When I launched my coaching practice, I did so on my birthday. I also began an annual tradition of celebrating the lessons I’ve learned during the past year. It’s an opportunity to practice what I preach. Dig into awareness as I honor my last trip around the sun. Be a little vulnerable with folks by sharing real truths and an authentic peek into my world.
It also forces me to slow down. And invites me to celebrate my own growth when I’m usually the one celebrating the growth of others.
As I catalogued the long list of things I’ve learned this past year, especially around how to continue to curate a life I love, I decided to narrow that down to my top five. A reflection on how turning fifty is truly about celebrating who I was, who I am, and what I can continue to bring to the world.
I’m Celebrating these Lessons on my 50th
One – You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know. But Trust Your Gut.
I used to believe that in order to be truly successful, I needed to do everything on my own. The older I get, I realize I do become wiser. Part of being wiser is recognizing that others may have more wisdom. I must be willing to ask for help and choose to learn from others. That’s why, despite knowing how to cook and write, I’ve invested in learning how to do both of those better.
Allowing myself to receive help from experts is an act of celebrating who I am becoming. It also reminds me that honoring my thirst for knowledge guides me towards loving my life even more.
On the flip side, you must also trust your gut. I invested in a health coach earlier this year and from the beginning something just felt off. When I ran the nutrition plan by my doctor, he rejected it for several reasons. It reminded me that just because someone is an expert doesn’t mean they know what’s best for ME.
It is so important to be willing to admit that we need the wisdom of others. It’s doubly important know when we are the wisest person on any particular situation.
Two – Healthy Boundaries are a Path to Honoring Yourself
The older I get, the more I realize how important healthy boundaries are to my overall sense of peace and freedom. Boundaries are similar to rules for the way you live your life. It can feel foreign initially, especially if you are a people pleaser. However, it’s impossible to create a life you love without boundaries.
You also have a right to your boundaries without any explanations. Just because someone has a relationship with you doesn’t give them the right to change them. This includes family members, business associates, and friends. Like trusting your gut when experts give advice, you also need to trust your gut when it comes to creating new boundaries or choosing to relax them.
In celebrating the importance of boundaries in my life, I also remind myself that people who don’t respect your boundaries often have no clear boundaries for themselves. That doesn’t make them bad people. In fact, this leads me to lesson number three.
Three – Compassion, Kindness, and Forgiveness are Imperative to Your Happiness
The saying that life is short becomes truer each year. For me, that means life is too short for grudges, meanness, or hostility. This has allowed me to cultivate more compassion and kindness if the face of rudeness. Celebrating the need for more forgiveness allows me to more kindly react to meanness or boundary pushing. Letting stuff go and forgiving any wrongs (real or imagined) allows me to be freer and happier.
The understanding that I want to be more gracious to others doesn’t mean that I put up with bad behavior. It simply allows me to live a happier life. It also reminds me that there are a lot of people out there who are hurting in some way. Me being kind in the face of that matters to me – and them.
Sometimes, the person that needs to be extended compassion, kindness and forgiveness is ME! I must remember that I my own suffering and imperfection is a part of the human condition. I bet you could stand to be more gracious to yourself, too.
Four – Awareness and Acceptance are Your Friends
It’s impossible to create a life you love without your old pal awareness. That ability to observe ourselves, and honestly evaluate who we are allows us to make smarter decisions. Awareness allows us to figure out what we want to change to feel more fulfilled and satisfied. Feeling happy or sad is one thing; knowing why you feel happy or sad is another thing. That’s where the beauty of awareness comes in: it allows us to make better choices and curate a lifestyle that makes us feel engaged and alive.
The tool you need to channel awareness without judgement is acceptance. By accepting who you are right now, it allows you to make any changes from a space of love, not loathing. This also allows you to befriend your shadows. Our fears lurk in the dark, but awareness and acceptance allow us to ferret out our deeper desires as well as our truths.
We need both awareness and acceptance to continue to move forward and grow. We also need awareness and acceptance to unconditionally love others.
Five – The Details Do Matter
While I know that the big things – your job, your home, your relationships – are the cogs that keep your life moving, the details that make up those bigger pieces are important. The tiniest of details, often seen as luxuries, can differentiate between a life that’s just ok and a life that feels like thriving.
No detail is too small if it feels important to the kind of life you desire to live. This means that the clothes you choose and the perfume you wear matters. The meals you eat, the stores you visit, and the kind of sheets you put on the bed all matter to the quality of your daily life. That cup you sip your coffee out of, the art you hang on your walls, and the websites you visit can matter.
Tending the details of your life also means that those seemingly tiny things that irritate you matter, too. If something bugs you, then change it. This translates to replacing those dishes you hate, stop hanging out with that friend who always criticizes you, and work on changing your own habits that irritate you.
This one precious life of yours deserves that you tend to those details because you and the quality of your life matters.
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life”
Life is indeed wild and precious. And as a friend reminded me in a recent letter, turning fifty means there is still so much of life to live. I have the opportunity to not just live a life I love.