I remember everyone asking me how I felt about turning 40 almost a year ago. My 40th birthday was approaching and I think many braced for me to not handle this milestone very well.
But in all actuality, I had no issues with celebrating my fourth decade on this earth. It didn’t give me anxiety, it didn’t make me stare a little longer at my wrinkles and it certainly didn’t make me want to lie in bed with the covers pulled over my head.
In fact – the exact opposite happened. Two months leading up to my birthday, I decided this was going to be a year that I actually made goals for myself – and not the type of goals we throw out at midnight on New Year’s Eve. I sat down two months before my 40th birthday and I made a list. I didn’t label the list (we all know bucket lists typically never get scratched off) - I wasn’t going to make it that hard. I was going to make this easy and attainable. And more importantly, I was going to look at this list every week.
- I was going to launch SheInTheCLE.com – This was an idea and concept I had for more than a year but was constantly overwhelmed with the the feeling that things weren’t perfect yet (sound familiar, ladies). I had a very specific reason I wanted this blogger collective to go live – and it was to give women a much-needed platform to drive conversations of purpose. It needed to be published!
- I was going to stop being overly modest. I know this is a strange one but it’s something I felt I needed to focus on. I had constantly turned down speaking engagements, mentoring projects or media opportunities because it was hard for me to admit to myself that I was smart enough and good enough at what I do to be acknowledged for it. No more of that nonsense - I was going to start to take the advice I gave so many other women — and I was going to embrace my strengths without feeling like I was bragging!
- I was going to start saying “no” more. Because this is a blog about crushing my last 365 days, you would think I would have said “yes” a ton more. But not the case. I was guilty of over-committing constantly. Agreeing to too many meetings, too many volunteer opportunities, too many nights and trips with my friends and way too many promises to my kids that would fall flat when the hours would run out in the day. It was taking its toll on my body and mind. It needed to stop.
- I was going to move more. Notice I didn’t say diet – but move. I was frustrated by recent weight gain but much more frustrated by how out of shape I had become. My husband and I used to love to go on walks, runs, bike rides and hikes with our kids. Those fun outings had dwindled immensely between my 38th and 39th year, and I would make excuses for not wanting to go because I feared not being able to handle the activity. My sedentary lifestyle needed to change and change quickly.
I was absolutely determined to not hit 41 and stare at this list with disappointment. I took a project management approach to managing my goals – and it worked. I made a small plan for each goal with deadlines, and I pushed myself to meet those deadlines, the same way I would with any professional project.
- Launch SheInTheCLE.com – The logo was created and the website platform had been built, but I had been focused on having more than 20 blogs in the bank before I launched, so we were completely prepared. But I decided that day would never fully come, so I committed to launching the site within five days – and we did so with only four blogs ready to go live. I was able to shelve my Type A Personality long enough to publish it on time and within a month, our site was flooded with guest bloggers!
- Conquer my modesty. This was one had a longer tail with ongoing deadlines but I was going to start being okay with taking credit for the good work that I did and I was going to also be more active on the speaking circuit. In the past, I had turned down speaking gigs and paid projects (outside of my day job). I started small and I made a goal of committing to five paid speaking engagements in 12 months. My first paid speaking opportunity came with the YWCA Leadership Program and from there – things really moved and I met my speaking goal within four months. I slowly became okay with accepting recognition and award nominations. Soon after, I was honored with the 2016 Distinguished Sales and Marketing Award and was a 2016 Women of Achievement Award finalist for Northeast Ohio. I took the stage both times with pride and without embarrassment.
- Learn to say “no” more. This one was actually the hardest for me. I don’t like to let people down or to not help people who ask for it. But I was spreading myself way too thin so I made a commitment that I was only going to commit to a project or an event if I truly wanted to do it, or if it was something I was passionate about. This meant stepping down off of certain Boards (and I did so within my first month) and that I would often simply turn down invites to social gatherings where I truly didn’t want to be there. I decided to refer people to others who would call me for “free marketing advice” and would be honest about why. It was life-changing. After a couple of months, being straight-forward and truthful about my schedule of priorities became easier and I have never looked back!
- Move more. This was the one I procrastinated the most on (of course). I would start and then not follow through. And then a few months ago, I woke up and realized my goals were too big. So I simply committed to walking 10,000 steps a day. I bought a fitbit and found ways to make it happen. This meant walking in the morning before work, often spending my lunch breaks walking and then going on runs or long walks with my husband in the evenings. There are days I definitely don’t want to do it but for the last three months, I hit my step goal every day except three. I plan to keep at it. It’s the best I’ve felt in years.
I know this list isn’t monumental - I know I didn’t break any records or win any medals. But I can easily say that my 40th year has been my most successful. It is the first year I can look back on with a smile and remind myself that I hit every single goal I set for myself. My 41st birthday is a little more than a month away and I am at peace.
And am thinking about my new list!