I’m a bit late to review, but the year was definitely one full of the lessons. Perhaps the most full out of all the years that have passed so far. Twists and turns, ditches and heights, here is what made me feel older and wiser.
1. Worse can get better, and better can get worse.
It was a real blow when at the last minute the room I was moving into was given to someone else. However, 2 months later I couldn’t be more glad it happened as it gave me the chance to move in with two great mates in a great place, which made for a lot of great times this year.
Likewise, the ‘dream job’ I thought I acquired, well turned out to be a nightmare and led to me being fired. I lost the ability to go on my dream holiday to the USA , but my job hunt eventually led me to a rare opportunity to spend 2014 working for a good cause and living on a island in the Pacific.
I’ve also seen children in the hospital be hit by sudden illness or experience a change of fate as their conditions better. You just never know.
From here on, I won’t be too quick to judge any scenarios I find myself in. For better and worse, you never know what is around the corner.
2. You can’t please everyone.
It took two different jobs for me to eventually learn the meaning of this. Being called ‘unsocial’ by an employer, convinced me that some people only see what they want to see.
I enjoyed lunch breaks alone in the park reading a book and limiting chit chat to focus on my job, but to others, these were a few of the differences they could not accept.
I spent a while being forcefully pleasant but it only made me feel fake. Now rather than wasting time trying too hard to change people’s opinions about me, I focus on the opinions that do count. My own, and of those closest to me.
3. Intuition is a gift worth using
That strange gut feeling is more than just a sign I’m hungry. Buying my plane tickets and starting my new job should have been great experiences apart from the feeling deep down that something was wrong. And a lot went wrong.
I also had a feeling that things were too ordinary in my life, and losing my job was a painful ending for what was going to be a completely new beginning.
As I started to pay attention and trust my intuition, it gave me courage and hope. I turned down interviews for jobs I knew wouldn’t fulfill me even though I needed the money. I started to stress less and believe more.
Four months and 100 job applications later, I’m off for a totally new experience in a role I never would have foreseen myself doing, but strangely always felt I was destined for.
4. True colours take a while to shine
This is based on friends I made and girls that crossed my path.
I consider myself a good judge of character and have heard the saying that first impressions are always right, but this year gave me a new perspective.
People are very conscious on how they represent themselves, and presumably they will do the best job they can at it. To some this is a job of minimal effort as it’s not too far of a stretch from their natural persona, but to others, it could mean wearing a facade like every day is a costume party.
One’s character is also complex, and presented through different contexts. Everyone is willing to exchange smiles and high fives on the first meet, but after a while as circumstances change, you get to see if they do too.
The sweet talking girl may easily blow you off because someone else comes along, or the laid back mate may show his temper over the slightest misunderstanding or difference in opinions.
Patience in getting to know people and giving my trust is definitely a new habit I’ll take to 2014.
5. Friend-ships .. sink
I’ve learned that friendships are not an obligation, even if you have known someone for ‘ages’.
There is times where you are warranted in walking away or distancing yourself. It takes two to keep things afloat and eventually one person may stop putting in the same amount of effort or concern, and it’s time to jump ship.
This isn’t always intentional. You may simply have different ideas of a destination and no longer serve each other in the same way you once did. This year I’ve made a best friend who in just under one year knows me better than people who have known me for twenty times longer.
I attribute the distance her and I have covered so quickly to the fact we want very similar things out of life. From there I have opened myself up to finding and meeting others who also share similar outlooks and goals to me. Spending less time with those I felt obliged too, was the only way this could happen.
I’m still one to care, but I just am going to make sure my relationships work on a system of value. Spending more time with those who enrich my life , and those who I’m able to enrich the lives off, beyond just being company.
6. Your life is yours
And my life is mine. This means things like success and happiness are mine to define. Losing my job and watching my savings slowly decline could have made me feel the same about my self-worth but I’ve proudly changed my perspective.
I started volunteering ,began my blog, and developed new relationships with others and myself . I didn’t make much income for myself, but I know I made many positive changes in the lives of others.
It goes against society’s views, but I do believe I’ve come closer to experiencing what I feel is success and happiness this year than in any other.
Lesson ? Feel how you feel, not how you’re told.
7. The world is stranger than you think
Strange coincidences and my first psychedelic experience have made me question a lot of what is visible and not visible. On the topics of drugs, religion and spirituality there are so many conflicting and contrasting views that it is easy to feel pressured or swept to one side. The ‘evidence’ is endless but the experience is undeniable…
8. In the game of life, winning is anything but quitting
One thing 100 job applications teaches you is to never quit. It also teaches grit and strength. Strength that even with years of gym experience, I didn’t know I had.
Unforeseen circumstances also remind you how much at life’s mercy you really are. No matter how great things are going, you can get hit, and hit hard. The rules aren’t even fair. In fact, there are no rules. Things may be so far against your favour that victory you want, may never be the victory you get.
We can make it fair, however, by changing the concept of victory so that everyone not matter their circumstance or fight has a chance.
Through various books and other material on success and optimal mindsets, I realised how simple, yet powerful the mentality of doing the best you can, is.
If you just aim for, and truly believe it, it’s amazing how you can go from being reminded daily of how far you are from the finish line, to taking pride and seeing the accomplishment in every step you take. Over time you your pace picks up, and before you know it, you’re there.
9. I am responsible, so I should be responsible
It’s easy to play the victim and list off everything that went wrong in the last few years. But I read a quote that basically said, where we are today is a product of what happens to us as well as what we do about it.
I had things go wrong, but I also had many chances to make them right. I didn’t get the right job out of university, but I could have developed my skills in my spare time. I found my design course difficult, but I could have practiced non stop out of class.
Losing my job was the big hit that I needed to knock some sense into me. I realised that things could just keep getting worse and worse if I don’t take action and fight for the life that I want. It lead to major shift in productivity and mindset. Nothing is ever handed to us, but everything is there for the taking.
10. Motivation is like a flame
It flickers and may burn out. I have spent more days that I want to admit, in that exact state. Burnt out. Other days, there is no stopping me. I’ve discovered the key to consistency is monitoring your own levels of motivation.
If I’m feeling great, then I ask myself how I can cultivate this mindset more often. If I’m struggling, then I look for fuel to add to the fire. Friends, my journal, my blog and the motivational websites I visit on the internet all help. At the end of the day, it’s up to us individually to find out what drives us, accept the highs, lows, and do everything we can to keep the fire burning.
11. It is what it is, not what it should be
If she doesn’t want to see you, she doesn’t. If you don’t have a job, then thinking about why you lost your last one, won’t help. Time can easily be wasted running unnecessary mental laps in our minds. Eventually we have to realise our energy is better spent going in a straight line in a new direction.
In short, this means leaving the past, the future and any other fantasies, and focusing what is, and more importantly, what you’re going to do in the present.
12. Everybody hurts
Seeing a psychologist was a big step and may have been long overdue. It required getting over my pride and accepting to myself that I was having trouble and I wasn’t exactly happy with how my life was.
The appointments with psychologist didn’t exactly help, but what did was the realisation that came in the waiting room, that I wasn’t the only one. Everyone has their share of lows and highs and difficulties at times. Being down doesn’t mean there is anything ‘wrong’ with you, its a normal part of life, and there is people and resources out there to help you get through it.
13. (Nothing is guaranteed)
I said there were thirteen lessons and if you read this far you have earned the last and most important one.