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40 Things You Should Never Change About Yourself After 40

Keep your dancing shoes close and your sense of adventure intact.

You already know there are a ton of changes you've got to make after your 40th birthday. You've got to boost your retirement savings. You've got to adjust the way you care for your aging kids. You've got to reinvigorate your maturing marriage (lest you start to show one of the telltale signs of divorce).

But this decade isn't all about pulling the rug out from under everything you hold dear. And yes, there are a few things you should keep exactly the same. To help you embrace them, we've uncovered the most important things you shouldn't alter in your forties. And for the things to get rid of entirely, check out the 40 Things to Purge from Your Life After 40.

Your individual style

stylish man Changes after 40

Don't fall for the idea that you need to leave a fun fashion sense behind once you reach a certain age. For Megan Murphy, a women's empowerment coach, that was a key realization in her forties.

"I returned to wearing the clothes and hairstyles that reflected who I really am," she says. "For example, I keep a small blue streak in my hair behind my ear to remind me of my courage." And for more ways to dress your best in your best decade, learn all about the 40 Fashion Mistakes You Should Never Make After 40.

Your inspiration to follow your dreams

Daydreaming man Changes after 40

No matter your age, you should never stop following your dreams. After all, Stan Lee didn't create the Marvel universe until he was 40 years old. Henry Ford didn't revolutionize the car industry until he was 45. And Julia Child didn't write her first cookbook until she was 50. All that's to say you can accomplish anything you set your mind to—and we recommend you start today. Get even more inspired with the 40 Amazing Things People Have Accomplished After 40.

Your plans to have children

Pregnant woman Changes after 40

Though you may have thought dreaming of parenthood in your 40s was fruitless, many doctors disagree. According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 12,000 women over the age of 40 gave birth in 2017 in the United States. And while it might not happen immediately, and could require procedures like in vitro fertilization or an egg donor, it's definitely possible.

Your playful nature

woman with playful nature Changes after 40

Keeping your playful nature is key to staying young at heart. "Play is so important for so many reasons," says G. Brian Benson, author of the book Habits For Success: Inspired Ideas to Help You Soar. "It keeps us feeling young, provides exercise, keeps our brain sharp, helps us connect with others, allows us more opportunities to laugh, and gives us something to look forward to." From heading out for drinks with coworkers to attending side-splitting comedy shows, it's important to keep laughter an essential part of your life. In fact, here are 20 Crazy Health Benefits of Laughter—No Joke!

Your love for your body

self love Changes after 40

Now that you're 40, your body is bound to change—but that doesn't mean your love and acceptance of it should, too. In fact, there are dozens of reasons to appreciate your body even more. Instead of fretting over a slower metabolism or greying hair, shift your focus to gratitude. If you're healthy and happy, you've got a lot to be thankful for.

Your quest for knowledge

Woman learning foreign language Changes after 40

Just because you're done with school doesn't mean you should stop learning. "Living in wonder and wanting to continue to learn and grow is so important," says Benson. "It keeps our brain sharp, feeds our curiosity, and appeases our soul." Whether you decide to learn a new language or read more books, your 40s will be more fulfilled if you follow your natural curiosity.

Your commitment to yourself

businessman Changes after 40

Though you may have more responsibilities than ever before, it's still important to find time for yourself. "Putting ourselves first may or may not have been a part of our lives up until we turned 40," says Murphy. "However, we must make ourselves a priority. We cannot be there for others or enjoy life to the fullest if we do not take time for ourselves." For great self-care ideas, read up on the 50 Easy Ways to Be Nicer to Yourself.

Your ability to roll with the punches

confident woman Changes after 40

Now that you're 40, you can expect more demands on your time and attention. And when things don't go quite your way, it's important to retain your ability to stay flexible. "Life is full of change and growth," says Sharea Farmer, a clinical social worker and therapist. "Being flexible allows you to relax, be okay with making mistakes, and not be prone to [unhealthy patterns] of rigid thinking.'"

Your challenging workout regime

Older Woman on Exercise Bike Changes after 40

Just because you're getting older doesn't mean you should let yourself off the hook when it comes to your physical fitness. In fact, unless your doctor says otherwise, there's no reason you shouldn't hit the gym with the same rigor and dedication as you did in your twenties and thirties. Find yourself a workout buddy, sign up for a class, and get ready to break a sweat. Your mental and physical health will thank you for it.

Your desire to explore.

travelling man Changes after 40

Traveling the world isn't just for the kids. Elena Ledoux, founder of MommyGO, found that retaining her desire to travel kept her on her toes once she turned 40. "No one should change their thirst for exploration and learning new things after they turn 40," she says. "In fact, we should do more of that as we have more resources and more time."

Your incredible friendships.

older friends Changes after 40

Now that you're 40, you've probably got more than a few decades-old friendships in the books. Continue to cherish them, says Maria Leonard Olsen, author of the book 50 After 50: Reframing the Next Chapter of Your Life.

