Well today’s the day. It’s another “speed limit” birthday!
In my mind, there’s no way I’m turning 50, but, according to the calendar, it’s true. So to celebrate, I thought it only appropriate to share 50 thoughts on my 50th. These are lessons I’ve learned over the years (some I wish I’d learned earlier). My hope is you’ll choose to incorporate some into your day and because of it you experience more joy and success. Be warned, these are in no particular order and cover both life and career.
So buckle up, this could turn into a roller coaster ride of thoughts….
The birthday list of 50 thoughts….
- Don’t wait until you’re 100% qualified to apply for a job or try something new. Heads up, that day never comes.
- Don’t work somewhere just for a paycheck. The people, the challenges and the culture make up a huge part of how satisfied you’ll be.
- Don’t be afraid to walk through a door of opportunity.
- On the flip side, not all opportunities work out like we imagined. Don’t get disheartened. It only means it’s time to look for the next door and believe me, there are lots of doors out there if you only look.
- Your path won’t be a straight line. Remember it’s the curves, detours and bumps that make it interesting.
- Pray more.
- Listen more than you talk. No, really listen. Not with the intention of giving an answer, but with the intention of understanding.
- If you’re going to speak up, at least think before you open your mouth.
- Don’t compromise on your values.
- Trust your gut. You know if a situation is right or not.
- Your ideas are important. Make sure you surround yourself with people who value your input and will give you honest feedback.
- Speak up – your voice matters. If you have landed a seat at the table, then you have value to share.
- Do what ever you do to the best of your ability. Your reputation is at stake.
- Travel. See the world. It opens your eyes to new things, behaviors, and customs. It also makes you appreciate home.
- What you want to do can change over time. That’s ok. Who you were at 18, isn’t who you will be at 30 or at 50. I still don’t know what I’ll be when I’ve “grown up” because I’m still growing and learning every day.
- BELIEVE IN YOURSELF. I probably should have made this first on the list. It’s easy to let doubt creep in and stall your movement.
- Stop the negative talk in your head. You are worth it. You are good enough. You are perfectly you. Quit telling yourself things you won’t let others tell people you care about.
- Let go. Don’t hold on to a grudge. I know it’s easier said…I’ve been there – lived it. But you don’t realize how much energy you are giving to something that is only bringing you down. The other person doesn’t care. I promise you.
- Don’t forget to take time for you. Self-care is a real thing. Whether it’s a walk, reading your favorite author (I know someone you might want to add to your list if you need a suggestions – LOL!), scheduling a massage, or working on a hobby, if you aren’t taking time for yourself, you’ll never be 100% for others.
- Always be a learner. Not only does it keep your brain sharp, be a learner means you’re always upping your value in the workforce.
- Don’t be afraid of change. It’s easy to resist, but change allows for you to grow and develop new skills.
- Be an encourager. Lift others. There is plenty of success to go around. Just because you amplify someone else and the work they are doing, doesn’t mean your work isn’t getting noticed too.
- Do the work. Don’t expect others to take up your slack. Sure you can have an off day, but don’t let it become a habit.
- You aren’t entitled to anything. Work hard. Just showing up somewhere doesn’t equal a reward.
- Build your network – in and out of work. I’ve been blessed to have a wonderful network of family, friends and colleagues. Without their support, encouragement, tough love, truths and friendship, I wouldn’t be where I am today. But it’s a two way street. Don’t always be the one asking for something. Invest in the relationships and learn what makes others tick.
- Your job is not who you are, it’s what you do. Spend time getting to know what matters to you on the inside.
- Don’t stay where you aren’t appreciated or where people aren’t investing in you (and I don’t necessarily mean dollars). Find a place where people encourage you and support you through learning opportunities and mentorships. You’ll enjoy your career much more when you find a place like that.
- Be an encourager. Tell others they are doing a great job. Tell someone they look nice today. Be positive. Be a cheerleader. You never know what’s going on in someone’s life behind the scenes and how much words of encouragement can mean.
- Treat everyone the same way you’d treat the CEO. Everyone deserves respect. Learn names. They matter. It shows you value the individual.
- Don’t stop building your resume. You never know when an opportunity will present itself or you decide it’s time for a change. It’s easier to keep it current than to try and build one from scratch or update one you haven’t touched in 15 years.
- Don’t “dumb down” yourself. I’m talking to women especially here. Don’t appear less intelligent than you are just to blend in or get along. Own the fact you know you stuff and have worked hard to get where you are today.
- As you status grows at work, never forget where you came from. Pay it back. Take time to invest in someone younger or just starting out.
- Always negotiate. You might get told no, but then again, you might get what you asked for. One thing is for sure, if you don’t ask, you won’t get it.
- Have a vision for where you are going. It’s important to see your future. Your brain does funny things in the background. You’ll start seeing opportunities to learn and paths to take that will move you toward that vision without even knowing your brain has been working on a plan while you’ve been going about your daily activities.
- Set goals and then set your B-HAG (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal) goal. If you’re big goal doesn’t scare you or need a little work and effort to get to, then you aren’t dreaming big enough. Your journey there may take some unexpected turns along the way, but you’ll learn a lot about you and your abilities along the journey. And if you don’t quit reach it, don’t give up. Just think about how far you did come trying to get there. That’s a win in itself.
