9 Things I’m Not Messing with in Midlife

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Last Updated on December 13, 2023 by Erin

Free-spirit female holding a sheer scarf behind her in the wind
Photo by Aditya Saxena on Unsplash

It’s true that with age comes wisdom. Decreased tolerance for bullsh– as well. As I approach midlife, I’m realizing I need to make myself a priority and start taking seriously the things I want and need. I recently read The Minimalist Home and this quote spoke to me:

“Today is the day you rid yourself of anything that distracts from your best life.”

Joshua Becker


For me, those distractions are not only the physical things that clutter up my spaces. It’s also what I would call “personal clutter.” What is personal clutter, you ask? It’s jobs that drain the life out of you. Relationships that take you for a roller coaster ride you don’t want to be on. Playing the comparison game on social media. It’s the two weeks out of the month when my premenstrual dysmorphic disorder makes me want to run away from my family and live a life off the grid where no one can find me. Just me?

I’m almost 40 so I estimate I’m about halfway done with my time on Earth. Why am I still doing anything that isn’t helping me find happiness or achieve the life I want? I’m so excited to have a fresh midlife start.

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Here are the things I’m no longer messing with:

1. A Stressful Job

Listen, I know many of us are just working to live. I get it. And I’m NOT going to go into all the reasons I’m choosing to leave my job in education. That is a whole hot button topic and this is a judgment free zone.

I love my students and I love what I do but after 13 years my mental health has taken a huge hit. It’s very difficult to stay at the top of my game and also be a good mom and wife. I don’t ever want to feel like I’m slacking in one or the other. My students and my family both deserve my best. When push comes to shove, the job had to go.

Once I made the decision to turn in notice of separation from the district, a gigantic weight was lifted off my shoulders. I still have a lot of guilt to work through but I’m so excited to find something that gives me better work-life balance. I have considered substitute teaching or starting my own private practice. The world is my midlife oyster!

2. One Income Stream

I’m not leaving my full-time job without a safety net. Having a variety of income streams has helped us build up our savings and emergency fund over time.

There are so many ways to have multiple income streams in midlife. Nobody should put all their eggs in one basket! Right now, we own two rental properties and are looking to expand. We have had great luck with our homes and renters (knock on wood). It brings in about $800/month of mostly passive income.

Another source of income for me is reselling. I’ve done this very casually, because I’ve been working full-time, but even casually I’ve made thousands of dollars. This is something I’d like to get more serious about as it has a LOT of potential. Not to mention it practically pays for my wardrobe and my kids’ wardrobes.

I’ve tried various side hustles, such as selling on Etsy, publishing on Amazon KDP, book arbitrage, and renting out our car on Turo. Turo was great for a few months, before our city became over-saturated with people renting out their cars. The other hustles? Not so much. But hey! I gave it the old college try.

My plan is to keep looking for rentals, clothes to flip, and maybe do private practice a few hours a week. I’m going to keep using Swagbucks and other cash back apps to earn gift cards. There’s just no excuse not to.

Having multiple income streams is going to make me feel financially secure, save up for retirement, pay for vacations, etc. Plus, I get to figure out what works best for me personally!

Woman putting money into a small, pink piggy bank
Photo by Sasun Bughdaryan on Unsplash

3. Insecurity

I’m always going to be working on getting rid of insecurity. It’s just such an energy sucker and for me can lead to over-spending. I end up comparing myself to unrealistic social media photos or chasing trends and thinking that if I just buy that one product, I’ll be prettier and happier.

The fact of the matter is, I have a husband who adores me and still thinks I’m hot when I’m rocking a messy bun, gray hair, no makeup, and baggy pajamas. His opinion and my kids’ opinions are the only ones that matter. Not the PTA moms, not the soccer moms, not the lady at the checkout counter.

Letting my glorious gray hair grow out has been such a freeing experience.

I’m starting to feel comfortable in my own skin and recognizing that an authentic Erin is the best Erin. Do I still need validation? Heck, yes! I’m always going to want others to notice my efforts. What I’m not going to do, is stress about their opinions of me as a person.

4. Keeping Opinions to Myself

Becoming authentically me in midlife means finding my voice. This doesn’t mean I go posting my opinions willy nilly on Facebook or trolling the comments section of a news article. I mean that when I see injustice, I say something. When I hear a homophobic, racist, or misogynistic comment, I speak up. I used to go to family gatherings and feel like my mouth was bleeding from biting my tongue so much. No more! I don’t want my children to ever be confused about where I stand on issues.

