This post was updated on 27/02/23
It’s the time of year to reflect and start planning for next year. Not only that but we’re at the end of a decade. Then add to that, I’ve been with my husband for a decade! In that time I’ve been through quite a lot. Certainly things I didn’t expect to go through, such as chronic illness and infertility and depression. But I’ve come out the other side of various struggles, a stronger and happier person. So I wanted to take some time to reflect on 10 lessons I’ve learnt in 10 years and here’s the result.
You are responsible for your happiness
Happiness is an inside job. It might sound like a cliché to say you can’t be happy with someone else or a situation, unless you are happy with yourself; but it’s true. When you leave your happiness in someone else’s hands, you’ll end up being dependent on them and this could leave you feeling empty and low. Make your own happiness and any additional happiness from another person is a bonus.
Self-Care is key
I learnt this lesson the hard way; it took me being diagnosed with exhaustion to slow down and spend time on me. When we are living lives filled with activity, noise, and hurry, it is incredibly difficult to feel healthy and rested. When that is our overall experience with life, the result is that we become stressed and burned out. In order to nurture the health of our mind, body, and soul, we need ways to re-centre and restore.
There is no pre-determined timeline for your life
I remember being school age and mapping out my life with my friends; how old I was going to be when I got married, had my first child, my second child and whether they would be girls or boys. I know I’m not the only girl to do this. Did you? At the time, we might not see any harm. If it’s a carefree conversation, maybe. In reality though none of us can predict a timeline and if those things will happen at all. Have ideas and even plans of what you’d like from, but in true Ross from FRIENDS style, be prepared to pivot.
Perfection doesn’t exist
I used to be a perfectionist. Everything had to be just so in the house and in my life, otherwise I felt anxious, in a panic and even angry with myself sometimes. But I wasn’t happy being this way and with outside help and support I changed the story I was telling myself. Our house is now clean and tidy enough and I am a lot more kind to myself.
Forgive yourself and be kind
It all starts with forgiving yourself. You can’t successfully move forward in life and create a healthy mind, body and soul if you are living with guilt or regret. Let go and move on. Claim back your power by forgiving yourself, be kind and go and create the life of your dreams.
Set yourself goals and make them happen
You could say that goals are your dreams with a deadline. There’s more to it than that, there are tips on goal setting here. The point though is to have a life you love, you need to create it. Your goals don’t work unless you do. So once you know what you’re aiming for, work at them every single day until your proud
You can retrain your brain and shine
Negative thoughts can creep in when you least expect it. In a strange way it is our brain’s way of protecting you-ingrained from when there were a lot more threats around. There are ways to retrain your brain to still acknowledge these negative thoughts, but realise they are thoughts and will pass. Your thinking informs the way you feel, so choose the thoughts you focus on carefully.
Life is a series of lessons
You don’t always know what the lesson is at the time, but it will become clear. You can’t change the past. But you can use the knowledge you’ve gained to inform the future. Don’t let each chapter of your life be the same as the last.
Nothing changes if nothing changes
If nothing changes, nothing changes. If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’re going to get the same result. You want change, make some. Think what you want to change about your life and what you are willing to do differently to create that change.
In my HR career, I used to work for a care home provider. I used to go into the care homes to support the managers with various employment issue and projects and depending on the layout of the home I’d sometimes see the residents. In one home, there was a resident that I developed a bit of a friendship with. This lady was like a ray of sunshine in the home, with a lovely smile. She always dressed well, including jewellery and make up every day and her nails were always painted. I think I (secretly) wanted to be like her when I was her age. In fact, it was particularly poignant as at the time I was 30 and she was 90; she had 60 years additional life experience. We had lovely little chats and I would help her by reading the crossword clues, if she struggled to read them in the paper. After a number of weeks, a place had been found for my glamorous friend at a care home by the sea. We said our goodbyes and I’ll always remember her final words to me; “enjoy life.” I’ve been doing my best to honour that ever since.
I found the process of writing these lessons quite therapeutic and such an interesting task. Perhaps you might want to carry out a similar task. If you’re happy to share, let me know in the comments what you’ve learnt this decade.
If you would like some structured questions to ask yourself, download my end of year reflection workbook