Each year around my birthday - I’m very late this year - I write myself a list of bits and bobs that I’ve learned in my life. This list is meant for me as a reflection and a celebration, but a few years ago I started sharing it on here.
Here is my list of 35 things in 35 years:
You don’t know until you ask. Ask for what you want in the world. Often we don’t even realize what we have access to because we think something is not for us or out of reach or not deserved. Ask for it! Also, ask for help when you need it. People like to help people, give them the satisfaction of providing support!
It’s not that complicated
There are times when shit feels impossible and hard and so complicated that no one else could possibly understand. It’s not. Take a break, talk it out, have a nap, take deep breaths. Situations can certainly be complicated as well as emotions, but if you break things done at their basic level and sort out some steps to manage these complications you’ll find that it can actually be very simple. In my experience, a good sweat can sort out the messiest of tangles.
You don’t have to say everything you’re thinking
Yeesh, do I struggle with this one. I have opinions and thoughts and ideas and solutions and sometimes I NEED them to be heard. A good practice for me is asking myself -
a) if what I have to say is going to add value to the conversation
b) if what I have to say is considerate
c) if what I have to say isn’t said, can I be okay with that
A lot of times what I have to say does not need to be said. Sometimes it does need to be said. And sometimes it doesn’t but I do it anyway and deal with the consequences of my actions.
Celebrate the ordinary, everyday things as well as the big, significant things. When you think about it existence is incredible on it’s own - all that good good is kinda just a bonus!
Own your shit
Take ownership for yourself. You are all of the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ things that make you who you are. No one is perfect, we all have flaws and stinky feet and annoying qualities. Own it when you do something awesome, but own it when you do something mean. Own it when you’re the one standing in your way (this is 95% always the case). Don’t make excuses, don’t apologize - just call a spade a spade, or a flaw a flaw, or a dumb move a dumb move.
Work on your shit
You know those things that you get a little defensive about even though you don’t want to admit it?? Work on those! Hone your ability to evolve and pivot. Change is a constant in this life and the better you get at resiliently riding the waves the happier you will be. Make a commitment to being an expert on yourself. Stay aware of what your shit is and how you can improve it (or at least coexist).
It’s not personal
People aren’t thinking about you as much as you think they are. Don’t take things personally! People live solely based on their thoughts and experiences. We are the centers of our own worlds… but no one else’s.
Happiness is a choice
You can choose to be happy or you can choose not to be happy. Of course we have other emotions to give us the full human experience but at the end of the day you get to decide if you live a happy life or a not so happy life. Remember that whole ‘own your shit’ stuff above… this is part of that.
Be a master of improvisation
There are so many unknowns in any given situation. You can spend endless time planning your life but you know things aren’t going to go down the way you expect them to. Show up with an openness to NOT knowing what is going to happen. Let the tone of the room or the situation allow you to dictate your actions (or nonactions). Occasionally, you’re going to mess up! Maybe say the wrong thing or fall down or make an embarrassing sound but none of that is as bad as you think it is. Practice NOT planning, practice trusting yourself to react and respond instead of trying to control it before it even happens. And if you’re still not sure about not planning DM me for some sweet dad jokes.
Another tough one for me that makes my stomach hurt when I think about it. You do not have to help others before helping yourself. You don’t have to work for free just because someone asks you to. You do not have to show up to every event or donate to everyone’s everything. You can’t take on everyone else’s needs and still be a healthy version of yourself.
Resilience is tough
Yeah, yeah, yeah - fall down six times, get up seven. We all know that’s what we are supposed to do but sometimes on that sixth fall we want to stay down, Hasselhoff a cheeseburger, and wallow for awhile. It’s really hard to keep going when you keep hitting a wall. Bring in a support system that can help hoist you over that wall or mastermind a plan to circumvent it. I consider myself a pretty resilient person but I have so many people on speed dial to help lift me up when I’ve fallen.
Think your own thoughts
Our thoughts are shaped by our experience in the world. We don’t know everything and neither does anyone else. But our ability to use our own brains to form ideas and opinions is a privilege. Don’t be so easily influenced by everyone around you that you forget how to do your own thinking.
Laugh big laughs
Don’t hold in a laugh because it might be loud or awkward or snorty. Laughing is a gift and better than any $60 superfood supplement. Get as much as you can. Cause a laugh, partake in a laugh, and smile a weird, tight-lipped, toothless smile at someone who is annoying you (it’s very satisfying). Life is way too short to take it so seriously. Sharpie some giggles on your daily agenda.
Spend time alone. There are a lot of people on this big, blue planet who don’t know much about themselves. They never took the time to learn or avoided it altogether (because it can uncover some (above-mentioned) shit). Take the time to be alone, lonely even. Learn the ins and outs of the deepest corners of yourself. Learn the dark places and the light. Also, have a dance party - maybe even a naked one. Becoming an expert on yourself is one of the most helpful things you can do.
You know if feels soooo good so why aren’t you doing it more? Stand up now! Stretch!
Don’t be defined
You are not your body, you are not your job, you are not your past. All of these things are a part of you and have helped shape you, but that are not the total makeup of you. You are not the way that you eat or the sun sign you were born under. You can be many, many things. You can even be conflicting things. We are constantly changing and learning so don’t let one thing that happened to you or one thing about you define who you are.
A hard pass is okay
You do not have to do all the things or like all the people. It’s ok to say no when things or persons don’t align with you and what you’ve got going on.
