THESE DECISIONS CAN INCREASE YOUR HAPPINESS

When you use smart decisions and self-awareness to shape your life, it will reflect your deepest aspirations and your fondest dreams.

1. Make your life your own. Decide to re-decide. Re-examine your goals and dreams. Don't just assume that what you wanted yesterday is still right for you. Have your goals and dreams changed? Give yourself the freedom to decide today what you want your life to be about.

2. Make your job a joy. Decide to revitalize your career, or try a new one. Ask yourself if you're really happy and stimulated with your work. If you're not, or if you feel unappreciated or frustrated by lack of advancement, consider a change. Understand the corporate agenda and be realistic about advancement opportunities at your present job. If you feel you need a change, you may be able to move to a different position or department within your company, or you may want to look for a new job entirely. If you stay at your present job, ask for raises and promotions, if you feel that you've earned them.

3. Take it to the bank. Decide to secure your financial position. Get out of debt, keep yourself on a budget, invest your money wisely and keep abreast of your financial situation. Many women allow their partners to take care of financial matters, only to find themselves unprepared if they become divorced or widowed. Remember, financial stress is one of the greatest stressors of all.

4. Why are you here? Decide to create meaning in your life. Identify the purpose and meaning of your life and define why you are here on earth. When you understand your purpose in life, losses are easier to bear and all other decisions are easier to make.

5. Share your bounty. Decide to give something back. Donate money or put your talents, skills and experience to use by volunteering for causes you care about. People who volunteer have been found to be happier and healthier than those who don't. Remember that charity begins at home, so give to your own family, friends and neighbors.

Whatever you choose, if you make smart decisions, the best is yet to come. Using your creativity, and giving back from the wisdom you've gained through experience, will enhance your value to others and to yourself. — excerpted from The Ten Smartest Decisions a Woman Can Make After Forty.
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