Wow, is it that time of year already? As Christmas decorations slowly trickle onto store shelves and advertisements for New Year’s begin to flood my inbox, its clear that the years end is fast approaching. It’s usually around this time each year, when a sudden jolt of panic arrises and endless questions flow through my mind. What have I achieved this year? Is there still time to tick items off my bucket list? Etc.,etc.
As with every year, there have been various ups and downs, but as I return from my trip to Santorini, having watched the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen from my private balcony, I can say with confidence that the ups far outweigh the downs.
Taking the time to reflect on my achievements, my goals, my dreams, lessons learned and what sets my soul on fire, is what helps me enter another year of my life with a clear mindset and an open heart. So here’s 31 lessons from 31 years of living.
Persistence is key to achieving your goals
When you hit a roadblock, you absolutely do not give up. You go around, you go over, you go under, because set backs shouldn’t be the deciding factor in things not working out for you.
Having fewer plans leads to more adventures
If there’s one thing I excel at, it’s organisation. I’m a list maker, a planner, I like things to have a sense of structure. It took me quite some time to get used to the freedom that comes with having very few or no plans at all, but once I did, I never looked back. Some of the best adventures I’ve had, include waking up in the morning and jumping on a train to Brussels just because I felt like some Belgium waffles.
Always stay true to yourself
At the end of the day, your life is yours alone to live, so if you wanna dress in fluro pink boots because that’s your vibe for the day then do it. If you want to skip a night out with the girls because you’re dying to read the latest fifty shades book, then do it. Whatever your heart desires follow it and enjoy.
Try new things
Whether it’s learning a new skill or trying a new cuisine, when you allow yourself to try something new, you open yourself up to a world of possibilities. I remember the first time I tried my hand at cake art, it was an absolute disaster! The tiers were lopsided, the icing too thick, but despite all this, I absolute loved doing it. Years later and here I am baking my favourite hobby, I’ve even taken a few pastry classes in Paris.
Learning how to be alone is one of the best lessons you can learn
Solo travelling for me has been liberating. But even before that, going to the theatre alone or treating myself to a cafe brunch, has made me realise how much I don’t need to rely on others to do what makes me happy. I’ve learnt how to be in-tune with my emotions and how to deal with them, and I’ve discovered a powerful self confidence that has transpired into other aspects of my life.
Fear and the importance of taking risks
I have been in positions where time and time again I have let fear hold me back. As a result, I found myself living only half a life. Nowadays I face fear head on by acknowledging it, accepting it and rationalising it. You have to be willing to face fear and take risks if you want the opportunity to see what’s on the other side. It’s a much higher risk to stay exactly where you are, never pushing the boundaries of yourself or your life.
There’s no right or wrong
For me, life is just as much about the journey as it is the final destination. When a relationship hasn’t worked out, I’ve never thought that it was a mistake to have dated that person, instead I see it as a learning opportunity for me to discover what I do and don’t want in the next one. When I book a trip and tell people I’m going to do a Sound of Music tour or toss a coin into the Trevi Fountain, and their response is “that’s so touristy, that’s not what real traveller does”, I simple ignore their comments because theirs no wrong way to travel in my eyes, I simply do what makes me happy.
There’s no need to fit into society’s preconceived box
Who said we need to follow the order of – get an education, get a job, save money, buy a house, get married, have children, then enjoy our hobbies during retirement. Whilst this may work for some, it isn’t set in stone that that’s how we have to live our lives.
I’ll never forget when I was 28 and I quit my full time job, sold my car, everything in my apartment and decided to start travelling the world. My friends thought I was crazy, but to this day it has been the best decision of my life. I have grown as an individual, been on incredible adventures, met amazing people, and the opportunities that have come my way have been more than I could have ever hoped for.
If you don’t love what you do everyday, then do something else
Life is too short to wake up every morning feeling miserable about the day you have ahead. If it doesn’t make you happy and passionate about life, then it’s time for a change.
It’s never too late to start again
In your career, in a relationship, or your life’s direction. You are the author of your life, so write your own story and make it great!
