The thing about growing older is that you never stop learning.
The lesson’s just keep coming, even when you wish they wouldn’t! I mean, the amount of times I’ve wished for a reprieve from life lessons. Sheesh. But they keep on coming and I guess that’s the point of life.
We live and learn and live again to fight another day.
And in the end, if we make the most of those learnings and ensure we live a fulfilled life, then it will all have been worth it.
My 38th birthday would not be complete without another list, my fourth so far. This years list on turning 38 came together in a little under an hour which is pleasantly surprising, as the more I open myself up to experiences and honest and open reflection, the easier writing and positivity becomes. There’s some symbolism to that I think.
1. Make self-care your number 1 priority
Don’t argue with me. You know it’s true. Your health and self-care should be your number one priority, even though it won’t be. Don’t be too hard on yourself about that thought – just as long as you live and learn and acknowledge that self-care is super important and then MAKE TIME for it!
To inspire you on your self-care journey, here are 64 ideas to help inspire you to take care of yourself.
2. Go easy on yourself
As well as caring for yourself, learn to show yourself some compassion.
If you are struggling, if you’re finding this crazy thing called life hard, that’s okay. The fact is, we all do. What’s important is to go easy on yourself, to not beat yourself up, to allow yourself to be sad, to get angry, to be upset and to cry. Even scream if you like. Just remember to breathe!
As a side note, it’s important not to live there. If you find yourself dwelling in the depths of sadness and depression for some reason, or for no reason at all, reach out and talk to someone. Ask for help. Remember you are never alone, and in a world which is more connected than ever, it’s so much easier to reach out and connect to someone else who knows what you are going for, even if anonymously.
3. Tell people you love them, often
Tell people they mean the world to you. Tell them you LOVE them. Even if it’s a quick text, email, message or phone call, tell the people you love that you actually love them because you just never know what might happen. This I learnt after nearly losing D from an accidental fall at home and near death scare. It could have been worse… I am so glad it wasn’t and do my best to tell him I love him all the time. I didn’t do that before, and I’m glad I get the opportunity to do so.
4. Be open to opportunities
Work wise, life wise, relationship wise – open yourself up to the opportunities around you – even those you can’t see. Just don’t lock yourself in, sit in the town you live or in a relationship you hate feeling stuck, believing there aren’t any opportunities, or that you need to escape. The world is your oyster.
In the fine words of Elbert Hubbard:
Positive anything is better than negative nothing. – Elbert Hubbard
Share the love and positivity today. The world needs more of it.
6. It’s okay to ask for help
Sometimes you need help, and sometimes you need to ask for it no matter how stubborn and independent you may be… trust me. I’m bloody stubborn and I’m bloody independent, but theses days when I need help I mostly ask for it.
Okay… it’s still a bit challenging BUT I am making progress!
7. THINKING can be bad for your health
I wish I had discovered mindfulness a lot earlier in life. It would have saved me from so many sleepless nights and freak outs, but then again if I had I possibly wouldn’t have appreciated it as much. Funny things happen when you start tuning into your life, your mind and your body.
8. On weddings
Wedding planning is nowhere near as scary as I thought it would be, and being engaged is actually quite nice 🙂 Romantic even. My advice to anyone planning a wedding is to enjoy the process. To focus on the experience, and to not get sweat the small things. Remember to savour each other and to have FUN!
Make your wedding about the both of you, not about others. Do what YOU want and keep that in the forefront of your mind. And don’t fret over what others want as people will get quite demanding even if they are only trying to help.
Just because you’re a bride it doesn’t mean you can be a right bitch and treat your friends like shit. Do yourself and everyone you love a favour. Don’t become a bridezilla. In the end, it’s your choice.
Wedding magazines, bridal checklists, blogs – they will only FREAK YOU OUT and make you consider things you would not generally entertain such as diets, hypoxi treatments, fat cavitation, and more. With 5 months to go I should be 6 months into my workout plan and diet, be getting regular ‘treatments’ on every part of my body, be considering making my diet even stricter, and drinking 3 litres of filtered water a day. F#$k that! No wonder most brides are all Godzilla like – their bloody hangry!
9. On multitasking
Focussing on one thing at a time is so much more productive than multitasking…and that’s coming from the reformed Queen of Multitasking. Eventually, multitasking leads to one thing, and one thing only – burn out. Been there, wrote the manual…multiple times.
10. For better or for worse
I’m not married yet, but through the last few years of depression, anxiety, life-threatening accidents and brain injuries, retrenchment, unemployment, financial stress, death and family issues, I think I’ve discovered the meaning behind ‘for better or for worse’.
