1) Keep exploring and keep learning.
I thrive in an environment of exploration. Nothing much is better than that feeling of being in a strange, exciting place and not knowing whether to turn left or right at the corner. It’s the same feeling I had the first time I ate an oyster or the first time I went rock climbing. Experimenting doesn’t have to be serious, because learning about ourselves and the world we live in should be fun.
2) Put yourself out there.
I love to stomp on fear’s face, like, all day long. Yes, rejection and embarrassment and all sorts of weird things happen, but it’s all a part of testing out what I’m made of. I feel the most accomplished when I’m doing things that scare me and exceeding my own expectations with abandon. When who I want to be and who I actually am lines up, it’s magic. You can’t get there without a little risk.
3) Spend time with who you’ve got.
People like to say friendships come and go. While there’s truth to that, I like to think that friendships happen like seasons, fluid, one leading into the next. As a busy adult, I’ve learned to prioritize the relationships in front of me rather than cling to old seasons. The true friendships are the ones that still remain after months, or years, of crisscrossed schedules and canceled plans.
4) Learn to love mornings.
Mornings are a great time for productivity, goal setting, and relaxation. Although a good morning must start with a cup of coffee, I can’t say I know the perfect formula. For me, sometimes it means a few minutes of yoga and breathing. It could be journaling in my hammock or starting out my day by checking something big off the list. Even if you’re routine changes often, a little bit of intention goes a long way.
5) Don’t forget about your childhood self.
When I was little, I wanted to be cool. Now, even though I’m still not that cool, I just want to be little again. One of the most cherished parts of my personality is that fact that I still know how to be silly. Now that I’m older, I know how to make a fool of myself and not care what people think, because I’m having fun. Whether it’s singing in the car or doing cartwheels in the grass, never lose that playfulness.
6) …And look at the world with wonder.
I’ve done it too many times: grown tired of the gorgeous California weather, overlooked a really amazing view, stared off into a glowing sunset while moaning about traffic on the freeway. Spend enough time on this earth and it seems we begin to forget how extravagant it all is. Take every opportunity to see the world with new eyes, cover your heart with gratitude and acknowledge every blessing.
7) Make a lot of plans.
Of course, most of my plans don’t work out, but it is a good idea to have some dreams anyway. I find that if I don’t make any plans, a whole load of time will fly by without me noticing. I like to write down the things I want to do and aim for anything that keeps me moving forward. Plan a vacation, set dinner dates with friends, make a vision board on Pinterest. Big or small, have things in your calendar to look forward to; know the things you’re expecting from your life and try your hardest to make good stuff happen often.
8) Love people even when they don’t love you.
Love is sometimes exhausting, sometimes inconvenient – and sometimes it hurts. But I become a better person when I love more. The extension of my heart and hands is an extension of myself. What else could I want than to be known for loving people? I think love is what we’re meant for.
9) …But don’t be a doormat.
The only time I need to be a “yes man” is when I’m talking to God. He is the only one I should aim to please. When life is pulling me in different directions, I’ve learned to say no more often and to clear my schedule to be productive in my goals. Your purpose on this earth is a priority. The need to please everyone will fall away when you realize how much energy is drained by overcommitment.
10) Living slower may get you somewhere faster.
I used to operate at 100 miles per hour, always. I ran myself into the ground to prove something, maybe how hard of a worker I was. My schedule was packed and I fed off of it. Did I pull it off? Yeah. Was it all worth it? Maybe not. I missed the memo on how much fun your twenties are supposed to be. Years flew by and sometimes I didn’t even know what I was working towards. Find fulfillment in setting a greater intention, and getting a bit done each day. You’ll be more productive when you give yourself adequate time to rest and be joyful.
11) Be the bigger person.
When I let go of drama, I’m becoming more resilient. When I forgive, I’m becoming kinder. When I go the extra mile without reciprocation or acknowledgement, I’m strengthening my character. Taking the high road is about more than avoiding conflict, it’s about learning to adapt. The point is to focus on your growth, not teaching lessons to those not ready to listen.
12) Mix it up before you get fed up.
Too many times I’ve stayed in a job I detested because I felt obligated, guilty, or fearful. I completed a miserable few years in a college major because I was too worried that altering my path would set me back. My relationships, my mental health, and my future suffered for my indecision. In the end there was no medal of honor for being incredibly unhappy with my life and sticking it out anyway. I wish someone had told me how important it was to quit wasting time and search for what I was really supposed to do. So here it is: it is really important to quit wasting your time.
13) …But understand the value of commitment
I can’t be honorable if I’m constantly breaking my word. I want to be that person who is honest and diligent and is known for giving their all. Don’t hurt other people getting what you want. Don’t be a quitter for the sake of quitting because, let’s face it, there are too many darn options in our world today for everything, and no one seems to understand what a commitment means anymore.
14) Be okay being alone.
Allow me to be cheesy: I am my own best friend. I’ve learned to sit in silence. I like hanging around myself every day. Understand that if you don’t, you’re in for a long, uncomfortable life. Finding a best friend, a partner, or a horde of friends to amuse you will only numb the fact that you’re scared of who you are without them. Spend lots of time figuring that out. If you don’t like your personality, change it.
15) Eat the darn pizza.
