Today is my 25th birthday and while I still feel like a child at heart 95% of the time, I’ve decided to review some of the life lessons I’ve come across thus far. Buckle up, here we go!
1) Health is the true wealth. You can have all of the money in the world, but if you’re not healthy and can’t enjoy life, then there is no point to it. Take care of yourself. Love your body. Treat it well. Go to your annual doctors appointments. Listen to your body.
2) Successful people build others up and want the best for them. There is more than enough love, wealth, and prosperity to go around. Every person you know could be a multimillionaire and that wouldn’t mean there isn’t enough money for you to be one too. In fact, if your friends had that mindset, you’d be more likely to be one. On that same note, just because your best friend found love and you haven’t yet, doesn’t mean there isn’t love for you. Though it is a natural human trait to be jealous, jealousy only hurts you in the long run. It might not work in every case, we don’t live in a perfect world, but if you are constantly cheering others on, I guarantee your bleaches will be a lot more full as well.
3) The world will try to make you lose your inner child - Don’t. Having a childlike wonder for the world is one of the most magical parts about life. This is one of the reasons I love to travel, try new foods, and meet new people. The world is much too vast to not seek experiences that expand your mind and excite you like a child about this beautiful world we live in.
4) Experiences, especially with the people you love, are worth much more than material things. Right after college when I got my first “big girl” job, I bought a new car. I loved my car sooo much for about a week… then the car payments kicked in. I could technically afford the car, but I couldn’t help but think about all of the other things I would rather spend my hard earned money on. Traveling and experiences have brought me much more joy than any flashy new toy I’ve ever had. I’m not saying that it’s bad to want nice things and if an awesome new car makes you happy, by all means splurge on that. But to me, if I only have a certain amount of money to go around, life experiences pay off far greater dividends than material things.
5) Stop being scared of money. Stop thinking it’s bad or has a negative stigma to be wealthy. Money gives us the freedom to choose in life. Choose how we live, eat, play, enjoy life, take care of others. Money is a tool to live the lives we want. As long as you’re not hurting anyone in the process, there is an abundance of moola to be made in a billion different ways. Stop limiting yourself.
6) If someone makes you feel bad about yourself, doesn’t seem to truly have your best interest at heart, or is just toxic in your life - let them go. You can still stay civil with them. Don’t burn your bridges, but don’t make space for them in your life. Surround yourself with people who love you, make you laugh, and want the best for you. Hang out with people who you want to be like. Who you are impressed by. Who make you better. It’s better to have a small amazing support group than to need to be loved by the crowds. Choose friends who lift you up, talk about your goals, and push you to achieve them.
7) Nothing is more important than spending time with the ones you love. I truly believe that love conquers all. The biggest impact that we can make on the world is pouring our love into other souls so that they can do the same. We don’t like to think about it, but the people we love won’t always be around. Spend quality time with the people you care about, make memories, tell them you love them, appreciate them, forgive them, love them like there is no tomorrow - because there might not be.
8) Finding a mentor is essential. How amazing is it that 9 times out of 10 someone else has already accomplished what we want to accomplish and we can learn from their years of hard work and mistakes? Find someone who you respect, who inspires you, and who is just like the person you want to be in 5, 10 or 20 years. Seek these people out and work with them, work for them, learn from them, ask questions, shadow them.
9) Always write down your goals and take small steps every day to accomplish them. Successful people know what they want and research the steps they need to get there. Write down your goals and put them in a place where you can see them every day. Make a vision board and visualize living your dream life. It’s crazy how much we flounder around in life when we don’t have a clear goal. Make goals in all categories of your life - personal, spiritual, relationships, career, financial, health, family, and anything that’s important to you.
