Chances are, you share a special quality with Gwyneth, Jennifer, Demi, and Julianne--or for you men, make that Hugh, George, Johnny, and Brad. You, these stars, and I all belong to The Over-40 Alliance. We're bound together in the age category. (Not the body category, darn.) Unfortunately, many people over 40 don't feel comfortable here. Moving uncertainly through this uncharted territory, you might find yourself downright lost.

Rewrite the idea that life's greatest race ends at 40. It doesn't. Midlife isn't a finish line. Rather, it's when we embark on a new journey that can lead to fulfillment and self-actualization.

The first step in this trip to mindset shift? An over-40 empowerment flight. Fasten your seatbelt. As you prepare for takeoff, keep these tips from enlightened travelers in mind.

1) Put on your own oxygen mask first before helping others.

Are you in the habit of over-serving at home, at work, or with friends? Are your needs last on the list--and often never met? When you get around to me-time, do you fear self-nurturing may appear selfish or frivolous? If the answer is yes, consider this: For many of us, as we get older, our responsibilities to our family and aging parents increase. Now how do you feel about ignoring your own needs?

Think of an airplane. Those masks with the snaky tubes and plastic bags that never look like there's air coming through? They are life savers that automatically drop down in an emergency. Isn't it great that you don't have to figure it out yourself? This built-in safety feature will appear at exactly the moment you need it--but a life mask won't work unless you reach out and put it on.

Many other restorative things appear in your life just when you need them. The key is to look, to recognize when these gifts are there for the taking. A moment of quiet me-time, a stroll outdoors, the sun shining after a rainy day, or someone giving you an unexpected smile--they are life's oxygen masks. Breathe deeply.

2) Trust that the pilot and staff know what to do.

Flight professionals are trained in navigation but also prepared for emergency. They'll spring into action if needed. When you step onto a plane, you know that you will be taken care of, even guided to safety if necessary.

The same is true on the journey through midlife and beyond. Find security in the knowledge that we're given exactly what we can handle. When you need it, there's also support ready to help you. Plus, there's safety in numbers--you belong to a vast group of other over-40s who feel just the way you do. Maybe we can let go of the need to control every single thing and instead bring an adventurous spirit. After all, there's a lot of great living ahead, especially after 40.

3) "The nearest exit may be behind you."

That's just what I heard on my latest flight. Of course it was a reference to emergency doors, but I also interpret it to mean that things aren't always how they first look--and that moving in a straight line down the walkway may not always be the best option.

I'm talking about routines. Staying in your "same old" pattern may be comfortable and familiar, but some habits may be long overdue for a little rehab.

The self-assessment I hear from so many over-40 women in my wellness center and the clients whom I coach across the country is "I'm feeling old and stuck." Sound familiar? It's likely that deep down, you already know what holds you back from breaking free of predictability: Fear.

True, taking chances can be scary, but imagine the possibilities. What could happen if you took a single action--big or small--to deviate from your "same old" routine? Could it be a new interest, new group of friends, new job, new health routine, new food? Let's take one chance together. Mine is to become more visible in the speaking world. What's yours?

Now that you're prepared for our trip, consider yourself fully initiated into the over-40 club. I'm proud to be a member, trusting in our life experiences and being open to new joys and adventures--and the lessons we learn along the way. Welcome!

Author's Bio: 

Roberta Roberts Mittman, L.Ac., Dipl.Ac., M.S., is a nutritional and lifestyle consultant, holistic mindset mentor, and nationally board-certified acupuncturist. Using natural, drug-free techniques, Roberta opens the door to complete mind-body health. Roberta's goal is not only to relieve patients' illness and discomfort, but to help them set realistic goals for physical and mental preventative care and overall wellness. Roberta believes in empowering individuals to be their own best healers.