Reinvent Your Expectations

Brava to all those women who decide to sky dive after 40 or take a chance on a new business — but what about the rest of us?

By Suzanne Braun Levine

You DO Have To…

...Let Go of Old Baggage

Especially expectations — about yourself, about others, about how your life is supposed to be. It is easy to look at this stage of life as a period of loss — of our youth, our looks, our fertility, our waists. But it is also a time of liberation from shoulda-woulda-coulda thinking.

...Say No

Just about every over-40 woman I have met is relishing the "I don’t care what people think" impulse that is increasingly overtaking her, freeing her to pursue that passion-finding mission. It’s the freedom to reject the advice of know-it-all friends, to shut out the employee who gets on your nerves, and turn down demands for time you need for yourself.

...Say Yes

To your impulsive, stubborn, feisty, problem-generating (as opposed to problem-solving) self. Take it as a compliment when people say you are acting out of character.

...Take a Risk

Which doesn’t have to be a life-threatening act. Risking failure or looking foolish can be just as daunting. Attempting a watercolor, proposing a new direction for your business, or suggesting that your grown children move out can be a big step. The alternative to this kind of risk is not safety, but lost opportunity.

...Be Patient with Yourself

We are so used to prizing efficiency above serendipity and to managing busy lives by making a list and checking it twice that we find it almost impossible to let go, but drifting may be the only way into the magnetic field where the pieces of this confusing transition come together. It takes time. Many say it took a year or more before they began to feel a sense of purpose. By then, though, they have found out something they hadn’t expected — that making the journey is where the real action is.

Originally published in MORE magazine, April 2006.

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