You may have gathered from the title of this blog that I turned 30 years old recently. I felt weird about leaving my 20s behind me, so it seemed like a good idea to do a retrospective of my life to date.
And what better way to summarise my little life on a polkadot than with a listicle of 30 things that have occurred to me along the way with a resource section at the end of my favourite blogs and podcasts.
1. “Your life is what your thoughts make of it” – Marcus Aurelius.
I made that my cover photo on Facebook over a year ago and it serves as a constant reminder that our minds and the thoughts contained therein have a powerful influence on how we view the world and our lives. Like feelings, I don’t always trust my thoughts. I see them more as suggestions, indicators, narratives and ideas that I have a choice in pursuing or amputating like one would a rotten limb.
2. There are tactics and practices that one can employ to shape your inner dialogue
Meditation, gratitude, mindfulness and journaling are three tactics and practices that have noticeably shifted certain ways of thinking or brought themes to my attention. For maximum results, the above should be done daily but if you’re not an altogether disciplined person (like me) then do it as much as you can. I’ve written 23 digital journal entries since July, 2018 and it’s very revealing when I go back and read it from the start. My mental landscape has been like the set of the Walking Dead and at times optimistic, but I’m hoping the next decade will be more like Spirited Away.
3. Habits and a great routine are better than goals.
Throughout my life I’ve had a love hate relationship with goal setting. My love of lists and my desire to improve myself has often had me writing down goals that have never seen the light of day. The items on my personal improvement shopping list where I’ve made the most traction are when I’ve shifted my lifestyle by forming new habits or changed my routine (which I guess are pretty similar things).
Habits and your routine are the way that you plan how you’re going to achieve your goals. So when you sit down at the end of the year going “2021 is the year that I learn to play piano like Beethoven”, write down HOW you plan on doing that e.g I will play piano every morning from 8:30 – 9:00am and I’m going to put an alarm on my phone and track every session on this cool app I downloaded on Google play store. When I don’t open the app after round 4 because it isn’t Instagram, I’ll still have the alarm as a backup reminder. #KnowThyself
4. Don’t discount the small things
In the above point I’ve mentioned shifting my lifestyle and forming new habits. I have some bad habits that are so firmly entrenched, it’s literally my very own internal World War 3 BUT the areas where I have made good progress is where I’ve started small and lowered my expectations i.e I’d love to be Lara Croft level fit in the next three months but I recognise that exercise is a lifelong practice. If my short term plan is to exercise at least three times a week but I don’t always get that right then I’m not going to stop exercising. I’ve realised with myself that I tend to fall short of my grand plans. However, even if I only do 1/3, it’s better than nothing… and there’s usually a point at which I do get to 3/3… and then relapse and start again.
5. Love yourself as you are right now
This will always be a work in progress for me because it’s something that I’ve battled with and it brings to mind a thousand cheesy motivational quotes. My relationship with myself directly contributes to how I show up at work, in friendship and in my family relationships. It’s not selfish to look after yourself and have boundaries. It’s necessary.
6. Triggers are evil little critters and good to be aware of
Recently I’ve become super aware of triggers, both social and environmental. Things like the little light flashing on your phone that immediately prompts you to check it. Sometimes I’ve only recognised what my triggers are after I’ve face planted multiple times. When you’re triggered and you recognise it and say ‘nah’, that’s when you know your self awareness is power.
7. Accept and engage with your likes and dislikes
This might be articulating what you value in relation to what you don’t, which might inform when you say yes, when you say no and what people and environments you do or don’t want to surround yourself with.
8. You can’t do all the things
At work, we list all of the things we want to do and then we prioritise those things from most important to least important. I’ve very recently realised that I need to do the same in my personal life as well as in my broader career to help set my and other’s expectations of me. We have limited time, but if we have priority lists of people and things we want to invest in now, it also helps inform the choices we make on a day to day basis.
9. Be kind
People remember how you make them feel. It costs nothing to be kind to yourself and others.
