Sure, it’s just another day on the calendar—and the start of your best decade yet—but staring down 40 candles on your birthday cake is enough to make even a relatively reasonable, not-particularly age-obsessed person break out in a cold sweat.
But the reality is there’s a ton to look forward to when you hit 40. (Seriously!) Read on to discover 40 facts that will make you ready to tackle your next decade with aplomb. And for more ways to make the most of this amazing decade, discover the 40 Things Every Woman Over 40 Needs to Know.
You’ll be at your earnings peak.
If you’re eager to enjoy some decent compensation for your skills, just wait until you hit 40. According to data from PayScale, women hit their peak earnings at 40, while men do the same by age 49.
Sex gets better.
Think those wild days in your 20s were your sexual prime? Think again. According to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, women over 45 revealed that increased confidence and fewer concerns related to day-to-day family life made their sex lives more enjoyable.
Just because you’re not a teenager anymore doesn’t mean you can’t feel every bit as confident as when you were—in fact, you might even feel better when you’re over 40. In fact, according to one British survey, women feel most confident at 40, and the vast majority think they don’t even look their age. And if you need some more proof that things are only looking up after 40, check out these 50 Amazing Over-40 Bodies.
You’re more likely to own a home.
If it feels like you’re the last one of your friends to purchase a home because you’re over 40, fear not. According to research from The New York Times, the median age of all home buyers is 44.
You’re more able to concentrate.
Say so long to those spaced-out days you used to experience when you were younger. In fact, according to researchers at Harvard, Wellesley College, Boston University, and Massachusetts General Hospital, our attention span actually peaks at 43.
Your stress level starts to dip.
There’s no denying that blowing out 40-something candles on a cake can be a stressor in and of itself, but that doesn’t mean you’re necessarily going to spend the next decade on high alert. According to research from the Office of National Statistics, worry among residents of English-speaking countries actually begins to dip after 44 and continues to go downhill thereafter.
You’re likely to hit your stride creatively.
Just because you’re hit your 40s and are still trying to figure out your next move doesn’t mean great things aren’t on the horizon. Case in point: Martha Stewart, Octavia Spencer, Ricky Gervais, and Samuel L. Jackson all got their big breaks over the age of 40. And for more proof that a second act is possible, check out these 40 People Who Became Famous After 40.
Your career will hit its apex.
We may hear time and time again about wunderkind rising the corporate ladder, but in fact, you’re much more likely to reap the rewards of your career trajectory in your 40s. According to executive search firm Crist Kolder, the average age of a newly-hired CFO was 48 in 2017. And for some great ways to dominate your 40s, see these 40 Amazing Habits to Adopt After 40.
You’re more likely to live another 40 years than at any time in history.
If you worry that you’re running out of time because you hit 40, well, don’t. In fact, the average life expectancy in the United States is now 79.3, meaning your odds of sticking it out another 40 years are pretty good.
You’re likely to be well-read
Being the most interesting person at a cocktail party doesn’t always mean having a ton of wild anecdotes to share: sometimes, it’s as simple as having read a few good books. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, men and women from 45 to 54 are significantly more likely to read for pleasure on any given day than their younger counterparts.
Your cognitive ability reaches its highest point.
While you may have heard countless dire predictions about how your brain will inevitably start to lose some of its processing ability later in life, science says otherwise. In fact, one study reveals that human cognitive ability actually peaks when we’re in our 40s.
Your emotional intelligence is on the rise.
Some things do get better with age—your emotional intelligence included. According to researchers at UC Berkeley, emotional intelligence continues to rise later in life, eventually peaking in your 60s.
Your risk of being a victim of a violent crime decreases.
Financial security isn’t the only type you have to look forward to as you get older. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, your risk of being the victim of a violent crime peaks between the ages of 18 and 21 and continues to drop in a person’s 40s and 50s.
Women who have children when they’re older live longer
Think having kids is off-limits because you’re nearing middle age? Think again. Research published in Menopause reveals that women who had children at 33 or after had double the odds of living to 95 than those who had their last kid by 29.
You’re more likely to be well-educated.
Not only is your brain likely to be sharper in your 40s than in the decades leading up to them, you’re more likely to have some serious academic achievement under your belt. According to U.S. Census data, nearly 13 percent of adults from 35 to 64 have an advanced degree, a higher percentage than either younger or older age groups.
Your inhibitions wane.
Your fears about your body or reputation have largely flown out the window by the time you hit 40. According to researchers at the University of Texas, women from 27 to 45 had more sex—including one-night stands and flings—than those aged 18 to 26.
You’re likely to have some significant net worth.
Nights of eating ramen and drinking cheap beer are things of the past by the time 40 rolls around. In fact, Census data reveals that adults from 45 to 54 have a median net worth of more than $100,000.
You have more time to yourself.
While you may be at the top of your game career-wise, for many people in your age bracket, your family life is finally settling down. With most Americans tying the knot in their mid- to late-20s and most having children by their mid 30s, most 40-something with kids are finally getting some respite from those grueling years of sleepless nights and diaper changes.
You’re more likely to remarry if you’ve been divorced.
Though getting divorced at any age can be a blow, the odds that you’ll get married if you’re over 40 are actually pretty good. According to the Pew Research Center, 60 percent of previously married adults from 35 to 54 got remarried versus just 42 percent of those aged 18 to 34.
The pressure to party is off.
You used to suffer hideous hangovers because you didn’t want to feel like you were missing out. By the time you’re in your 40s, however, that FOMO has faded into the happy realization that you actually like waking up feeling refreshed in the morning.
You sound smarter than ever.
