I turned 30 (!) on Tuesday and got to thinking about the lessons I’ve learned over the past three decades. I distilled them down to three ideas that I want to share with you (and remind myself!).
Keep my eyes on my own page.
Aka: no comparing. Whether I’m comparing for good or bad (“Hey, at least I’m not as bad as X!” or “I’ll never be as good as Y!”), nothing good comes of it.
This might look like comparing my business to others, my wardrobe to others, even the size of my thighs to others (I used to be so fixated on comparing my thigh size to others when I was in college. It was awful and pointless.). Of course there’s always going to be someone better or worse than me in just about any aspect of my life. Obsessing over it only distracts me from getting real things done.
Plus, we’re often comparing what we can know about our own lives to what we can see in others’ lives. So, sure, maybe so-and-so’s marriage LOOKS perfect, but in reality, they argue nonstop at home. You just never know, so stop comparing and go spend time with your own significant other to improve your own relationship instead of bemoaning its shortcomings.
If I really want to improve my life, I can examine the jealousies that I have and see why I’m jealous of someone and pursue whatever it is myself. (Unless it’s something like being taller. Because that’s just not getable.)
Be here, be content now.
Being present in my life is one of the hardest and most important things I strive to do daily. I used to be the kind of person who’d constantly be looking forward with the “once ____ happens, I’ll be happy. Life will be better” mentality. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s played this game – “Once we move,” “Once I’m done with school,” “Once I have a job,” “Once I work for myself,” “Once the baby sleeps through the night,” and so on and so on. Forever, in fact, until I’ve wished away my entire life.
I am now of the mindset that if I’m not happy where I am now, I will struggle to be happy anywhere. So I embrace our little apartment, I embrace our meager budget, I embrace the parenting struggles. (There is a caveat here that some things – death, cancer, etc., are terrible and we can’t expect to feel joy 100% of the time. Obviously.) I invest in relationships now, where I am, even if I think we might move one day. Renting? Who cares, make it a home.
Fill my space, life, time with less.
I’ve often heard it said that your twenties are when you find yourself and your thirties are when you live that life. For me, that has been discovering that I want to live a pared down, simpler life. A life with more margin around my activities, around the objects in my home, around work projects. I want to say no more to things (both actual things and things in my schedule) that aren’t me, leave more breathing room.
I have a tendency to bite off more than I can chew in just about every aspect of life – trying to squeeze making dinner and doing four loads of laundry into three hours in the morning while I’m also getting three people ready to go, saying “yes” to every website project and burning the midnight oil to meet those deadlines, even underestimating how long it will take me to get somewhere so I’m chronically a few minutes late.
With more space (physically and in our schedules), I find everything is more enjoyable. Though this does seem to be a lesson that I keep relearning over and over.
Two little ideas:
Though not ground breaking or life-changing, these two little actions make my life immensely easier.
Get ready the night before. This sort of relates to my biting off more than I can chew tendencies. Getting ready the night before (especially when I worked outside the home) does wonders to make our mornings go more smoothly. Pack lunch, set out clothes and diapers, get whatever I’ll need to do in the morning ready.
The 10-minute clean up does wonders. Even when I’m super tired and should be in bed, picking up for just 10 minutes before bed makes a huge difference. I also do a 10-minute pick up if I start to feel overwhelmed with mess at any point during the day. I learned how clean up after myself in my 20s!