One of the most profound and powerful things I now do is to take time out of my full schedule to sit down and reflect. I do this at the end of each day, month, quarter and year. But I thought I would take it up a notch and reflect on some of my life lessons from the past decade, with the hope that my discoveries of my top 10 life lessons will help you reflect on your journey and learnings.
It’s the start of 2020, and if you’re like me, you have your goals all mapped out. The path is clear; you know what you want, how to get there, and why it’s essential.
But before we rush off into the next decade, I think it’s important to reflect and look back at how far we have come and what has been our most prominent areas of growth.
“People overestimate what they can do in a year and underestimate what they can do in a decade.”
With this quote from Tony Robbins in my mind, I sat down and wrote out my top 10 life lessons learned from the past ten years and what they have taught me in the hope you might learn something new along the way.
So here goes.
1. Self-love is not selfish
That’s right, say it out loud as many times as you need until this one truly sinks in. Self-love is not selfish. If anything, it is vital for not only our sanity and happiness but also, it has a massive impact on how we treat others.
If you put everyone else’s needs before your own, there will come the point when you sacrifice your dreams, desires, health, growth and happiness. Your frustration of this may come out in different ways, e.g. you snap at your partner or child for something so minor, or you become jealous of your co-workers or friends and find it hard to be happy for other people. You become quick to blame, shame and continuously compare your life to others.
“Put the oxygen mask on yourself first before you help others.”
Taking time out each day to do something for ourselves is an act of love and will have a ripple effect on those around you. It could be heading to the gym, doing a yoga class, getting into a good book or quietly sitting in silence enjoying a cup of coffee. Finding time for you is not selfish. To live a full and happy life, it’s essential.
2. The present moment is all there is
Being solely in the present moment took me a while for me to master. I have always been someone who strived headfirst towards my goals and never took the time until about three years ago to work on being more present and grateful for all that I have now. Alternatively, people who cling onto the past, use it as an excuse for negativity in the present. They focus on moments in their life where things were more comfortable, or they felt happier.
When you realise deeply that the present moment is all there is and all there will ever be, you start to live each day in a state of consciousness. I know when I accepted this truth, I became more grateful and began to live each day with more purpose and intention.
3. Strive for progress, not perfection
Now I have a different approach to life, and that is I strive for progress, not perfection.
How many people are waiting for the perfect time to start that business, exercise plan, proposal, move, etc.
NEWS FLASH that time will never come as there is no such thing as perfect.
What’s stopping? Making mistakes is all part of the journey and one of the many ways we learn and grow. Don’t let your need to make everything perfect hold you back.
Which takes me nicely onto the 4th of my top 10 life lessons learned in the past decade.
4. Success is not about wealth and status
If you had asked me to define success at the start of the last decade, I would have said, money, beautiful house, designer clothes, status, you get the idea. They were all focused on external factors. Now if you ask me what success looks like I respond simply by saying;
“Success for me is waking up every day feeling inspired, grateful and with a clear purpose. It’s living life to the fullest every day with laughter and love. It is getting to the end of the day knowing I have done my best, grown and hopefully inspired someone along the way.”
I think our society needs to re-define what it means to be “successful” There is nothing wrong with striving for wealth, but never at the cost of your health and well-being. I learnt this the hard way, but that’s a blog for another day.
5. It’s none of my business what other people think, so why care?
If you live your life to please others, you won’t live a full, happy life. I realised this while worrying too much in my early 20s of what other people thought of me. It is none of my business what opinions people may have about me, and why should I care?
If I wake up every day and live my life with passion, purpose and only speak my truth, then I know I am my authentic self and living by my values. People only judge in others what they don’t like in themselves. Remember that hurt people hurt people. Always do your best, stay true to who you are, and you will attract the right people in your life who love, support and accept you for who you are.
Leading me nicely into number six of my top 10 life lessons learned in the past decade.
6. Whom you surround yourself with is who you become
They say “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with” and “if you are the smartest person in the room you are in the wrong room.” It’s easy to stay inside our comfort zone and continue to hang around with the same people as this feels safe.
However, be honest and ask yourself, is your current group of friends the right people for you and your personal growth and development goals. If not, it can be a hard pill to swallow, but to move forward, we need to let go of what no longer serves us and protect our energy from any negativity or others limiting beliefs.