10) A positive mindset is the best tool in life. There have been so many instances in my life where I was absolutely devastated about an outcome. Before I interned in Ireland, I applied for an internship that I wanted so badly that it kept me up at night. After my interview and days of waiting, I finally got the call… I wasn’t chosen. I was devastated. But, if I had gotten that internship, I wouldn’t have applied to go to Dublin and that experience was hands down one of my best adventures yet. Right out of college I landed what was then my dream job. I went through three interviews, including one with a panel of five people plus the CEO. When I got the call that I received the job, I was more than over the moon. I filled out all of my paperwork, benefits, and insurance. Two days later, right before I was going to start, the HR representative called me and told me that they were no longer going to have that position because the CEO was too preoccupied with other things at the time to help with a whole new position. I felt like my world was wrecked. After all of the searching, applying, and interviews, I had finally done it and then it was ripped from under me. But, just a week later I accepted a position for the City of Grand Rapids and new incredible opportunities opened for me. Moral of the story - when something crappy happens you can either sit around and feel bad for yourself or see it as a sign from the universe to go for bigger and better opportunities. Pick yourself up, stay positive, know there are endless possibilities and own your life story.
11) Reward yourself. Life is meant to be enjoyed. We only have a certain amount of time on this earth. I know we have priorities - bills to pay and mouths to feed. But please, please, please remember to take time for you. If you don’t reward and love yourself, you won’t be as good at taking care of all of the other people and things in your life. When I write down my goals, I like to also add rewards that I can treat myself to if I accomplish them. For example, if I stick to my healthy eating all week, I can go out to a nice meal with friends and order anything I want. Or if I stick to my workout plan, I schedule a massage. It doesn’t have to cost money, it can be as simple as having a cup of tea and reading a good book or watching a sunset. Sometimes the anticipation of a reward like a small trip, massage, or sweet treat, can be even better than the reward itself. It helps to keep us going and stay positive.
12) Make a Life Mission Statement. I learned this one while reading the “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” by Stephen R Covey and it changed my life. I used to be so concerned about making sure I was going down the exact right path that I was too scared to make any decisions. But this book made me realize what kind of impact I want to have in this world. I realized that there are a million paths in life and I could take any of them and still have a successful life as long as I stick to my core mission statement and stay true to my values as a person.
13) Don’t let the fear of those who care about you dictate your life. If your friend told you that they are going to take out a huge loan and start business or if they said they were going to move halfway across the world to a place that where they didn’t speak their language, have a job or a place to live - you’d probably highly advise against it. But what if that same choice was the best one they’d ever make? The people who love you want what’s best for you; they want you to be safe and happy. But, because of that, many people fear risks. When I decided to move out to Hawaii from Michigan, I had so many people doubt me. They would say it’s impossible to find a job there, the cost of living is way too high and “for goodness sakes, how much does a gallon of milk cost there?” It got so bad to the point where I was scared to take the leap - but I did, and it was one of the best choices I’ve made yet. Yes, the cost of living and groceries are more expensive, but navigating this whole experience has given me the confidence to take leaps in life, if I fall, I learn. The only time I fail is if I stop trying to truly live.
14) Learning doesn’t start and stop with school. Life is about learning new things every day. I truly believe that I learned more in college about people, life, and business through my interactions and extracurriculars than I did in my classes. I learned more about history while traveling than I did in any history class I’ve taken. School is important, but life is about learning constantly. Learn every single day. Read for knowledge, listen to podcasts that enhance your life, watch life changing documentaries. It’s okay to watch Netflix or have a Bachelor night every once in a while, but don’t get caught up in useless knowledge. I never understood why people invest so much time in following the lives of “famous” people instead of making their own lives exciting. Don’t spend more time invested in people who will never know your name than in yourself. There is an endless amount of life enhancing knowledge out there at your disposal. Spend time every day taking in information that improves your life, inspires you, and makes you a better version of yourself.
15) The fruit of life is for the living. No matter what your beliefs are, we can pretty much all agree that the pleasures of life are for the living. Wherever our souls go, they are not our bodies. They don’t need food and water and sunlight and sleep. So enjoy now. Be healthy but also eat foods that satisfy your entire being. Take that long relaxing nap or hot bath. Go on an adventure. Smell the roses. Walk on the beach. Kiss long and slow. Do the things that make you feel happy to be alive while you are alive!
16) Stop making excuses. Be a doer, not a talker. There are some people who talk their whole lives about the vacation they want to take or the book they want to write and some people who just fricken do it already. I can’t even count the amount of people who have told me they wish they could move abroad, or start a new job, or get fit. The trick in life is just fricken do it already. You’re right, it may go terribly wrong. Maybe you’ll move away and you’ll realize how much you love the place you left. Then move back! But if you never try, you’ll never know. Don’t sit around thinking about what if, decide what you want and fricken do it already.
