When I was in school, I had few friends, but a great relationship with my teachers. Because my phone wasn’t always blowing up with party invites and friends checking up on me, I was able to focus on what I was best at — learning and writing. This same passion carried into adulthood and I still find myself at a state of constant learning and brainstorming what to write about next! It wasn’t until I started realizing just what the combination of those two things, could do for me long term. Even more than that, what it could do for other people.
This isn’t to be translated into me introducing myself as the reason of life or the one with the answers, but there are quite a few things that I have learned in my decades of existence, that I think will help you start living life on purpose too so without further ado — here we go!
It starts with saying yes.
When asked a question, it’s common sense to know that you have two basic ways of answering; with either a “yes” or a “no.” So what would happen if every question you were asked for 24 hours straight, you started saying “yes” to. How would that impact your day? You would be surprised at just how good it feels to just simply say yes. There is a certain sense of positivism that walks alongside the answer “yes” that can create a more humbling and accepting tone of voice.
Put your phone down and look around you.
I went out to dinner the other night with my boyfriend and his coworker. There was a family of four sitting at the table next to us and both the children, as well as the parents, had their noses buried in their phones. Candidly speaking, I have never understood why couples or families choose to go out to dinner, when there is no intention of conversing or actually having dinner with them. To be present is everything. If you have nothing else in this world, you have this moment and all too often, we attach a memory involving technology to an event, in order to recall a conversation or experience. There is so much to see, but unless it’s on the screen of a cell phone, it often goes unnoticed. Change that.
Ask the question.
Have you ever wanted to know something really badly, but you just couldn’t bring yourself to ask the question that would give you the answer you were looking for? Me too. Why is it that we are so fearful to just ask. I sat with a member of management several weeks ago and in our 1 on 1 meeting, I inquired about what the one thing she would say has contributed to her success. I was surprised at just how unsurprised I was with her answer. Her response was to “just ask.” For some reason, my mind was anticipating a similar answer, but hearing it, made it resonate so much more. Without asking, we will rarely ever know, so just ask the question.
If you want to know why someone isn’t speaking to you, then ask. As your job interview comes to a close, if you still want the job, then ask for it. If you’re curious as to whether or not a person misses you, then ask. If you need an answer to a burning question, then ask!
If there is no better time in your life to be selfish than now, then start being selfish. Start being selfish before there are kids involved or a spouse involved or a demanding career involved. Do whatever it is that YOU want to do and don’t apologize for any of it. If I could write a letter to my younger self, this is one of the things I would put in bold, because it matters — a lot. When we find ourselves trapped in a headspace filled with other people’s emotions and feelings, then we begin to sacrifice our own happiness for theirs. I was most guilty of this in relationships.
Get out of your comfort zone.
Have a fear of heights? Try skydiving. Have a fear of snakes? Go to a museum and hold one. Scared of being alone? Take a trip completely by yourself. Life is meant to be lived on the outside of our comfort zones, because you will never grow, without discomfort. This applies to both physically, as well as emotional, growth. Growing pains are in more than just our bones, but what is waiting for us on the other side, we could never imagine while still within our comfort zone.
Here’s a story for you. When I was in 7th grade, I went away to summer camp. It was only for 2 weeks, but for me, that felt like an eternity. I was a homebody and extremely shy so the thought of leaving the comfort of my own home and family for an entire two weeks, was a little terrifying, but I did it. I decided to go on the contingency that while I was there, my parents would be renovating my room and making a walk-in closet for me. That’s a pretty fair trade off, don’t you think? Anyways, about 3 days into camp, I called my mom crying and I told her I just wanted to come home. I said I was homesick and I didn’t like it there and I wasn’t having fun, and every other line in the book to try getting her to come to my rescue, but she said no. She reminded me what I was going to come home to if I stuck it out and compared it to what I would come home to if I left then. Reluctantly I decided to stay, and it was most definitely a moment of growth for me. You see, growing up I was the shy kid. I didn’t have a ton of friends, but the ones I was closest to, I was that way with because we shared that similarity. I had a very small comfort zone, with very few people in it, and this summer camp, yanked me right out of all that made me feel at ease.
If I recall correctly, it was also the first time I had been away from home for an extended period of time, without my family. While there, I faced other challenges such as the “leap of faith” and the “king swing,” which both erased my fear of heights and ignited the journey of growth within me so I could continue to take those same “leaps of faith” even after I returned.
Know when to speak and when to listen.
We all know that one person who likely talks just to hear their own voice, but they will rarely be the first ones to listen. Maybe it’s my love for learning (because it certainly isn’t my level of patience), that has created a genuine listener within me. We learn essentially nothing from talking, but a lot of what we need to know, by listening. I prefer to listen, not because it gives me time to form an appropriate response, but because I have found myself using fewer words when I let the other person speak.
It’s as if we’re in a classroom, filled with students, and three other students raise their hands to ask a question. Rather than joining your hand with theirs, you wait to see if one of the other students asks your questions first or, if one of the answers given, also speaks to your question as well. So not only would you be spared the breath it takes to ask your question, but you’ve learned a little extra as well.
Laugh at yourself.
The next time you trip over your own feet or make a silly mistake, just laugh. Laughter truly is the best form of medicine, but it also can help lighten what would otherwise be considered a serious or less than enjoyable mood. If one bad thing keeps happening after another, try laughing at the situation, rather than trying to control things in life that are uncontrollable.
Don’t waste your time with people who waste yours.
If you take nothing else from this entire book, let this be what sticks! There is one thing in this life that we cannot and will not ever get back and that is time. The things we do have control over are how and with whom we choose to spend our time. It is inevitable that we will cross paths with someone who does not have the best intentions when it comes to their use of time with us and we will never know that unless we waste a little bit of time, but the most important thing is that you realize this at some point. The moment you realize what your time is worth, you will never waste it on someone who values it as less again.
Always be busy.
This goes right along with wasting time and how to avoid doing so. Because no one ever really sits around reminiscing on the moments they did absolutely nothing, it is important to fill our time with things that are worth remembering. Not only will you have less down time, but you will inevitably feel more productive. Plus, when you’re busy, you’re living life, rather than just watching it pass you by. Life is going to go on regardless, so you should do yourself the favor and be a part of it.
Don’t suffer fools gladly.
Save your time for people who stimulate you mentally and can challenge you intelligently.
Get rid of bad habits one at a time.
Don’t overwhelm yourself with everything you think you need to fix by making it seem like you have to change it all at once. Remind yourself you are one of 8 billion humans that isn’t perfect, but being self aware is important. Knowing you have improvements to make is imperative, but knowing it can be gradual is a must.