Clean up your messes
Don’t avoid things you hate doing. Get them out of the way. Finances, doctors appointments, oil changes, and dishes… just do them. The build up of undone tedious tasks can do a number on your wellbeing. Physical clutter can quickly translate to mental clutter.
Mindset is everything
If you change your mindset, you change your life. Your attitude toward your own life dictates the type of life you live. Playing victim and placing blame are easy to do, it’s a lot harder to take charge of your thoughts and actions and show up each day with resilience and the drive to do good work and be good.
Keep learning, always
Never, never, never stop learning. There is so much to know! We all know those people who refuse to learn anything new, just because. Don’t be one of those. Learn a new skill, language, and hobby. Keep enriching your big ol’ brain. I hear the bigger your brain, the more carbs you get to eat (the FDA does not approve this message).
Be someone you’d be friends with
If you don’t like you, why should anyone else?
Aging is a mindfuck
Yes, aging is a true privilege. And I can say that at 35 I am so much happier, healthier, smarter, more balanced, more confident, and badassier than I was 3, 5, 10 years ago. All of this aside, it’s difficult to navigate all of the changes. Things don’t work or look the same as they used to. Your skin changes, your muscles change, and your energy changes. This is all normal. I love all of the growth and wisdom that comes from getting older and even some of the laugh lines, but as a woman in this society who likes to keep it real, I won’t deny that it can be frustrating to watch your face, bum, and boobs melt.
Each day offers endless opportunities
You have so many chances to make choices every single day. You can sleep in or wake up early. You can say hello to a passerby or just pretend you don’t see them. You can eat peanut butter or not eat peanut butter. You can step into your power or sit and watch life happen. If you start making 50% of your choices reflect the goals you have for yourself - you’ll be a more contented human.
Master your emotional energy
Firstly, we all have emotions and emotions are not wrong or bad. Secondly, the better you become at recognizing and communicating said emotions the more power you have over your energy. Your energy has the power to lift up a crowd of people or sink a ship. Moods are contagious. What you bring into a room matters. Every day is not going to be top notch but if you learn to harness your energy for good (I just started watching Marvel movies) you can be good and do good on a larger scale than ever.
Growth is not linear
I’ve been in the personal development and entrepreneurial game for a long time now and the hard fact is that most things are not linear. Two steps forward and one step back is still movement, but it may not look the way you expected (or wanted) it to. Some days we wake up bursting with satisfaction of all that we’ve done/overcome/seen only to wake up the next feeling defeated and purposeless. This is not unusual. Your growth won’t look like anyone else's. Mine has felt like throwing gluten free pasta at a wall and waiting with baited breath for one fucking ziti to stick. And that’s ok because sometimes the ziti does stick!
Be open to getting better and allow someone to tell you how! To learn we have to be taught… all of us. Do not presume yourself more competent than someone else. Just listen and learn. I’m a coach and I have multiple coaches for various things. Allowing myself to be coached is one of the best decisions I’ve made.
Pivot as needed
Be ready to change course, jump over a fallen limb, and scale a wall at a moments notice. Don’t stubbornly cling to a path that is just not working. When you know something is not working - try something else. Pivot in a new direction, shuffle ball change and run the other way, pirouette over that pit of quick sand and add an arabesque for style. There are a million paths up the mountain, you’re not going to nail it on your first try.
We are not on the same timeline
Every person has a special life trajectory. Just like we all have different interests and sensibilities, our lives move at different speeds and in different directions. Social media makes it so easy to get stuck in the comparison trap when there is no one size fits all for what a ‘successful’ or meaningful life looks like. It’s normal to not be where young you pictured current you to be. The old school paradigm of a traditional life and what it should look like is finally being torn down which, in my opinion, is past due.
Trust your gut
We are intuitive and smart. We feel and know things when we allow ourselves to pay attention. If it doesn’t feel right - walk away. And when you know, you know. We each have a Peter tingle inside of us. #peterparker
Create the life you want
There will always be 500 reasons not to, but you can choose to live your days however you want. Find a way to do that. Make your passion your career or have a job just so you can have dollars to do what you love. Having that Instaperfect life doesn’t mean that it’s the life you actually want. Figure out what lights you up and do more of that.
Collect your people
Find the people who hold you to a higher standard and make you feel like the best version of yourself. Find the people who are smarter, more interesting, and funnier than you. Find the people who show up when you need them and check in 6 months later when everyone else has forgotten. Find the people who listen to you, laugh at your jokes, and understand your dislike of spoons and loud noises. Then carry them with you (carry them in your heart).
Develop positive habits
How do you start and end your day? What happens in the middle? Time flies, days go by fast and slow and all of a sudden it’s a new season, year, decade. Having healthy habits in place helps keep you grounded and allows you to tune into yourself. I swear by a morning routine, but create one somewhere in your day that allows time to spend with yourself in a healthy, nurturing way.
Change is coming for you
Change is a constant and it will happen. Just when you figure it out and get comfortable - that shit’s going to change. So know that nothing good or bad lasts forever.
Show up on the good days and show up on the hard days. When you don’t want to get out of bed put on a cute outfit and fake it for a little. Show up in who you are and what you stand for. Show up for those around you who may not be able to or brave enough. Be there for yourself and be there for others. Be reliable, be kind, and be a safe place. Show up like people are watching. Day after day, trial after trial, failure after failure, sadness after sadness, and success after success… keep showing up.
Life is a gift
The universe is vast and nuts. We are all alive at this time, together. We get to live experiences and meet people and eat food and pet dogs and listen to music. Seriously, how incredible is that?