So, I turned 30 a couple of weeks ago. I’m slowly but surely coming to terms with time ticking away, but the last three decades have given me quite a few lessons that have prepared me for the next chapter in life.
1. Cliches exist for a reason.
Usually because they’re true. Let me illustrate:
2. Home Is Where The Heart Is
Every place on earth has something different and unique to offer, but the place is definitely made by the people in it. I still plan to travel the world and discover every inch of amazingness it has to offer. But, the people in our lives are what truly matter, and they make every place on earth that much sweeter.
3. I Left My Heart In San Francisco
At least part of it. I’ve left a part of myself everywhere I’ve traveled to, with every person I’ve met. I think it was necessary to make room for all that I’ve taken from all of these experiences. But seriously, I miss SFO so bad sometimes that I cry myself to sleep at night.
4. But There’s No Place Like Home
Also true. I love traveling. I love seeing new places and meeting new people. But there really is no place in this world like Home.
5. Change Will Happen Whether You Like It Or Not
So embrace it, don’t fight it. Embracing it makes it far easier to swallow, possibly enjoyable, and always an adventure. Change allows us the possibility to be the best versions of ourselves possible. It holds the opportunity for second chances, to become the people we’ve always wanted to be and do the things we’ve always wanted to do. It is never too late, we are never too old. And this is one of the greatest gifts life has to offer.
6. If I Fill My Heart With Gratitude, There Is No Room For Anything Else
I downloaded a gratitude journal app and, for a full week, entered 3+ things I was grateful for. By the third day, I could already see a change in my mood and perspective. If I concentrate on what I am grateful for, there is no room for anything else. No hatred, no annoyance, no guilt or shame. I might have experienced fleeting moments of these or other negative thoughts, but it was easy to let go of them.
7. Be “That” Girl
There have been people I’ve known along the way that I’ve truly admired. Whether it be for their political knowledge and involvement, their volunteer efforts, their frequent traveling or something else, these people have sometimes seemed larger-than-life to me. Not until recently did it ever occur to me that it is not only okay for me to have those same characteristics, too—all along, this has been my heart trying to tell me who I really am.
9. We Are All Equal
No one is above (or below) me. I was born with the same opportunity to make whatever I care to out of this life, just as everyone else has. We all face obstacles along our path, though they are all different obstacles. The Great are those who stare down those obstacles and don’t quit.
10. Stop To Smell The Roses. Seriously. Right Now.
In the American culture we have created, we seem to think that we must always be busy doing something otherwise we’re lazy, unmotivated, or perhaps even unimportant. We look up to those who are “always on”, always thinking ahead and planning or executing the next step. While action is a necessity, relaxing and enjoying the moment is just as important.
Ask yourself this: what am I busy about?
11. Your First Career Probably Won’t Be Your Last Career
We’ve been taught from a very young age that we must choose one career and spend our lives mastering it, moving up the ranks through the years, and retiring from that career at age 65. Not only is this rather dull, it increases unhappiness and discontent. It might very well be a leading cause for mid- or even quarter-life crises. We all have many skills, and many of those skills are valuable in multiple market sectors and professions.
12. Choose Your Friends Wisely
I’ve known this, or at least I had heard it many times and thought I knew it. That is until I woke up one day and realized that I had surrounded myself with toxic people. As a caring, empathetic person, I had operated under the assumption that anyone I care about is worth my time because I care about them and they have value by default because they are human.
I am capable of caring about anyone, even if I don’t like them. Those that I do like aren’t necessarily ones that I should surround myself with. It goes far deeper than that. And, most importantly for me to discover, choosing to not be around someone does not reflect my value of them. It reflects how much I value myself.
13. “Kind” and “Nice” Are Two Completely Different Things
I knew someone once that bragged about how much of a “nice guy” they were. All. The. Time. I knew someone else that bought me an expensive present and went out of their way to spend time with me, yet they spoke to me with more disrespect than they would a paid servant. It had never occurred to me before these instances that being “nice” is completely different than being “kind”. When I figured this out, it made it a whole lot easier to choose my friends wisely.
14. Death Is A Part Of Life
I’ve had too much experience with death. I’ve lost too many people I’ve loved. It is just as much a part of life as anything else. We spend our lives trying to control things so much that we forget that very little is within our control. That is exactly what makes the human experience such an amazing, exhilarating adventure.
15. Double-Fist With Water
Drinking with Russians can either get you in trouble or it can teach you how to hold your own. Always drink as much water as you do alcohol. You’ll thank yourself in the morning.
16. One Step At A Time
Planning ahead for the future is something every successful person does, but don’t lose focus on the step right in front of you. You might just fall down a flight of stairs if you aren’t careful.
17. Just Keep Moving
Whether it be a daunting to-do list, or just being overwhelmed by life in general, just keep moving. Start with one thing, usually the most daunting task, and do it. Then the next. Eventually the road will just start rolling out behind you.
18. Rubbing Alcohol Removes Sticker Residue
The number one lesson I gained from my college education.
19. Be Kind Anyway
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.
20. Travel Often
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
21. Behind Every Success Are Countless Failures
It used to be taboo to talk about your failures or struggles. It takes a lot of authenticity and vulnerability to be able to do so. But, when we start talking about our failures, we start learning from ours and everyone else’s.
22. Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood (Steven R. Covey)
Don’t listen to respond, listen because you care.
23. Wealth of Selection
There is a difference between the Wealth of Accumulation and the Wealth of Selection. You can either get drunk on boxed wine or you can savor the tannins of a beautiful Bordeaux.
24. Never Ignore Your Instinct
Your heart can sometimes get clouded with emotion. Your head might not always have all the facts. But never discount your instinct. Hone the skill of listening to it, get quiet enough to hear it, and stick to it.
25. Do Good
Are you adding value to this moment? Can you help someone in need? No matter where you are or what your surroundings are, there is someone nearby that needs exactly what you have to offer. Whether it is your time, your compassion and understanding, or something else, leave each moment better than it was before you met it.
26. Compassion Is Underrated
And under-utilized. The business world teaches us to check our emotions at the door, and it is nearly impossible to not carry that mentality home with us at night. Compassion belongs in every human relationship, even (and especially) in a business setting.
27. Empathy Is The Most Important Travel Accessory
Whether you’re visiting a new restaurant in a different side of town or discovering a foreign land, empathy will take you further than any plane, train, or boat ever can. To meet someone new and hear their story, to see the world from their eyes even if only for a moment, will give you experiences far more valuable than any you can buy.
28. My Decisions Are A Product of Who I Am
I am not defined by my circumstances, I define them. I have the choice, in any given moment, to change anything that is not making me happy or serving me well.
29. Don’t Stay Where You Don’t Belong
Being in the wrong environment or around the wrong people can have a devastating impact if endured for too long. I tend to have commitment issues. I tend to commit for too long with too much dedication, even to those who don’t reciprocate.
30. Don’t Listen To Them
They tell you that you can’t. They tell you that you aren’t supposed to do things that way. They tell you there’s no place for compassion in the workplace. They tell you that you must choose one path and stick to it. They tell you that, if you don’t follow the last person’s steps, you’re doing it wrong.
Don’t listen to them. Do it your way. Follow your instinct, tune out the noise, and never look back.