I’m turning 36 next month. I’m excited because I love birthdays and I get to have cake so yay! I always use the time around my birthday as an opportunity to reflect on where my life is and if I’m still on track to where I want to be. In the past this exercise wasn’t always in a positive light. It would sometimes take on a Bridget Jones woe-is-me stance, complete with booze and everything. I’m so glad I’m past that stage of my life. This year I’ve been thinking about what I’ve learned in my 30’s that I didn’t necessarily know in my 20’s. Some of these lessons are common sense and things that I should have known but it’s amazing the things I didn’t know in what I now call the pre-enlightenment phase of my life.
Below are the lessons I’ve learned or became clearer to me in recent years:
1. You don’t have to have achieved certain things by a certain age. We don’t have to give ourselves time frames according to what we think is expected of us. We are all different and want different things and different lives. We don’t have to compare ourselves to other people.
2. To love myself. With this one it’s continuous learning for me. I didn’t realize I didn’t do so until it was pointed out to me. So love yourself because you’ll treat yourself better.
3. I can’t control everything. I can do all I can but at the end of the day I can control me, how I feel and how I react, my attitude. Not other people or circumstances. Sometimes it’s ok to let go and let God take care of it. As long as I’ve done my part, I don’t have to push so hard all the time.
4. To relax. Not everything is life and death. My stressing doesn’t help in any way. Sometimes no matter what is going on relaxing can help. It gives me peace and allows me to think more clearly and calmly. I don’t always have to be in a rush. I used to be irritated by people with no sense of urgency but now I realize being calm and relaxed gets me better results than when I’m on urgency mode.
5. Success is different for everyone. I’ve had to figure out what success looks like for me. There’s no one size fits all. Knowing what success looks like for you will determine how you live your life and what you pursue.
6. Living without a vision is detrimental to your success. You get led in different directions because you don’t know where you’re going. Having a vision for my life has given me an architectural plan to work with. Now as I live my life I’m building the structure that is my life. The foundation is there and I’m building on that. Even if mistakes are made, I can remove those few stones or if it’s a finished room I can renovate it. There’s a plan and with the right resources and materials the building will be finished. I’m confident it will stand.
7. I am the artist of my life, the painting that I am crafting is ME. I get to decide what my future looks like. Through my thinking, my actions, my daily rituals, my values, I’m deciding everyday what lies ahead for me. The canvas is blank and it’s up to me what goes on it.
8. Happiness is a choice I have to keep making over and over. I can’t afford to think I’m happy now and that’s it. One small thing can change things around if I let it. it’s been said life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it. It’s easy to forget this sometimes. Whether it’s something as small as traffic or as big as not getting a job I want, my attitude towards the situation will determine if I stay happy or allow that to be taken away from me. For those times when things get me down or I start to feel depressed I’ve learned to get myself from that through different ways depending on the situation. For example reading an inspirational book. Talking to someone who can talk some sense into me, to remind me that it’s not as bad as it looks. To be happy, I have to continuously get myself in that state.
9. At any given time I am exactly where I’m supposed to be. It doesn’t matter where I am, what matters is what is on the inside. In other words my physical environment doesn’t change me, I change me. I once heard this “you can take limestone from one place and move it to another place, it won’t turn into gold, it will still be limestone” or some variation of that. My success in anything depends on me. It depends on my beliefs, my values, my habits, my rituals, not where I am. When I’m frustrated by something, such as being unable to process online transactions (a current situation in my country), I sometimes forget that and wish I wasn’t where I am. Then I remember I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be for now. And when I decide to move somewhere else it won’t be because I think that place will make me successful but that it is where I want to move to at that point in time.
10. Last and most importantly my life was a mess until I turned to God. Without Jesus Christ as my Savior and the guidance of the Holy Spirit I shudder to think where I would be and what I would be doing. As they say if you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything.