We’re happy to have enough! Women moderate what they want out of life as they age, survey suggests

  • A survey by Avon found 62% of women in 40s have moderated their wants in life
  • They said Covid helped them appreciate getting older and realise life is ‘fragile’ 
  • Just 17 per cent of those in their 40s were found to be prioritising their careers

For some starting out in their careers, ‘having it all’ – combining professional success and family life – is a defining ambition.

But it seems that for most women who have reached their forties, ‘having enough’ has become the goal.

A global survey of 7,000 women by the beauty firm Avon found that 62 per cent of those in that age bracket had moderated what they want out of life.

In the UK, where 1,000 women were questioned, the figure was lower, at 54 per cent, while the feeling was stronger in the Philippines, South Africa and Turkey.

It seems that for most women who have reached their forties, ‘having enough’ has become the goal. A global survey of 7,000 women by the beauty firm Avon found that 62 per cent of those in that age bracket had moderated what they want out of life. Picture: file image

Shifts in attitudes were linked to the impact of Covid, with a majority agreeing it had ‘made them realise life is fragile and getting older is something to appreciate’.

Only 35 per cent of women in their forties and above said that they prioritised their careers compared with 42 per cent of those in their thirties and 51 per cent in their twenties.

In Britain, just 17 per cent of women over 40 were prioritising their career, the survey found.

‘Turning 40… brings a freeing sense of relief, of self-assurance, and of self-contentment, with two thirds (62 per cent) of women agreeing that in their forties, what ambition meant for them changed from having it all to having “enough”,’ the report said.

‘Whereas in their thirties they felt the need to prove they could have it all, women in their forties are redefining power, realising that what they really value is focusing on having all the things they really want instead. 

‘That might be a big career, to focus on their family, to find their passion, or to create their own business that maximises their creative talents.’

In Britain, just 17 per cent of women over 40 were prioritising their career, the survey found. Picture: file image

The phrase ‘having it all’ was popularised by the title of the 1982 book Having It All: Love, Success, Sex, Money by Helen Gurley Brown, then editor of Cosmopolitan magazine.

But the idea has proved controversial over subsequent decades.

Earlier this year Baroness Morrissey, a City boss and mother-of-nine, revealed the ‘angst’ she had suffered juggling a successful career and children, even keeping quiet about a miscarriage.

Earlier this year Baroness Morrissey (pictured in 2021), a City boss and mother-of-nine, revealed the ‘angst’ she had suffered juggling a successful career and children

In an article for the Daily Mail, she said: ‘The reality was rather different from my glossy exterior.

‘Looking back, I can see that it’s women like me who’ve created the myth you can have it all. Today, I wish I hadn’t been so stoical.

‘I wish I hadn’t helped perpetuate this pernicious illusion that we can breeze through big life events, such as having a baby or enduring a miscarriage, and carry on as if nothing much has happened.’

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