So, You’re 40. Don’t Freak Out.

The same white hair keeps returning to my head. No matter how many times I pluck it, there it is again the next day, reminding me that just two weeks ago, I turned 40.The fact is that my body is changing, and a persistent white hair is the least of my potential health issues. After 40, your metabolism slows down, weight tends to go up (and settle in different places on your body), bone density decreases, sex drive diminishes, and the likelihood of depression skyrockets. I need to start getting mammograms and I read that the walls of my vagina are getting thinner, which will make sex more painful. No wonder it’s called a mid-life crisis!

“Not pursuing my dreams felt like a slow death.”

What’s worse than all the physical changes, though, is the sudden feeling that you may be running out of time. To be a mother. To pursue your career goals. To travel the world. I’ve seen it in my practice and in my own life. I remember five years ago waking up in the middle of the night sweating that I’d never make my dreams a reality. The clock was ticking and panic shot through my veins. Hyperventilating, I knew that if I didn’t act, life would completely pass me by.Not pursuing my dreams felt like a slow death.In fact, unfulfilled dreams is one reason that people aged 45 to 54 now have the highest rates of suicide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Plus, women between 44 and 55 are now at the highest risk for depression and for the first time in history, women are less happy than men, in large part because we get lost in everyone else’s needs. If you are depressed and depleted, you are no good to your colleagues, your kids, your spouse—or yourself. This is why you must prioritize your happiness first.Consider these five questions:

  1. What is the ONE thing you ache to achieve (do/have/be)?
  2. How long have you desired this thing and what have you done to get it?
  3. Who would you be if you finally achieved this?
  4. What is it worth to you to achieve this?
  5. So why don’t you have it? What is getting in your way?

This last question can be a little tricky, because the answer might not be obvious. Likely, when you dig deep, you’ll find that what’s really holding you back is fear. Fear of rejection, fear of vulnerability, fear of failure. Therefore, in order to move forward, you have to believe that it is possible, believe in yourself, and overcome your fear.Now, what is one small step you can take toward your dream? If you want to write a book, write one page. If you want to get married, accept that great men exist and soften to possibility. Whatever it is: Do it.(Need some extra help getting there? Email me and I’ll reply personally to help you. Or join me in #ThisIs40, a four-month coaching program in which each participant gets to the heart of who she is and what she truly desires for her 40s and for the rest of her life.)Turning 40 does not have to be a crisis. Let 40 be the catalyst that moves you to finally pursue your heart’s desire. Getting to be 40 and realizing that there is something you deeply, desperately want and may never have is one of the scariest moments you will ever face. You were born to be a free and fabulous woman, and until you take steps to follow your purpose, you will continue to feel lost, stuck and depressed. You have the power to take ownership of your life. You have the power to not have the past determine your future. You get to live the life you are here to live. But you must choose action. Decide now.MORE: You Don’t Have to Be 25 to Have a Quarter-Life Crisis