I turn 31 today. I wish I could go kayaking on the ocean like last year, instead I will go for a quick hike, see a movie, maybe get a pedicure, and spend the evening with B and some friends (B is making desert, it’s apparently still a secret though). Not a bad way to start a new year.
Every year on my birthday I used to write in my journal about the previous year, things I wanted to change or do in the coming year, or just what was on my mind after another year. I don’t remember when I stopped doing that each year. I like to think I do it on a more regular basis now, but that’s not always true.
This year, since I’m a list freak anyway, I decided to borrow an idea from other blogs and make a list of things I’ve learned. Here they are in no particular order. It’s nothing mind blowing, or particularly important to anyone but me (and maybe those who have to live with me).
1 - Plans change. It’s easier to go with the flow than fight it. You can also spot interesting opportunities if you are not glued to a pre-set path.
2 - Learn to quit, and quit often. Try new things, test ideas. Sometimes they’re shit; the key is recognizing the shit ideas sooner and moving on.
3 - You can’t please everyone. Someone will always hate you no matter what you do. I struggle less and less with this every year.
4 - Community does matter. It’s important to have a support network of people who inspire and encourage you.
5 - I don’t need as much money as I thought I did to be happy.
6 - Experiences and relationships are more valuable and fulfilling than possessions.
7 - Sometimes all you can do is laugh. Shit happens, it’s no one’s fault, and there is nothing you can do about it.
8 - It’s OK to accept your fears. In fact, it helps me feel more comfortable with taking risks. If I can come up with solutions to the worst possible scenarios, there is no longer a reason not to take the risk.
9 - The risks I’ve taken have made me happier than following the more practical path.
10 - Trust people to be who they are, but also give them the chance to fail - they might surprise you.
11 - Walk away from a problem, for a little while. Some distance, some focus on something else, will often reveal the solution. And, there is usually more than one good solution to a problem.
12 - Perfection does not exist and searching for it will only slow you down.
13 - Don’t go into debt for school, or if you do, pay it off quickly. Too many people get stuck in jobs they hate because of crippling school debt. I have the freedom to do what I want now because I paid off my law school loans quickly and saved as much as I could.
14 - Listen to your critics. They might just be right, at least consider the possibility.
15 - But also evaluate your critics and their advice. Their motivation might not be your best interest, or they might not have all the information to accurately call bullshit.
16 - Stop complaining and do something about it. Stop blaming someone else for your problems. Sure, you might be a certain way because your mommy didn’t love you enough, but, at some point, it’s your choice. You are in control of your life, not something that happened 15 years ago.
17 - Spend time alone. Have your own life, interests, and friends separate from your spouse or partner.
18 - Ask. Otherwise, the answer will always be no. If you never ask for what you want, you’ll never get it. Most people are not mind readers.
19 - Don’t overanalyze or research something to death. Learn as much as you can, test the theory, and move on.
20 - Eat real food.
21 - Thank people for the small things, the things you take for granted.
22 - Learn how to make budgets, realistic budgets that account for all of your expenses (including coffees out and fun money as well as insurance and monthly bills). And, stick to the budget.
23 - Shoot for the stars first, and then get practical about it.
24 - Learn how to meet people outside of school or work. It will make relocating your life easier and less scary.
25 - Don’t wait for anyone to make you happy - it’s your responsibility.
26 - It’s OK to say no, even if they hate your for it.
27 - It’s OK to ask for help. I am still quite bad at admitting that I need help, and still horrible at asking. But, I'm working on it.
28 - Pay to get a skill in school. Like many liberal arts majors, I went to law school because it was the practical thing to do after I graduated.
29 - Don’t overload expectations - it usually only leads to disappointment.
30 - Focus on creating new habits instead of eliminating the old. It’s easier to work something good into your life than trying to quit something.
31 - Throw out assumptions. I’ve never been a beach person, so I never wanted to travel to islands. Turns out, I love island culture, kayaking, and the sea. I’m ready to move to the Caribbean tomorrow (but only if I can still go skiing every year).