OK, I am still a month away, but there is no time like the present to reflect on the biggest lessons learned by 45 (or 44 and 331 days). These are the 45 pieces of advice I have pondered and learned (sometimes the hard way).
1. Be an entrepreneur in every facet of life. Dream, execute, take calculated risks. Your life is yours to build and entrepreneurs have more fun.
2. Approach work with an entrepreneurial mindset. Whether you work for yourself or someone else, create and build something of value that will also bring in strong revenues. If you fail, you fail. We all do. Begin again, and try not to make the same mistake twice. Mentor and teach others that they can fall and then get back up in life.
3. In relationships, you might hit a crossroads where you will have to decide, Do I want to be right or do I want to be happy? You have to ask yourself if it's worth continuing this battle at the expense of losing the war. As singer Sade would say, "Hang on to your love. It's precious."
4. Get a puppy if you can take care of it well. You won't feel lonely with such bursting unconditional love in your life. Just remember, though, if you choose to have kids, the dog quickly goes down the totem pole of the family and you want a child-friendly breed/temperment.
5. Understand that people don't tend to change a lot. If they disappoint, they will often continue to disappoint. If they impress, they will often continue to impress. You don't want to keep going into a Chinese restaurant looking for Italian food. It's wasted time and expectation. They don't sell it and likely never will.
6. You have to build your own self-esteem and confidence. No one can give that to you, even if they wish they could. Confidence is a muscle you can work out. Set goals and accomplish them. Challenging yourself and getting strong outcomes will help flex that muscle.
7. Love your spouse or partner most and put them at the top of your list. They are a glass ball in the juggling of life's balls. So are your aging parents and kids. Most balls in life are made of rubber, will bounce and be there the next day. Understand the difference. If your loved ones know they are a glass ball in your life, they will be more supportive when you have glass balls at work or a personal hobby.
8. Find purpose and passion in your career and it won't feel like a job, it will feel like a mission. We all want purpose and autonomy with a sense of collaboration.
9. Mentor a girl or young woman. Go to them, find them, don't wait for them to come to you for help. Invite reverse mentoring and peer-mentoring with people you admire. They have so much to teach us, too! (especially about technology).
10. Ask, don't make assumptions. Worry a little less about what people think of you and a little more about being the person you respect.
11. Love Linkedin! Don't wait to use it until you are looking for a job. Collect amazing people using Linkedin now. Make some connections for other people who you know and admire.
12. Pick up the phone... it's become a lost art.
13. But leave your phone behind or in the car when you are doing something special with your family. Tech addiction is real and the phone call should not interrupt family dinner or a deep conversation with a dear friend (thanks Dad!).
14. Have several best or good friends. Having one puts a lot of expectations on one person and too easily leads to resentments.
15. Just because your parents divorced doesn't mean you are bound to divorce. In fact, you might be more resilient and try harder as a result of your parents' divorce. Try to get mate choice right, work on yourself and you can break the cycle.
16. Smile at strangers, they will often smile back and both parties will spend their day a little happier.
17. Play with gadgets and software. Try to figure them out without instructions. Try a coding class.
18. Drop the sugar and white flour (and then teach me how to).
19. Sign up for a 401k or 403B account and see if your employer will match. Even if it's just 1 - 2% of your salary going into your account, your money will grow and likely double every 7 - 10 years. Start early.
20. Understand women in the workforce and that staying home for many is harder than working in an office. Appreciate all they do at our schools, for our kids, for charities and more while we are at work. But don't succumb to the guilt of being back at work. Women are primary breadwinners in millions of families.
21. Teach your daughters to love math, science, technology. As the Verizon commercial says, teach them that they are pretty brilliant. Encourage them to make and build even if they make a mess.
22. Stop apologizing. As women, we apologize a lot. I read recently (in the book The Confidence Code) that 17 women at a leadership conference opened their speeches with an apology or self-depreciating comment. It's good to be humble, sure. But also embrace your inner awesomeness and the awesomeness of people around you.
23. Help another win. When one candle lights another, they both shine equally bright.
24. Jealousy, resentment and guilt are life destroyers. Don't be so tough on yourself and try pointing out the things you like that others have with a compliment. I.e., "I love your new home and how you decorated it." "Congratulations on your awesome new promotion!" Feeling happy for others transforms envy into something much more pleasant.
25. Whenever you are stressed or depressed, share with a friend three things you feel grateful for today (now and again, tomorrow). Text them. If you can't think of anything, they can be as simple as "I am grateful my house is not on fire."
26. Read The Four Agreements to understand why you shouldn't take things personally (people live in their reality, not yours).
27. What can you do this week or next to break your routine and experience something new, even if it's just for 30 minutes?
28. People don't leave jobs, they leave leaders. Pick a good one to work with and when you hire make sure there is a good culture fit and a great attitude.
29. Shop at good used clothing stores. You can buy awesome things at 5 - 15% retail prices.
30. It is cheaper on Amazon.com
31. Fresh herbs from yours or your friends herb garden are delightful for a Saturday omelette and you will feel proud if you grew it or picked it yourself.
32. If you are in a crisis situation (I have been in three), go through the drill (regardless if it ends up being a false alarm). Work with the facts you have and have an action plan with your family, your work, yourself of how you want to handle the unexpected.
33. Kiss more in public. Italians do and it's so romantic. Travel to Italy. Care and know what's going on globally.
34. See the ocean at least once this Summer. There is something about the waves. The serenity and understanding that the ocean is so big and our issues are not that big.
35. Don't try to control everything or everyone around you. Let go and let G-d handle some of your big challenges.
36. Get really good at at least two karaoke songs.
37. Give money and time to two favorite charities. You have no idea how hard these people work to help others. If something really impacts you, take action, help, read, share. Don't tolerate injustice.
38. Don't berate your loved ones or kids in public. You don't have to engage and add gasoline to the fire.
39. Leaders lead... so lead! (thanks, Mike)
40. Love yourself. You are the best friend you will ever have in your life and you will be with yourself the most and the longest.
41. There is nothing wrong with acting like a child sometimes. Bounce on your bed, pick up worms, dance badly in public, sing, get goofy!
42. People are not thinking about you as much as you think they are. Truth is, they are likely thinking about themselves.
43. So based on #42, tell your loved ones what you need. They don't always know and it's unfair for you to expect them to be mind readers.
44. Hug your boss or ask them about their lives. Don't fear. Try not to live in fear. Bosses are human beings like you and me. Also, always good to capture your work results in tangible metrics and outcomes. Try that and maybe then, your boss will hug you or give you a raise.
45. Don't be afraid to turn 25, 35, 45, 75... that's a good life and we can obsess about getting old or we can feel blessed for another day. Every time a baby is born we WANT them to have that opportunity to turn 25, 35, 45... 90...
So I will stop at lessons learned by 45 and I will fret as I will realize there is a really important one that I left out tomorrow. But please share some of yours in the comment section below so we can learn from each other.
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