- It’s not all about you. Don’t take things to personally. The world isn’t conspiring against you when something goes wrong. Find the lesson in it and move on. Don’t get hung up reliving the past.
- Be picky about who you let in your circle. If someone is always tearing you down, think carefully about the amount of time you spend with them. Why let that negativity invade your life constantly. Instead, add those people who are genuinely interested in you and helping you achieve your dreams and goals. Add people who will share their truths with you, but love you enough to let you try your way. They are the ones who will brush you off when you fall and say try again.
- Don’t give your power to others. No one should steal your confidence. You choose who you give that power too.
- Don’t regret your past. You can learn from it and grow from it, but don’t waste time on regret. You have the here and now and tomorrow. Use what you learned to move forward from today. Holding on to a past mistake serves no purpose. It is what has strengthened you and made you who you are now.
- Don’t be afraid to speak up even if it’s difficult.
- Set boundaries. It’s ok to say no. In fact, it’s healthy. On the flip side, make sure you honor others by respecting their boundaries as well.
- Get rid of the idea of perfect. It doesn’t exist except on Instagram and social media. Your house doesn’t have to be spotless everyday. Your outfit doesn’t have to be on point as long as it’s clean and neat. You can enjoy a no make-up weekend. Perfectionism keeps you from starting new things because you fear not getting it right. It actually paralyzes you and keeps you stuck in the same place.
- Give yourself the gift of adaptability. Don’t be so rigid you can’t handle it if something doesn’t go according to plan. Just look at 2020 – need I say more.
- You attitude will determine your outcome. Think about it…. if you wake up thinking the day is going to suck, it usually does. You hold the power to change that. Our thoughts are powerful and can affect the outcome of any given situation – from the idiot driving to slow in front of you on the interstate to how you’ll do making that presentation to the board – your emotions impact how a situation or event plays out. What you choose to focus on matters.
- Find an impossible and beat it. Once you prove you can beat the impossible, it opens you up to believing you can accomplish so much more in life. For me that moment came when I completed a 1/2 marathon in Nashville. (If you want the whole story, you can read (or now listen to it) in my book When In Doubt, Delete It! ) Proving to yourself you can climb that proverbial mountain and come out alive on the other side will make you see other challenges as doable.
- Be a person of your word. People will have to trust you before they believe in what you are doing or where you are trying to lead them. Integrity matters.
- It’s a gift when someone listens to what you say or values your input. Treat it as such. It’s about respecting them and genuinely caring.
- Do something creative from time to time. Believe it or not, it causes your brain to act differently. You don’t have to be a Rembrandt and Picasso to pick up paints and slap them on a canvas or piece of paper. Doodle when you take notes. Build something. Being creative requires you to have a little fun and you’ll be surprised at the new ideas you get when you let your mind take a different track for a while.
- Be grateful — not just in the good times, but in the bad as well. This lesson was hard for me. Before you go there – my mom and dad raised me to be grateful. I’m not really talking about saying thank you when someone does something nice or opens the door for you, but when the world was dark. It wasn’t until I was older, I learned that lesson more personally through death. No, I wasn’t grateful someone died. In fact, I was totally ungrateful. I even told God so (gasp, my Southern Baptist Sunday School teachers are probably having small heart attacks now). But I think that’s ok. (Just FYI…He and I have a pretty good relationship, we worked it out.) It wasn’t until then that I could move on and realize how grateful I was to have had the time I had with them and how much they had impacted my life and all that the relationship had given me over time. I’d encourage you not to wait until someone is gone to appreciate them and make sure they know.
And finally… since it is a birthday post….
- Take time to celebrate! Not just on your birthday, but really stop and enjoy the accomplishments and moments that matter in life. We get so wrapped up in the next project or checking off our lists that we never really stop and celebrate what we accomplished along the way. Why wait for that once-a-year moment to roll around. I say celebrate the fact you didn’t strangle that particularly annoying co-worker today or your child made their bed without you having to yell at them 47 times to get it done. Big or small, it doesn’t matter. We get so caught up in moving on with the next thing, we don’t really stop and take a moment to feel the success of what we did today. Take joy in the moment. Let it soak in that you’ve made it this far and you’ve got what it takes to keep going. Celebrate friendships and the fact you have your first apartment or you are self-sufficient. We have no problem “punishing” ourselves for failures, let’s flip that and begin focusing on the things that are going right.
Let’s blow out the candles and cut the cake….
Am I freaked out by 50 – no. I haven’t had a birthday yet that has totally freaked me out. Maybe because in my mind, I still feel and see myself much younger! What I do know is when you embrace who you are and remain authentic to what matters to you and you value, you’ll find that happiness for life and the right people will gravitate toward you.
I hope you’ll take the time to celebrate with me today. Add a little more joy in your life. Use your successes to drive you toward more wins. Let confidence fuel you instead of letting fear derail you. Try something that scares you. I’d love to hear what’s learns are on your list. Drop some in the comments below. So here’s to 50 more and many more lessons along the way I’m sure.