When you can still tolerate each other and your love actually grows through all that, well, this has been my biggest learning and the most pleasant surprise. It also finally made me unlock the key to my heart…something I had kept locked and guarded for a very long time. Some things are worth getting all vulnerable for, and love is one of them.
11. Be your beautiful, imperfect self
Allow yourself to be yourself – the vulnerable, flawed version. It’s the best present you can give yourself and the world.
Need a bit of a boost and help realise how wonderful you are? Read this.
12. It can wait
Before you respond to those work emails and messages outside of work hours, think about it. Do you really need to, or can it wait?
Pretty much everything can wait unless it’s life or death. It really can. If it’s urgent they will call you.
13. Be vulnerable, be authentic, be courageous
Being authentic. Being vulnerable. It also takes a lot of strength and courage.
You will feel incredibly uncomfortable while doing so. The process will leave you feeling raw and naked. You will want to run for the hills or hide in a cave. You will want to bury your head in the sand. But don’t. Because by being vulnerable and authentic, well, that’s where the magic happens. Where you will find your true self. That’s when you will make a difference.
14. Creativity is good for the soul
Allow yourself to explore. To try new things. It doesn’t matter if you suck at it. The point is you tried. And if you are telling yourself ‘you are too old’ give yourself a right slapping as you are never too old!
My latest love is adult colouring books. Call them what you will but I love them!
And note, creativity IS contagious. Hold an afternoon craft party with your girlfriends, hit the beach with some pencils or paints with you family. Create a group Pinterest board to brainstorm ideas and inspire each other. Best of all, play, create and have fun!
15. Learn to say no
I wish I had learned to say no earlier in life but sometimes some of us insist on learning things the hard way! Learning to say no is one of the best things you can ever do. Once you get past the fear of letting the teenie weenie little word pass your lips and through your mouth, it can be very empowering.
Just like saying no, it’s okay to also hit reverse and back out of something. People will understand. If they don’t well…they aren’t worth your time. And just because it might be a great opportunity, doesn’t mean it’s right for you.
Want some tips on learning to say no? Read this.
16. Investigate mindfulness
Mindfulness can be such a life-changer, I’m just concerned about the hype, hoo-hah and bandwagon jumpers who are preaching and charging ridiculous amounts of money to ‘teach’ people a mindful way of living. Do yourself a favour and do your research, read books, sniff out some good mindfulness podcasts and other courses that aren’t strung up in a marketing machine. You don’t have to pay a lot of money to learn it. To teach it, however, you need to have done the time, so choose your teacher wisely and invest in someone worthy!
If you life in Perth, Western Australia, I highly recommend Mind and Movement, run by Kathryn Choules, a qualified teacher of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction through the University of Massachusetts and member of the Meditation Association of Australia.
17. Life is hard work
Living your dream. Chasing your passion. Living and changing your life. It’s fucking hard work. It’s also scary. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. In saying that, the hard work is worth it.
18. Not everyone will understand or support you
When those you love don’t understand what you are doing or why, it can hurt and make you question yourself. I learnt this the hard way after co-authoring a book a few years ago. In achieving a life-long dream I thought I would get a lot of support, but from those closest to me I received the opposite. It was a rude shock and an eye-opener, causing me to question your what I was doing and why.
It takes determination and spirit to stay true to you and to continue on your chosen path. In the end, those you love may just come round. On the other hand, they may not. It happens. Don’t get bogged down in it as it will destroy you. Do your best to move past it as quickly as you can, and take comfort in the thought that others who went before you also encountered the same thing. You aren’t alone in this, either.
19. You need much less than you think
You will be surprised how much you can live without. I know I am, after the last year and a half of unemployment, starting a business, and more. And to be honest…I’m probably happier!
Learn to clear the clutter regularly and embrace a more minimalist approach to living. You will feel so much lighter for it!
20. There’s no use stressing over spilt milk or a messy house
There are so many more important things to spend your time and energy on than stressing over a clean house. Sure, I’d love a spotless house with painted walls and doors, but in our house, good health and happiness come’s first. In my opinion most housework can wait, unless you’re in the mood and enjoy it that is.
21. Don’t get hung up on your dress size
We all know that the size and fit of your clothes depending on the brand, cut, fabric, maker and shop, so do yourself a favour and STOP LETTING IT MESS WITH YOUR HEAD! You are beautiful just as you are.
