1) People matter the most. I cannot emphasize this enough. Life is short. Relationships are valuable, especially those healthy ones that make you a better person. The older I get the more I prioritize my time to spend it with the people who I love. This means trips back home to my parent’s house, doing activities my friends want to do even if I am not super excited about it (an example would be shopping. I am a girl who hates to shop but loves my friends so I end up at malls a bit.), or even just staying in and having people over. I rarely say no when someone wants to hang out. Their happiness is my own, and I want to encourage them in their happiness.
Over the years I’ve shed negative friendships, drama filled friendships, or people who are bad for me and encourage bad choices. I have a small quality group of friends, my family is amazing, and I’m married to an incredible person who is loving and supportive. These people are my whole world.
2) Stay Organized. Take time to keep up with that. You save time if you’re organized, if you have a routine, and if you can stick to those things. Putting morning and evening routines in place, finding a planner system (or systems in my case), decluttering to the point where you have just enough stuff to live happily, finding a way to keep yourself on top of your work and home tasks, and tracking your goals is great.
The point is that the system need to support your life and can’t be too much of a time suck. For example, I Kon-Mari’d my home, use a bullet journal style Midori Notebook as a planner/goal tracker, wear a “Uniform,” and have a cleaning routine in place. All these things leave time for doing what I love, pursuing my career, spending time with my family and friends, and I have a home that anyone can walk into and it’s clean and has food I can give them.
3) Within reason, take care of yourself first, then take care of others. If I don’t work out, take care of my health, get my alone time (I’m an introvert so I recharge by being alone), and keep up my hair and skin I would be depressed. I realize that taking care of myself is directly linked to positive mental health. I’ve long since stopped trying to look like a magazine person, but I’m happy with myself because I know I’m doing everything I possibly can to take care of myself. The version of myself that I present is one I work hard to take care of and that has to be good enough. I know I’m not slacking so I can’t be disappointed with myself. This goes for mental health, too. I’m not afraid to go see a solutions based therapist when I need to, and that’s helped me deal with some things without dragging my family or friends into the darker sides of my brain.
4) Take pleasure in the work, the results are secondary to the work. There’s not much I can say on this other than what I said before. You’ll spend most of your time working and like one percent of the time actually getting rewarded for the work so you have to come to peace with the fact that the world is a working world and you should love the work and give the work the dignity it deserves. I always tell people, “My work is the prize. All results are secondary.” when I’m explaining what I do and how I do it.
5) The first thought you have is typically a reaction. The second thought is typically a caution. Both have their place. Humans are headstrong, reactionary, and prone to looking for extremes. Once we realize this we can step back and make rational decisions. When you are dealing with something you need to decide if it deserves a reaction or a rational thought. The important thing to do, though, is name the thought for what it is, evaluate the worth of the thought, and keep or replace it as needed. When in doubt it takes 30 minutes for an adrenaline surge to calm down. Delay decision making as needed. Cooing over a friends new baby or dealing with a medical emergency deserves a reaction. Professional decisions in my career need rational decision making. I use the thirty minute rule in my professional life when I’m stressed about something. I’ll ask for a thirty minute break from the meeting and we usually come together with better ideas and a more peaceable, problem solving oriented mind.
6) Save for the future. Most of us get one and it’s a good idea to have a framework, even if it’s not detailed. You don’t have to really know what you want when you retire or even what your career is to start saving. Seriously, five bucks a week or twenty a month or a hundred a month will make a huge difference. Give future you some dignity and invest in it.
7) Do not see conflict and hard conversations as a personal attack but as a place to have a conversation and for growth. This mostly applies at work. I’m at-work friends with a lot of my colleagues and when we have tough conversations sometimes they can feel like they are being attacked as a friend. I try really hard to remind them that I come to them with the hard issues because I know they are good problem solvers and that this is just a conversation. I keep my voice quiet, I listen well, and I try to restate what I’m hearing them say they want. When things start getting personal I re-focus them to the outcome we are looking for. This was a hard skill to learn but it makes life easier.
Also, when colleagues come to me and have hard words towards me I look at is as a place to potentially work together and open a conversation. I listen, don’t react or say much other than “I see” or “I understand how you feel because you are saying XYZ”, give them time to cool off and then come back for round two of a conversation that’s solution oriented. I hold no grudges about their tone, body language, or poorly worded whining/venting. I typically take a few quick notes as they speak so I have something to refer to (added side effect – they are more careful what they say if they know it’ll lead to a second conversation or I have a record.) and after fifteen minutes I cut them off and tell them I have to keep working. Then when I get to them later I start the conversation with “So, from what you told me when you stopped by I understood you were unhappy about XYZ…” and propose a few solutions right away. Typically that fixes it.
Finally, on a last professional note, if someone’s going ballistic I give them no minutes and say in a low, quiet voice, “I’m sorry, your tone isn’t very professional and I’m disappointed in the way you’ve chosen to discuss this issue with me. I’m going to leave my office now. You’re welcome to bring the issue up later with me but right now I don’t feel like we’re able to have a productive, solutions oriented conversation.” and then I leave. There’s a HUGE difference between shitty communication skills and being a jerk on purpose and I can see that right away.
8) When people speak they often are not saying what they really mean. Try to discern what they want that is beyond what they are saying. When you have it figured out say something like “What I hear you saying is (Insert what they really want here). Maybe I covered this in point seven? Either way it’s past my bedtime so I have to finish this up!
9) The sun sets and you get a new chance each morning when the light comes up. This is the single biggest gift. In the darkest days I promise myself I just have to make it through the night and everything will get better in the morning, and if I can sleep I’ll wake up with new ideas on how to deal with things, the world will be up and about, alive and reminding me about how wonderful life can be. On those middle of the road type of days I feel content that I get a chance to do better, to keep building, to have fun, to try something new. On great days I fall asleep thinking, “Today was rad! Thank you! Lets do it again tomorrow!”