no impact on my life. You are always playing the long game. Keep perspective.
  2. Don’t take yourself so seriously. I spent a lot of time not seeing “the funny” in things, and desperately needing to lighten up. Lighten up as soon as you can. You will be happier.
  3. Give your all in love. Not just part of yourself. All of yourself. The results are always better.
  4. Go to therapy. Get your childhood stuff worked out.
  5. Say you are sorry. When you apologize, it doesn’t mean that you are weak or stupid. It means that you can admit when you are wrong and move on.
  6. Nothing lasts forever, and that’s okay. Life is made up of seasons. Enjoy them while they last, be ready to let them go when they end, and welcome the start of new ones. I have had a ton of pain over this. When something would end I would mourn it and feel terrible because it was OVER but not I know that it’s okay, something else is on the way.
  7. Make time for your friends. We have busy lives, commitments, responsibilities. But being with your friends is important. It makes you happier.
  8. Work stuff out with the people you love. Don’t stay mad or give up. If a relationship doesn’t serve you, you can let it go. But take a look at why first.
  9. Forgive your parents. They did the best they could. Really. And this parenting shit is hard.
  10. Have a spiritual practice. Connect to something greater than yourself. It doesn’t matter how you do it. You can journal, you can jog, you can climb a mountain, you can pray, you can meditate, you can read scripture, you can read Melody Beattie. But do something.
  11. Allow yourself to be present. Worrying about tomorrow and ruminating over yesterday steal today – a cliché but true.
  12. Don’t say yes when you mean no. Let yourself off the hook. Respect yourself with your words and your intentions and your time. You don’t have to give an excuse. Not wanting to is enough.
  13. When you’ve determined that certain things don’t serve you – ideas, thoughts, relationships, obligations – let them go. Stop wasting time and expecting things to change or be different. Letting go of things only means that you are making room for better things to come in.
  14. Take the trip. Seriously. Traveling makes you happier than buying things.
  15. Don’t charge things onto your credit card that you can’t afford. Learn about your finances so that you aren’t afraid. Don’t buy things that you don’t need or want.
  16. Be who you are. It’s okay if it doesn’t make everyone happy. What matters is if it makes you happy. Your happiness counts.
  17. Be willing to be surprised. At my 40th birthday party I had no idea I would be a coach. None at all. And here I am.
  18. It’s never too late – to go after the dream, to start over, to get started, to forgive, to change, or to let go.
  19. Take care of your body. Seriously. Use it or lose it.
  20. Don’t mess too much with your hair. Even if you think it looks good, it almost always looks best natural.
  21. Celebrate yourself. It’s not stuck-up or showy to proud of who you are and what you’ve accomplished.
  22. Celebrate others. There is more than enough of everything out there for all of us.
  23. Stop being jealous. If you don’t like what you have, figure out how to change that. Life is too short to be unhappy.
  24. Laugh. Everyday.
  25. Make eye contact and smile at others. It shifts the vibe.
  26. Get outside and into nature. It’s where the magic happens.
  27. Sleep on clean sheets. You’re a grown up and clean sheets feel good.
  28. It’s okay if other people are mad, sad, or happy. Just because someone is having a feeling it doesn’t mean that you caused it and it is better not to think you did. Stay in your own hula hoop.
  29. Your opinion doesn’t matter as much as you think it does. If no one asked, keep it to yourself.
  30. “Hmmmmmm”, “Wow” and “Interesting” can all be used as complete sentences.
  31. Care about something. Find something that matters to you that isn’t about your kids or your spouse and lean into it. In your 40’s that is where the fire in you becomes something great.
  32. Don’t give up on the dream you had in your 20s and your 30s. It might feel far off. It might have shifted, but you can still do something with it.
  33. Try something new. Something that feels silly or ridiculous. See if you like it.
  34. Stop saving that outfit for the perfect day. Really, it’s time to just wear it.
  35. Eat food that you like. Fad diets never work.
  36. Get your check-ups.
  37. Go out into the sunshine.
  38. Stretch.
  39. Keep in touch with your family and make it right – to the best of your ability.
  40. Do self-help work.
  41. Sleep in.
  42. Daydream.
  43. Relax.
  44. Lean in to whatever you are doing.
  45. Practice gratitude.

And the list goes on and on. This is just some of what I’ve learned. I would love to hear what you’ve learned. Email me your favorite life lesson. If you need help figuring out your path, schedule a free 30-minute phone session with me today here.

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