50 Lessons I’ve Learned Thus Far

There’s something about birthdays that often calls for reflection. What have I learned? What would I do differently? If I could go back 10 years, what would I tell 21 year old me? How can I continue to improve?

I’m a continual work in progress. I’ll never stop learning, growing, making mistakes, and trying to be better. As I look forward to the next 10 years, these are a few of the lessons I’ve learned along the way…

Birthday Lessons

 

  1. Compare yourself to no one but the person you were yesterday. Comparison is the thief of joy. Don’t let anyone tell you you haven’t done enough when you know you’ve given your best.
  2. Think before you speak, listen more than you talk, give more than you take.
  3. The loudest person in the room often has the least to say. Let your successes speak for you.
  4. Spelling and grammar matter… 100% of the time.
  5. No FLOTUS ever sent a nude. Be careful with actions you can’t undo.
  6. Cry when you need to cry. Don’t apologize for your emotions. You don’t have to be perfect. Give yourself a break.
  7. Forgive those who hurt you most, yourself included. You’re allowed to forgive people without allowing them back into your life. People are allowed to do the same to you.
  8. It is not your place to ask God, “Why?” Trust His plan, trust His timing, and appreciate unanswered prayers. When God closes a door, lock it.
  9. Nobody is worth you compromising your dignity. Nobody. Love and respect should go hand in hand.
  10. Tithe. God multiplies.
  11. Words have power. Be mindful of yours… Especially the ones you tell yourself. Honesty never has to be brutal. And just because you can voice your opinions all over the internet doesn’t mean you should. Get a journal.
  12. Know when and how to say “Please”, “Thank you”, “No thank you,” and “I’m sorry,” without having to defend yourself. An apology with conditions is not an apology.
  13. Have a deliberate, positive, gratitude-filled, solo morning routine. How you spend your morning will shape your entire day.
  14. Be mindful of what you put in your body and how you treat it. You have one life to live and one body to live it in. Don’t poison it. Eat the dessert… but in moderation. An hour on the treadmill does not erase eating an entire cheesecake. Exercise regularly, eat well, drink lots of water, and get adequate rest. “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” is stupid. If you don’t listen to your body when it tells you to slow down, it will MAKE you slow down. Just listen.
  15. Travel. Early. Often. Everywhere you can. Try the food. Learn the language. Swim in the ocean. Dig your toes in the sand. Step off the grounds of the resort…(safely). Don’t be so busy taking pictures that you miss out on the whole experience.
  16. You’re as strong as you choose to be. You have little control over what happens to you, but total control over your response. Refuse to live your life as a victim. Your history does not have to be your legacy.
  17. Don’t ignore red flags. Trust your intuition.
  18. A handwritten note is a powerful thing.
  19. Your gifts are meant to be shared. Share them. Use your blessings to bless others.
  20. A closed mouth doesn’t get fed. Ask for what you want. Speak up. Voice your expectations. Clear communication will solve 99% of your problems with other people. If you want God to answer your prayers, you have to start by praying.
  21. Be impeccable with your word. Follow through. Words without action are useless.
  22. Surround yourself with people who you can continuously learn from. Ask questions, even if you think you have all the answers. (You don’t). If you want to be great, study the greats. Never. Stop. Learning.
  23. The 3 things that will impact you most in life are the people you meet, the places you go, and the books you read. Read good books.
  24. Be the person that the person you’re looking for is looking for. The most important project you’ll ever work on is yourself.
  25. You cannot change a man. Just find one who’s willing and committed to growing with you.
  26. Give someone adequate time to prove who they are before inviting them into your intimate space. Guard your heart. You’ll save yourself a whole lotta heartbreak if you’ll just slow down the process.
  27. If you “loan” someone money, consider it a gift. Let yourself be pleasantly surprised if they ever actually pay you back.
  28. Be patient with, kind to, and helpful toward the elderly. They have a lifetime of wisdom to share if you’ll let them. And God-willing, you’ll be one of them one day. Treat them with the dignity and respect you hope to receive.
  29. Wear sunscreen. Wrinkles and cancer aren’t worth a tan… Besides, there are lotions for that now.
  30. Your parents may not have been perfect, but they probably did the best they could. Even if they didn’t, forgive their mishaps. Be grateful for the lessons you can learn. You cannot build a positive legacy with a bitter heart.
  31. The best things in life require work, dedication, perseverance, passion, positivity, enthusiasm, and patience. Know what you want. Give it your all. Give it time. And if it really matters to you, never give up.
  32. There’s a difference between busyness and productivity. It’s better to work smarter than simply to work harder. Learn how to delegate.
  33. Always have something ready to wear to a formal event. You never know when you’ll need it.
  34. Save. Early & often. Make your money make money for you. Don’t sacrifice long term goals for short term gratification.
  35. Whether you like it or not, you are a reflection of the people you surround yourself with. Choose wisely.
  36. Admit and embrace your mistakes and shortcomings – Early, humbly, and before criticizing or condemning someone else’s. The sooner you address your own issues, the sooner you can grow from them. It’s amazing how much more open to constructive criticism people are when it’s coming from a place of humility.
  37. Celebrate diversity and be open to change. There is beauty in variety and you are not always right. A closed mind should come with a closed mouth.
  38. Don’t let anyone tell you that you “can’t” do something, yourself included. If it does not harm someone else and you want it bad enough, find a way to make it happen. Nobody is really interested in your excuses anyway.
  39. Children need their fathers. Keep your negative comments about him to yourself and your therapist. At one point in time, you chose him. How you speak about your children will stick with them. A distant, negative, uninterested father is a damaging thing.
  40. Understand the difference between secret and private. Love doesn’t require sneaking around. It also doesn’t require an audience.
  41. Wake up earlier. Show up earlier.
  42. You get one chance to make a first impression. Hygiene matters. Smile all the time. You never know who’s looking. Look people in the eye when speaking or being spoken to. Address people by the titles they’ve worked to achieve.
  43. Speak up when something isn’t right. Resolve to be a voice for people who can’t or won’t speak for themselves. Strive to do what’s right, not for recognition, but simply because it’s right.
  44. Eyes on the road. Seriously. Pay attention because almost nobody else is. Learn right-of-way rules and follow them. And for the love of everything holy, use your turn signals!
  45. Just because someone doesn’t love you the way you want them to doesn’t mean they don’t love you the best way they know how. The goal isn’t to get everyone to love the same. The goal is to find people who love like you do.
  46. Volunteer. Nothing reminds you of how blessed you are like seeing people who are happier with less. The key to achieving everything you want is in helping enough other people achieve what they want.
  47. How you maintain your home is a reflection of how you maintain your life. A cluttered home reflects a cluttered mind. Color your home with art, music and laughter. They are literally the backdrop and soundtrack to your life.
  48. Be kind, courteous, and considerate. You never know what people are going through. And you never know who you’ll need a favor from later. Nobody makes it to the top alone. Nobody.
  49. Don’t let fear, doubt, or concern hold you back from what you know you were put here to do. Your greatness is waiting for you outside of your comfort zone. Be great. Leave your legacy. Your purpose does not require anyone else’s approval.
  50. Stand up for what you believe in; Fight for what you love.

 

Here’s to the next decade of lessons… xo.

D

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