When your birthday comes, you may want to pop champagne to celebrate (or hide) the fact that you’re getting older.
However, this year I’ve chosen not to celebrate.
Instead, I’m going to Paris with my husband to reflect on the life lessons I’ve learned the hard way in the past year and create our future together.
There’s a quote by George Burns that inspired me to do this. He said “By the time you’re eighty years old you’ve learned everything. You only have to remember it.”
And though I’m not turning eighty, this saying is so true. We assume we get smarter and wiser with age. But this isn’t true if you don’t remember what you’ve learned and grow from it.
So this year, I’m reflecting on the six life lessons I’ve learned. I’m going to share what I learned the hard way, hoping you won’t have to learn it the hard way too.
#1 – Your life can be a Picasso or an unfinished masterpiece
We all have work goals. Yet few of us have goals for other areas of our life too.
When I ask clients “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” they often stare at me blankly. It seems it’s a too hard and futuristic question to answer.
And yet I’ve discovered having clarity on the kind of life you want to have, the type of marriage you want to nurture, the city you want to live in, the work you want to be doing, the type of parent you want to be …
Knowing all of this helps you know what’s most important in your life. It gives you a sense of direction, showing you the decisions you need to make to honour the person you aspire to be.
Without a clear sense of direction, it’s only a matter of time you’ll get lost, look back on the decisions you’ve made and wonder where you went wrong.
We can’t control what happens in our life, but we can control how we react to adversity. And it’s how you react that helps you turn an unexpected situation into the beautiful “Picasso” life you’ve painted in your head.
… or you could end up with an unfinished masterpiece and go to your grave thinking I shoulda, coulda, woulda.
#2 – Unachieved life goals give you a reason to push through the worst of times.
A lot of people see unachieved goals as an example of failure.
When really all they are, are reasons for you to push through the worst of times.
For example, my entire life turned upside down when I was diagnosed with a rare tumour that could turn into pancreatic cancer and needed surgery to take out multiple organs.
I remember feeling my business was a failure because this happened just after my wedding and four months after I left my corporate job to work on my business.
I was living on my savings and had no idea how I’d make ends meet.
Instead of building my new business, increasing my income and being a newlywed wife, I was laying in hospital and spent 9 months of my savings regaining the energy and strength to live a somewhat “normal” life again.
I’ll never forget the moment over the Christmas holidays when I felt like giving up.
It wasn’t until I remembered why I was building my business, the future I was trying to create for my family and how persevering and figuring things out would change my and my family’s life for the better, that I realised quitting was not an option.
It never is.
It’s easy to quit when you think you have nothing to lose. But it’s not easy to quit when you believe you have everything to lose.
#3 – You don’t have to have everything figured out
When I launched my business, I thought I knew everything I needed to get started. But I didn’t.
I thought I had enough savings. But I didn’t.
Anyone that’s started their own business, or even if you’re working a corporate job… you’ll know there are so many problems you wish you could solve. So many ways things can go wrong. And yet you don’t know how to avoid failure.
And that’s okay.
The good news is, the key to a stress free life isn’t solving everything and hitting your targets.
It’s knowing you’ll figure things out, even when you don’t know how you will.
It’s pointless losing sleep over your problems. It’s pointless worrying about your problems. Because worrying only makes you worry more.
The truth is, no matter what level you’re at in your career, there’ll always be a next level to reach. There’s always be things you don’t know.
You’ll never know “enough” to find anything challenging easy.
#4 – You’re already an expert people will pay top dollar for
A lot of people don’t share their ideas or put themselves out there because they think “What do I know? I’m not an expert.”
What I wish I knew years ago that I’m glad I know now, is that to be an expert you don’t need to be in the top 5% in your field.
In fact, all you need to do is know more than person you’re talking to.
The beauty of it is, there are millions more beginners than there are experts. Not everyone at work or in your industry knows everything you know.
One of my favourite examples is of a guy that did a Ted talk. I can’t remember his name for some reason, but he was a junior person working as a marine biologist.
He shared a message on ocean life. And though he wasn’t qualified to give a talk to a room filled with more experienced and knowledgeable marine biologists, he was able to spread his message to professionals who care about the environment and know little about ocean life.
The best thing you can do for your career is to get clear on what you know better than the average person.
#5 – Share short videos of your ideas instead of text
I overheard the woman say, “Please don’t ask me to record a video. I’m terrible on video.”
I wanted to snap her out of it and say “Oh my God… can you please for one moment not think about yourself and how you look?”
Let me put it this way.
Do you like watching videos? … Yes …
Do you like sharing videos? … Yes …
If your answer is yes, why would you not get into the habit of making short videos on your phone?
People love videos because they get to see you. It feels like they’re connecting with you.
And the best bit is, you don’t even need to edit it. Phones simply record how you’d behave in person or on Skype.
If you make the effort to film yourself even if only for a minute, and you film short videos on a weekly basis, you’ll soon be an excellent public speaker. More importantly, you’ll know how to share your message and influence others in an engaging way in less than 3 minutes.
#6 – No matter what you do, you’ll always be disliked by someone.
As Taylor Swift says, “The hater’s gon’ hate, hate, hate, hate, hate”. And the best thing you can do is shake it off.
I’m part of a Facebook community of women business owners and it made me laugh when an entrepreneur wrote “Omg. I just received my first hate mail. I’m so happy because I’m officially legit”.
And it’s so true. You’d think getting criticism means you’re doing something wrong. But you’re not.
Here are 2 reasons why:
Constructive criticism helps you improve. If someones taken the time to help you, it means they value what you’re doing and want to help you make it better.
Mean comments show you’re reaching more people and someone finds you interesting enough to criticise you. In other words, you’re famous enough to have people dislike you. And that’s a great sign.
If your confidence ever gets knocked by harsh feedback, I totally recommend you blast the song “Perfect for You” by Rachel Platten.