21/11/2017 09:33 GMT | Updated 21/11/2017 09:33 GMT

Four Life Lessons I’ve Learned Turning 40

It’s finally here.

The big 40!

I have to admit that I handled it differently to how I expected. For years I said I was going to have a pirate party, so that I could wear a dress with a corset and have a good laugh with friends and family.

Then I realised that I just couldn’t be bothered to do all of that! The thought of organising a do, cleaning the house (yes really) and running around making sure everyone was OK just didn’t appeal any more.

Instead, I decided to spend my 40th birthday walking in the North Yorkshire Moors with my husband. It was amazing. We headed to a beautiful waterfall, scrambled over rocks to get close to it and then enjoyed a delicious pub lunch, before collecting the kids from school.

Photo: Dan Leigh-Brown
Mallyan Spout Waterfall

I didn’t even have a cake - I don’t enjoy them as much as I used to - instead I had a fruit scone stuffed full of cream and jam.

So, it got me thinking.

I’ve certainly come a long way. I’ve let go of the habit of doing my best to please others, and instead, I did what I wanted to do, instead of what was expected.

Here’s four life lessons I’ve learned turning 40:

  • Other people’s opinions of you are none of your business. I could have spent months asking people what I should do to celebrate turning 40, but I’d have ended up with opinions. I’ve had so many people in my life tell me I’m a kind, intelligent and fun person. I’ve had just as many tell me I’m annoying, stupid and dull. What counts in life is what you think of yourself. Be happy being you.
  • Stop trying to control everything. I’m a total control freak. I like to plan my life down to the last second, so it took me by surprise that I didn’t have my 40th birthday celebrations planned years ago. But what I’ve learned is that life is more fun when you let go. Yes, have goals and ambitions. Yes, have a rough plan as to how you think you’ll get there, but be flexible and let go of the need to control everything. I’ve let go of some key things I wanted to achieve this year and even better things have happened instead.
  • Listen to your heart, your body and your loved ones. I believe that we have an inner guidance system that helps us live the life we want to live. Unfortunately, we don’t always listen to it. Learn to trust your gut instincts and follow the yearnings that you have. Listen to your body - I ignored the crunching sound my knees made for years and was told by a consultant that I was close to ending up in a wheelchair due to the damage high impact exercise had caused. Your body knows what it needs to thrive and what you can do to feel good. Listen to your loved ones by being there for them in each moment. I loved that I was out in the moors with no phone signal on my birthday, otherwise I’d have fallen into the habit of checking social media every hour. Instead, I was able to appreciate the time I had with my husband and have an amazing day with him.
  • Find out what makes you happy and do it. I came across some old diaries I’d written as an 8 year old. In them I’d written that I loved English, Art and helping people. Fast forward a good few years and luckily, that’s what I’m doing. I work with children and teenagers to help them have confidence and see their worth. I help them get over worries, anxieties and low self esteem so they can find their own passions and happiness. I write books, magazines, blogs and online courses and I illustrate my books, designing all the creative material I need to help the people I work with. Don’t get me wrong, I have been in jobs and careers that I didn’t enjoy. That was when I listened to the advice of getting a good  education, a good secure job and working hard, day in, day out.

So there you have it. Four simple lessons to help bring happiness into my life, which I hope you can adapt to your circumstances.

I wonder what joys I’ll learn for the decade ahead?

Life doesn’t really begin at 40. It begins with each new day.

If your child needs help to be happier and confident, my books can help. Check out ‘The Happy Child: Fun Book’, ‘The Happy Teenager: Fun Book’ and ‘The Happy Child: A Little Book of Happiness and Positive Affirmations.’

If you’d like some help, try ‘The Happy Woman: Fun Book’, ‘The Happy Woman: What You Can Learn from Kids, Dogs and Men’ or ‘Your Super Success Journal’.