I love celebrating my birthday. I see birthdays as an opportunity to reflect on the events of the past year and a chance to assess where to powerfully take the next year of life. You might imagine the surprise among those closest to me when on the eve of turning 30, I expressed self criticism, worry, anxiety and a lack of passion for celebrating my big day.
As I pondered my lack of enthusiasm, I realized I had learned a lot in my 29 years. I decided to actively apply these lessons to my new decade of existence. My overall goal remained the same: to look back on my 31st birthday and say- “Wow, what an amazing year”!
Here are 3 truths I learned in my 20’s and applied in my 30’s:
1. Accept that Balance is a Myth, Strive for Joy: After years of feeling guilty for my inability to achieve true balance in life, I have finally let go of the expectation of having it together in every area of my life at all times. Instead, I have lived the last year asking myself the question: “What could you do right now that would bring you joy?” The answer to this question is different as I focus on immediate, mid-term, and long-term fulfillment, but posing this question has allowed for many visions to come together powerfully into one space: the present. I have shifted from spreading myself thin to passionately getting what is most important done. My productivity at work has increased, my relationship with my friends and family have deepened and I walk about feeling proud and confident in my ability to make it happen. For a daily dose of inspiration watch Danielle LaPorte’s “A Credo for Making it Happen” http://www.daniellelaporte.com/
2. Hire Your Own Success Team: Many of us work with the purpose of helping our students and colleagues achieve their fullest potential. I spent countless hours in my 20’s coaching and supporting the growth of others, at times at the expense of my own well being. In my late 20’s I decided to invest in my own professional success team. Every January since, I begin the new year with a self development course or activity. I started by doing sessions with a life coach and followed with courses on meditation, yoga, voice lessons, and an active ongoing relationship with a naturopath and a massage therapist. I learned to outsource tasks (such as taxes!) to leave more time for activities that bring me joy. Just as we are experts in education, there are professionals in other industries waiting to help you be the best you- use them! My exemplary health resource: http://www.joyoushealth.ca
3. Affirmations are Key: Not getting the job, the 2nd date, or still carrying around those extra 10 pounds, I have set countless goals or strived for several opportunities where I have been unsuccessful. In my 20’s I often let my mind wander to dark self-critical spaces where I focused entirely on what was lacking and what was “wrong” in an attempt to “fix” myself. I was introduced to affirmations by the author Louise Hay in my late 20’s. Affirmations are positive statements made in the present tense that are particularly useful for replacing repeating negative thoughts we say to ourselves, about ourselves. For example, in response to peak times of stress at work I often found myself saying “I am so busy and there is just not enough time.“ This past year I would recognize this thought as it came, and replaced it with “Everything I touch is a success.” or “I manage my time efficiently and powerfully.” Some of my other favourite affirmations include “Life is simple and easy” and “My life works beautifully.”
Recently, I have begun to state my affirmations after the phrase, “I am”. This allows for you to define yourself in a way that tricks your brain into believing whatever you say is already true! Try replacing “I want a new job” with “I am gainfully employed in a job that I am truly passionate about” and see how you feel! I repeat my affirmations first thing in the morning as I set my intention for the day and again in the evening after I capture 5 things I am grateful for in my journal. While I knew of this tool in my 20’s, consistent practice and commitment has been made all the difference this year. Setting aside time and having the discipline to start and end my day in this space has made all the difference! Louise Hay offers a daily affirmation at: http://www.louisehay.com/affirmations/
In actively applying the following lessons, I am happy to report I DID just have the best year of my life! As I look out onto 31, I am so excited to experience joy, fulfillment and further growth. The best is surely yet to come!
Jen Gonzales, Residence Life and Education Coordinator, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada
Incoming President of the Ontario Association of College and University Housing Officials (OACUHO)
Connect with me at: @jengonzales8