Sorry…there are just certain things where I’m not going to say, “let’s agree to disagree.”

5. Stressing About What I’m Going to Wear

I feel like I’m finally figuring out my personal style. It’s casual meets slightly sporty meets slightly edgy.

There’s no need to for me to hop on the trend train…is that even a term? I digress. While it might get me that quick hit of dopamine to shop whatever is “hip” at the moment, I have learned that what matters most to me is comfort. I think heels look great on other people and I admire them for it, but it’s not for me.

I think I have some sensory things going on with my clothes as well. My son has a sensory processing disorder, so this isn’t totally shocking…the apple didn’t fall far from the tree, if you know what I mean. I have accepted that I can’t do turtlenecks. I also can’t stand wool, velour, or viscose.

It just makes it so much easier to accept these truths and stick to what works. Creating a capsule wardrobe by thrifting and saving up gift cards has been a total game changer. It also helps me feel like I’m being true to myself…almost like having my own brand that is uniquely me.

Tan and brown clothing on a wood clothes rack
Photo by Alyssa Strohmann on Unsplash

6. Letting Myself Go

I’m not talking about appearances here. I’m talking about health.

Over the years, I’ve really struggled to stick with an exercise routine. I’ve tried fad diets that worked for a little while but left me feeling deprived of all joy. I am trying to find the sweet spot where I can be healthy without feeling like I have to take a million supplements, commit to a bootcamp, or cut out all sugar. I know myself and I know that’s not realistic.

The hard truth is that I’m at risk for some health problems in the next 5-10 years if I don’t clean some things up. Type 2 diabetes and heart problems run in my family.

I saw a TikTok from Hank Green (popular science teacher and vlogger) that said the only definitive research out there for anti-aging is a study that showed a combination of fish oil, vitamin D, and regular exercise can reduce the risk cancer by up to 60%. So that’s my supplement plan for now until I learn of some other published medical studies. Here’s what I use:

Right now, my exercise involves taking the occasional walk with the dog BUT when summer break starts, I plan to start up HIIT training again. Nothing fancy, just sprinting on the treadmill for 30 seconds, walking briskly for 2 minutes, and alternating between the sprints and walking until I hit 15 minutes.

I have also found great success with intermittent fasting. You can read all about it here.

7. Sleepless Nights

After years of restless nights putting babies and toddlers back to bed, I’m absolutely not messing around with sleep anymore.

For me, perimenopause sometimes causes symptoms like night sweats and restlessness, so I take melatonin EVERY NIGHT. I had to figure out the right dosage for me but once I did, I was set.

I have also found that taking a hot bath, reading a book, and listening to ambient music gets me ready for a great night’s sleep.

8. Saying YES to Everything

I am such a people pleaser and honestly, I think it’s part of the reason I experienced such burnout at my job. I am trying to do a better job setting boundaries and saying NO.

Here are some great phrases to have in your back pocket:

  • No thank you (plain and simple)
  • Thanks for asking but that doesn’t work with my schedule/life right now.
  • I’m not feeling up to it at the moment. Can we revisit next week/month?
  • I appreciate you asking me, but I can’t commit to anything else right now.
  • I can’t, but here is what I CAN do.

My in-laws love social gatherings and fancy fundraising events and spa/shopping days. That is just not my thing. I try to make a point of joining them on occasion, but I’m getting good at saying no when it just doesn’t work for me. Introverts do not have to conform to extroverts’ ideas of fun. We can all happily coexist…but not at a crowded shopping mall on Black Friday 🙂

9. Taking Myself Too Seriously

I’m saying YES to cranking up the music in the car.
YES to random dance parties in the kitchen.
YES to letting my daughter paint my nails.
YES to letting guests come over even though the house is a mess.
YES to embracing all of my random interests and hobbies
YES to getting the piercing or the tattoo

Life is too short to not have fun. Period.

Final Thoughts

To summarize, I’m making myself a priority in midlife and getting rid of the things that don’t bring my closer to the life I want. I want a life of joy and laughter. I want new experiences. I want to enjoy motherhood. I want financial freedom. I want to explore my creativity and find new passions.

What kind of life do you want in midlife? What are you no longer messing with? Let me know in the comments!


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