10. Someone else will not complete you
Whether you are or aren’t in a romantic relationship with another person, the idea that someone else is the magic fix to feeling fulfilled and complete is a myth.
11. Work does not have to complete you either
I love my job but it’s but one piece of the puzzle in my life. I don’t want my job to take over my entire life, so I give my all and then I tend to put it down so I can rejuvenate and show up the next day. The work on our plate never ends, and putting in more time won’t change that.
12. Relationships matter
Don’t take the people in life who love and support you for granted. Also recognise that work doesn’t get done without working well with others.
13. Make an effort
Especially with the things that are important to you.
14. Spend time alone
There is so much noise and opportunity to distract oneself but it’s in those moments alone when you’re able to disconnect from technology and do ‘other’ things: whether it be building a puzzle, reading a book, getting out into nature, listening to music, or journaling. Make the time to sit and connect with yourself.
15. Listen to your body
It’s called intuition or your gut (the second brain). Our bodies tell us when we’re tired, hungry, stressed out, sick and we can respond accordingly. It’s a beautiful thing to tap into and just takes a bit of practice! I’ve ditched diets for intuitive eating, which brings me to my next realisation
16. Simplicity rules
The simple things in life! Get back to basics.
17. Accept the ups and the downs
I tend to get stuck dwelling more on the downs… and then group them all together and forget the good things happening in-between. It’s rare, at least for me, to have a perfect year – it’s doesn’t need to be perfect to be good, or to make progress.
18. Life is beautiful
Which is why you should recycle, reassess what you eat, what you buy and consider your carbon footprint / ways you can contribute to looking after this planet and the environment.
19. Challenge your own beliefs and yourself
A detox doesn’t need to be 21 days, it could be 2. A door could also be a floating device. Staying hydrated doesn’t necessarily = 8 glasses of water a day. A fork which is used for eating could also be a deadly weapon. Silly examples, but what are your paradigms and how could they be shifted? We are born and shaped by people and environmental factors. The ability to question everything and see things through an inquisitive lens is freeing and allow us to evolve our identity.
20. Beware the rut, but accept the mundane
Everyday isn’t exciting. I have responsibilities and sometimes I get bored in my routine, or stuck in a rut of doing the same things without noticing my environment (going through the motions). The choice to move beyond the rut is challenging at times, but I won’t stop trying.
21. PUT AWAY YOUR PHONE
That moment when you go out and notice there isn’t a single person around who isn’t looking at the device in their hands. Be present when you’re with people or out and about living your life. Try to put away your phone more than once in a while.
22. See a psychologist if you can afford to
Physical and mental health are not mutually exclusive. Best thing I ever did for myself in my 20s.
It might mean catching a plane, a train, a bus, driving yourself, or walking. It could be locally or internationally, close or far. See as many new things as time and finances can afford.
24. Change is inevitable
The idea of change can be frightening and difficult to deal with because it threatens the status quo. But change is an opportunity, a relief and needed to help us shift, evolve and move through life.
25. Take responsibility for yourself and let others take responsibility for themselves
This is a boundary; those things we aren’t always good at cultivating in certain areas of our life.
26. Have empathy but pair it with number 25
You can have empathy for others and be there for them without solving or fixing their problems.
27. Information is power, but engage with multiple sources and people
History, documentaries, research and news are examples of stories that are told by people and institutions with different biases and mandates. Not all of the time but sometimes, the truth can be found in the consistent details referenced by multiple reliable sources. Do your homework and beware of believing or distributing fake news and myths. Also allow your ‘truth’ to evolve or change when new evidence emerges.
28. Google it
Gah I love Google. It’s my first go-to when I want to know something.
29. There are multiple ways to skin a cat, find what works for you
What works for others, might not work for you. Try the different ways and choose the one that delivers the best result.
30. Get enough sleep.
Our bodies need it. Honour your circadian rhythm. Sleep is a gift and key to good health! Zzzzzzz.
Thank you for reading my 30 observations of my little life on a polkadot to date.
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