Things I’ve learnt

I originally wrote this on 24 February 2012.

1. There is something to be said for having an ego.

I have always hated arrogant people who put themselves first but I know what i’s like to be a doormat. Sure, people think you’re very nice, friendly and caring – excellent qualities to have. But you odn’t get respect, you don’t get what you want and you don’t get people who admire you. They appreciate your reliability and can feel like they don’t have to work to get your friendship.

This isn’t saying that you should become the bitch from hell to tread on everyone in your way to to the top. But you need to love yourself and be proud of your values, the decisions you make, the way you choose to look, the people you choose to love and have high expectations for the person you hope to become.

2. No regrets. Cliche for a reason, so there must be truth to it. It’s a good thing we can’t change the past or we’d be forever stepping back in time to tweak that whimpering retreat into a snappy, quickfire retort of a comeback! Nonetheless, I believe that a positive outcome can come from every action and consequence in life. You just need to find it. So rather than saying I should have done this, say at least now this good thing has happened or at least I’ve learnt/become stronger due to that.

3. The saying ‘do what you love’ is potentially the most important thing for a fulfilled life. Not because it’s stating the obvious but because doing what you love rather than what you should can have profound benefits on other people. A grudge-bearing, moaning accountant who is really a passionate dance teacher may be putting those around them to misery without meaning to. The world needs accountants and fortunately every human is different. So there are people who want to be accountants, dance teachers, scientists, models, engineers, teachers. Have you been inspired by someone doing their job? They are probably doing what they love. Go and discover how you can inspire others.

4. Take your lunch break. No matter what. After working two years in my early 20s at a desk job requiring repetitive clicking and screen staring I got lower back problems and depression. I also decided time after time that I was too overworked to leave the desk.
“I could take a 30 min walk outside or get this stuff done and leave by 5pm.”
Note to self and the rest of the office working world: Nothing could be further from the truth. (Even if you do leave by 5pm). I would end up staying until 6pm anyway. One day turned into months at a time of eating at my desk, feeling down for no reason, wondering why I was bothering with this job, thinking about leaving. Now at my new job I’m being careful not to fall into old habits. The boss won’t be impressed if you work late, they’ll be impressed by your initiative for new ideas and showing why you got great results.

  • Meet a friend of colleague for coffee and have a laugh about things
  • Go for a walk with a colleague or by yourself to clear your head – daily
  • Buy your lunch once a week and eat out with your colleagues. A bit costly but happiness points are worth it.

The other reason to get away from your desk is because your brain starts to work better than before. You’ll have great ideas popping out of nowhere, things will suddenly click. We call these brainwaves and they are the best way to achieve your ‘initiatives and great results’. Therefore ‘a break a day (or 3) keeps promotions close by’.

5. Remember your karma points. Don’t scoff. Remember that thing about having no regrets? The easiest way is to go through life collecting Karma Points. Want to steal that dress because the shop assistant is rude and it’s worth too much anyway? Well you’ll lose a truckload of Karma Points so it’s probably not worth it. Karma = you get what you give. Sure it seems blindingly obvious not to steal but the same goes for any time you feel unsure about something you’re doing or the way you’re treating someone. Will it come back to bite you? Or will you gain a lot of lovely Karma Points to see you through with some good luck in times to come?

It might be bullshit but there’s nothing to lose by gaining karma.

6. Make a habit of saying something positive every time you want to moan. I’m a big moaner. I can turn a happy, vibrant conversation into a depressing cave of misery quite easily! Fortunately I often say dumb things to compel people to laugh a bit so I’m not a complete wet blanket. But one thing I need to do is swap things like ‘argh it’s raining again’ for ‘I love the sushi place we’re going to, they do amazing fried delacies!’ Before running ahead with my umbrella.

Watch the grumpsters around you start to cheer up. Then watch their faces light up each time they see you. Small changes could be the start if a different, life-changing life.

7. Know that big events, holidays and important occasions will have something go wrong. It’s basically a given. You’ll get the wrong hairstyle on your wedding day, your best friend will be sick at a holiday you’ve been planning together for six months, your dad will miss your graduation after running late from work (these haven’t necessarily happened to me just examples)… But if you understand how life works (nothing is picture perfect despite what the movies portray – that’s why they have to be scripted) then when things do go wrong it’s not the worst thing in the world. And it doesn’t need to dampen what can otherwise be a momentus, memorable, happy occasion. Expect things to go wrong, laugh about it and appreciate the good stuff. So much less stress that way!!

8. Learn to enjoy your own company. There will be times when you’re single or your partner’s away or a friend has had to cancel. And you’re left by yourself. Rather than moping, this can become a wonderful, productive time in your life. Look at someone you admire like a singer, business woman, your mother? Look at the work she has produced. Did she do it while at a girl’s night or watching DVDs with her boyfriend? Nope. She would have been by herself with a notebook and pen or an instrument or knitting needle or apron, some inspiring books, some long nights…

Make the most of your time alone and spend it doing the things you love most or planning exciting business ideas. If it makes you happy then schedule in regular alone time to put your ideas into fruition and make your dreams come true.

9. Ask for things. It kind of goes hand in hand with the ego. Let’s presume you’re a lovely, warm, hard-working person. You don’t ask for much. But you do know that you have to do what you love and put yourself first. Therefore, you need to ask for things. Think about something you want but you haven’t asked for because you’re too polite or afraid they’ll say no. Then remember that people love to help others. With this in mind it’s actually likely that if you ask for something the with attitude that yes they will give it to you’ you are very likely to get it! Try it out and then keep at it. Again, you’ll start to garner even more respect. crazy but true!


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