Today is my birthday! Today, I am 50.
I’m a huge fan of my birthday; always have been. But honestly, this one hits a little differently. I haven’t been bothered about turning 50…until this past week. But for some reason, 50 just feels different this week.
Don’t get me wrong: this past year has been one of the best of my life. It’s unquestionably been one of those pivotal years that I’ll look back on and know that my life trajectory changed because of how this past year unfolded.
So much growth. So much stepping outside of my comfort zone. So many lessons learned. So much goodness.
So today, in honor of my 50th birthday, here is a list of 50 lessons I’ve learned over the years and the things I know for sure:
- You get one shot at this life. Figure out what you want in your life, and get to work making that life your reality.
- No, thank you” is a complete sentence.
- You instantly become more of an adult when you lose a parent.
- Not everyone will like you. Learn to be OK with that.
- Even people who love you can treat you badly.
- You will never regret making a spontaneous decision to go and do something with a friend.
- Similarly, if there is something you really want to do, you will never regret doing it…even if no one goes with you.
- There is something transformative about watching the moon rise on the other side of the world.
- You’re either a cruise ship person, or you’re not. I’m not.
- You’re either an “all-inclusive” resort traveler, or you’re not. I’m not.
- You will never recover all of the time you spent worrying about something.
- To that end, worrying about anything is a waste of time. There is no amount of time spent worrying about the outcome that will change it.
- Birthdays are meant to be celebrated. Not everyone gets another one. As long as there is a candle on that dessert in front of you, relish it.
- The easiest way to miss a moment or an opportunity is to be focused on something in the future. Be here —wherever here is — now.
- You cannot change someone…no matter how much you try. They’re either for you now in exactly the way they’re currently showing up for you, or they’re not for you. And that’s OK.
- Always look at the dessert menu. And if you want a bite of something, order it and give a bite to everyone at the table.
- Not all friendships or relationships are built for the long-haul. Celebrate them for the experiences you’ve had and the lessons you’ve learned because of them.
- Also, foster and celebrate the long-term friendships in your life: those girlfriends in your life with whom you can always pick right back up where you left off — regardless of how long it’s been since you’ve seen them or talked with them.
- You should max out your 401(K) contribution each year.
- Memorize at least 3 phone numbers of people you can call if you get in bind because you may not have access to your phone.
- Ask for the window table and the room upgrade and the seat upgrade. You want always get them, but you’ll occasionally luck out. It will be worth it when you do.
- Be nice to wait staff and flight attendants and janitors. They’re just doing their jobs.
- When you need to, apologize. Make it sincere. Do it quickly.
- When someone apologizes to you, be gracious in your acceptance.
- Accepting an apology does not mean you forget what someone did or said to you. It means that the relationship is more important than the grudge.
- Learn to play to your strengths, but don’t be limited by them.
- Stop worrying about what other people think about you.
- Stop worrying about looking foolish on a dance floor or trying something new. Most people are too absorbed in their own lives, so they’re not paying as much attention to you as you think they are.
- Wear the sunscreen. Every day.
- Make your bed every morning.
- Happiness is not a destination or a permanent state. It’s an emotion and a choice. It will come and go.
- If you have an opinion, know why. And it shouldn’t be because a celebrity or politician or Facebook post told you to think that way.
- You will never regret spending money on good sheets or a top-notch mattress. And as you get older, your back will be grateful that you spent the extra money.
- Trust your gut. Your intuition is always right.
- Sleeping at least 8 hours, drinking enough water, and moving your body every day does wonders for your mental and physical well-being.
- You don’t need to finish reading a bad book, watching a mediocre movie, or pursuing something that is no longer serving you.
- Make yourself a priority in your own life. It’s not self-centered. It doesn’t mean you don’t care about those around you.
- Tell people you love them, even if they’re not in the position to say it back to you.
- Don’t stay in a job that you hate. You can use your skills somewhere else, and almost every other part of your life will improve if you’re not working a job you hate.
- Wash your face before you go to bed. Floss your teeth once a day. Take your vitamins.
- Stop waiting until the timing is perfect. Book the trip. Take up a new hobby. Wear the bikini at the swimming pool.
- Send handwritten thank you notes and “just because” notes. They mean so much to the recipient.
- Be a good fan. Don’t boo the other team or its fans for showing up to play the game against your favorite team.
- You’re never too old to start something new. It’s never too late to become who might have been.
- Learn to cook at least one meal that you can serve to company, and then invite them over. Even if it’s in the middle of the week.
- Other people’s opinions of you are none of your business. You do you. Also, you will never be criticized by someone doing more than you.
- Know when to leave and when to quit.
- Work-life balance is a myth. Your life may be momentarily balanced, but either work or life will demand more of your time during different seasons. Just remember to recalibrate your priorities every so often.
- There is no shame in making money or pursuing wealth. No man would ever be shamed for making money, and no woman should be either.
- You are one or two decisions away from living a completely different life.
I’m curious: what would you add to the list?