…or the burger, or the candy, or whatever else your favorite food may be. I spent a long time beating myself up about any flaw I could find, and probably more time trying to overcompensate at the gym. Gaining a healthy relationship with food meant changing my perspective. Eating isn’t a long-term solution for your problems and it’s certainly not something to be punished for doing either. Food is about enjoyment, flavor, celebration, nourishment, and blessing. Your days are too short to pass on mac n’ cheese and lament over a wiggly body part or two.
16) Encourage other people.
It’s so cool when I receive a word of encouragement at just the perfect time of frustration. When it happens, I know God is looking out for me; I know He cares when I am struggling. So, spend lots of time strengthening other people. I promise, you’ll rarely find someone who doesn’t need it. Lift people up in their gifts and what they’re meant to do. Just as you struggle, others do, too. Think about how often you could use a cheerful word, and try to give one out just as much.
17) …And be your own cheering section.
I used to struggle speaking proudly of myself and being kind when I fell short. Negative self-talk and self-depreciating comments are so poisonous. We cannot rise when we feel defeated. Cry if you need to, but afterwards, tell yourself you’re okay, and you can do whatever you need to do. Remain self-assured through every hardship. Claim you’ve already won, out loud, and see how drastically your attitude changes.
18) Spend lot’s of time in laughter and love.
Every relationship I’ve had was and is meaningful to me. True connection may be hard to find, but it has always taught me something valuable. We’re meant to enjoy ourselves, to be filled up, to have a good time and to receive love. Even if you prefer to be alone, make time for those that lift you up. Let yourself be reminded how nice it is to be in the company of good people.
19) Forget pricey therapy, stay active.
On more than one occasion, I’ve gone to the gym, rolled out my yoga mat, or taken off on a trail run with one intention: freedom. Fitness has been the best solution when my brain, or my heart, is overloaded. In my experience, seemingly huge problems either melt away with the sweat, or my mind leaves better equipped to handle them. If I had a dollar for every time my spirit was restored through exercise, I could take a vacation. And wouldn’t that be nice? Next time you’re hurting, try a walk, or a flat-out fricken sprint.
20) Follow your passions.
I’ve spent long periods of time working unfulfilling jobs and only doing the things I love on the side. A girl’s gotta eat, right? Sacrifice is part of being an adult with responsibilities, but how much of our procrastination is really fear? It isn’t healthy, or rewarding, to keep your special gifts bundled up for no one to see. If you’re feeling called to something different, exhaust every opportunity to make it your day job, or at least a big part of your life.
21) …But don’t expect it to be easy.
When I made the decision to change careers at 26, I welcomed the challenge. I never thought that following my heart to writing was going to be simple, but I didn’t expect how often I’d need a reminder that I’m on the right path. Doubt will always find a way to get you where it hurts: your self worth, your power and your purpose. Keep yourself up high, remember who you are, what you’re working for and where you want to go.
22) Most stress isn’t worth your time.
Worry would suck the life out of me if I let it. And in fact, it used to. Anxiety is a real struggle of mine, but every year I get better at letting go of the chaos. If getting older is somehow mending my perfectionism, I’ll take the trade. If you were to take a moment to write down all the things you stressed about today, would most of them be genuine problems, or inconsequential? If it’s the latter, throw out the bag of crap you’re lugging around and say, ‘no thanks’ to trivial stress.
23) Never stop trying to get where you need to be.
Getting discouraged is a part of life. I’ve made mistakes, bad decisions and failed at more than a few things. It’s easy to want to give up, to accept a way out, to quit trying so hard when you feel unsuccessful. But never actually quit trying. You can always improve, there is always a way through, there is always a path to victory. All you need is a little creativity and a little gumption.
24) Forgive yourself often.
I used to be jealous of those people who got lucky early in life. They got accepted to their first choice university, they fell in love with the first job they landed, and their first love became their last. Now I figure, sometimes we get lucky and sometimes we’re destined for the mess. It makes a good story, right? Stuff happens. Learn how to laugh with the blunders. See every misstep as practice for the real deal. Know that even the lucky guys don’t have it all figured out and success does not look like a straight line upwards. If you’re not doing the best you can, do better tomorrow.
25) …And don’t hold others in contempt.
Everyone’s been hurt by someone else and we all know how hard it can be to let some of that baggage go. There have been times I’ve held on to junk for years. Holding others at fault did nothing but preserve my own pain. Try to find genuine ways to be compassionate and offer forgiveness. Step out of anger and receive a little hope.
26) Expect to work on yourself.
As I get older, a more confident self is beginning to take hold. It wasn’t without pain or challenges. To grow, I had to put in the work and let myself be vulnerable to change. Now, I am facing challenges with more determination and positivity than ever, because I feel equipped. If you want to live the life you were meant for, start accepting where you’re at now and how much work you’ll need to do.
27) Go for what you want.
I used to hold the belief that what I was meant for would somehow find me, or that it would be made inherently clear at the perfect moment. In reality, my dreams were right in front of me, I was just scared of going for it and scared of how hard it would be to get there. I was held back by the fear of rejection, failure, and what people would think. I let that fear keep me from living in faith. Faith is about believing in what you can’t know and stepping out where you can’t see. So keep the faith and start moving.