The question of what one wants to accomplish in a lifetime can vary greatly from woman to woman. Some may aspire to start a business or have their own TV show, while others hope to raise successful children or give back to a charitable cause.
"Usually, women are really hard-working, and they can forget themselves," New York-based life coach and therapist Donna LeBlanc told The Active Times. "Their work-life balance can go way out of whack."
While women and men often do differ in terms of physical, emotional and mental health needs, LeBlanc added that both men and women thrive when doing things for their heart and mind. Women, however, often have what LeBlanc refers to as "overly responsible daughter syndrome," a tendency to put their responsibilities to others over taking care of themselves.
"It's up to you to save yourself," LeBlanc said. "It's up to you to keep your own priorities forefront in your mind."
Sharing that many of her older clients come to her wanting to reclaim themselves after a lifetime of giving so much to others, LeBlanc said that it's important for a person to understand their own tendencies and natural aptitudes (for example, being social versus analytic) when setting their own goals of personal achievement.
"Don't forget your heart, that fulfillment that comes from the balanced relationships and the success that you have - however you define success," LeBlanc added.
Success means something different to everyone, LeBlanc said, but getting there generally means a person allowing themselves to express their gifts and talents or what LeBlanc referred to as a person's "essence." This could be having children, maintaining a certain amount of friendships, getting to a specific place in one's career, making a difference for a specific cause or mentoring another woman. Using these examples and LeBlanc's advice from her 25 years of experience in empowering people to take charge of their work and home lives, here are 50 things we found every woman should do in her lifetime to achieve fulfillment.
Build a piece of furniture
It might not be fun at first, but accomplishing the task of building your very own piece of furniture is so worth it. Knowing that a new set of drawers or a nice chair was handmade can give a person a great feeling of accomplishment, as well as a personal connection to the piece.
Traveling alone means not having to answer to anyone else about the choice of destination, itinerary or timeline, and it's OK to be a little selfish every once in a while. Check off famous bucket-list destinations, and meet all kinds of interesting people along the way. Plus, nothing helps a person "find themselves" like complete, self-imposed isolation.
Find enjoyable ways to exercise
In addition to physical health benefits, exercising can improve a person's mental and emotional health, as well. However, miserably slaving away on an elliptical or feeling increasingly bored with weightlifting can be counterproductive. There are plenty of enjoyable ways to stay active, such as joining a sports team, taking an aerobics class, swimming more or just going for walks outside.
However cliché it sounds, it's true: you only live once. Get in touch with nature by a trip to a clothing-optional beach or hit up a local (and safe) river or lake. Just make sure to check local laws and ordinances before doing so.
Call a senator
One voice really can make a difference, and calling up local representatives makes more of an impact than an email or a letter because it shows commitment and concern. Politics impact everyone's daily life, whether they realize it or not, and so if you want a say in what's happening you need to take action. The contact information for current senators can be found on the Senate website.
Volunteer for a cause
Speaking of making a difference, volunteering is one of the best ways to do so. If you're an animal lover, volunteer at a shelter. If you're passionate about education, become a tutor. Volunteering for a cause can be incredibly rewarding for you, as well as the people you're helping. If you've found the right cause, you'll feel uplifted and purposeful - and you might even meet some like-minded people while you're at it.
Learn to be comfortable in her own skin
Instead of trying a diet or workout plan, keep in mind that weight loss or change won't necessarily change body image. There is a lot of pressure on women to fit a certain mold in terms of looks and body type, but it's best for a person to try to make peace with their body and focus on treating it with care, regardless of others' opinions.
Do something spontaneous
Defy the expectations of parents, family, friends and colleagues every once in a while. Get that tattoo, splurge on a spa treatment or take off on a spur-of-the-moment weekend trip without worrying about what other people think.
Learn to say no
It's easy to get caught up in saying yes to everything. But doing so can leave a person feeling overworked, resentful and tired. Stop being a people pleaser - it's OK to say no. Before agreeing to do something, make sure to weigh the pros and cons. Are there consequences to saying no? What good is coming from this decision? Make sure to have a realistic amount of bandwidth (emotional, physical or otherwise) and willingness before agreeing to any task or favor.
Give a speech
Make a big presentation at work. Give a toast at a loved one's wedding or speak up at a town hall meeting. Whatever the scenario, a little public speaking never hurt anybody and can leave a person feeling pretty accomplished and heard.
Write a personal essay or blog
Writing a personal essay or a blog post is a great way to get one's feelings out there, and while it doesn't have to be published for others to read, it could benefit someone else too. Writing can be very therapeutic, and journaling is a wonderful way to show gratitude day-to-day.
Show confidence at work
Good things don't always come to those who wait. Sometimes, a person has to ask for what they want. A recent study showed that, despite popular belief, women do ask for promotions and raises as often as men do, but are simply not as likely to get them. The reason, some researchers theorize, is a "confidence gap." Showing more confidence in one's own abilities and strengths is just one of many ways women can advance and find more fulfillment in the workplace.
