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Revealed! The Best Things Women Did For Themselves After Turning 40

What's at the top of their list may surprise you.

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illustration of women doing some of the best things they've done for themselves
Sara Maese
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A lot of us don’t discover who we truly are and what makes us tick until we’re older — 40 seems to be the magic number for many women. It’s the decade when we let go of a lot of baggage, decide to prioritize ourselves for the first time in a long time, and break free from our people-pleasing ways.

From there, life seems to get better with each passing year. We’re no longer afraid to put ourselves out there or follow a dream. We realize age isn’t an expiration date.

Diving into something new, breaking off an old relationship or really focusing on self-care can be a little (or a whole lot) scary, but it’s always worth it. Need proof? We polled Gen-X women to reveal the best thing they’ve done for themselves since turning 40 and the results are inspiring.

The number one answer was learning how to say no without feeling guilty. Seems like a small change, but we all know it isn’t. Women are nurturers and caregivers. It almost feels more natural to always put others before ourselves and we get used to living that way.

Once we change that habit, we wonder how we lived putting ourselves at the bottom of our list for so long.

Coming in second was saying no to toxic friendships, relationships, family members and jobs. When we realize we can walk away from negativity and choose where we work and who we spend our time with, it’s incredibly freeing. Our tolerance for drama and toxic relationships, whether we’re related to someone or not, is about zero once we realize we’re the only ones responsible for our happiness.

One woman said that at 47, she’s finally started to cherish her time alone and appreciate the woman she has become. When our nest is empty or we’ve gone through a divorce, midlife can feel lonely. But getting to know yourself and appreciating your peace and solitude is a wonderful gift.

A 53-year-old artist said she found joy in redefining herself and giving back to those less fortunate. When we help others, it not only makes us feel wonderful, but it also always comes back to us.

Last June, one of the women polled ran her first marathon when she turned 40, saying, “It was so hard, but I’m so proud I did it because I never thought I could.” There is power in completing something you didn’t think possible.

Another woman commented that she started investing in herself after 40. “I started buying high-end clothes that fit me better and were made of nicer fabrics. My body has done a lot for me, and I wanted to compliment it accordingly.” Yes to finally realizing you deserve nice things.

When another woman started scheduling massages for herself every three weeks, her whole world changed. “I set all my appointments in January and scheduled the massages for the entire year. At 45, self-care is a must and I look forward to each appointment.”

Minding her own business and not caring what others thought of her was one woman’s ticket to peace. This little tweak completely changed her life at 46.

At 45, another woman left a lifelong religion and started graduate school, saying she wished she’d done it sooner but had to wait until she was ready.

Making time for herself nourished one woman’s soul after she turned 40. “I carve out time every day just for me. Sometimes it’s a therapy session, sometimes it’s a walk or yoga session.” Whatever she chooses, it’s something just for her.

We do indeed get better with age. Each passing year gives us the gift of more wisdom so we are able to do better for others and, most importantly, for ourselves.

What's the best thing you've done for yourself since turning 40? Let us know in the comments below.

Follow Article Topics: Lifestyle