9 Ways to Maximize Career Gains in Your 40’s
By Christina Lyon
Oprah said, “passion is energy,” and we couldn’t agree more. Whether you’re hitting your career stride over 40 or recently made a bold career change, you’re in the flow, and that’s worthy of a champagne toast!
Fact is, it’s never too late to succeed, and more women are finding their true calling during their midlife years.
Many of us have kids grown and out of the house. With social media, LinkedIn, and startups galore, women have more opportunities than ever before. Bottom line: this is the prime time of your career, and with these strategies, you’ll leverage this traction into upward momentum that’ll carry you to retirement.
Here, we’re sharing the tips you’ll need to maintain success, plan for retirement, and optimize the successful career you’ve worked so hard to achieve.
1. Leave the Past Behind You
“It’s okay to look back on the past. Just don’t stare.” –Benjamin Dover
As you make gains in your career, sometimes the past creeps in to slow you down. The key to maintaining this season of thriving is not to let past experiences hinder your progress. As women, we often guilt ourselves for our successes, and we’re even harder on ourselves for prior failures.
But here’s the kicker: staring at the past won’t get you further in your career. Often, nostalgia can be a double-edged sword and summon midlife choices that veer us away from our strongest sense of purpose.
Why dig up old skeletons when your current reality is thriving? Repeat after me:
“I am worthy of success; I deserve to be happy; I will not stand in my way.”
So ladies, embrace the present, ditch the “late-bloomer” mindset, and stop trying to play catch up because you have arrived exactly where you need to be right now: at the top of your game.
2. Ditch Imposter Syndrome
“Confidence is knowing who you are and not changing it a bit because someone’s version of reality is not your reality.” –Shannon L. Alder
Women are finding success in typically male-dominant fields like tech, science, and marketing. Naturally, this leads to the ever-dreaded imposter syndrome. Say it’s your first time succeeding at something you love, and as the milestones roll in, you might be wondering how you got here.
Sound familiar? You’re not alone.
In a Forbes study examining women in executive roles, 6 out of 10 women reported feelings of imposter syndrome during promotions or transitional milestones.
It’s understandable to feel inadequate sometimes, so what can you do about it?
Experts recommend seeking guidance from a mentor or advisor when tackling a new position or achievement. And the truth is, you landed here, which means you’re equipped with the expertise and skills to succeed.
You have everything within you to succeed, so reach inward and trust your instincts. After all, they got you this far, right?
When in doubt, strike a power pose for an instant confidence boost!
3. Avoid the Workaholic Mentality
“When you’re building a business, you’re either all in, or you’re not.” –Barbara Corcoran
While we 100% agree with Barbara, we’d like to add a disclaimer that says you can be all in without losing yourself to your job.
Running your own business or working in a leading position for a successful enterprise is exciting, but on the other edge of that bend in the road is the downslide into obsession.
I know what you’re thinking: “but my career is my baby!” I get it. But even babies need time away from momma, right? Right.
While men are regaled for being workaholics, women are begrudged. It’s not okay, but societal stigmas aside, there’s a more significant reason not to become a workaholic: you’ll end up resenting the career you’ve worked so hard to achieve.
Hitting your career stride in your 40’s is exciting, but take care not to let your full-time job slide into overtime. Because succeeding in your career shouldn’t mean failing in your emotional wellbeing, work-life balance, and interpersonal relationships.
So as you embrace this abundance, pencil in you-time on your to-do list. Make time for daily exercise, girl’s night, and dates with your significant other.
Because let’s be honest: burning the candle at both ends isn’t sustainable and will only lead to burnout. To sustain and go the distance, you need to take time off. Period.
Once the clock hits 5, unplug, de-stress, and savor the lovely moments in your life you’ve worked so hard for: you deserve it!
4. Audit the Past Year and Make Plans for the Next
“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” –Ayn Rand
Wait, why are we encouraging you to look back on a year filled with pandemic-era chaos? Because despite the trainwreck that was 2020, some amazing things happened for women in business:
- 40% of US businesses are women-owned
- Women of color started 64% of women-owned businesses in 2020.
- There’s been a 114% increase in female entrepreneurs from 20 years ago.
- Women-led private tech companies saw a 35% higher ROI.
- 77% of women-owned businesses withstood the financial crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic
Wow! Without a doubt, women are rocking the workforce!
To maintain upward momentum, it’s vital to reflect on the past year to audit your milestones and growth opportunities.
