Nothing about 2020 turned out how I had imagined (and I’m guessing that’s pretty true for most people too). And honestly, at 25, if you’d had asked me what my life would look like, my answer wouldn’t have been anything of what my life actually looks like now. At the time, I thought I’d end up living in New York or LA, I’d be working for a large corporation climbing up the ladder, crushing it (obviously) and doing the things we’re “supposed to do,” like preparing to buy a house. Well, funny enough, I realized that I don’t want most of those things and some, I’m just not as concerned about yet. And I’m so glad. So in honor of turning 26 (and in honor of 2020 – a year full of life lessons and reasons to actually sit with your thoughts and think a little more), here are 26 things I’ve learned in my 26 years:
It’s so easy (at least for me) to get in my own head and doubt something when it doesn’t look like what I had envisioned before. And with time, I’m learning that more often than not, that is totally okay and it can actually be better! Now don’t get me wrong, I still believe in the power of visualization as a tool for progress and goal setting, but in life, for the smaller things, sometimes you just have to let those “ideals” you created go and realize that what’s in front of you is in front of you because it’s even better.
You know how in airplanes they tell you that if oxygen masks cme down, you should secure your own before assisting others? Well, this applies to your everyday life too. If your cup is empty, how can you pour into others? I strongly believe that we show up as better humans in the world when we’re doing well. Day to day in my life, this looks like doing something for me first thing, every morning, before I turn my energy outward. This could be working out, yoga, meditating (or at least trying), working on a passion project, whatever – just something that will fill my cup so that the rest of the day, I have a little more to pour into others.
This applies to most things. People. Things. Food. More is definitely not always more.
I love technology for the tools and connection it provides, but being cognizant of its impacts in your life is huge. For example, I stopped using my Apple Watch this year and splurged on a nice non-digital watch with the moving hands and everything (#oldschool) because I was not only addicted to notifications on my phone but also on my watch. It was acting as a second form of distraction so I got rid of it and it’s made a huge difference! Just do a self-check time to time on what tech is helping you and what tech might actually be complicating your life.
I’m a planet person and COVID’s effects on the climate has only reinforced that for me. I believe we owe it to ourselves and especially to future generations to do our part and treat our home as nicely as we can. Over quarantine, I started taking stock of single-use plastic in my life and have been slowly making swaps for more sustainable options. I started composting and all around, I’m way more aware of the true environmental costs of everyday things, like Amazon Prime shipping, driving and so on. Baby steps people. Baby steps. (They’re small, but way better than no steps).
I learned my enneagram type last year and it’s been somewhat of a game-changer. As a 7, my core fears include being deprived, trapped in emotional pain, being bored and being limited. This makes my core desire to feel fulfilled, engaged, excited and to experience new things. Well, learning this about myself explained a lot and has helped to better understand myself, understand why certain things upset me or are so important to me, etc. It’s also helped me explain why I never sit down and just chill and therefore it gets easier for me to give myself permission to do said “chilling”.”
I’ll leave it at this: 1. things usually won’t just fall into your lap. 2. It’s hard to say no to passion and enthusiasm and people usually want to help!
Ahhhh honestly, though in some way, I feel like this is common sense and I’ve always known it, 2020 really hit this one home. I started asking myself, “What is that I truly truly value in life and if someone didn’t know me and saw my spending habits, would they pick up on that? Am I actually putting my money towards the things that matter to me most or do they not actually matter to me that much after all?” I’ve started buying less random stuff and traveling more. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I will always have a higher grocery bill than many because I value health and wellness and things like fresh, organic produce, tend to cost more.
Thank god for podcasts. I read some, but I ingest so much information through various podcasts and sometimes audio books, it’s crazy. I sign-up for free courses, I talk to people and pick their brains, I try new things (like buying a keyboard over quarantine and starting piano lessons)! Just keep learning – life is way more fun that way.
So maybe this one won’t apply to everyone. But for me, I’m a much better and more productive person when I’m on a morning-focused sleep schedule and routine. Let’s face it. I’m a grandma and I like to go to bed early and wake up before the rest of the world does. I’ve therefore also learned that prioritizing mornings means less late night outings, only 1 round of drinks at happy hour and auto-brew settings on coffee pots are magical.
Every year, this becomes more and more true. Every year I buy less and what I do buy becomes of better quality. Sometimes you’ll buy that amazing cheap pair of shoes that last forever and those finds are awesome! But I’ve started investing in more things not only because of quality but because I’m now very aware of the fact that someone else’s livelihood is on the other end of that equation. And don’t get me wrong, in no way am I saying buy the most expensive version because it will be the best! That’s definitely not true either. Just realize some things are worth spending a little more for (and a sale or discount is not a reason to buy! <- that’s a note to myselffff).
