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.
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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!