"I surround myself with people who help me be the best version of myself, and I treasure my long-time friendships," she says. "The people who know almost everything about me and still love and accept me are gold. These friendships should be nurtured and not neglected as we age."

Your regular trips to the doctor

female health concerns Changes after 40

Before turning 40, you probably made it a point to get regular checkups and have every flu-like symptom checked out. Now, you're more likely to shrug off unassuming symptoms as simple signs of aging. We're here to tell you to stop that! This is the age where getting regular tests like mammograms and colonoscopies becomes more crucial than ever. For what to monitor in particular, learn the 40 Health Concerns Women Should Watch Out for After 40.

Your excitement for the years ahead

Woman Daydreaming Changes after 40

While it can be fun to look back on the amazing memories you made in your 20s and 30s, there's no reason you shouldn't look forward to the years ahead of you with the same excitement. To truly live your life to the fullest, do your best to remain present. After all, one study found that people reach peak happiness at ages 23 and 69. See, the best is yet to come!

Your tolerance for constructive criticism

hipsters in an office

Now that you're 40, you've accepted your fair share of both constructive criticism and unwanted feedback. And hopefully, you've learned not to take too much of it to heart. "When you take these criticisms or comments in stride, you are ensuring a life full of self-love and self-acceptance," says Bridgitte Jackson-Buckley, a meditation expert and the author of the book The Gift of Crisis. And for more ways to live your best life this decade, here are the The 40 Best Ways to Conquer Your 40s.

Your willingness to step outside your comfort zone

dressing well in your 30s

Jackson-Buckley also emphasizes that just because you're getting older doesn't mean you should become unwilling to step outside your comfort zone. Whether you're diving into a new career or trekking up the side of a mountain, allowing yourself to explore uncharted territory keeps you young.

Your trust in your intuition

confident man Changes after 40

This should remain unwavering in your 40s, says Jackson-Buckley. "Living on this earth for four decades helps us garner wisdom—both internal wisdom and soul wisdom," she says. "Forty is not the time to change this deep connection with ourselves." Instead, it's time to lean in and listen to your inner voice.

Your budget

Budgeting money Changes after 40

Just because you may have more funds in your 40s than ever before doesn't mean you can start making important financial decisions on a whim. According to Jackson-Buckley, you should continue to develop strategic decision-making practices across every aspect of your life—and that means sticking to whatever budget you set for yourself. While buying an overpriced bag might not deplete your savings these days, it's also not a great idea to get into poor spending habits. For more on that, learn the 40 Ways to Seriously Boost Your Savings After 40.

Your habit of sleeping in

girl sleeping in the daytime.

If you're a natural night owl, there's no need to change your sleep habits just to conform to the antiquated notion that older people wake up earlier. Go ahead and sleep in—getting rest is important no matter how old you are. If you're trying to see where your friends are coming from, learn the 15 Secrets Morning People Want You to Know.

Your boundaries

Couple over 50 Changes after 40

Sure, compromise is important in every relationship. But that doesn't mean you should start forgoing your own needs and desires now that you might be seen as the more mature person in a relationship. Just as you did before, try to stay just selfish enough to put yourself first. Once that's done, you can go about meeting people halfway.

Your ability to not sweat the small stuff

happy man Changes after 40

While it's normal to stress about work and the general well-being of yourself and those around you, it's completely unnecessary to worry about whether or not that woman in the checkout line was judging your grocery store purchases. You've got so many more important things to think about. Continue to let the tiny things go.

Your amount of alone time

Alone Time Changes after 40

By the time you're 40, you're probably continuously surrounded by friends and family who need you. But just because a lot of people rely on you doesn't mean you shouldn't continue to carve out time for yourself. While you don't want to actively isolate yourself from others, you should feel just as comfortable taking some me time as you did when you were younger.

Your sleep schedule

woman sleeping Changes after 40

Let's face it: There's no way you're getting as much sleep as you did in your 20s. From juggling your children's after-school activities to working a full-time job, it can be nearly impossible to get enough rest. Despite that, it's important to keep the same emphasis on sleep as you did before you turned 40. Your health and wellbeing depend on it.

Your love for eating out

Friends eating at the restaurant Changes after 40

After years of being told that eating out is a waste of money and calories, it's no wonder you dine out with less fervor than you used to. And while it's true that eating out isn't often the healthiest option, it does bring you the positive effects of being around friends and family—which, on most occasions, far outweigh the risks.

Your gray hair

man with gray hair outdoors Changes after 40

With celebrities like Kelly Osbourne, Lady GaGa, and Rihanna dying their hair gray on purpose, it's clear that this hair color is no longer the dreaded symbol of aging it once was. And even if there weren't a ton of youngsters yearning for silver locks, gray hair is nothing to be ashamed of. If you like it, keep it.

Your entire skincare routine

wrinkles worse skin

Laugh lines and crows feet are proof you've lived an amazing life. And let's be honest, no amount of lotions or potions is going to be able to reverse them. Embrace the skin you've got and continue to take care of it as usual. You don't need to adopt an entirely new skincare routine to try and totally alter your appearance. However, you will want to avoid these 30 Cosmetics No Woman Over 40 Should Ever Buy.