Oh, and throw out your scales, you don’t need them. Scales are evil.
22. Stop stressing over perfection
It’s important to note that nothing nor no one is perfect. Whether it’s a new website, blog, business, book, painting, Instagram account, body…anything. Stop stressing over it.
23. Wear your fancy perfume
I remember being passed a few things I’d given my Nan after she died that had never been used as she was either saving them for a special occasion or that they were too good to use. I think about that every time I look at those items for fear I might ruin them if I use them. And so, I use them.
Burn your scented candles, wear your good dress, use your expensive perfume, dig out the fancy crockery and cutlery, and wear your expensive jewellery.
24. Invest in good-quality shoes
I’ve come to this realisation much too late in life… an investment in good quality shoes is a must! As is NOT wearing high heels all the time.
25. You CAN teach an old dog new tricks
Or rather, they can teach themselves new tricks like opening cupboards and stealing packs of food. On the human side of things, you are never to old to learn something new, take up a hobby, or make a well-needed change. That’s coming from someone who successfully changed careers at the age of 38 (and for a while I thought I wouldn’t be able to do it!).
26. If your dog doesn’t like someone it’s for a good reason
Trust your dog’s intuition and senses. Dogs sense fear. They also sense people who have harmed dogs before. And possibly drugged up people…
Of all the dogs I’ve had or lived with, they have always managed to find the dodgy fuck in a party (or even before they knock on the door).
27. Keep your options open
Remember to keep your options open BUT remember to listen to what your mind and gut are trying to tell you. Sometimes they send you some pretty strong warning signals. Jumping back to #15 it’s okay to say no!
28. Ethics and integrity
Ethics and integrity are really important in everything you do. Don’t succumb to workplace or peer pressure and compromise your standards. You will regret it if you do – or just feel outright shitty!
29. Just because it’s good for someone else doesn’t mean it will be good for you
Take detox programs as an example. Millions of people have experienced success from detox programs, but I learnt the hard way that they make me sick.
Running, cross-fit, hot yoga, meditation, protein shakes, vitamin supplements, low-carb, paleo, vegan, working from home, working in an office, working outdoors. They’re all good for someone. They just might not be the right fit for you. And that’s totally cool.
30. Laughter is the best medicine
Especially belly laughs with friends.
31. Practice gratitude daily
There is something wonderful about practicing gratitude daily. Practice being grateful for one thing everyday, and build up to actually expressing your gratitude – whether it be verbally or physically (an all-encompassing hug!). Once it becomes a habit, it can really change the way you live your life and make an astounding impact on those around you.
32. Make time for fun
Truth is you may need to MAKE TIME for fun, as sad as that sounds. Life can get crazy. Work, relationships, kids, bills, stress, so schedule in time to let your hair down and have some fun. Why not hit the road for a good old road trip with your own playlist and fave snacks? See a movie, indulging in popcorn, coke and an ice-cream. How about a date-night with your beloved (including an overnight stay at a hotel of B&B)? Or you could paint the town red with your girlfriends on a night out dancing!
33. Learn to love the little things
Life is about the little things. A warm hug. Snuggles with a baby. A hot chocolate or a glass of wine. Sunshine and white fluffy clouds. A summer’s breeze. Freshly washed hair. A smile.
An exercise I like to do now and then is to list 99 things I love – it’s all about finding joy in the small things.
34. Stress is a part of life
Stress is a part of life – for everyone. It comes down to how you manage it. By living authentically, knowing your values, learning to say no and following your heart, you will be a lot happier and less stressed.
Investigate stress management techniques that work for you. Ditch what doesn’t work and harness what works for you so that they become ingrained in your every day life and you can easily call on them in times of intense stress.
35. It’s NEVER too late
That’s it. It’s never too late to learn something new, to make a change, to follow your heart, or to just do something crazy, after all, you only live once!
36. Life only gets better
Life only gets better as you get older so stop thinking life is over and that the best years have gone. In all seriousness your best years are still ahead!
From personal experience, life in my 30’s has been a hell of a lot better than my teenage years and twenties (thank goodness!). Of course, I’ve also worked hard to make it so.
37. Don’t allow life to turn you bitter
I was once told by a former boss that we all grow old and bitter. We argued. I believe we all have a choice. We can either let life drag us down, give in and grow bitter or we can choose the alternate universe – one where we grow content and happier. I know my choice. You can read about it here.
38. To reiterate, you never stop learning
Until next year when I turn 39, that is!
For some added inspiration, check out my previous year’s lists:
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