During a recent birthday celebration, a friend challenged me to make a list of things I’ve learned over the years, things I know to be true, one for each year of life. While this task would have proved easier several birthdays ago…I took the bait.
Here it is for better or worse.
1) Let go of perfect and you can be good.
There is no such thing as perfect and frankly seeking perfection is usually a form of procrastination. You’ve heard it before, done is better than perfect.
2) Know what you don’t know.
Save yourself some time, trouble, and heartache by admitting you don’t know everything. Find someone who does and ask. Being good at one thing doesn’t make you good at all things.
3) Start saying yes.
Especially to yourself. Take the trip, buy the kayak, eat the damn cookie. Life is short.
4) Start saying no.
If someone asks you to do something and your immediate reaction is not “hell yeah!” then the answer should be “hell no!”. Hell yeah or hell no. Easy.
5) Lift weights.
If you are female and reading this, listen up! You. Won’t.Bulk.Up! Bodybuilders eat a strict diet and work out for hours with heavy weights. It’s hard to add bulk. That will not happen to you. More muscle is good, especially as you age.
6) Do something nice for someone without getting caught.
It’s fun to be on the receiving end of a surprise (especially an anonymous one). It’s even more fun to give it. You’ll make someone’s day, I promise.
As often and as much as you can.
8) Stop doing shit you hate.
Just stop. See #4.
9) It’s okay to quit, only not on a bad day.
Had a rough day, week, even month? Do not quit. When things are going well, but the job, the relationship, whatever the thing is, no longer serves you…it’s okay to quit. You’ll regret giving up on your passions and dreams just because the going got tough. You will not regret leaving a lousy job or situation.
10) Give negative people the boot.
Negative people will drag you down. Say goodbye and…
11) Find your tribe
Your peeps are out there. Let your weird light shine bright so they can find you.
12) Karma is not a bitch.
Karma is only a bitch if you are.
13) Make goals that are exciting yet attainable.
Walking around the block three times a week is not very exciting. Growing a mermaid fin is exciting yet unattainable. Training for a hike in the Grand Canyon by walking three times a week is exciting and attainable. You get the idea.
14) Try meditation.
Prayer is asking; meditation is listening.
15) It’s okay to be okay.
None of us can be great at everything. Many of us will never be great at any one thing. That’s okay. I love golf, and I’m okay at it. I will never be great. I intend to celebrate my mediocrity for the rest of my days. You should too. If you love it, do it.
16) The more you try to control something, the more it controls you.
Situations, people, everything.
17) Forgive and forget.
Seriously, it takes too much energy to go around hating.
18) Go outside.
The beauty is always on duty.
19) Everything you want is on the other side of fear.
Standing at the rim of the Grand Canyon contemplating the solo hike I would embark on the next day, well, to say I was nervous is an understatement. The moment I decided to trust my training and preparation and let go of that fear, it was pure magic.
20) Nothing true ever turns out to be unkind; nothing unkind ever turns out to be true.
I think Martha Beck said this. Mind blown.
21) Love your body more.
It’s gotten you this far; it deserves some love.
22) It’s never too late to pivot.
You can start late, you can be uncertain, you can be scared out of your mind, and despite all of that you can still succeed.
23) The truth will set you free.
But first, it will piss you off.
24) If you find yourself in Beaver, Utah, skip the Mexican food.
Take my word for it.
25) Be a life-long learner.
We live in a time where all the information in the world is at our fingertips. Take advantage of that. Listen to a podcast, read a book, watch a documentary, try a new recipe, learn a new skill, take up a hobby. It doesn’t have to all be cat videos.
26) Be freakin’ brave.
Take risks. Cheryl Strayed says to be brave enough to break your own heart. I agree.
27) Embrace getting older.
It’s gonna happen, so you may as well. It certainly makes number 28 and 29 a lot easier.
28) Stop comparing yourself to others.
You’re not them; they’re not you. Apples to oranges.
29) Stop worrying about what other people think.
Newsflash! They aren’t thinking about you at all. Not even a little.
30) Never turn down a road-trip.
Road-trips rule. End of story.
31) Figure out what you’re willing to die for.
For most of us, this is metaphorical. For example, what would you do even if you thought you might die of embarrassment? Figure it out, then do that.
32) Stop collecting stuff.
Or at least pare your stuff down. C’mon, how many black tops do you need?
33) Start collecting experiences.
No one ever regrets spending money on experiences. Can you honestly say that about the latest insomnia driven QVC sequined pleather mini-skirt impulse buy? Didn’t think so.
34) Forget how things used to be.
Things change. Learn to play by the new rules or risk being left behind.
35) Find your sense of wonder.
Wake up with it every day. If you approach the world that way, you’ll be amazed at the change you experience.
36) Discover adventure wherever you are.
Crossing an ocean or crossing the street, adventure awaits. Not everything has to be bucket-list worthy. Which leads me to…
37) Dump the bucket-list.
Ok, ok, hear me out. So many people make a “list,” then become uber-focused on checking the boxes. They pull up, walk up, whatever, snap a pic, and cross it off. Don’t miss the experience. The best times I’ve ever had have been unplanned or happened on the way to something else.
38) There is nothing that you can eat or drink that will burn fat or make you lose weight.
Sorry. Don’t believe me? Ask Oprah who has publicly struggled with her weight for years. If it existed, she would have bought it. And shared it with us.
39) Don’t be scared, be prepared.
40) Join a book club.
Especially one with a diverse membership. You’ll read things you wouldn’t usually choose. I’ve found some of my favorites this way.
41) Stop worrying already.
Worrying is like praying for what you don’t want, and it doesn’t change shit.
42) Other people can not make you happy.
You gotta do it yourself. Do the work.
43) Strive to be an excellent human being.
Everyday. Be helpful and kind. This is almost a spiritual practice.
To others and to your gut.
45) Don’t wait until you have time to do something.
The only thing it is guaranteed that you’ll have less of in the future is time. You will never have more time than you have right now. Don’t wait.
46) Share your magic.
I once read that there are 400 trillion to one odds that a group of cells becomes a person. There’s a reason you’re here. When you find it, share it.
47) Walk barefoot whenever you have the chance.
48) Define what success means to you.
It’s not all beach houses and fancy cars. Maybe it’s being home more, flexibility to travel. Don’t let other people define your success.
49) We are all capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit for.
Physically and mentally.
50) You can afford anything you want.
You can’t afford everything you want. Unless you’re Oprah…she can probably afford everything she wants.
51) You got the pizza you ordered.
With little exception, where you are today, happiness-wise, health-wise, relationship-wise, is a sum of all of the decisions you’ve made up until now. You got the pizza you ordered. Own it. If you don’t like it, change it.
52) Remember #1? Let go of perfect and you can be good? Well, let go of good, and you can be free.
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