Small acts of kindness leave big impressions on the heart
Whether you’re giving someone a compliment, volunteering your time, or smiling at a stranger as you pass them in the street. You have absolutely nothing to lose and they have everything to gain by being kind. You never know when your small gesture of kindness, may just make someones entire day.
Get outdoors, even when you don’t feel like it
Everyone loves a good lazy day at home, especially in the winter. But make sure this doesn’t become a regular occurrence. Get out, even if just to go for a short walk, because no great adventure ever started in front of the TV.
You won’t be alone forever, so enjoy it now
As much as I enjoy being around others, I do love my alone time. Especially the hours spent writing my novel, on a small terrace in Italy overlooking the mountains. And the reality is, we won’t always be alone, so enjoy your solitude whilst you can.
Buy experiences not things
In twenty years time, I’d rather have stories to tell than things to show. I’d rather be able to bake an apple strudel that I learnt from taking a class in Austria than buying one from the shop. Experiences shape who we are so embrace them whenever you can.
Live with no regrets
This is basically my life’s motto. Too often I hear people say, I wish I had done this or that. Well not me! I’m the woman who did do this and did do that, whether it had the outcome I had imagined or not.
Support others in their success
There’s no such thing as an overnight success. Real success takes a lot of hard work, persistence and determination. So when someone achieves their goal and lifelong dreams, congratulate them. Their success doesn’t mean your failure. If anything it’ll give you a push to reach just as high, if not higher.
Laugh A LOT
There’s nothing better than a good laugh to bring instant joy into your life. Don’t take things too seriously, be playful, have fun and radiate positivity.
Surround yourself with likeminded people
I love meeting new people and getting to know their individual stories. But at times, you’re bound to come across those who are negative and thrive by pulling others down. Don’t waste your time with them. Leave room for only those who inspire and lift your spirits up.
Absorb knowledge like the plague
They say knowledge is power and I tend to agree. The more I learn about anything and everything, the more I’m able to connect with the world and people in it.
Change can be scary. I’ve hit so many crossroads in my life but each time I’ve taken it as a new and exciting opportunity in the path of discovering who I am and where I’m eventually meant to end up.
Forgiveness isn’t always easy, and forgiving someone doesn’t necessarily mean to forget. But once you learn to forgive then you’ll discover an inner peace within yourself, that allows you to move forward in your life with an open heart and open mind.
Be the change you want to be
The saying practice what you preach couldn’t be any truer. Don’t just talk about volunteering, go and do it. When people see you act on what you say, they will soon follow.
You are responsible for your happiness not anyone else
Take responsibility for your own happiness. If a friend or partner doesn’t want to join you on a hike, then don’t let that bring your mood down. Go it alone and bring that happiness on yourself.
Don’t take life to seriously
Have fun, get caught in the rain and eat dessert for dinner if that’s what you feel like!
Think before you speak
Words are powerful. Even a backhanded comment about a colleague after a bad day at work can be extremely hurtful if it got around. So it’s best to think twice before saying anything to impact another in a negative way.
Don’t forget those who have always been there for you
Even if you’re on the other side of the world, take the time to pick up the phone, send a message or even a birthday card. Make those who have always supported you feel special.
Leave judgement at home
Never judge a book by it’s cover. This goes the same for people. You never know what someone has gone through in their life. Take homeless people for instance. We often assume we know why they’re homeless but in reality we don’t, so it’s best to assume nothing and keep and open mind.
Accept that you know nothing for sure
Our lives are quite often turned upside down without notice, making us question everything we thought we knew. Nothing is certain so never assume you know how things will play out. By doing this, when things change you won’t be taken by surprise.
Happiness is infectious and a smile can go along way.
Be honest even when it hurts
Honesty is always the best policy. Be honest with others (in a nice way of course), they will trust and appreciate you more for it. And most importantly always be honest with yourself.
Embrace who you are
From you looks to your personality, you are you for a reason. Don’t try and change to “fit in” with the world. Be you and the world can adjust accordingly.