Top 12 Life Notions I Wish I Knew at 20
As I approach my 49th birthday, I wonder how many more life lessons I still have to learn the hard way. Those mishaps that could be prevented if I knew better.
Some of us grow up as sponges while others are bricks. Being hard headed isn’t always bad. You forgo the opportunity to leap frog over obstacles others previously conquered. Rather, you choose to face each adversity head on and figure out your own way. The sponge moves ahead faster but may be less equipped to deal with life’s curve balls.
If you’ve read my Sid’s Sense series, you certainly know I’ve lived as a sponge. Adding 49 years of life experience to that borrowed wisdom is what motivated me to share this list. After decades of discovery, here are few life notions I wish I knew when I was twenty.
1. Decisions shouldn’t be that hard.
If we’re having trouble making a decision, it’s most likely we don’t have enough facts. Dig deeper. When we’ve uncovered enough facts, the answer will reveal itself like petals on a spring flower.
2. Energy creates more time.
Time expands when energy expands. When we’re passionate about something or on a focused mission, time is not an issue. We get bogged down and complain about time because we’re not spending most of our time on what we like to do. Define your energy and you’ll have all the time you need.
3. We have more trouble visualizing difficulty than success.
We may fear difficulty and failure but only as a cloud of doom. We visualize fantasies much easier. “The grass is always greener on the other side.” We visualize how we want things to be which is usually perfect. Try rehearsing your successful maneuvering around challenges within your visions of tomorrow.
4. Listen to passionate recommendations.
Take the bait when given an insistent recommendation. You’ll save loads of time and increase positive outcomes throughout your life. Say it’s the absolute best book they ever read, the most fabulous recipe, the best vacation ever, a product you must check out, etc. Take mental notes. It’s a big world. Why not let others do part of the research for you?
5. Make requests.
Diane Sawyer once said, “A criticism is just a negative way of making a request. So why not just make the request.” Next time you want to criticize yourself, your spouse, your friend, your parent, your boss….try requesting what you do want instead of wasting energy expressing what you don’t.
6. Ask yourself what is already perfect.
When you’re feeling down, first ask yourself what is perfect in your life at that moment. This forces your brain to look for the good amidst the turmoil. You’ll be better equipped to take the reigns with a sense of control and optimism for what’s next.
7. Appreciate what others give us and don’t expect more.
The biggest blows in life come from false expectations. Have you felt let down by other people? Realize that friends are not obligated to meet your expectations. Enjoy what each person adds to your life and leave it at that. Give freely because you want to. Appreciate any bounce back, no matter how small.
8. Who we hang with matters.
It’s been said that we are the average of the 3 people we choose to be around the most. Choose your friends wisely. Life is a revolving door and very few people enter and stay for good. In my opinion, 20% of the people you’re around could care less about your problems and 79% are glad you have them because it makes them feel better about their own life. The final 1% is hard to find and few to count. Human gems who enter and stay regardless of life’s changing tides.
9. Spend money on experiences rather than things.
Experiences create memories that last. Good memories anchor joy that can be re-lived over and over again creating similar feelings. Ironically, a memory never ages because it captures an experience. Whereas a possession loses its pizazz over time. It ages right in front of us and loses its grand appeal rapidly.
10. Update your reasons.
Reasons for doing things change over time. Frustration often comes when you get wrapped up in routines and patterns that no longer hold the same purpose as when you started. The all too common fizzle. Make adjustments. Re-commit to what compels and propels you into the future you desire.
11. Teach people how to treat you.
Bullies seek victims. Competence breeds respect. Clear boundaries are barriers with a message. Pay attention to how you project yourself as a parent, spouse, employee, boss, friend, student, etc. Send mixed messages and invite conflict. If you “take charge” most of the time, don’t get aggravated when those around you don’t take initiative. If you are always the quiet one at the party, don’t expect others to make you the center of attention. If you’re always picking up the pieces at work, don’t expect your co-workers to stop you.
12. Get to know your baselines.
If success occurs outside our comfort zone, it’s helpful to define the parameters of the zone we must reach beyond. It’s much easier to take risks with confidence when you know how low you can fall. Most of us fear falling to the depths of despair without realizing our floor is not that low. We all establish baselines over time through consistent habits, routines and relationships. When we feel worthy and at ease within our comfort zone, we are more apt to reach beyond it.