1. Limit yourself to one cup of coffee per day
I started drinking coffee at 12 years old and over time it grew into something I depended on more and more. By the time I was out of college and in my first “grown up job,” I was up to a couple of cups a day. It’s no wonder I was jittery and anxious all the time; my entire body was relying on caffeine to get me through the day. If you feel the need to have multiple cups of coffee throughout the day, that’s your body’s way of telling you you’re lacking sleep or proper nutrition. Somehow I managed to wean myself off of coffee completely by switching to tea and warm lemon water in the morning. I’m not suggesting you do the same, but hey, maybe one cup a day? It might be nice to make it past 40 without getting a heart attack.
2. Walk before you run
Literally and figuratively. Burnout is the reason a lot of my goals and ventures haven’t gone quite according to plan. I tend to get passionate and excited in the beginning, thereby putting way too much on my plate to start and feeling so exhausted that I can’t sustain it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told myself, “I’m starting my daily exercise practice today” only to give up a few days later. Or that I need to write a page every day in order to improve my writing. Not the case. Some days, I have low energy or not a lot to say, or to be honest, I’m just not in the mood. You don’t have to do 100 squats or write a short story for the day to be productive. Start small and build from there. You last far longer that way, I promise.
3. Check your car fluids
I learned this one the hard way. A few times actually (sorry dad). After successfully overheating two cars and running on the least amount of oil possible, I’ve learned to check those small things a bit more often before they turn into the major issues. I’m pretty sure my bank account will appreciate this lesson in the coming year.
4. Always be reading
I like to switch off between self-knowledge/improvement books and more light-hearted, fiction reading-then I get the best of both worlds. I believe the written word is one of civilization’s most powerful tools, and there is always something to be gained from the ideas of others. Books are one of the best escapes from daily life, where you’re able to tap into a new place and set of lives, or learn how to better improve your own. A clear win-win in my opinion.
5. Drinking should not be your only weekend activity
If all your Fridays and Saturdays consist of hitting the bars and clubs (I’m assuming you’ve at least managed to cut back on the weekday drinking), brunching, and nursing hangovers, I’ve got a reality check for you. You’re wasting your life. Sure, going out is great, and I’m all for having a good time with friends. In fact, I encourage it while you’re still young with little responsibilities in life. But if that’s all you’re doing, you’ll look back and wonder why you didn’t take all that free time and do something a little better with it. If you keep complaining you have no time or money to travel, learn a language, play an instrument, discover how to build and brand your own business, I have to tell you you’re very wrong. You do have that time. And that money. It’s just being used on those drinks you needed after another long week at work.
6. Heartbreak never hurts any less as you age
For some reason, getting your heart broken still feels just as terrible as it did at 16. You’d think after going down that road so many times before, you’d be used to the feeling, but you never are.
7. Small steps in the kitchen
I admit, most of my diet still consists of me grabbing anything quick and easy to eat on the run, which generally isn’t the healthiest of options. However, I can say I now venture into the kitchen at least once a day to make something. My morning smoothie has been the best update to my routine. I can easily get my greens in for the day, feel more energized, and best of all, it only takes a few minutes to make. I’m not the next Master Chef, but progress, right?
8. No one care about you
Such an easy concept that we hear all the time, but I’ve finally realized how true it is. As much as you think people are judging and hating every step you take, I promise they aren’t. They’re too busy thinking about how much they’re being judged and hated to worry for a second about you.
9. Go out on a limb. It almost always pays off
I had a plan set for my life when I went away right after my 23rd birthday and that fell apart when I decided to pursue a dream I’d had for awhile, but had always been too scared to take. That decision ended up being the best decision I’ve ever made. If you keep doing the same thing every day, and merely talking about the things you hope to do and achieve, they’re just words. It’s the action that makes life interesting.
10. Be selfish
This has been my hardest lesson, and one I’m still learning. I’m the oldest sibling and was raised to share and give to others. It’s one of my favorite things about myself. However, I’ve realized that giving too much away only hurts me. Whether that’s time, money, energy, or love, I need that just as much as other’s need it from me. After all, you only get one life, so make yourself a priority.