Join a meetup group, a new gym or social club and start meeting people who share your values and inspire you to be the best you can be.
I choose my inner circle now very carefully and am always aware of how I feel around new people. I am so grateful for all the incredible people I have in my life moving into this new decade, it has taken time to develop deep friendships, but it has been so worth it.
7. You can’t control what others say about you, but you can control how you respond
Be curious, be present, be choiceful. Unless you decide to move to a cave and spend the rest of your life in isolation (not recommending), then we are going to come up against other people’s opinions, thoughts and actions. You can never control others; the only person you can control is yourself.
Developing my emotional intelligence has been quite the journey.
At the start of the last decade, I was extremely reactive. I would find myself triggered easily, and then snap back in anger or tut with frustration or roll my eyes with sheer disappointment. If this sounds like something you struggle with, the good news is that by working on your emotional intelligence, this can improve and develop.
Next time you find yourself in a discussion at work or your personal life and see yourself getting worked up, take a breath and be curious as to how you are feeling. Be present and listen to what the other person is saying, and then (practising empathy) be choiceful as to how you respond. Practising empathy is a great start in developing high EI, a life skill that will have a profound impact on your relationships with yourself and others.
Moving to number 8 of my top 10 life lessons learned throughout the 10’s.
8. How you start your day impacts the rest of your day
At the start of 2018, I took my morning routine up a notch. I found myself saying things like I wish I had more time to read, meditate and exercise. So, I began my morning ritual, which after two years of practising, changing and progressing (not perfecting) looks like this:
500 am – Meditate or sit in silence
515 am – Write in a journal and set intentions
530 am – Yoga or stretch
545 am Head to the gym or out for a walk.
700 am- Shower and repeat a daily affirmation
715 am- Get ready for the day, read a chapter of my book or a few articles
730 am – Enjoy a healthy breakfast.
800 am – Day mapped out and ready to rock.
Notice there is no mention of emails or news. I now refuse to start my day on anyone else’s time or fill my mind with negativity — instead, the first 3 hours of my day’s dedicated to my mind, body and spirit.
If you struggle to get up in the morning but would like to master your day, then set the intention to wake up tomorrow just 15 minutes earlier. My day did not always look like this, and as I mentioned, it took me two years to create this routine. Everyone is on their journey, so go easy on yourself. If you want to improve your morning routine, build it up gradually.
9. There is no such thing as positive and negative emotions
Acceptance is the first step to change. Now you have accepted how you feel and tried to understand why you may be feeling this way; you begin to regain your power. Ask yourself, “how do I want to feel?” Focus on what you can be grateful for what you are proud of and who you want to be.
Then take a few deep breaths, jump up and down and move your body to release the tension and repeat your daily affirmation, e.g. I choose to live my life with a sense of joy and love and let go of what no longer serves me. You can say this as many times as you need to until you feel the shift Trust me it works and is a powerful practice that has had a profound impact in my life and I hope it will do the same for you too.
Finally, but by no means least of my top 10 life lessons learned in the past decade.
10. Mindset matters
Our mind hasn’t evolved to make us happy; it just wants to keep us alive. It’s alert to all the dangers that might be around us.
A few thousand years ago, this was a great thing. Our minds alerted us to be able to run away from predators; back then, it was a life or death situation. Nowadays, the sabre-tooth tiger is your boss, spouse, co-worker, child or family member. Anyone or anything can throw us into survival at any moment if we do not work on our mindset daily.
Like any muscle, your brain needs a workout. It’s like going to the gym; you can’t go once and expect to be fit and fabulous, it’s something you need to work on every day.
So why then do we spend money going to the gym and supplements for our body, but neglect the one thing that is responsible for every decision we make, our mind.
If you genuinely want to start this decade living a life full of love, laughter, fulfilment and joy, then mastering your mindset should be the one thing you work on daily.
I hope some of my top 10 life lessons from the past decade has helped to set the path for you and make you reflect on your growth and what you have learned thus far.
We are living in such an incredible time, and I believe that if we become students for life, continue to work on ourselves daily, strive for progress over perfection, show ourselves some love and master our minds. We are setting ourselves up for an incredible future. What are your top 10 life lessons that you have learned from the past decade, and how will they serve you as you enter the next chapter of this incredible journey that we call life?
Director – Innovation and Growth