It's hard to believe I'm the same person as the person 10 years ago. We are living very different lives. Some things I've grown and changed and in other views, I'm not quite where I wanted to be yet, but that's OK. I've learned A LOT, usually the hard way, but a lot nonetheless. At 25 I was just getting married, was running my own business, I thought I was right on track and accomplished. Things "took a turn" but I think it all worked out for the best.
Here are 10 lessons from my 25th birthday to 35th that are huge assets to helping you live your best life.
1. You are stronger than you think
We often limit ourselves by our thinking. But you don't know strong until it's all you have. A lot hasn't worked out the way I thought it would but I never gave up. My dad always taught me there is another way. Sometimes longer, sometimes harder, but there is another way. I've had to find that other way many times, but the extra steps, distances and hurdles made me a stronger person.
2. Make connections everywhere
People come into your life for reasons you can't understand, especially not in the moment. At a women's networking event the other day, I looked around the room and could see a dozen women at least that have contributed to my life, my journey and my success over the last 10 years. How humbling! Connections matter! Make lots of them!
3. Work through the hard stuff
I was a flight risk. I used to avoid conflict like the plauge. Sure, there are limits where you must just draw the line but I could have saved myself a lot of time just confronting things head on instead of running or ignoring them. Maybe you think they will change, maybe you think they will go away but running first will keep you on the go for a lifetime.
4. Showing up is better than words or gifts
As a kid of divorced parents and one myself, it's easy to fall into the trap of "if I have cooler stuff" or "if I get them this" but the truth of the matter is, kids remember how often you show up and whether or not you can count on them. My first post-divorce house was literally slanted, but all that matter was that my daughters room was all set up before she saw it for the first time. The crazy thing is that's what she remembers most about that house, the tinkerbell bedroom. Of course she remembers our difficulty making eggs as they slide down the pan, but we had each other and that's all that mattered.
5. Who you associate with matters more now
In high school it was whether or not you hung out with the cool kids, or which group you were in or in my case if you were allowed to sit at "the chairs". But nowadays, it doesn't really matter. Or does it? Out of a need to learn, grow and build my business, my goal become to connect with everyone that I could. I joined every group, went to every networking event, and it turns out I found a higher level of people that where I was currently associated. It drove me to do better, be better, and achieve higher goals than I ever would have dreamt of. Remember, you are the people you surround yourself with.
6. Our struggles can be helped to serve others
I'm not totally on board with "your misery because your message" thinking but I do think "pain can serve a purpose" when you appropriately deal with it. It's in that post struggle season that you can find the lessons and be able to share those with others. Going through a hard relationship and difficult divorce, has helped me connect with those going through it and helped walk with them. We are made for human connection and it's life changing when someone extends their hand to pull you out of the struggle you are in.
7. Forgiving and letting go will free you.
Man this was a hard, long, and painful lesson. I remember hearing a few times "Unforgiveness hurts you more than them" but it took a while for that to actually set in when anger and resentment are high and I felt them undeserving of any sort of grace. HOWEVER, and this is a big however, as you work through that pain, you will work through the layers of anger and find a place where you can set that pain, and walk away. Its not forgetting, but it's forgiving that pain in your heart and walking away from it. It has nothing to do with them.
8. Take care of your health
I liked working out but I was a smoker. I ate healthy always but loved my drinks. I don't know if that's some sort of twisted balance but I regret letting the bad in for so long. I'm not just talking about physical health but my mental health! I wish I would have started pursuing true personal development sooner. To follow up, I did quick smoking and stick to occasional wine now but more than anything, I have put a daily focus on gratitude and personal development. It's books, it's prayer, its podcasts and TedTalks, all of that continues to challenge my mind and heart to grow 9. Start saving early
Man I wish I would have learned this lesson earlier. In fact every 20 something should start by taking a financial class. Not only do I wish I would have saved earlier on but wish I knew what it meant to take out loans and credit and how to prepare for the future. While I didn't go completely past the point of no return, I was visiting. I was able to purchase a home, get myself on track and even start saving for my future. My financial advisor is helping me even more think more deeply about the life I am going to have in 30 years and how my kids will be taken care of. I'm like a real grown up.
10. Always be learning and growing
If you aren't growing your dying. Think about it. A plant is never just "existing". It's growing to the point of its potential or it's dying. Same goes for us. If we just simply try to existing, life continues to move and grow without us so really we are dying. If we aren't improving ourselves, learning and growing, we are falling behind where our potential could lead us. Make it a point to challenge yourself to learn a new skill, try something new, read a new book, watch a thought provoking TedTalk. Your mind is a powerful thing. You can convince it of just about anything. So feed it well. Put that Miracle Grow on it and let it thrive!