Earlier this month, I turned 35. The way NYE celebrations coincide so closely with my birthday always leads me to think closely about about the new year (and kicking it off at a new age!), as well as all the years that have led to this present moment.
I also do this weird thing where I double my current age in my mind and think, Where am I halfway to? This year, the answer is 70. Halfway to 70! I think that’s pretty cool, and I know that the next 35 years will fly faster than the last—as you get older, each year represents a smaller percentage of your overall life. That’s why the first 20 years of your life always seem the longest.
Here’s what I’ve learned over the last 35 years that has me heading into the next 35 regret-free:
- Be spontaneous. We got our dog, little Coconut, unexpectedly one weekend with zero plans to be dog owners (and while living in a non-pet friendly place)! Yeah, we had to move and make some life adjustments, but nine years later, she’s still the joy of our lives!
- Go all in. Working too much gets a bad rap (and yes, balance, family, and friends matter), but there’ll be periods in your life where you live and breathe work. If you care about what you’re doing, it’s a wonderful investment. My work is the greatest contribution I’ll make in my lifetime.
- Be there for the unglam stuff too. People love weddings. But do you go to funerals—even if they’re hard to get to?
- Say sorry first. Who cares who is in the wrong? In two weeks, you won’t even remember the fight. Choose kindness over being right. You won’t waste time sulking either.
- Get up earlier. So much precious life is wasted by over-sleeping. Enjoy the magical mornings at 5 a.m. once in a while!
- Just go for it. A little over nine years ago, when I was 25, I had my first-ever interview job in New York. I wore a white blazer (I didn’t know the Labor Day rule back then!), and I remember how bitingly cold it was compared to the Sydney summer I’d left behind. I was so desperate to “make it” in New York. But I didn’t have a college degree or any connections in America. I had one important (often underestimated) thing, though: self-confidence. And this generated a couple of other cool side effects: an Olympian level of optimism, no matter how many times I was rejected (which was a lot). And massive action. And ya know what? It was enough. Because it’s remarkable what self-confidence will do for you. It means what “they” say doesn’t apply to you. Go for the damn thing you want!
- Smile more… when it feels good. People who smile are the best. And it makes you look sexy too. (Just don’t tell a stranger to smile, please.)
- Just go! Do you hem and haw over whether or not to go to something? Me too. But 90 percent of the time I do go (like to a book launch event, a masquerade party, on a bit of an inconvenient girls’ trip), I’m so happy I did. Even if you feel like staying home—show up for more!
- Call your parents. You never know when they’ll be gone for good.
- Don’t believe all your thoughts. Thoughts are just thoughts, and they can be changed. Be lighter about them!
- Risk more. Why hold back? The purpose of life isn’t to make it through unscathed (“here lies someone who had a jolly, safe time”). See the world! Commit to something! Speak up!
- Wear stuff that makes you feel fabulous. You’re worth it! And it’s OK to stand out.
- Don’t expect other people to see things the way you do. And once a week, consume a blog or podcast in direct opposition to your beliefs (religious, political, anything). Cognitive empathy is strengthened this way.
- Add—don’t subtract! The universe is one of inclusion. What we think about expands. So instead of subtracting fries, add salad. Instead of subtracting a toxic friend, add more time with a positive friend. Adding naturally dulls the rest out!
- Don’t resist those down days. What we resist persists. Sit with it. Be curious about feeling low. It’s more likely to pass this way. And you’re allowed a time out.
- Don’t think your job is your only creative expression. Got other skills? Start a side hustle!
- Spend a day a week with your phone in a drawer. There was a time without phones, ya know. We all lived.
- Tell yourself you are beautiful. Because you are. Photos you’ll look at 10 years from now will have you thinking, I was so cute!
- Give someone the benefit of the doubt. You’ve been given it way more than you realize.
- Get outside for 10 minutes a day. Put your hand on a tree. Look at a flower for 15 seconds. And look up at the sky, not down at a screen.
- Cherish your beloved. See the things you want to see in that person. Praise them. Give encouragement! Your life partner is the most precious thing in your life.
- Laugh over being offended. This is what happy people do.
- Follow your instincts. No one knows what’s in your heart but you.
- Be responsible for your decisions. Don’t blame others for what goes wrong for you. This is the most freeing thing you’ll ever do!
- Think about stuff that makes you happy. And do it a lot. This makes you a magnet for more happy stuff.
- Lovingly release people who don’t appreciate you. That way, you’ll make room for people who will.
- Don’t blend in. Losing yourself is all too easy. And people are more than happy for you to just follow their lead.
- Stand up for yourself. You’ll know when it’s time.
- Forgive everybody. And never hurt anyone intentionally.
- Visualize everything going the way you want. The mind doesn’t know the difference. It’s what the top athletes do for a reason. They win mentally first.
- Don’t point out anyone’s mistakes (unless they’re about to run a red light)! If you have to, do it indirectly. No one likes to be wrong, and it won’t win you any friends.
- Decide that change is always a good thing. It’s the only sure thing in life.
- Know that money will flow to you. Look around! You’re always being supported.
- Give 10X more compliments. Why hold back? There’s no point! It’s surprising what a kind, sincere word can do for someone.
- Relax. Because everything’s gonna be OK.
Susie Moore is Greatist’s life coach columnist and a confidence coach in New York City. Sign up for free weekly wellness tips on her website and check back every Tuesday for her latest No Regrets column!