It’s amazing how quickly a year has gone by. My little girl is 2 and now I have another bundle of joy on the way. In the spirit of another year passing, and since experience is truly the best teacher, I wanted to do a list of 32 things I have learned in 32 years. I was inspired to do this by Liz’s post on Sequins & Stripes when she turned 32, and I thought it would be fun to do the same. So here it goes:
1. Family is everything and it always comes first.
The meaning of this has resonated ever so much more with having children of my own. Everything that I do is for them, and I try to truly cherish the moments I have with them. The same is true for my other family as well. I have lost a few people that meant a lot to me, and made me realize how fleeting life can be.
2. You’ll never regret chasing your dreams
This blog is a great example, but in general, I think I find myself regretting the things I didn’t do much more than the things that I did. Even when I try and fail, at least I tried.
3. You aren’t a tree; if you don’t like your situation, move!
I believe in this one so much. We are the creators of our own destiny. I do understand that not every situation is escapable, but for plenty of people, there are other options that they can work towards. Your career/work is such a great example. I’ve known many people who have been with a company for years, but hate it. Look for other jobs other options, you never know when something will work out and put you in a much better place.
4. Vacation is essential. Make time for them, and truly take them and unplug from work.
Not much more to say here. Everyone needs a break from the daily grind to refresh themselves. Take it. It’s amazing how much better you will feel.
5. Whatever you are, be a good one.
In my interpretation, this is not just about being good at whatever you do, but doing it with integrity and a way that you are proud of who you are.
6. Prioritize experiences.
In general, we quickly lose the fleeting happiness that comes with purchasing a material possession. However, we all tend to remember experiences very well for many years to come. Focus on creating more memorable moments and less on buying things.
7. Work will always be there.
Every time I go through a life changing moment (good or bad), and I come back to it…I can’t help but think this. It doesn’t mean that your current job will always be there, rather the sentiment is that no matter what happens, work (life around you) will continue on — with or without you. Your young children, your parents, your siblings…they may not always be there.
8. If you need a reminder of what happiness looks like, watch your child at play.
There is no joy like that of a child. Watching them experience things for the first time…the pure delight that they find in the simple things in life. The innocence and the pure joy remind me what we should all be living for.
9. Life is too short to spend it living the expectations of others.
I know that I have spent way too much time worry about what others think. The older I get, the less that I care….and frankly, I think that’s a great thing.
10. Find a way to laugh everyday.
Laughter is the best medicine for everything. My daughter and my husband usually are the ones who help me accomplish this, but after a laugh – even a quick one – I feel so much lighter.
11. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
I don’t think anyone would claim that life is fair, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth living.
12. To give yourself perspective, always ask yourself “In five years, will this matter?”
I am so guilty of stressing about things that end up having a minute effect in the big picture of life. Asking myself this always gives me perspective and helps me stress less about the everyday problems of life.
13. Your happiness is your own responsibility.
Don’t expect other people or things to make you happy. You can decide to be happy right now and look for things to be grateful for where you are. There’s always something.
14. Leave things gracefully.
Your job, your home/apartment, relationships…you name it. Try not to burn bridges. Life has a way of taking you full circle.
15. Look for the bad in people and you will surely find it.
In general, if you focus on the negative, the more negative you can see. No one is perfect. This doesn’t mean you should be naive or a doormat, but don’t set people up to fail or test people without reason. Look for the parts of people that you can appreciate and respect instead of all their shortcomings.
16. You can’t please everyone, so don’t make that your goal.
You can’t. You won’t. It’s a waste of time.
17. Gratitude is the key to happiness.
Recognizing the good things in your life is the best way to actually start to enjoy living it. No, it’s never perfect, but if you look, you can almost always find many things to be appreciative of. Focusing on those positives brings more happiness than chasing perfection ever could.
18. Let your husband do it his way. It’s okay if it isn’t perfect.
Parenting really brought this home for me. I had to realize that it’s okay (as long as my daughter is safe and taken care of) for things not to be done “mommy’s way”. It’s not the only way, and there’s no need to nitpick the little things.
19. It’s okay to say “I don’t know”
I had to learn this at work big time. It took a very long time for me to stop feeling like I always had to have all the answers. It’s perfectly okay to respond to questions with a more polished “I don’t know, but let me look into that for you and get back to you.”
20. Learn how to accept a compliment.
Unless it’s an insult disguised as a compliment – there’s really only one appropriate way: say thank you and keep moving.
21. Worry less.
A theme in many of these life lessons, but in general, I’ve wasted so much time worrying about little things or possible outcomes that never come to pass.
22. Fitting in is highly overrated.
Not that I’m some crazy rebel who rebels just to rebel, but I also try not to conform to everything others do. I’m a mathematician, gamer, mom – I’ve always been a nerd. I don’t every want to feel inauthentic, and the people I am closest to have a little bit of weird in them too. Weird makes life interesting. Be you.
23. Your 30s are better than your 20s.
I never would have thought this in my younger days, but the autonomy, the stability, the self-assuredness and having a life I built for myself all have made my 30s better than my earlier years.
24. Be present.
Ever so true in our ever-connected society today….put down the phone and be present. At work. At home. Out with family or friends. Don’t miss living life for a notification.
25. Choose to be happy now.
I do think that happiness can often be a choice. Look for the positive and make lemonade out of those lemons.
26. Time may not heal all wounds, but it makes them a bit less painful.
It’s a cliche for sure, but it’s also true. Everything seems to at least get better with time.
27. Failure is the best teacher.
There is nothing more painful than failing, but that is why we learn so much from it. Fail often, but fail fast and learn from it.
28. Don’t waste time complaining about problems, instead focus on fixing them.
This is the doer in me. We all have problems, and most of us spend at least some time complaining about them. However, when it’s been a problem for years and you’ve complained to everyone you know about it…perhaps you and your inaction are the real problem. Try to find solutions. Even if you try something and fail, you will have learned what doesn’t work.
29. Anger makes you smaller. Hatred poisons the heart. Forgiveness makes you grow beyond who you were.
Anger and hate only make you the angry and bitter person. Forgiveness does free you and helps you to grow. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to forget, but it does let you move on from the past.
30. Keep in mind, only nature has the ability to turn sand into pearls. If the relationship isn’t happy, healthy, or working, move on… unless of course you prefer sand.
Not much more to say about that. Don’t stay in a bad situation. It’s won’t change.
31. The best life lessons are learned through challenges, sadness and frustration, not happiness.
Looking back, my biggest times of growth in life have come through the most challenge (and honestly tears to go with it). I like to remind myself of this in difficult times. You have to have lows to have highs. You have to have challenge to grow and change.
32. It is your life, enthusiastically accept the challenge!