If you’ve ever wondered how those people are virtually walking thesauruses get that way, the answer might be as simple as getting older. Researchers at Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital have discovered that a person’s vocabulary continues to get better through their 40s, eventually peaking more than two decades later.
Those reckless days are behind you.
By the time you’re in your 40s, the lure of getting in fights or stumbling home blackout drunk have lost their appeal, to say the least. The average age of a first arrest in the United States is 23.3 years old, and populations over 40 tend to get locked up significantly less. Of course, it’s not all a picnic: just discover The 40 Worst Things About Turning 40.
You finally know what looks good on you.
It may have taken you decades to get to this point, but by the time you’re in your 40s, you’ll likely know what looks good on you, both in terms of color and fit.
You have more expertise than your coworkers.
While it can feel somewhat strange to know that you’re among the older people in your workplace, with your long track record comes some expertise. And it’s nice to know that those years spent developing your on-the-job skills can’t easily be replaced by some 20-something who’s setting foot into the work world for the first time.
You’ll have more friends.
If you’re a woman over 40, you might find yourself so busy with social engagements you barely have a chance to take a breather. According to research published in Royal Society Open Science, women over 40 enjoyed widening social circles.
You’ll be saving more.
Though you might have some big financial commitments if you have a mortgage, pets, or a family, your earnings during this time period will be far greater than your expenditures. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people from 35 to 54 have the greatest difference between their income and expenditures (the former outpacing the latter), meaning the average individual during these two decades could reasonably pocket around $19,000 per year.
Your days of being in a wedding party have come and gone.
While the number of people getting married for the first time over 40 continues to grow, most people still tie the knot in their 20s and 30s. If you’re largely friends with members of your peer group, that means the chances you’ll have to wear a pinstripe suit with Chucks or a lavender bridesmaid dress have waned considerably, and will continue to do so.
You’ll finally know how to pick out a good bottle of wine.
It may have taken you a few decades, but by the time you reach 40, you actually have a pretty good handle on what you like and what you don’t. And even if that means your pick is a $5 bottle of bubbly, you’re confident enough to feel fine about that decision.
Your social media addiction will finally decrease.
While you may feel like you can’t go a single hour without checking in on social media in your teens and 20s, that fascination will likely wane by the time you’re in your 40s. Pew research indicates that 40-somethings not only tend to use fewer social media platforms in total than their younger counterparts, 56 percent of users aged 30 to 49 said that it wouldn’t be hard to give them all up for good.
Your taste for sweets may finally disappear.
If you’ve had a sweet tooth your whole life, hitting your 40s might just be the unexpected cure you’ve been searching for. Research suggests that our taste buds tend to get less sensitive from 40 onward, meaning some of your favorite unhealthy snacks may lose their appeal. And to clean up your diet once and for all, ditch The 40 Unhealthiest Foods if You’re Over 40.
Your skin finally gets better.
While you may have struggled with breakouts throughout your teens and 20s, your 40s may finally provide you the respite you seek. According to researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine, only about 19 percent of individuals from 40 to 49 only have acne, and that number continues to decline with age.
You’ll never get another sideways look for taking care of yourself.
When you’re in your 20s, people often act as though you should be working yourself to the bone virtually all the time, and that taking any time for yourself, whether that’s in the form of a spa day or a long trip to the gym, is somehow self-indulgent. However, by the time you hit 40, not only is self-care expected, people will actually compliment you on how well you take care of yourself.
Your brain is finally fully mature.
While we often hear that 26 is the magic age at which our brains finally decide to grow up once and for all, new research says otherwise. According to researchers at University College London’s Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, the brain’s prefrontal cortex continues to evolve well into our 40s, meaning you can finally enjoy the full benefit of all that learning you’ve been doing for the past four decades.
You’ll enjoy better work-life balance.
Figuring out how much time to devote to your desk and how much time to spend enjoying the other parts of your life is never easy. That said, 40-somethings seem to have a better handle on it than younger workers. According to a YouGov poll, 25 to 34-year-old workers have the worst work-life balance, but among those between 35 and 44, only 14 percent report being dissatisfied with their work-life balance.
Your sense of smell may get less refined.
Much like our sense of taste, our sense of smell tends to dull slightly as we age. While this may seem like a bad thing initially, imagine the joy of being able to walk past a garbage can on an August day without gagging.
You need less sleep.
If you’ve ever wished you could sleep less and still wake up feeling refreshed, you’re in luck. According to research led by Derk-Jan Dijk, a professor at the University of Surrey, adults from 40 to 555 need 23.6 fewer minutes in bed than their younger counterparts.
You’re more likely to be happily married.
There’s something to be said for finding the love of your life at 18, but waiting may actually provide the key to greater happiness. Studies suggest that individuals who marry later than average tend to enjoy greater relationship satisfaction in the long run.
You’ll be less fazed by what other people think.
During your younger years, the idea that someone doesn’t find you thrilling or attractive or brilliant can ruin an otherwise happy day. At 40, your confidence is high, you’re at the top of your game professionally and socially, and the idea that someone doesn’t think you’re the most exciting person in the world no longer seems like a big deal.
Getting accidentally pregnant is less of a concern.
Some women will have already entered menopause by the time they’re in their 40s, while others will be experiencing diminished fertility around this time, too. The good news? While playing it safe is always your best bet, it means that misstep in the bedroom is far less likely to result in some life-altering decision-making than it would have a decade or two earlier.
You’ve beaten your ancestors.
Not long ago, your chance of living to 40 were about as good as hitting the lottery. Today, having reached 40, you’re just getting to the best part of your life and have plenty more to look forward to down the line.
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