So, it’s finally here. A new decade, which I have to admit, I am more excited for than sad about. As I reflect on my life to date and look to the future, I feel a mixture of feelings. Proud, relieved, and hopeful to name a few.
In hindsight, it seems my teens were mostly about figuring out myself- who I was and how I was going to survive in the crazy world of peer pressure, expectations and the major life transition into adulthood and independence. My 20’s have been mostly about figuring out my relationships amidst lots of hard work to establish my career and my financial future…which friends were worth keeping around for life and which ones had outlived their moment-in- time purpose. How to find myself again after tough break ups, and who would be the man I could build a life and family with if one was out there. I believe my 30’s will be about figuring out personal happiness and finding balance for myself, my future family and those in my closest network- finding a job that energizes and fulfills me, increasing my ability to be present and mindful, and learning to see more of the beauty in life than the tasks that comprise it.
Last night over dinner, Sean asked me if I usually had or do have a “5 year plan”. I don’t believe in 5 year plans; I think they are in a useless middle ground of too short to provide a realistic north star, and too far out to effectively achieve a shorter term goal. So the answer was NO, I never had and never will have a 5 year plan. But here’s what I do have… I have a 10 year plan- I think of each decade as a major chapter in my life and identify key themes that will help each chapter build on itself in a way that [hopefully] eventually creates a life story I am proud of with few regrets. I have a 1 year plan – key achievements or experiences I want to realize in a given calendar year that are realistic but continually force me to challenge my comfort zone (hence why my New Year’s Resolutions resemble more of a business plan than a 1 sentence Facebook post). And I have a daily plan. Some days I admittedly suck at sticking to it, and 99% of days there aren’t enough hours to get through my whole list, but it keeps me somewhat focused on the priorities while helping me to justifiably block out the thousands of relatively unimportant distractions. So what was my last 10 year plan and what does the next one look like?
During my 20’s, I made a 30 before 30 “bucket list”, (much like my friend Sharon Phelan– shout out Shazzy!) At that point in my life my list was, quite frankly, very heavily focused on ME – things I wanted to experience, see and do, whether for the thrill of the event, the sense of accomplishment it’d bring or (in true candor) because that was what I thought most people dreamed of doing in their life so why shouldn’t I dream it AND do it!? While I haven’t yet checked off everything on the list, I’ve made a pretty good dent… I’ve traveled to several countries, lived away from home and abroad, graduated college, sky dived, taken a hot air balloon ride, married a wonderful man, ridden a camel, bought a house, and a scooter, completed a half marathon and a triathlon, tried surfing, built an unbelievable circle of friends, volunteered, become an aunt, went white water rafting, hiked the Grand Canyon, experienced Mardi Gras, ski’d the alps, and strengthened the relationships with my siblings.
As I look ahead, my wish list is trending towards things that will make me a more fulfilled, happier person, and thus able to be my best self for others- for my husband, for my friends, for my future children, and even for the world that desperately needs happier, more balanced people in it. A recent post by a colleague on our internal social media platform gave me a great foundation from which to make this list. I’ve used Robin Sharma’s “30 ways to lead a brilliant life” list as a starting point, of course picking my favorite top 15, and making some customizations to make them my own. So here goes!
#1. Keep developing a giant sense of perspective. Even my worst days in the office are a million times better than the days of those defending a country at war or working towards a paycheck that barely covers the bills. Be grateful.
#2. Take better care of your body. Remember that health is wealth. And should I lose mind, nothing will be more important than getting it back. Training for a marathon is certainly helping me get a strong start on this one. But it also includes…
#3. Get enough rest. It’s a key factor in performing well, living long, and just simply not being in a bitchy mood each day. To date, I’ve underestimated the importance of this under the guise of “I’ll sleep enough when I’m dead“.
#4. Do more things that make you happy. I often feel guilty when doing this, but it’s about time to show that devil on my shoulder the exit.
#5. Be good at living your own life + values versus great at living everyone else’s. The high school popularity contest is over; be yourself and let others determine if and how they want to engage with that version of you.
#6. Make time to thank those who’ve supported you along the way.These people do not come in abundance and it will make me feel more fulfilled if they know how special they are to me.
#7. Remind yourself relentlessly that failures are often more beneficial and interesting than successes.This is going to be a challenge for my type-A self, but so necessary to be able to…
#8. Laugh at yourself. Life’s too short to take yourself too seriously, and way more enjoyable when you don’t.
#9. Work to live. Don’t live to work. I’ll most certainly regret it either while alive or right before death if I don’t start living this way. Luckily 2 years in Europe should help! Similarly…
#10.Take and treasure vacations. Creativity + peak productivity are seasonal- there’s a time to plant and a time to harvest.
#11. Read or write for at least a half hour a day. This ritual opens up frontiers that will make you a deeper thinker and a richer human. And during this time…
#12. Regularly write how you will have wished you lived on the last day of your life. This heights your focus on doing what counts and trains your brain to get it done.
#13. Go on a first date with my husband at least 1x per year. It’s a certain way to make sure I always keep getting to know the person I am becoming and the one I am building my life with at any given time.
#14. Take time to dream in silence. When you dream, it’s often the wisest part of you suggesting the next level available to you. Shut out distractions, take the hint, and then be amazing at getting it done.
#15. Focus more on how far you’ve come versus how far you still have to go.The future in today’s world is always uncertain and often daunting. Reflecting on and building confidence from my past achievements will make it seem more conquerable.
I am certainly missing spending my birthday with my favorite friends and family this year, but still feeling loved from afar and incredibly blessed. Marie treated me to an amazing early birthday spa day in Galway, Ireland on our vacation last week and Sean got the day started off on a special note by making me breakfast in bed, topped off with a lovely card and beautiful Celtic earrings from Ireland. If the kutweer (bad weather) let’s up we may go for happy hour at the Foodhallen with a couple friends later, but for now just enjoying a couple hours of quiet reflection time in preparation for the next 10 years…