As an enneagram 7, I’m always on the move, looking for the next best new thing and often feel like I’m doing something wrong or being lazy if not doing something “productive.” But I’m learning (and quarantine definitely helped me see) that doing nothing and enjoying the act of just being, observing the smallest things, and yes, being lazy, is okay (and actually needed – see 13).
This one, I’ve actually been pretty good at. I’ve never been someone that sits at my desk and doesn’t get up til something’s done or 8 hours have passed. I literally can’t. Taking breaks is important and necessary. You will be more productive having taken the time for a break than to so-called “power through” it. In the end, you’ll likely spend more time if you try to save from taking breaks.
Hi Rona. Thanks for the reminder. But actually. Make it a priority to save for the future (both personally and in business). Contribute as much as you can to 401ks, Roths, etc. and pay yourself first, every single time. Having that emergency fund is a life-saver, stress-saver and is really nice to look at in your bank accounts.
I have a very strong love/hate relationship with social media and our phones (which you might have picked up on by now). I also really hate being in a conversation with someone in-person who’s on their phone looking at social media, clearly not hearing what I’m saying (especially if we’re out to dinner or doing something special or in a professional/work environment). Granted, I still do this sometimes (usually with the people I love the most for some reason) – we’re all works in progress. But I’m working on it!
Okay, this one may come off as harsh. And it kind of is but also, look back at #2 – if I believe prioritizing your health and your emotions is important, then I also have to understand that when I ask something of someone (especially a favor) that favor is not their priority. It’s also a lesson in communication and that you can’t rely on people to read your mind, understand what you mean or to remember things after being told once. We’re all bombarded with notifications and request allllll day long so follow-up, be reliable and set an example, and speak clearly and to details.
This one should probably be #1. I keep joking that every 2 years since going to college, I hit a i-don’t-know-what-i’m-doing-with-my-life phase. Some people seem to just walk through life and be on the best damn path from the get-go (or at least social media makes it look that way). As I feel this way more and more over the years, I’m realizing this is just part of life. And while it’s stressful, exhausting and can make you feel stuck, feeling lost is part of the journey that is life. If you don’t feel lost, you’ll never look for direction (aka, miss out on good things, new things and opportunities). Also, I’m convinced none of us actually know what we’re doing in life and that is 100% okay.
Ahh yes. The B word. (Not that B word, be nice). Boundaries. They can be so hard to set for some people (aka me) but after starting my own business, being somewhat of a social butterfly and then being in quarantine, I’ve learned to set boundaries. These can be different for everyone and apply to literally so many parts of your life but for me, one that’s been a major change was setting boundaries around email and notifications. I only check email twice a day and I don’t leave my inbox tab open all day (no the world will not end if you don’t respond in .05 seconds – phones do exist still) and I’ve turned off sooo many notifications on my phone for various social media, emails and apps that I really don’t need to constantly be on top of. I’ve also set boundaries around my schedule and how many things I can schedule in a week before I’ll feel overwhelmed or lose my time to do things like workout, make good foods or see people I love. Set. Those. Boundaries.
Ahh yes. Turning 26 means I can’t rely on my mom’s health insurance to cover me anymore. Sad year. And it’s expensive, especially if you’re self-employed. And 2020 has been just another reminder in my eyes of how far behind our healthcare system is and how many people are left behind. So while I will endlessly complain about health insurance and it’s cost, I’m also grateful that I can buy it.
I personally believe people don’t have hard conversations enough. Especially now days, under our political climate as we all feel so strongly and divided on issues and topics. But sitting back and not educating yourself is a disservice to you and everyone else. Learn. Have conversations. Challenge your own views. And try to imagine where others might come from even if you’ll never understand their point of view.
Being outside, being in nature, even just stepping on your lawn barefoot all feels really good, grounds you and can heal you in some ways.
I’m not vegan (simply vegetarian, or as plant-based as I can be). But I know after 26 years of eating and being in tune with my body that I feel much better when I eat a plant-based, meat-free and dairy-free diet. I’m still going to eat the ice cream though.
This isn’t high school. You deserve better.
Or, like, everything. Diets don’t work Moderation does. Excessive spending is unnecessary, but true minimalism is probably not for me. A social life is important, but going out every night is never a good idea. 1 is special, 26 of something is just unnecessary. See what I’m saying? Moderation is good for a lot of things.
Life is short. Go to the concert. Go to the lunch. Say yes to the trip. And then do everything you can to make it work (while sticking to your boundaries). There’s a balance – oh wait, it’s moderation!
Boom. I think that one can just sit there.
Well there it is! 26 years and the only 26 things I know! Just kidding. And it’s probably due to the kind of year 2020 has been, but it feels like several of these I learned just in this past year. For more about me, follow me on instagram and shoot me a DM with any lesson that stood out to you! I’m here for it.