17) Life is now. Life doesn’t start when you graduate college, get married, buy a house, get your dream job - life is now. Don’t catch yourself saying “I’ll be happy when my house is paid off” or “I’ll be happy when I’m not single anymore.” If you are always waiting on a situation to be happy, you’ll never be happy.
18) You’re never going to stick to a diet you hate. I don’t know about you, but I think one of my absolute favorite parts about being alive is being able to enjoy food. We love food for a reason; It gives us life; It nourishes and rebuilds our bodies. Food is good! We can eat healthy and in moderation and still enjoy our food. Try new recipes, incorporate more veggies and satisfy your body as much as you satisfy your taste buds. To that same note, exercise. If we could take all of the amazing benefits of exercise and mash it up into a small pill, it would be the most purchased pill in the world. Find exercises that you enjoy and make you feel good. Your future self will thank you.
19) Self love is everything. It’s extremely easy to rely on another person for self assurance. You can’t underestimate the power of a wonderful compliment or the feeling of being wanted. But, if you don’t love yourself; If you don’t believe you’re smart and talented and beautiful, then how can you believe someone else when they tell you that? Self love starts with self care and self talk. Take care of yourself, put effort into how you look, eat good foods, get enough sleep, exercise, take yourself to lunch, and most importantly, talk to yourself like you are the love of your life - because you should be. Put on your favorite outfit and think to yourself how good you look, work out and tell yourself that you’re proud of your hard work. Set goals and celebrate your accomplishments.
20) Forgiveness is key. Holding onto jealousy, resentment, hate or mistakes is like taking poison and hoping the other person dies. Do your best to see someone else’s side of the story, try to put yourself in their shoes, talk it out and then forgive them for good. Or, say, they are totally in the wrong and they’re an asshole and they aren’t for one second sorry. Well, that sucks, but then you need to truly ask yourself, “Is my hate and resentment hurting me more or them?” If they truly aren’t sorry, the answer is most likely you. Forgive them for you. Forgive because your happiness is worth more than someone who isn’t sorry. And while we're at it, forgive yourself. We all make mistakes but until we invent time travel, there is no use in thinking so much about the past. Learn from your mistakes and forgive yourself already.
21) Never underestimate the power of a good laugh. There is one medicine that you can never get enough of and seems to make every situation in life better - laughter.
22) Relationships are hard, but worth it. Falling in love is fun and exciting and makes you feel on top of the world. But staying in love is no task for the weak. The relationships I admire the most or the ones who’ve been through hell and back but still made it through. Whether it’s friendships or romantic partnerships, there will be struggles, there will be days when you just want to give up, there will be days when you question everything. But making it through those days, choosing to forgive, choosing to love them harder, can build a bond that is far more deeply fulfilling than the easily fleeting lust.
23) Fight situations, not people. If you care about someone and want them in your life, it doesn’t make anything better to be “right” and have them be “wrong.” Everyone sees life through their own lenses. We don’t always see eye to eye. But these instances are about situations. Work through the situation as a team that wants to come out better in the end. Talk it out, be raw about the situation but use “we” and remember in the end, the only way to truly “win” is if your team wins, you can’t alone.
24) Worry isn’t worth it. Worrying about a situation out of our control forces us to relive bad situations over and over before they happen - if they even ever do! The absolute scariest part of any situation is almost always the anticipation of it. This has been one of my hardest life lessons and I still struggle with it daily. I am naturally a worrier but I know that in life the more we focus on the bad, the more bad we get and the more we focus on the good, the more good we get. I practice this with positive meditations for at least 10 minutes a day and by trying to always think of the good. With all the situations in your life that kind of suck, practicing saying this is good because .... this will help to rewrite the situation in your mind so that you can choose how life affects you, not the other way around.
25) Loving others is the best way to love life. Did you know that one of the number one factors in living a long happy life is companionship? Did you know that giving to others and having empathy is one of the absolute healthiest things you can do? Giving lowers your blood pressure, increases your self esteem, and gives you those (in very scientific terms) feel good brain chemicals. In short, being a good human, having loyalty, and caring about others is the healthiest and most fulfilling thing you can do.
There you are! Here's to the hope that my next 25 years are full of even more learning, love & happiness.