“I intend to live forever, or die trying.” Groucho Marx
It’s my birthday today and I normally don’t fuss too much about those. The birthday wishes and presents, I like. The getting old part, I hate. In my case, it goes with the feeling that I haven’t accomplished enough and that my time is running out (sorry, Type A success-driven-obsessive-compulsive here).
But my sister sent me this really great birthday card with a list of my “accomplishments”, starting with the Math Olympics in 2nd Grade, to getting my first job, to founding this site. As a person who rarely spends any time looking back at anything I’ve achieved, because I’m too caught up in the “what’s next” and “more!”, it was pretty neat. I certainly did not remember the Math Olympics…but I hope I kicked b*tt. Lol!
So… as I’m older and wiser since midnight, I now have enough gravitas to share what I’ve learned along the way. Might save you 20 years trying to figure out how to “Win at Life”. Here goes:
- Find something you are good at and that you enjoy. If you can, make a living at it.
I always get frustrated with those people on American Idol that sign horribly but that have been encouraged (to suck) by someone telling them that: “you can accomplish anything with hard work and effort”. Yes… provided you have the talent. Some of those terrible singers may have an amazing talent for something else, but are wasting their time trying to become the next Mariah Carey. Go find YOUR talent. Develop it. Nourish it. If possible, make a career out of it. You won’t regret it.
- Learn to learn
If I can sum up 15+ years in the workforce, 3 years of university, 2 years of college, 5 years of high school, 6 of primary school, and 3 years of pre/post/and mornings-only kindergarten, is that everything you learn will probably be outdated in a year or two. So it’s not WHAT you learn. The most important thing to develop is a method and a thirst for knowledge. Learn HOW to learn.
- Stuff is only… stuff
Yeah, the latest iPad is great and material things make our lives easier. But you know what? There was a fire in my house once (thankfully, it was put out immediately and we didn’t lose anything), and the first thing you grab are the family photos and other sentimental things that can’t be replaced. Everything else is just stuff. So if you don’t have the latest whatever, it’s not that important. (Except a big fire extinguisher. That may come in handy.)
- There are many ways to reach a goal
Sometimes you take the direct route, sometimes you take the long route. What’s important is that you get to the finish line.
- Balance is overrated
Some people are great at balancing family life, work and all the other parts of their lives and that’s wonderful. But that idea of balance does not equate happiness for everybody. I know some very happy people, leading completely unbalanced, chaotic lives (well…at least one). So find your own ying and yang.
When there’s enough for 1, there’s enough for 2 or 3, or 4. Help others. Share praise. Share your passion. Share your knowledge. Don’t be cheap. Share.
- Most conflicts are caused by miscommunication
Ever played that telephone game where one person says one thing and the other hears something completely different? If you care about your relationships, just pick up the phone or sit down and talk things over. It will save you a lot of grief.
- Sometimes, life just sucks
You lose your job, lose loved ones, have failures, disappointments, go through financial difficulties, illnesses… At one point or another, life sucks and there’s not much you can do about it. But as they say, there is light at the end of the tunnel… so try to run to the other side as fast as you can.
- Don’t let the critics bring you down
Or as a friend told me once “don’t let the a**holes of the world bring you down” (excuse the vulgarity). It doesn’t matter if you are Mother Theresa and nice to everybody, if you have any type of success, there will be people out there frustrated by it, and who will try to bring you down. Don’t let them. Use it as motivation to do better and succeed even more. It works.
- March to the beat of your own drum
Whether it is in your business or in your personal life, don’t worry about what other people are doing. Do your own thing. Find your own path. Don’t be a second “someone else”. Be a first YOU.
It opens your mind.
- Listen to your gut
That’s where all the right answers are.
- Don’t get those store credit cards, even if they give you a free gift
It’s a trap. The interest on those is really high.
- Same with that extended warranty they always want you to take
Don’t fall for that either.
- Be a force for good
Do I wake up in the morning and ask myself “how can I be a force for good today?” No. But it’s amazing how much you can touch people and affect change in a positive way. Check on people who are going through a rough patch. Don’t grab all the attention, let other people shine a little. Say thank you. Don’t be threatened by other people’s success. Encourage talent. I don’t know if you can call it Karma, but doing “good” is rewarding, it multiplies and comes around tenfold.
- Have a sense of humour!
You win some, lose some and screw up a bunch of times, but if you can laugh on the way to the bottom, the middle and the top (hopefully, in that order), you will have a much better time.