40 Things to Do Before Turning 40 That’ll Inspire Life-Long Growth

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I turn 40 in exactly one month, and to tell you the truth, I couldn’t be more excited. Whether it’s because of social media or how we’ve been taught to think about aging, I know that many of us have strong feelings about 40. But I fall firmly into the camp that believes age is just a state of mind, and as I sit here in my final few weeks of my thirties, I’ll admit that I feel way better than I did a decade ago. Thanks to life experiences and a heck of a lot of therapy, the relationship I have with myself is rooted in respect and an understanding that I’m constantly evolving and growing. And it’s that relationship that sparked my desire to write this list of 40 things I want to do before I turn 40.

Around this time last year, I compiled my list of 40 Things I’ve Learned in Almost 40 Years. It was fun to write, and a piece that I love still seeing many of you commenting on and sharing. This inspired me to think about how I’d like to end the final weeks of my thirties. Some of these I’ve been sitting on, and others feel like more of a challenge. Either way, I want to leave my thirties feeling accomplished, inspired, and bold.

Feature image by Lindsey King

1. Hire an interior designer. I told my therapist my space doesn’t represent my style and I hate spending time here. Her response: “Why are you waiting to invest in a change?” I’ve reflected on this for a while. Because I’m a current renter vs. owner, I thought it would be a waste of money. 5 leases later though, and I’m still here. It’s time for a home glow-up. 

2. Set social-media free days. I’d love to do a full week or month, but much of my job is rooted in social, so I’m going to do Mondays or Sundays (or both) to give my brain a break. I recently took a day off and I was so much happier. 

3. Ditch all my old makeup and skincare. Not gonna lie: I’m a little nervous to see which products have expired. Another reason I’m so selective when accepting brand gifts—I hate contributing to waste. 

4. Take a makeup class. Now that I’ve been doing a lot of laser treatments, my skin has changed so much and I feel like I need less. I’m making the commitment to go pro with my makeup and booking a virtual class with Makeup by Kelli Anne.

5. Book a photo shoot. I keep putting off taking pictures of myself because I didn’t think I had the right outfits, hair, or look for it. Well, here I am now confirming that that’s truly ridiculous. It’s time to take my own advice: Now is the right time to make it happen.

6. Take myself on a date. I miss traveling and sitting solo at restaurant or hotel bars getting to know the bartenders and fellow travelers. My move is going to an area of town I don’t frequent often and treat myself. 

7. Book a trip for 2022. I haven’t taken a trip by myself in a very long time. It’s usually for a wedding, birthday, family visit, etc. I have a long list of cities I’ve never been to, and now feels right. 

8. Book private dance lessons. Music and dance never fail to put me in my best mood, and after dancing for 15 years, I miss it so much. Plus, I love the attention I get in private lessons. 

9. Go to a new coffee shop, restaurant, bar each week. I am a creature of habit with a running list of places in town I’ve wanted to try, yet never make time for. 

10. Commit to a TV series. This one makes me laugh, but really, I just want to commit to a show and find some pals to talk about it with. Nothing sucks more than being in the Succession group chat and barely being able to contribute to the discussion of Kieran Caulkin’s role in Home Alone

11. Make the first move. I’m not talking about the easy way on Bumble. I’m talking about IRL when I’m not behind a screen and it’s way more intimidating. I fear I have zero game—but I’m just going to go for it.

12. Learn beginner French. I’m spending my 40th birthday in Paris this year and it’s time to get a few basics under my belt.

13. Closet clean-out. My style has evolved in the last year and I’ve been hanging onto way too many pieces with the hope there will be that “one event” that requires that “one dress.” Time to clear it out, donate, and usher in a new season of style. 

14. Send family and friends cards and/or flowers for no reason. Paying it forward and surprising the loved ones in my life with a small gift feels great, but I’ve fallen out of the habit. On Valentine’s Day, a friend Venmo’d me to do something special for myself and it was the sweetest gesture.

15. Commit to an organization to support this year. I typically give back to the community in one-off increments, but this year I’d like to formally and consistently support an organization I believe in. 

16. Run 10 miles. I’ve been training consistently for almost three months and I want to see what my body can do. Run, run/walk, more walk than run—I’m ready to push myself.

17. Invest in a piece of art. Now that I’m refreshing my place with an interior designer, I want to invest in and support an artist I love the same way I do with my handbags. I’m feeling ready to elevate some of my Target and West Elm art and swapping in local pieces.

18. Find a new hiking trail. Creature of habit over here and I’m realizing that there’s so much of my own city and state I haven’t seen yet. 

