The first trimester of 2020 is almost over. One could argue the alignment of the planets is a bit off. Life’s vicissitudes will always find a way to show on our path. It is important to remember that things don’t happen to you, they actually happen for you; preparing you for what is to come. Here are a few things I wish someone would have said to me in my early twenties and others I have known all along.
You are the only person you can control. Trying to control others will be exhausting, not to mention disrespectful.
Success looks different for everyone. You will have to define it, and remember it changes throughout your life. Don’t keep up with the Joneses. It will be stressful and unfulfilling. On that note, success without fulfillment is a recipe for destruction. Think of Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain, Robin Williams, etc. They were all successful by our society’s definition: money, recognition, fame. They all took their own lives. To some, shocking. To others, totally understandable. How could they have felt so forsaken? The higher you are, the lonelier it can be. When you climb a mountain, not everyone gets to the top. Hence the saying ‘It’s lonely at the top’.
Friends matter. Truly, you are the average of the five people you hang out with the most. Choose your friends carefully. Follow your instincts. You’ll know who’s right for you as well as who isn’t.
Goals and plans go together. Envision who you want to be and go for it. Goals are great, but most important is writing down every step on how you plan to get there. Celebrate your baby steps – those are the ones that lead you to the big ones. If the plan is to lose 30 pounds, don’t start the diet on January 1 and be discouraged by February 1 when you still see the 30 pounds. If you see 29, congratulate yourself and keep going. Silence the inner voice that says: “But that’s such a little accomplishment!”. See it as the beginning of the road ahead. If you have money, you could pay yourself for every milestone earned. 5 lbs.? $100! It makes losing the 30 lbs. a bit more enticing.
There is no carbon copy of you. Even if you have a twin. Celebrate your uniqueness and know only you can do it, whatever ‘it’ is, in your unique way.
Own your actions. Take responsibility for them and don’t blame others for what you are going through – your parents, your boss, the government, your significant other, the weather. It’s how you see things and what you do with the curveballs life throws at you that matter.
Don’t judge. No matter the situation. Not because life has a funny way of turning things around and putting you on the opposite side, but because your goal of being your best self should always prevail.
Read The Four Agreements. Be impeccable with your word, always do your best, don’t take anything personal, and don’t make assumptions. If you can live by those four Toltec agreements, you are more likely to experience peace. The kind where you walk through and don’t feel you are on eggshells. The Four Agreements is a very key book. However, there are tons more. Get in the habit of reading. This is one of the best things you do for yourself at ANY age.
Always do more. If you only do what is required of you, you will always stay where you are. Why do some companies seem not to grow while others excel? Successful companies do more for their customers. Always do a great job and deliver more as an employee, as a family member, as a member of a community, a city, a country. Yes, you got it. The snowball effect. Always do more! At the end of the day you will feel fulfilled meeting life’s purpose.
Be great at something. It is nice to be good at everything, but it is important to be great at something. No one wants to hire you to Google things. You should be the expert voice on whatever your role is.
Be passionate. Let your passion touch everything you do. Do it right and have fun while you’re at it.
Look at things in perspective. When a problem seems so big and unmanageable, open Google Earth and zoom out. You’ll see how immense the universe is and how little the problem actually is. All of a sudden you become a speck in a large universe. The problem is only important because you gave it that meaning. Change it. Also, remember you are not the General Sherman tree in Yosemite. If you don’t like where you are, move.
Insecurities will always come knocking on your door. I used to think if my MBA was from Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Brown, Princeton, or Cornell, I would have been more accomplished, would have had better connections and would have been exposed to better opportunities. It once served as comfort to hear a certain Stanford grad writer say she’d always felt that if she would have graduated with an English degree from Harvard, she would have gotten her first book published faster and by a better publisher. I couldn’t believe someone who had graduated from Stanford had the same insecurities I did! I soon realized it wasn’t the school or the degree, but what you do with them that matters. Insecurities hit us all. That is why it is important to nurture yourself and others, stick together, and support and celebrate the accomplishments of those women around us.
Have intellectual curiosity. Don’t take things at face value. Don’t lose faith in humanity. Travel. Learn a new language. Dance. Listen intently. Have meaningful conversations. Laugh. Learn to be okay with silence. Eat healthy, and every now and then eat a donut.
Lastly, don’t wait for anyone to come into your life to make you happy. Happiness lies inside of you. Light your own fire, Kid, and have fun while you’re at it.