Lessons of 2012

Twenty-twelve has been a long, difficult, challenging and exceptional year. It's been one of new journeys and, as my wonderful friend said this morning, it's been transformative. Here are a few things I've learnt along the way.

  • Take risks. Not the sorts of ones that will kill you - just try new things, go with your heart and, sometimes, it's okay to worry about the consequences later.  
  • Take time out. If you're tired or sick, let yourself sleep and get better. Pushing yourself will only make it worse.  
  • Take care of your body. Your mind will thank you for it. 
  • Make time for your friends. They're what really matter. And it sucks to realise you're the sort of friend who only gets in contact when times are tough. 
  • Figure out how to know if you're really happy/content. I sing spontaneously when I'm happy. If I haven't hummed in a few days, it's time to reassess.  
  • Knuckle down and do your work. If you struggle to focus for long periods of time, switch between tasks rather than procrastinating. You'll get more done and feel better about yourself. 
  • When you run into brick walls, don't keep running at them. Either rest there or figure out how to go around them (horizontally or vertically). 
  • You don't have to do everything now. There will be time later. And even if there isn't, you'll probably still be okay.  
  • Listen actively. There are important messages between the lines.
  • Set clear expectations with yourself and your friends. You mightn't always keep to them. Avoiding miscommunication really helps - knowing whether "maybe" means "yes" or "probably not," whether "see you soon means" in a week or "yeah maybe we'll catch up again" will really strengthen your friendships. Knowing whether you'll want to go to bed or finish an assignment will stop you from guilt tripping yourself. 
  • Plan for the future but don't feel obliged to follow them through. The plans are there as scaffolding, as something to guide you. If a great opportunity comes up that will mess with those plans, your new future can start now. 
  • When opportunity comes knocking, answer the door.  
  • And if opportunities don't come knocking, build your own doors and peer outside to see what's on offer. 
  • Don't be afraid to say no. Not everything is worth doing. Do you want to do what is asked of you? Will it benefit you or the person asking if you do it? Is it a long-term solution or a short-term fix?
  • Say what you mean and mean what you say.  
  • Let people in. There is no shortage of people willing to help you along the way but you need to be open to their assistance.  
  • Tell people that you love them/care about them/appreciate them. It's easy to get so busy that you forget to express appreciation for those in your life. 
  • By the same token, tell people when you're upset with them. Being passive-aggressive won't change things. No-one's a mind reader. Things won't change unless you speak up. 
  • There will never be a convenient time for changing things up, love or difficult conversations. You're just going to have to do it. 
  • Bad stuff happens sometimes. It doesn't always need to have a silver lining. Accept that you're not in control of everything. Work out what you can do to cope better or avoid similar situations in the future. Learn from this. You'll generally learn more from the bad times than you do from the good.
  • Travel - not just out of your hometown but within it. Not just in distance but in new ideas. 
  • Rub shoulders with people who think differently to you. Sometimes it'll grate on your nerves. You'll learn more from this than from a conversation where you're constantly agreeing with the other person.  
  •  You know yourself best. Sometimes all the advice in the world won't answer a question for you. You'll just have to work it out yourself.
  • Most of all, smile. Today can be a great day.


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