19. Burn the fancy candle, drink the nice bottle of wine, wear the dress that has tags on it. Essentially a reminder not to wait for the right moment. Now is always the right moment. So anytime I hesitate to grab the fancy thing, I’m going to grab it. 

20 Make a playlist, send it to a friend (or lover). Remember mixed tapes and burned CDs? I’m nostalgic for the 90s and want to recreate a little bit of that era. Plus, this sounds like a fun way to flirt. 

21. Update my intimates. Last month I wrote about what makes me feel sexy and it made me realize that aside from a few pairs of intimates and lingerie, my bras and undergarments could use an upgrade. Both a necessity and a source of so much fun.

22. Theme night out. I low-key love when someone has a theme party. Sequins? I’m there. Fancy black tie? Done. Florals for brunch? Don’t tempt me with a good time. My friend Virginia is the queen of sending a mood board before we go out so we get good pics, and I’m committing to doing the same. 

23. Buy myself a nice piece of jewelry. Do you sense a theme of investing in myself? For a long time, I believed there were certain things I didn’t need or deserve. But I work incredibly hard and it feels good to be able to treat myself. 

24. Go to a gallery opening. I often forget how many artists and makers Austin has, and as someone who values the art of storytelling, sometimes the best places to see stories come to life are galleries. 

25. Catch live music at a new-to-me venue. This is embarrassing, but if you live in Austin, you’ll be shocked to know that I haven’t been to The Continental Club or C-Boys. 

26. Game night. My dear pal Riley is the queen of hosting game nights and as a very competitive and reigning champion of Heads Up, this truly sparks joy, plus it’s a great way to see how your friends think and react. 

27. Cook a new-to-me recipe. I haven’t done this in forever, but there are so many things I’ve wanted to try that I’ve been saving for a rainy day. 

28. Try a new workout. Sometimes this extrovert gets a little shy to join a new workout or class unless I have a security blanket there (i.e., a friend), but I know all too well the beauty of stepping outside my comfort zone—and reaping the benefits. 

29. Spend an entire day exploring the city by foot. I set a goal in 2022 to hit 1k miles by running or walking (and really try for 12k steps a day) so what a perfect way to accomplish both at once.

30. Take a dip in Barton Springs. Another shocking thing I haven’t done yet and I’ve lived in Austin 11 years! Y’all I literally live a few blocks away, so this is getting crossed off the list. 

31. Meditate. I’ve formed a recent obsession with how athletes practice stillness and think I could benefit from starting a practice to support a very busy season of life, personally and professionally.  

32. Road trip to small towns nearby. I’ve been wanting to see the “rock” in Round Rock. The town square in Georgetown, and grab BBQ nearby in Lockhart. Small day trips are a great way to get out of my downtown city bubble and explore. 

33. Picnic in the park with friends. The weather is absolutely perfect in the spring and a day at Zilker Park with friends, their kids, dogs, a bottle of wine, and a picnic sounds perfect. 

34. Progressive dinner at my favorite restaurants. Starting with an appetizer, moving on to an entrée, then wine and dessert. I love doing this while traveling, so I’ll be looking to bring that energy to my own city.

35. Hollywood Bowl tickets. If there’s a city I’ll always miss, it’s LA. I loved my time living there and especially going to the Hollywood Bowl. Time to make a weekend trip out of it.

36. Try a new kind of nail service. I used to have fun with my nails, often doing some kind of art. But over the past three years, I’ve opted for the same red shellac manicure so often that even my nail tech seems bored. Time to switch things up again.

37. Smile and say hi to strangers. Nothing groundbreaking here. I went for a walk recently and someone smiled and said hello while I was in my zone, and it reminded me how lovely it is to be on the receiving end of a friendly salutation. 

 38. Stop saying “Let’s hang out soon!” Say what you mean and mean what you say, right? I use this sometimes with people I don’t actually want to hang out with. Instead, I’ll be going with “It was nice to see you” and leave it at that. On that note, if I really do want to hang out, declaring dates and times is so much more respectful and a surefire way to actually make it happen.

39. Manage my calendar. My friend Riley invested in a planning tool to help streamline and manage her calendar and it made me realize I could benefit from optimizing my time

40. Take a financial investment course. My goal to own a home is still top of mind despite rising housing prices. There’s a course I’ve been eyeing that’s practically shouting my name. I’ll never tire of wanting to learn more about making my money work for me and my future. 

What’s on your list of things to do before turning 40? Share your inspo in the comments!

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