No family dynamic is perfect - and some are messier than others. Whether the relationship is generally positive or negative, important lessons are learned from parents, siblings, cousins and elders. Family doesn't just mean blood relatives, however; friends can often become like family, and being surrounded by a supportive and caring network can go a long way in helping a person reach all of their goals. Take time out to talk to those people and make the effort to see them and foster those relationships.
Find a job she likes
A lot of time is spent in the workplace, so it's important to make those hours as enjoyable as possible. Pursuing a career of choice is also more likely to lead to meeting other people with similar interests and passions, resulting in more intellectual stimulation and making better friends.
Quit a job she hates
The prospect of being unemployed can be quite scary, but being stuck in an uninspiring job can be discouraging and detrimental to both a person's physical and mental health. Life can be stressful enough; if work means misery, it's time to start looking elsewhere.
Eat alone at a restaurant
It might feel awkward at first, especially since most people feel the need for company when eating a nice meal at a restaurant. But taking the time to focus on oneself and the food itself without the distractions of conversation can be a nice experience, as well as a great way to take some much-needed alone time.
Eat whatever she wants
Carbs aren't as bad as they're made out to be, and there are actually quite a few good reasons to eat more fat. Don't worry so much about dieting, and enjoy some favorite foods and drinks instead of restraining.
Make a grand gesture
Large displays of affection or appreciation can be nerve-wracking, but the payoff can be wonderful. Make a loved one feel especially cared about, and let the thought and effort put into something like a big gift, a surprise weekend getaway or a large party in their honor tell them how much they're wanted.
See a therapist
It's time to shove the stigma of mental health aside. Everyone - yes, everyone - could benefit from seeing the right therapist. Seeking therapy means a person is taking some time to take care of themselves mentally and emotionally. Mental health is important, and therapy is also a way to talk through some shifts in perspective that can be super helpful in the long-run.
Speak up for herself
Many women hold back for fear of offending people or being too confrontational. However, staying silent can be interpreted as approval. Not speaking up when upset or bothered by something can send the message that those things are OK, and it's important to set boundaries and defend oneself. Change won't happen unless a person asks for it.
Apply to a dream job
There's nothing to lose by applying for that dream job, no matter what qualifications they say they require. On the other hand, there's plenty to gain.
Learn to make a beloved dish
Get in the kitchen and work on those cooking skills - there's always room for improvement. The best and most fun way to do this is by making a dish that you love but haven't attempted to cook before, like the most popular regional specialty from your state.
Learn another language
Learning a language is easier than ever these days with free apps like Duolingo and the internet's reservoir of language tools. Not only is it a great way to communicate better when traveling, but it'll also create a window into new perspectives, particularly since many other languages have words and concepts that just don't exist in English.
Find a mentor
Female mentors are important, especially when working in a male-dominated field. Whether it's a teacher, friend, colleague, someone you've idolized from afar or even just a parent, take some time to reach out and ask for advice on how to reach your goals.
Be a mentor
Being that source of support and inspiration for someone else can not only go a long way in making a difference, but it can also be inspiring for you. Help out another woman by mentoring her in a shared career field or even in terms of social skills, parenting or a hobby such as gardening or painting.
Do something seemingly impossible
Tackle a challenge you previously considered impossible. Write a book, run a marathon or learn a new skill like flying a plane or building a computer. Whatever feels extraordinary, go out and try to take it on.
Living alone will not only help a person learn more about themselves, but it also gives them the freedom to decorate and live however they want. It's important to learn to live with oneself before learning to live with a partner, and it's a great way to figure out what lifestyle works best.
Fall in love
Whether or not the concept of "the one" is real, finding comfort and happiness with someone else can help a person become a better partner, friend and family member. This doesn't necessarily mean that every woman needs to get married or even settle down forever, however.
Make valuable friendships
The Beatles said it best: "I get by with a little help from my friends." Value quality over quantity when it comes to friendships, and focus on cultivating relationships with the right people. Friends that are loyal, encouraging and supportive are friends worth keeping.
Learn how to budget
Budgeting is a super useful and necessary skill, and financial independence is important for any woman. Consult a financial planner if possible, and if not, there are multiple free apps out there that will help calculate spending and figure out proper budgeting for users.
Take a class in something new
Learn a new skill or gain knowledge in a field that's been a subject of curiosity. Try out a new dance class, take a poetry seminar, learn woodworking or study some courses in law or history. In addition to the wealth of information available on the internet, community colleges also often offer affordable courses and there are even plenty of life-changing college courses available for free.
Take a mental health day
People will often take a sick day at the first signs of a cold but hesitate when it's their mental or emotional state that's not doing so great. Mental health is just as important as physical health, and it's important to take care of both. Call in sick and do some self-care when needed.
Go out without makeup
It can be fun wearing makeup, but sometimes it's a real chore. Some people feel the necessity to get dolled up every time they leave the house, but skipping the foundation and lipstick can be liberating. It's also good for your skin to go au naturel.
