Six months ago I turned forty. Yep, the dreaded FOUR O! Honestly, leading up to the big day I was really excited. I had been planning my fortieth birthday party for years. As it was approaching, I thought just how glorious and monumental it would feel once I turned this pivotal life altering number. However, the excitement waned as the date got closer and closer and my mind starting taking over and getting the best of me. My excitement turned into reflection, then into blame, doubt and finally to fear and dread. I’ve always said age is just a number. Even though I said it, I realized after my birthday; I didn’t really believe it.
Over the past, well, forty years my life has been full of ups and downs and always surprises. I’ve always been a big picture thinker and dreamer. Even when I turned ten, instead of asking for another Barbie, I asked for a briefcase! (Think back to Family Ties. For some reason, Alex P. Keaton was my hero then!) I got my briefcase and also the dreams and goals that went inside of it.
I put myself on a path that was no turning back from. I wanted it all. I was going to attend a Southern College. I was going to be the first female CEO at age 25, become a high powered attorney that practiced corporate law and ran corporations all over the world. I was to own large plantations with tree-lined driveways and large houses and wrap around front porches. Fame, fortune, the house, the family, the kids, the golden retriever and white picket fence. This was my plan, my path, and at the time, my dream. (Remember, I was ten when I came up with this plan, plus I had watched Gone With The Wind at least 20 times at this point in my life!)
Isn’t funny how life has a way of changing things for you?!
In my twenties, even though my path looked nothing like the dream I described earlier, I thought I had it all figured out. I managed to put myself through college, start a career, get married, leave a career to start a business, then start a family.
If you were an outsider looking in you would think I had it all, minus the white picket fence.
But, I didn’t feel that I had it all. Then thirty came.
I didn’t know at the time just how the next ten years would shape who I am and would become. WOW, when I truly reflect I realize what a shock the past ten years have been. This was the decade of endless change. Endless lessons and opportunities for growth, and more. There have been days I didn’t think I could survive. Days where I had no idea how I would pull through and ever be sane again (assuming I ever was!).
It was the decade of tragic deaths and divorce. One of these life altering situations alone would have been enough, but they happened to me in plenty. I lost some of the people that were closest to me. The people that my world centered around. The people that were my rock. The people that I thought would be in my life forever. Then suddenly they were gone. I didn’t know what I was going to do to move on. Other than doing just that, move on.
At first moving on seemed selfish and an impossibility. Moving on wasn’t something my brain wanted to entertain. Frankly, I went through the motions but never gave myself permission to embrace my present or future. Why was turning forty a big deal? Other than the fact society starts to put labels on us at certain ages; I realized all the things I had to give up. What I mean by this was, I had to look past myself and give up my beliefs of failure.
Yep, that’s what turning forty meant to me, that I was a failure. I spent a lot of time ‘should’ing’ all over myself. You know, the I should have syndrome. I should have done this, or reacted this way, or made this decision. Should have. What an awful phrase that doesn’t serve any purpose whatsoever.
The truth is I did have big goals and dreams of things I wanted to accomplish. In fact, forty was my magic number. I had spent the past 20 years giving a deadline on forty as some number that if I had achieved certain things, I would have been a massive success. In my book, when I started to look at these things I had not accomplished I looked at all my so called failures. I felt that I didn’t deserve to celebrate or view myself a success because I did NOT achieve all these things I had on my list.
What a load of sh@&!
I’ll level with you here. Once my birthday rolled around, my failures hit me like Thor’s hammer hitting the ground. My mind got the best of me. Every mistake I had made or decision I regretted, I told myself how awful I was. Then I realized I had to give up. I had to give up my thinking. I had to give up being a victim. I had to give up feeling guilty for grieving. I had to give up being afraid. In essence, I had to say F’ IT, with a large capital F!!
What I realized was that the past 10, 20, 30, and 40 years have been doing was molding me for who I am and who I am supposed to become. Yes, these things did happen. I did lose people. I had some ridiculously difficult situations and life altering moments that I had to learn how to endure. Many situations I never wish for anyone to have to encounter. BUT I DID!
That’s the wonderful, magical truth.
I DID encounter them and did survive. Not just survive, but I became a better, stronger, smarter, more understanding, more equipped person. Moving on didn’t mean I was forgetting anyone or losing myself, it meant that I was learning how to BE myself and connect to who I am. Moving on didn’t mean I was disrespecting my past, it meant that I was giving myself the true gift of the present. I made the mistake of looking at the things I had not yet accomplished and looking at the ‘mistakes’ as blemishes on my life. I was so wrong. Because the real truth is, there were no mistakes. But only excellent learning opportunities.
I am thankful for all of those opportunities. Of course, I miss the people I lost. But, the bigger truth is that I was not and am not a failure. It makes me laugh actually when I reflect on just all I have done and accomplished! I have been a single mother for 7 years and despite the other obstacles, hurdles, deaths, and loss I’ve encountered during that time, I’ve still managed to grow three very successful businesses, raise my beautiful amazing (yet not always cooperative) kids in the most loving way I can, and grow into the person I am supposed to become. I’ve had the privilege to work with some of the best mentors and thought leaders on the planet, as well as had the honor of coaching some amazing business owners that will impact generations.
What I’ve truly been doing regardless of the challenges I’ve been through was being afraid to be me and honor my success. I was afraid for people to see me. Why? I have no idea! Maybe because of the self-limitation I put on this ‘success’ goal. It seems so silly now that I think about the things I’ve put myself through! Truly what horrible lies I’ve said to myself. It took me a long time to get angry in the right ways! I’m no longer angry at myself. In fact, I celebrate my victories and celebrate my successes, as there have been a lot!
Many of my big goals include helping others succeed with their dreams. Not just success with their financial planning, dreams, and goals, or their digital marketing and business growth, but bigger than that. My dreams have been to share all the tools and gifts I’ve had the opportunity to learn over the years and put into practice. One of the many passions I have is physical fitness. My quest to live a healthy life started early when I experienced a bout of anorexia. (I’ll save that story for another day!). But this passion of being the healthiest version of me led me to grow as a person from the inside out. It led me to understand the body and the mind. I’ve had the honor to have been able to study with some of the most amazing mentors, neuroscientists, health and growth experts in the world. I have witnessed countless examples of how living a healthy fit life creates an abundance of success and fulfillment.
This post is very self-focused I realize. My goal is not to share this to say how wonderful I am or look at all I’ve accomplished. In fact, my intention is just the opposite.
What I want my message here to be is if I can succeed in spite of all the challenges I have been through the past forty years, anyone can.
I’ve now removed the dread and sadness around turning forty and instead embraced it. Although I once looked back over the past decade (ouch that really hurts to say!) with regret, sadness, and defeat. I now look at the past decade (and beyond) with joy, happiness, and pride knowing that I’ve grown and become a stronger person. I am the ‘who’ I was meant to be and will continue to grow to become.
Hello, forty! I’m excited and confident that forty is the new thirty, or twenty!! I’m certain that there are no limitations on what is in store and I can and will manifest all the joy, success, happiness, and fulfillment I desire. (I have been already and didn’t recognize it fully!) Yes, there will still be ups and downs. But now, I know just how to accept them as well as accept my flaws and insecurities. Accepting does not mean defeat, it means embracing but focusing on my strengths. My light has always been shining, but I’ve worked the past twenty years to master the techniques to shine brighter and bring out all my inner brilliance and superpowers!