A Fresh Slate For The Coming Year

Image Courtesy of TuneWiki

Image Courtesy of TuneWiki

Every year around my birthday I typically find myself caught in the pools of reflection and introspection. This year has proven to be no different. I have spent time looking back upon my 38th journey around the sun. I have also caught myself peering around the corner into the 39th journey.

I am grateful that life has managed to provide me the best of teachers: my 3 children, my family, my friends and my co-workers. Each year, I have taken your valuable lessons to heart and added them to this ever growing letter I have been writing to my 16 year old self. This list, I read often whenever I need to the proverbial kick in the behind to snap out of the mini rut I might be swirling about in. I am deciding to share this list with you. Perhaps your 16 year old self can find value in it. Perhaps you find something missing from mine and together we will both learn.

38 Lessons For 38 Years

      1. Get to know yourself. No really, start figuring out who you are. Looking at yourself from an outsider’s point of view is always incomplete at best. Mind you, this is not a race and sometimes figuring out who you are not is as crucial as figuring out who you are.
      2. Be a lover. Embrace love. Preach love. Teach love. There is always room for love – compassion, empathy, friendship, companionship, partnership.
      3. Be present in all your interactions with others. They are sharing with you a slice of their life. Do your best to make it meaningful. Even the random parking lot encounter.
      4. Smile. If not for you, do it for others. It lifts them. It breaks the interpersonal ice. Smile with your whole face.
      5. Learn happiness. It is an acquired skill. The best teachers are the ones around you who put a smile on your face. You might even say that they light up the room or are the sun personified.
      6. Learn gratitude. I am not just talking about the perfunctory utterance of thank you. Make it go bone deep. Give gratitude its time and space. Etch that sentiment into your DNA. Trust me, these glow-in-the-dark markings will be vital on the inevitably harder days ahead.
      7. Learn patience. Even though the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, life is not a straight line. It goes without saying that success is non-linear for success is nothing more than the recognition of a milestone reached along the path of life.
      8. Learn to make mistakes. In gym, they taught you how to fall. No one will teach you how to make a “safe” mistake in life so you can minimize your loss. All these lessons will be taught by the school of hard knocks. Every mistake comes with a lesson. Sometimes a repeat lesson.
      9. Needs change. Milestones change. Recognize the reason and accept that change. Handle the change – go along with it or do something else but do not stand in its way and deny it.
      10. Know what you value and be true to the principles that you stand for. This is the real friction point. This where life’s polish comes in. This is where the line of scrimmage is. Always send a consistent message. If the message needs to change, change it so long as you remain consistent after.
      11. Explore your creative side. Lure it out. If you will it, there will be a safe zone to express without judgement and criticism. Creativity is felt. It starts in the soul. Blindfold yourself if you have to.
      12. Explore and travel. Did I say travel? Go learn about the planet, the people, the vast cultures that add their spice to this life. Spend time abroad while young.
      13. Become trilingual or bilingual at the very least. The doors of opportunity fling themselves wide open when you do that.
      14. Never ever apologize for who you are or what you have accomplished. Only you have made it through your particular path in life. Other people’s intimidation is not your concern. It is theirs.
      15. Recognize that we are all related. Recognize that we are all connected through this web of life. As such, collaboration strives for the benefit of many. Competition, on the other hand, leaves behind a collateral damage that is too high.
      16. Take risks and challenge yourself. Push. Reach. Stretch. Recognize the extra effort and reward yourself. Share that sense of victory with a friend no matter how insignificant that feat may be.
      17. Accept that you will never make everyone happy. Figure out what the checklist should say so you know when the day is done if it was truly a good one or not.
      18. Find your zone. We all have a zone. Learn to summon that zone so that it is not relegated to the 3 am epiphany time slot. Recognize the surge in energy. Recognize how your task that is at hand readily flows. Remove all throttles and fly.
      19. No knows the grand scheme even if it exists. Even if you can call all the plays many moves ahead, there are too many variables out there that would sweep you off your feet if you were relying on them to remain put.
      20. Life is analog no matter how digital we are trying to make it. There will always be an exception. There is always going to be the “I can’t believe anything can be worse than this” moment that is proved otherwise.
      21. Explore all your dimensions. There is always more to anyone than meets the eye. Become label-proof. Become a unique hash tag instead.
      22. Learn a trades craft or two. The future may well be one of two things: a utopia or a dystopia. In the case of the latter, it might prove to be crucial.
      23. Never play victim. Oh well, you can if you must but very briefly. The human race comes with an amazing survivor legacy. Tap into that ancestral DNA. Psyche yourself out if you must. Never wallow for any length of time. Life will move on even if you do not.
      24. While some profess “work hard, play hard”, I would say “live fully, love deeply.” Passion is the fuel of life. Detail is its accelerant.
      25. Section off a slot for “ME time” and mark it sacrosanct. We all need to withdrawn from all social interactions from time to time. I equate the loss of this time to the loss of REM sleep time. Our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual selves grow dim otherwise.
      26. Invest in your education but never neglect your emotional intelligence.
      27. The world is a whirling sphere of positive and negative. Some of it may be directly targeted at you. Take a step back. Control your reaction. Dissect the message. Assess whether it is an external issue or an internal one and act accordingly.
      28. As you get older and begin to find the well worn paths of your parents not that far from yours, stop and recognize that moment. Acknowledge the association and all the related emotions.
      29. A life of service may be your calling but a life of unending self sacrifice was never the intention. Sacrifice by definition is a gift. When it shifts into a burden, it is high time for change.
      30. Figure out what your learning mode is: visual, auditory, tactile. Tap into that over and over as you figure out the ropes of life.
      31. Not all peer pressure is bad. Know the people who surround you.
      32. Reflect. Reflect at day’s end, at week’s end, at month’s end, at quarter’s end, at year’s end.
      33. Always understand your motivations. This is the only way for you to get any insight for why somethings you become successful at and some not.
      34. Laugh. A real hearty laugh. You know, one those belly shaking ones that lets your tears flow. Do it often. At least once a day. Preferably with an audience.
      35. Some will talk about life and its silver linings. Some will talk about life and its Hallmark moments. Life is in the end what you make of it. You can blame yourself for your success. You can congratulate yourself for failure. You’re the play maker despite all the contrary evidence that appears in front of you.
      36. Talk is cheap. Action is real. Recognize that action may be to create influence. In that case, talk is not cheap at all.
      37. Let your light shine. Let it emanate. Share if it freely. It will always be replenished.
      38. Always. Always, pay it forward however you can whenever you can.
Image Courtesy of TuneWiki Words Courtesy of Meena Rose

Image Courtesy of TuneWiki
Words Courtesy of Meena Rose

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