I’ve been thinking about this post for over a month. The one I wrote last year was so well received, and important to me in many ways. This type of post is so much more personal than the content I normally share on this blog, but I think that’s a good thing. I almost didn’t write this post this year. Many of my lessons learned in 2011 where of the harsh and often brutal kind that aren’t really fit for public publication on a professional blog. At the same time I think there is some benefit to taking the rough and ragged things and polishing them up, for both you and me. Things are so hectic, I haven’t blogged for over a month, I’ve been flirting with the idea of letting the blog just fade away. There are so many others writing great things, I’m not sure I’m adding to the mix any more and my time and attention are wrapped up in reading and writing about public policy for my degree and my involvement in ALA and OITP and other projects. But enough on the fate of the blog, for now let’s look back at 2011.
1. Don’t settle.
Don’t settle. Just don’t. Not for the status quo because everyone tells you that’s just the way it is. Not for that mediocre (or horrible) job you were misled into taking. Not for the wrong guy. Not for a good apartment in the wrong town, or the wrong apartment in a good town. Not for the you that isn’t the you that you want to be. Not for less than the perfect pair of shoes. Whatever your dream is, don’t settle. Sure you need a job to pay the bills, a place to live and (probably) a car to drive, but that doesn’t mean you should ever stop working towards what you really want. Get a plan, a real plan, not 1. collect underpants 2. ? 3. Profit. Work towards it. Yes you will have to work and probably make some sacrifices, but in the end it will be worth it.
2. Kindness is underrated.
Seriously. It doesn’t go on your resume or on LinkedIn. We don’t look for it in our leaders or our presidents, but we do, at least we should look for it, in our friends. This year was hard, really hard, there is a lot I don’t remember, some I’d like to forget, but what I remember with certainty is who was kind to me. Honesty, sometimes I was surprised and occasionally shocked, at the kindness from family, friends, associates, distant associates, and sometimes strangers. Even when you have nothing else to give you have kindness, sometimes that’s worth more than anything else.
3. All you need is love.
Yep, it’s cheesy, but it’s true. This year was a hard one for me and my family, but we were there for each other. I know many of my friends (too many) had a rough year too, but we were there for each other. At least I know they were there for me in super, awesome, amazing ways and I hope I was there for them too. Seriously, I have the best friends and colleagues and supporters ever, big love to all of you.
4. Be generous.
Actually this isn’t a new lesson but an old one. It’s my personal motto to live by through the years. But I relearned it on several levels this year. Be generous with others, but also yourself. Be generous with your time, your forgiveness, your understanding, your support, your praise, your patience, your caring, your kindness, and your love.
5. Know when to quit.
Whether it’s a bad job, self loathing, trying to lose that last 5 pounds, or a bad relationship of any kind. In the words of The Gambler
You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, Know when to walk away, know when to run.
Some times that thing you are beating yourself up about, killing yourself for or just letting ruin you isn’t worth it. It’s ok to cut and run. About a year and a half ago I started working on being more positive. Not that I was super negative before, but I was in a bad situation, a couple of them actually, and at least one was of the sort that doesn’t have an immediate exit. Instead of dwelling on the bad I decided to try to dwell on the good. I’ve always been fascinated by the human brain and how the mind works so I started reading*. This led to the elimination of some bad habits, bad relationships and bad people. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a work in progress but there’s value in assessing the things in your life and figuring out if they are contributing to the life you want (remember lesson 1).
*You may have seen me post these on FB or Twitter or the blog over the last year but here a few of the books, blogs & Facebook pages :
- The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want This looks at how you can make yourself happiness from a scientific approach. Well written and factual but not too dry for the average reader, I recommend it.
- The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun The author talks about the year she spent working towards being happier, she focused on a different aspect of her life each month.
- The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World A fun look at the happiest and least happiest areas of the world
- Stumbling on Happiness funny thing about human beings, what we *think* will make us happy very often doesn’t.
- The Positivity Blog | Increase Your Happiness and Awesomeness
- The Positivity Blog on FB
- Gretchen Rubin on FB author of the The Happiness Project
- The Happiness Project Blog
- 30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself
- 10 Ways to Complain Less and Be Happier
- Hello, I Find You Perfectly Toxic