Do you ever feel like you’re falling behind—like everybody else has already taken a lap around the track while your shoes have magnets attached to them and have remained firmly stuck to the starting blocks? That used to be me, flying by the seat of my pants, getting lapped by everybody else. I thought my life had meaning because I was hitting all the traditional adult milestones. Graduate from college, Get married. Get a job. Have kids. But something was missing. The crowning achievements of adulthood often left me feeling empty and craving more. The wisdom of experience now tells me that the thing I was missing was direction and purpose. While I might have been growing up, I was also growing old, and sadly, I felt like I had nothing to show for it. Here’s how I embraced routine, found my mojo, and ultimately started living my best life now.
1. Write down the things you want to remember and repeat.
When my first daughter was born, I never thought I would forget her first tooth, first steps, first words. Turns out, I did. A wise mom told me to write it all down. I thought I would remember all her special milestones because at the time they seemed so important. Guess what? I don’t remember anything! If you think it might be important, write it down. The One-Sentence-a-Day journal has been helpful for me. In it, I write down all the important stuff I want to remember plus inspiring quotes, words of wisdom transferred to me by other people, and even the silent prayers I keep to myself. (I also keep track of when those prayers are answered!)
2. Never stop learning.
If I gave you a free association test right now and said the word “learn” you’d probably start thinking about school and teachers and books. While I love to read, I know many people who don’t. Still, they manage to learn new stuff all the time. There are three kinds of learners: auditory, visual, and kinesthetic. Find your path — there’s a cool quiz here — and then incorporate learning into the things you do every day. I’m also a big fan of play because I believe it’s the best way to learn new things. Through play, we solve problems and tackle unforeseen challenges. If you want to be a learner, all you have to do is be a noticer of life. Simply pay attention to the things that happen to you and around you, and you will learn something new every day. Gosh, that’s so conventional and easy, I’m embarrassed to tell you it’s even a thing.
3. Practice gratitude.
This is my favorite tip because I used to be so bad at it. Then I read a book by Corrie ten Boom called The Hiding Place, and when she talked about her time in Ravensbruck, huddled naked and cold and covered in fleas in her bunk, she thanked God for the fleas. The fleas! You see, the fleas kept the guards away and allowed Corrie and her bunkmates to read and pray from a smuggled Bible. If Corrie ten Boom could be grateful for the fleas, I can be grateful for ALL THE THINGS. Gratitude really does change your attitude!
4. Embrace your age.
We tell our kids to “grow up” and then we do everything we can to “reclaim youth.” Is this year a milestone birthday for you? Maybe you’re excited to be older and wiser, taken seriously for once. Maybe you’re dreading the upcoming year because of unfulfilled dreams or regrets from previous years. Every day is an opportunity to begin anew. Some people say you don’t get do overs, but if you live another day, you can literally do it over. Would you do me a favor? Try to
remember that today is a gift, the most valuable gift in the world because there will never be another one like it or another you in it. Steward the gift like you own it—because you do!
5. Invest in people.
We invest in real estate and the stock market and oil. Somebody even told me once that my plantation shutters were an investment. Maybe. But all those things are temporary. The housing market tanked, the stock market crashed, oil gets spilled, and decorating trends change all the time. It’s the people in your life that matter most. The best thing about people, especially the ones that are related to you, is that your legacy lives through them. You get to pass on the best of you to the next generation. Your relationships determine the quality and direction of your life. Don’t waste time on the ones that steal your energy. Energy is a renewable resource that can be converted into electricity. And people, more than anything else in my life, have been the spark for every major achievement I’ve ever had.
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