A R I A D N E / / K A P S A L I

32 life and business lessons

32 life and business lessons

Last month I turned 32. This is a year I used to think about as the age of being an adult. I like the sound of 32, much more than 31 and definitely more than 30. 32 feels like you know what you’re about, who you are and what you like and not like. I can tell you now, I know this not to be entirely true. There is something about the number that has me feeling proud of where I am, despite being somewhere completely different to where I imagined I would be by now. The past 32 years have been interesting and gratefully full of adventures and lessons. In honour of the 32 years on this earth and also of the one year anniversary of leaving my job, I have been doing a lot of thinking and unpicking (see my previous post about my biggest business lesson so far), so I have compiled a list of 32 smaller life and business lessons I’ve picked over the years! Enjoy!

32 Life & Business Lessons

  1. Everybody’s winging it: in life, in business, in love. Seriously. Even parents (especially parents). Nobody really knows what they’re doing. Resist comparison and free yourself from meeting some arbitrary standard that doesn’t really exist. What a relief to not have to have it all together.
  2. People come and go. If you’re lucky you will have met some of your closest people early enough in life. But even so, they might not stay with you as you grow into another stage in life. That’s ok. The more you dedicate time and commit to understanding yourself, the more you will connect with your people.
  3. Who you are is not a fixed concept. Your experiences will shape and soften your edges, so you are allowed to change and mould with time.
  4. Your desires will shift too. With time, as you evolve and try new things what you want will also change. So keep an open mind and allow your end goals to transform along with you.
  5. Don’t be so critical of others. I grew up thinking that it’s ok to criticise others for their limitations and shortcomings, as if it somehow helped me to be better and in some ways motivated others to improve. What I know now is that we are all on our own journey and criticism is helpful only when it’s delivered in a useful and compassionate way and in most cases, only when it’s been requested. I believe in supporting others to grow rather than highlighting where they’ve been wrong.
  6. Accept your fear as a lifelong companion. I’ve been scared every-single-step-of-the-way. There has not been one big decision in my life that has not been accompanied with certain level of doubt and fear. It is not about fighting your fear and eliminating it; it’s about learning to act in spite of its presence and loud warnings. Befriend your fear and it will not be as loud.
  7. Do not diet. No. Just stop. I feel so sorry for my past self as a teenage girl, unhappy in her own skin, punishing herself for not fitting the skinny ideal. I remember starving myself and then binging on crap because I was not willing not to eat, but I saw that as a weakness. I treated my body horribly because ultimately I had no respect for it. When I educated myself around food and I started to feel confident in my own skin, dieting shifted to eating more mindfully, more consciously, viewing food as fuel and nourishment, not something to be afraid of.
  8. Everyone has issues with money. Your relationship with money is fucked up as I wrote here and here. And…
  9. …how you treat your money is in direct relationship to how you treat yourself. Taking care of your money is taking care of yourself. I’m learning this over and over again.
  10. Relationships take loads of work. Friendships and intimate relationships, seriously take commitment. It’s one of the biggest areas of growth for me learning to be vulnerable and really let people in and also maintaining and deepening the relationship by being there for others.
  11. Assumptions and expectations can ruin your relationships. Be aware of the pressure you put on others by assuming how they feel, what they think and what they want and by expecting them to act in certain ways to meet your needs. Communication is a two way street and you need to be aware of what signals you’re sending even when you’re not talking.
  12. Have more sex. Make time for getting to know your partner, yourself and the both of you as an entity. When you’re in a long term relationship, being intimate with each other needs to take priority over other stuff. It just does.
  13. Travel opens you up. Some of my greatest lightbulb moments and clarity has followed trips to cultures and places that somehow have taken me away from my usual pattern of living and thinking. It doesn’t have to be life-changing for a trip to shift your perspective.
  14. Certain people will appear in your life to show you what you need to work on. When you feel triggered by someone’s behaviour or when you’re jealous, you are picking up on something in them that you’re either attracted to for yourself or you need to address in you. Pay attention.
  15. You don’t need to find your purpose. We put so much pressure on ourselves to find what we are supposed to do in life and freak out when we are not able to pinpoint it. I’ve worked with many women who feel so unhappy about themselves because they don’t know what they’re supposed to do in life and they’re looking for the holy grail in the shape of a career or job which will give them life satisfaction and build their self esteem. What I’ve come to understand is you will not find your purpose by looking for it. Your purpose might not even look like a purpose because it may not exist in the way you want it to. