Well today marks the 30th Anniversary of my Birth, and what a trip it has been. I would like to think that over that time I have learnt some things from the wide and varied mistakes I have made, the careers I have chosen, the people I have met; those who came, those who stayed and those who went home. In the interest of reflection and Maintaining my Rage I have decided to write down a list of the top 30 life lessons learnt, and hopefully share something with you all that may prevent you from making the same or similar mistakes.
- Your parents are normally right – It may not seem it at the time, it may not seem like it when your working hard and earning a good wicket, but at some point all of those little life lessons that your parents tried to tell you but you were too stubborn to listen and act on at the time, come true. I am now studying at 30, after arguing till I was blue in the face that I never would. Would I have been a good student at 18, 20, 25, probably not. But never the less here I am.
- It’s ok to fail – We hear this more and more today as our world continues to spiral into mediocrity, but it does have some truth to it. It is ok to fail, provided you learn the lesson from the failure and strive to not make it again. I know I have tried and failed many things in my journey, but I have taken just as many that will be handy to remember moments as I had don’t do that again lessons.
- Never stop learning – I once had a Lieutenant Commander, and if he ever reads this he knows who he is, tell me that the day I stop learning and think I know everything is the day I become dangerous. I have taken those words and attempted to apply them to every facet of my life. I endeavour to learn at least one new thing a day, it may not be pertinent at the time, but every skill gained is a skill possessed.
- Rest – In a previous post I made mention of the importance of rest to the mind and the body. I will mention it gain, it is exceptionally important to allow your body to rest to heal and you mind to rest to avoid stress and distraction. You will actually become more efficient if you take some time to yourself instead of flog yourself everyday.
- Give back, pay forward and share it around – I once came across a story about a man who worked diligently in a field, and when he took his produce to market and collected his cash he would take it home and bury it under a tree in a box. He had continued with this ritual for many years, until one day he came back to the tree only to discover that the box was empty and he had been robbed. He quickly ran around the town asking the people he saw if they had seen the money or the thief. He then comes across a traveller, who asks him what he lost? The man told him his tale and the traveller laughed. The traveller told him why do you search for something that you never had? The man stared at him puzzled by the question it is mine I earned it he explained, the traveller then tells him the money was never yours, you buried it, hiding it from others and yourself, you never intended on using it, so it was already lost. Stolen or buried the money had the same value. I was struck by message, if we keep everything to ourselves and only sit and enjoy our own pleasures, how can we know true joy of sharing, gifting and paying forward. So give a little once in a while.
- Set a priorities list – Everyone should have a priorities list that dictates how they make decisions and govern their world. Mine runs 1) God, 2) My Wife 3) My Family 4) Work, either volunteer or paid 5) Myself. It doesn’t matter whats on your list or in what order, just know what it is and stick to it.
- Budget – Create a budget and stick to it. I am on my second house, my son attends a private school, we have a 18 month old daughter who is soon attending early education, if we didn’t have a budget and stick to it, we wouldn’t survive.
- Be Yourself – I accepted myself a long time ago, for better or worse, I endeavour to be me in every situation. In todays age there is a push to be better stronger, thinner, fatter, smarter, dumber, faster or even a different colour but be comfortable with who you are, it may just save your life one day.
- Take care of your health – This is one of my slowest lessons, I am way too full of bravado and short of being carried off to a hospital in an Ambulance I don’t normally worry. Unfortunately I have had my share of under the knife experiences, 13 to be exact. So I implore you, go to your GP, get a check up once in a while and listen to the advice they give you.
- You can’t donate to everyone – These days it always seems like someone has their hand out for money, to save the animals, or children, or medical research, or care flights, or veterans, but you can’t give money to everyone. Not effectively anyway. My advice is pick 3 – 5 charities that you would always give to and stick to them. If you narrow down your charities to a few you can support them better with a more substantial donation, instead of a token gesture. If you find yourself flushed with cash and in a charitable mood, by all means share the love, but remember the ones you have dedicated to.
- You’re a Parent not a Friend – Hard lesson this one, our temptation is to be nice to our children, give them what they want, give them more than we had and to create an atmosphere of perfect harmony. But the reality is, they push us, back chat, get in mischief, break things, hit things, and generally play up. So we have to come down on them. If you have spent your parenting time to this point being a friend and not a parent, you will either get nowhere or the child will see you as untrustworthy and therefore, get nowhere in the future. Love your child but don’t try and be their friend.
- Know when to say No – I know I have said yes to things at the time and later realised I have already said yes to five other things. We need to know its ok to say no, say no to the overtime if you have a date with your partner, say no to the 27th beer at the pub, say no to the meeting in another state when Skype works just as well. Knowing when to say no is important for yourself and those around you.
- Just enough rope – As a father and a Scout leader I can attest to wanting to show kids through everything, to do it for them to save the pain of failure. But I have learnt that it is ok to allow them the experience of failure in a controlled and safe environment. The experience they will gain from giving something a go and failing are immeasurable, and if they succeed they will ride that morale train for months.
- Don’t leave things to the last minute – I am a Nursing student, a Scout Leader, sit on two University Committees, a Father and a Husband, I don’t have a lot of spare time, but I also plan everything out. I have the next semesters SRC meetings planned in my diary, Scouts is planned for the Semester, and I average 21 days early for my Nursing assignments. This gives me ample time to spend with my wife and kids. So don’t put everything off to the last minute hoping that the time spent procrastinating will be worth it, because it won’t, it will just add to your stress.
- Milestones – This could be taken many ways, but it all comes down to the same principle, large tasks being broken down into smaller tasks. Your child’s life is a series of milestones; crawling, walking, talking, solids, toileting and a myriad of other wonders. Your work is the same, if you have ever managed a project you’ll know that the project runs; research, development, implementation, evaluation and then back to development. Whatever is going on in your life, if it seems insurmountable, break it down into manageable chunks and deal with those.
- Make time for things you love – Whether it’s reading, basejumping or camping make the time for the things you really enjoy to recharge those depleated cells.
- Stop and smell the roses – We become so focussed on the destination that we don’t truly appreciate the journey. I remember being on a patrol boat off the North coast of Australia; I was busy, like 20 hour days busy, I was so focussed on the task I didn’t appreciate where I was. It wasn’t till I took five minutes to sit on the back deck after the sun had set and saw the absolute majesty of the night sky that I truly began to appreciate the journey.
- Surround yourself with people who build you up – Surrounding yourself with people who encourage you, build you up and sing you praises will get you through the tough times. But…
- Don’t surround yourself with yes people – Yes people won’t help you through, they will only let you hear what you want to hear, or what will benefit them, neither will be helpful.
- Don’t sweat the little things – Most of the time you cannot control them anyway. The energy you’ll waste on the little thing could be better channeled into your priority areas.
- Don’t go to bed angry – Whether single, in a long term relationship or married, don’t go to bed with unresolved anger. It will cause yourself no end of grief and will destroy the relationship in question. My wife and I have a robust debriefing process, when the last member arrives home we discuss each other’s day, our successes and failures and how it makes us feel, we also discuss anything in our relationship that is working or not. If we have had a heated discussion neither of us will sleep until its come to a reslotion. That does leave some nights a little light on for sleep, but it has made a stronger pair in the long run.
- Reflect on your relationship – My wife and I often reflect on the year gone by on our anniversary, and again at Christmas. We also think about our parenting and impact on our children on Mothers Day, Fathers Day and our children’s birthday. This constant inwards reflection has made sure we remain united and strong. I would encourage everyone who is in a committed relationship to engage in some kind of reflective practice.
- Remember why you are doing the activity – As a Scout leader I endeavour to make my programs fun, adventurous and educational. Sometimes I get the end of a night or a weekend and think it was a complete and utter flop. But when I ask the Scouts what they think, they have learnt heaps, had a ton of fun and got a lot out of it. So I have to remind myself that it’s not about me, or how I perceive the activity, it about who I am there for, and that extends to whatever endeavour we undertake, nursing it’s the Patients, teaching it’s the students, and administration is so the people we work for don’t get sued.
- Don’t forget to laugh – With others, at yourself, at a silly joke or something silly. Laughter has been shown to be good for cardiac health by lowering Blood Pressure, reducing Stress and releasing endorphins. Not to mention laughing is contagious, which means you not just going to be feeling better yourself but making someone else feel better at the same time.
- Volunteer – Volunteering is a great way to give back to the community and share skills and knowledge that you have accumulated with others. I have been Volunteering with Scouts Australia for over 9 months now and every week I get to see the kids grow and develop into the young leaders of tomorrow. I also volunteer at my local Churchfor the past 5 years – giving back to the community that has made my wife and I feel so welcome has been incredibly rewarding.
- Everything in Moderation – This should probably caveated with everything legal in moderation, there is no harm to enjoy a glass of red with that big T-Bone for dinner, enjoying some fried chicken on the beach watching the sunset, sobbing into a tub of ice cream while watching Armageddon. The key is to not do it all the time, and ensure you keep life balanced, go for walk, eat a salad, drink more water, and watch Wonder Woman.
- Unplug More – I realise the irony of saying to unplug more, as I sit here with my daughter watching ABC Kids while writing this blog on my phone, however, it is important to unplug from our overly connected world. Go camping, fishing, walking, play football, play catch with your kids, volunteer with your local Scout Group, enjoy the outdoors.
- Don’t do tomorrow what could be done today – Stop porcrastinating, do that assignment, visit that friend, wash the dishes, clean your room, call your Mum, whatever you have been putting off and claiming I’m too busy, just do it. If we achieved everything we put off, we would have more time to achieve the things we really want to do, like camping, hanging out with friends, fishing, or binge watching Dr. Who.
- Spend the time with those you love – Don’t waste the time you have with those you love, spend the time at your Grandfathers 90th, at your nieces 2nd birthday, family reunions, mates’ birthdays or school reunions. The time you spend with them may be the last time you spend time with them. Don’t waste the opportunity.
- Love God, Love Others – There is only two real commandments that should govern your life these days, and in the world we live in they are more important then ever. Love God and Love Others. Now, this isn’t to be a Bible Bash, Love God is where you love something other than yourself, something higher, whatever form that takes. For me, that is the God from Bible, my lord and saviour Jesus Christ. As for Love Others, I believe we can all stand to do this a little more. Share a meal with someone, help your neighbour mow the lawn, volunteer at a soup kitchen, be involved in social innovation. Don’t worry about changing the World, just change your community.
There you have it, my 30 Lessons for turning 30. It is in no way an exhaustive list of all the things I have learnt, but for me they are the most important. Do you have a lesson you want to share? Want to discuss any of the above further? Is there a lesson here that you want to hear the story behind? Add a comment below or head to our Connect page and send us an email.
Maintain the Rage,