End a toxic relationship
Life is too short to spend it with people who bring others down. Keep an eye out for the toxic habits of others, and know when to draw boundaries. It may not be easy to cut the cord, but it'll be a relief and better for overall mental health. Plus, it'll help free up time and space for people who bring more positive energy.
Be single for a while
Relationships are great, but sometimes it's important for a woman to get to know herself and learn to enjoy her own company. Not only can this help a person become a better partner in future relationships, but waiting for the right partner is important, as no one wants to end up in a toxic relationship.
Get rid of negative influences
Some friends and habits can bring out the worst in a person. Do a cleanse and get rid of any naysayers or social-media influences that bring about negative feelings. Stick to good habits and positive people for a more positive lifestyle.
Find a new favorite book
Set a goal to read more books. Discuss new literary discoveries, read reviews and check out websites like Goodreads to discover new titles in your favorite genres. Not only will this open doors to more knowledge and perspectives, but it'll also bring about the discovery of new favorites.
Try an extreme sport
It may seem terrifying, but a new experience like skydiving, snowboarding, rock climbing or whitewater kayaking can be exhilarating. Go for the adrenaline rush and come away with a new story to tell.
Learn how to talk to doctors
Going to the doctor can be overwhelming, and it doesn't help that multiple studies have found that doctors tend to downplay and dismiss health concerns from female patients. This makes it all the more important to ask the doctor the right questions and advocate for oneself.
Stay out until dawn
At least once when out with friends, seize the night and stay out for as long as possible. Not only is it a great bonding experience, but it can lead to plenty of great stories to tell as well as a wonderful view of the sunrise. Just make sure to do it on a day when there aren't any appointments or work in the morning, and keep safety in mind as well.
Make the first move
Dating has changed a lot in the past few decades, and one of the many ways in which things have shifted is gender expectations. Instead of waiting for a beau to ask for a dance or a date, approach that special someone first.
Explore a new genre of music
Step out of your comfort zone when it come to musical tastes. Check out your favorite music app, go on YouTube or check out a music or record store and look around to see what other people are listening to that you haven't explored before, whether that's rap, opera, Korean pop or house music. Pick a genre you've never really listened to and check out hit songs from over the years to see what all the fuss is about, or ask a friend (or the internet) to see what they've discovered lately. You may just find a new favorite song or learn about another subculture or culture along the way.
Learn a 'useless' skill
Learn a skill without having any sort of goal in mind. Take the pressure off completely. Learn a cool new trick like whistling or juggling, teach yourself how to solve a Rubik's cube or take up knitting for no reason other than self-satisfaction. That should be reason enough, honestly.
Learn about social issues
Read the news or listen to a podcast on your morning commute or chat with coworkers and friends about current events. It's important to keep up with modern social issues. They affect everyone and having knowledge can be powerful.
While men and women have been found to apologize at the same rate when they feel they have done something wrong, one study done at the University of Waterloo determined that women feel guilty of wrongdoing more often. Reconsider whether or not something requires an apology. Apologizing for not getting back to someone's text message right away or being too busy to attend a party may reinforce the idea that a wrong has been done. It's important to be more confident and less self-defeating.
Voting is something every woman should do at every opportunity, ideally beginning at the age of 18. Voting is an essential part of the democratic process, a civic duty and a key way to exercise one's rights as a citizen.
Adopt a pet
Whether bringing home a cat, adopting a popular dog breed, filling the aquarium with fish or going for something more unconventional such as a parrot, ferret or hedgehog, becoming a pet owner can be seriously life-changing. Giving an animal a home can do more than improve that animal's life, it can actually turn someone into a better person. Having a pet is a huge lesson in responsibility and companionship, and it usually means plenty of unconditional love in return. Owning a pet is also great for a person's health; multiple studies have shown that pet ownership can help increase lifespan or decrease risk of disease, including a recent study in a peer-reviewed journal of the American Heart Association that linked dog ownership with living longer.
Get a drastic haircut
Haircuts can be surprisingly powerful, and they're also a common way many women express themselves. Try something different in terms of hairstyle, or even finally go for those highlights or new hair color.
Take a road trip
The U.S. has 48 beautiful contiguous states, as well as border access to Canada and Mexico, and there's no better way to explore its natural wonders and history than by car. Explore meet the many different types of people throughout the country - and discover some great regional cuisine along the way.
Break the rules
Being an adult is hard. All of a sudden, there are so many rules, from paying the bills on time to getting enough sleep at night to avoiding processed food. Sure, some of these rules are in place for a reason, but many etiquette and general life "guidelines" are actually pretty outdated. As a woman gets older, it's sometimes even more important to buck tradition and make one's own way, and there are plenty of accepted "rules" that deserve to be thrown out the window.
More from the Active Times:
40 Hobbies to Pick Up After 40
30 Ways Life Gets Better With Age
15 Easy Ways to Start Saving Money
20 Ways to Stay Active With A Busy Schedule
50 Things Every Woman Over 50 Should Know About Her Health