Your willingness to take risks

skydiving Changes after 40

The saying is true: You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take. And if you don't continue to take risks, you'll never know what you could achieve. While it's easy to get caught up in the trials and tribulations of adult responsibilities, take a cue from your younger self and add a bit spontaneity to your life. It could pay off in big ways.

Your ability to learn from your mistakes

Couple on a date Changes after 40

When you were just starting out in your career or relationship, you probably embraced your mistakes as opportunities to grow—and there's no reason that should change in your forties. Let your blunders go with grace. No one will remember them tomorrow, anyway.

Your ability to say "no"

Woman saying no Changes after 40

Now that your time is even more precious, it's more important than ever to stick to your guns when you need to say "no." There's no reason rounding the corner on 40 should change your priorities. You come first—end of story.

Your readiness to speak your mind

Angry Man Talking Changes after 40

While getting into heated arguments might have been something you struggled with when you were younger, it's not something you should swear off completely now that you're 40. Though it's true some things are better left unsaid, you shouldn't hold back if something is really bothering you, says writer and speaker Maxie McCoy. You'll feel so much better after you get it off your chest.

Your dessert habit

Mother and Daughter Eating Ice Cream Changes after 40

Despite the eventual slowdown of your metabolism, restricting yourself is not the way to go about watching your weight. So, yes, eat that ice cream cone, indulge in that slice of chocolate cake—give your body what it wants, to an extent. A simple approach to dieting—indulging in sweets and unhealthy fats in moderation—will help you maintain your health throughout your golden years.

Your dairy habit

Woman Eating Yogurt Changes after 40

Somewhere along the line, it became a myth that adults over a certain age should limit their dairy consumption. But unless you develop an allergy to lactose, you should continue to consume just as much dairy as you did when you were younger. In fact, one 2006 study found that drinking full-fat milk after exercise helped enhance muscle mass. That's something you'll definitely want now that you're 40.

Your sunscreen habit

woman applying sunscreen Changes after 40

Even though your skin might already be covered in freckles and sunspots, it doesn't mean you can skimp on sunscreen—even in the winter. Obviously, this is your best defense against skin cancer. Not to mention, using sunscreen will help reduce the creation of wrinkles caused by harmful UV rays.

Your activism

woman protesting

Activism isn't just for the kids. If you truly want to see change, get out there and do something. There are so many ways to get involved, from heading to your nearest march to volunteering for a nonprofit you believe in. There's absolutely no reason to cut activism from your life now that you're 40.

Your penchant for carbs

pesto pasta Changes after 40

There's no need to ditch that penne vodka just because your metabolism has been slowing down recently. In fact, some carbs—like whole-wheat versions of bread, pasta, and oats—contain fiber that becomes critical to your health as you age. Cutting them out will only make you hungrier and more tired.

Your tolerance of a messy home

couple relaxing on couch Changes after 40

Before you hit your 40s, you probably didn't think twice about inviting your friends over when there was a mess in your kitchen. And guess what? You shouldn't now, either. At this stage in your life, there are far more important things to focus on than the neatness of your home. Your real friends will understand.

Your willingness to put on your dancing shoes

dancing can make you instantly happy

In your 20s, going out dancing may have been a common (and fun!) occurrence. So why shouldn't slip on those dancing shoes once again? If you're too self-conscious to hit the dance floor just yet, try taking a private lesson before heading to your local salsa club.

Your nighttime snack habit

eating late Changes after 40

You've probably been told—and consistently ignored—the advice that eating after 8:00 p.m. is a bad idea. However, it turns out eating a healthy snack before bed, something like lean protein, fresh fruit, vegetables, or a handful of nuts, can keep your blood sugar level from plummeting in the middle of the night, which will leave you ravenous in the morning. Rather than attempting to restrict your eating patterns in your 40s, simply give your body the nourishment it needs.

Your tolerance for change

woman accepting change Changes after 40

In your 20s and 30s, it seemed that change was inevitable—and, more often than not, completely welcome. New apartment! New partner! New baby! New house! Don't let that attitude change too much now that you're in your forties. What better time to try new things than in the prime of your life, right? You might want to start with one of the 40 Life Changes You Should Make After 40.

Your aggressiveness at work

business men in office Changes after 40

Good things don't always come to those who wait—in fact, they often come to those who learn how to go after opportunities the moment. If you're craving a promotion or a raise, and feel as though you truly deserve the recognition, it's time to go after what's truly yours, no matter your age.

Your ability to be your own handyman

being your own handyman Changes after 40

Just because you can now afford to have someone come in to fix your drain or build your bookshelf doesn't mean you need to outsource those tasks if you know how to do them yourself. In fact, it makes no sense from a savings standpoint. Trust your talents and do it yourself. Next, check out the 40 Most Common Regrets People Have in Their 40s.

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Ashley Moor
Ashley hails from Dayton, Ohio, and has more than six years of experience in print and digital media. Read more
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