Take care of yourself, because only you can
The past year has been a process of diving into the unknown and taking big, scary leaps.
More than any other year, I think 2020 was the year I grew and learned the most. This is the year I started to step into myself, and decided to become who I might be.
This is the year I got tired of waiting to live, and finally became unsatisfied enough to start making some tough decisions and start taking some life-changing actions.
It was a year of challenge, change, and most of all, growth.
Here are the most important lessons the year brought me. I hope to always carry these forward with me because of the true value and significance they have for my life as a whole.
1. Developing Positive Habits is Key
2020 was also the year I stopped dreaming of being a writer, but not writing. Until this year, I’d spent more time talking about wanting to be a writer and thinking about what it would be like to be a writer than I’d ever spent actually writing. I’d write the odd time when I felt moved to, or start keeping a daily journal on a trip, only to let it fizzle away after the first few days.
Well, the days of “I’ll write when I feel like it” are officially over, and I couldn’t be happier with what I’ve accomplished in the last 365 days. I’ve managed to instil a daily writing habit in myself, despite how difficult it was some days to make myself sit down and do it.
But now that I have, it’s become easy. I just wake up every day and know that I have to do it, and that I will. There’s no longer any doubt in my mind that it will happen each and every day, and eliminating that back and forth of “should” vs. “want to” was half the battle.
2. Take Care of Yourself, Because Only You Can
You are responsible for you, not for others. The world will always tell you what you “should” do — what’s best for you, what path you should take, what choices you should make, how you should live. Other people will always give you their advice, whether you ask for it or not. People love to stick their two cents where they don’t belong.
Your job is not to listen to this.
Your job is to listen to yourself, and to trust that you know what’s best for you. You job is to decide what’s important to you, and then move in that direction. Listen to what your heart, soul, and “gut” are telling you, and let them be your guide.
Those around you can have their opinions (and always will), but it’s ultimately up to you to choose whether or not they are good suggestions or guidelines for your life. And if they’re not, you can simply thank them for sharing with you, and go your own way.
3. Don’t Wait
When you figure out what’s important to you, you must act on it now.
Taking steps in the direction we want to go is the only way to get there.
I’ve waited years to start writing, and now, looking back, I have no idea why.
Was I waiting for permission? Was I waiting for somebody to come along and tell me this was the right path for me? Was I waiting to stumble upon the proof I needed to know that I’d be successful? Or was I just afraid? I don’t know. Maybe it was a combination of all of these.
What I do know, though, is that I was waiting in vain. None of these things ever happened, and they never will. They can’t. And that’s because it’s up to me. It’s always been up to me. All I had to do was decide, and then start taking action.
This also applies to much smaller-scale things in life, too. If you have the thought to call your mom and tell her you love her, do it then. If you see something beautiful in someone, speak it. If you see an opportunity to help someone, don’t hesitate.
There’s no reward in putting things off.
4. Don’t Make Decisions Based On “I Don’t Know How”
Saying ‘yes’ to unknowns in life can be totally terrifying.
When we are presented with the opportunity to do something we’ve never experienced before, such as buying a house and becoming landlords, or taking on a significantly more challenging role at work, it’s natural to have some fear around it.
We’ve never done it before, and therefore don’t know how to do it. But not knowing how and getting stuck there are two different things. In the first case, you have the ability and willingness to learn; whereas in the second, you’re allowing it to block you from even trying.
If my boyfriend had allowed “I don’t know how” to run the show when he first became interested in real estate, we wouldn’t be in the position we are today, building a better future for us both.
Not knowing how isn’t a problem — unless you let it make your decisions for you.
Anytime I get caught up in fears around being inexperienced at something, I’ve started to remind myself that “I don’t know how” isn’t a permanent state. It can change the moment you decide to change it.
There are many things I didn’t know how to do at one point in my life that now seem trivial and routine.
This is the power of having an open mind, a willingness to learn, the time to practice, and the determination to succeed.