Life can only be understood backwards;
but it must be lived forwards.
“A few years ago on my 26th birthday, I was asked if I could talk to my younger self what would I tell me? I took some time to really think about it, and the first thing I realized is I wish I hadn’t grown up so fast! I remember wishing and dreaming of being an independent, working adult from the moment I stepped foot on my college campus. It’s not that I don’t appreciate my growth and maturity with age, it’s just I think sometimes we need to relish in the younger years, just as much as we appreciate the older ones! “
I wrote those words almost 4 years ago and now that I’m approaching my 30th birthday, I’ve decided to reflect once again. Stepping into a new decade or a new season in general has a way of making you look back over your life and think of the people, events, and experiences that have shaped you. While some of the advice I had for my younger self remains, I’ve learned so much more in the past few years. As I get ready to leave my twenties behind, these are the principles I plan to bring with me in this next chapter:
Consider My Perspective
Your thoughts control everything. Only you can determine whether you’re happy, upset, fulfilled, or any other emotion you can think of. When I was in my teens and early twenties, I felt like I had the world on my shoulders but looking back, it was my perspective that was making life seem so tough, especially compared to what life has thrown at me since that time. I wish I knew then that I control my day and ultimately my life. Those little things that seemed so major weren’t that crucial, but everything that I went through did serve as stepping stones towards my destiny. Looking back, it’s just another reminder that even baby steps move you forward.
I WISH I would’ve taken full advantage of my college experience. Spending those 4+ years at school shouldn’t have been just about books, boys and whatever else I spent my time doing. Although taking my education seriously was imperative, I regret not letting myself be more carefree and having fun. I realize now that life is too short not to enjoy every moment. Work hard, play hard is phrase that should be taken seriously so that we don’t look up at the end of our lives and realize we weren’t truly living.
Find Healthy Relationships
One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned is that life comes with temporary people, not everyone is meant to stay around for the long haul. You’ve heard the saying that people are in your life for reasons and for seasons and there’s nothing more true. The “friends” you start with may become lifelong family or a distant memory. It’s important to learn the difference as early as you can to save yourself stress and potential heartache. Let those who want to walk away go freely.
DO NOT STRESS. Another major lesson that I learned and will carry into this new decade is that worrying doesn’t make anything better. You are literally wasting precious moments in life when you worry and don’t let everything work itself out. That’s not to say that you don’t have to put the work in, because you do. However, when you’re doing your part you’ve got to start trusting that the results will work out in your favor. It may not always be what you wanted, but you’ll often find that it worked the way it was supposed to.
Organize Your Life
I am not the kind of person who can function properly in clutter, whether it be physical or mental. Organization makes things so much more clear and helps me to be a more productive person. Writing tasks down and scheduling my days helps me keep my life in order both personally and professionally. With scheduling, I’m able to create time to make sure I’m eating healthy, staying physically fit, and accomplishing what I need to everyday.
Protect Your Peace
I’ve probably said it 100 times, but I don’t think there are many better feelings than being at peace. It’s so precious that there are situations and people who will arrive in your life and try to steal it from you. The worst of those are the people you love and care for who seem to suck the life out of you. Protect your peace at all costs. The best way to protect yourself from peace stealers is to create boundaries and recognize who or what is draining you. Don’t feel bad for cutting people off who deserve it and leaving situations that no longer serve you.
Not everything that goes awry or is off in your life can be credited to outside forces, sometimes it’s our own self destruction. Check yourself! Just like our cars need to be tuned, have their oil changed and other maintenance, we need to check in with ourselves. Are we using our time wisely? When’s the last time we set out to learn something new? Are we depleted and in need of rejuvenation? Introspection is an important part of continual growth. If you want to be stagnant then stay away from self-checks, otherwise, have a conversation with yourself and get to that next level.
Be open to exploring new things
I think so many people miss out in life by being too afraid or stubborn to try new things. Comfort zones seem so wonderful because you are just that, comfortable. Stepping into the unknown requires guts and faith and the outcome is almost always worth the process. This goes for exploring that idea that keeps popping up in your head, moving to that new city, state or country, or even trying that hairstyle you’ve been contemplating. Life is meant for exploration, not to be stuck doing what’s “safe”.
Spend time alone
Don’t confuse spending time by yourself with being lonely. Cherish those moments of solitude as they become the times that you discover the most about yourself. After college I spent the early part of my career in Boston, Massachusetts completely away from family and friends and at the time, I was absolutely miserable. Looking back however, I realize that that period by myself helped me to become who I am today. There were lessons that I had to learn and things that I could only experience on my own. Intentionally taking time for yourself can be hard for someone who constantly craves the company of others, but is so beneficial. If you don’t do it for yourself, you may find out that life will push you into solitude. Appreciate that period of alone time and look forward to the growth that you will experience in it.
Become financially literate
A skill I’m glad I’ll be stepping into my thirties with is financial literacy. Having the knowledge to effectively manage your own money is essential. Even if you decide to hire an accountant in the future, knowing what’s going on with your money should be a priority. If you haven’t already adopted a savings pattern and started looking into your finances’ future; It could be the reason you may be living paycheck to paycheck. There’s a plethora of resources that teaches about savings, debt consolidation, budgeting and more. Take advantage of what’s available and make choices that’ll better your future.