How can you carry the things that worked last year into the upcoming year? Also, strategize areas for improvement: was there a specific milestone you didn’t reach? Move it onto next year’s strategy with actionable steps for how to make it happen.
We told you not to stare at the past, but you have to look back to carve a better future; just don’t linger too long.
5. Create Strategies for Menopause
“I learned to always take on things I’d never done before. Growth and comfort do not coexist.” –Virginia Rometty
There’s no way around it: menopause is coming in the next decade or so, and the wisest thing you can do right now is prepare.
Perimenopause (the precipitating stage before menopause) starts in your 40s and can last roughly four years.
Avoiding the inevitable will only derail you at the height of your career. And who has time for that? Menopause can cause mood changes, hot flashes, chills, sleep issues, changes in weight, anxiety, and memory problems, to name a few symptoms.
The last thing you need is debilitating symptoms interfering with your career. Planning is your best bet. Here’s how:
Tips to mitigate menopausal symptoms:
- Stock up on calcium in your diet or with daily supplements
- Stick to a regular exercise regimen
- Meet with a therapist to work through budding stress triggers
- Make time for self-care and stress management via yoga, meditation, long walks, hot baths, and spa days.
- Balance your circadian rhythm by going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day.
- Limit your alcohol and caffeine intake. Swap the coffee for tea and cut down from three drinks to two on the weekends, etc.
6. “I Can’t” Does Not Equal “No.”
“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” –Warren Buffett
We’ll keep this short and sweet:
Stop saying “I can’t” because ultimately, that isn’t the same thing as saying “no.”
You are capable of achieving anything you set your mind to, as proven by this current career success. However, we women tend to dance around saying no to others, which only depletes our energy stores.
So, think long and hard the next time you open your mouth to say, “I can’t.” The bottom line is that you can, but you don’t want to, and that’s the perfect scenario to exercise your “no” muscle.
“I can’t” does not equal “no.” That subtle change in attitude is all you need to double down on yourself and ditch any superfluous ventures that don’t serve your grand purpose.
7. Stay Up to Date on Health Care
“Good health is not something we can buy. However, it can be an extremely valuable savings account.” -Anne Wilson Schaef
When’s the last time you saw your doctor? As we age, we’re at higher risk for ovarian and breast cancer, but that’s not all; our general health, bone strength, and muscle mass change over time. There’s nothing worse than a health crisis to completely disrupt your career without warning.
The great news is that you can avoid the most common medical issues women face with preventative health care.
Schedule your annual exam, visit your OBGYN, and stay current on lab work. Without your health, your career will falter, so pencil in that appointment without delay!
8. Plan for Retirement
“It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
If you’re hitting your career stride in your 40s, there’s no time to waste when it comes to planning for retirement. The stakes are high, but you can design a fulfilling, enjoyable retirement with the right strategy.
The first step is to start right now. Yes, today! How?
- Consult with a financial advisor: get clear on your wants and goals for retirement and work closely with a financial advisor to craft a plan that ticks all the boxes.
- Save more than you think you’ll need: Statistically, women outlive men, which means you’ll need your money to last longer. You want to live comfortably during retirement, so save more now to live more comfortably later. If you haven’t started budgeting with your parter, it’s time to start.
- Diversify your income: You’ve got a great job, but that’s only one revenue stream. Time to change that! You don’t have to become an economist to amass wealth. Instead, make your money go further by investing in real estate, stocks, shares, or business ventures.
- Grow your wealth: Whether you’re employed or self-employed, it’s time to get serious about a 401(k) plan. Ultimately, put your money into a tax-deferred retirement plan to start building your nest egg.
It’s easy to get so caught up in your current circumstances that tomorrow comes without warning. Start planning for retirement now, and you’ll be set for life.
9. Know Your Worth and Assert Yourself
As you climb the workforce ladder, you’ll inevitably encounter roadblocks, naysayers, and people who want to keep you small.
Anyone who diminishes your worth is likely intimidated by your power, so don’t let them stand in your way.
From day one, create a standard for your self-worth. If anyone tries to lower your bar, assert yourself and your value. If they still undermine you, find a way around them.
We’ll toss the microphone to Walt Disney President Anne Sweeney to conclude:
“Define success on your own terms, achieve it by your own rules, and build a life you’re proud to live.”
In your own career stride over 40?
Get out there and give ’em hell, you’ve got this!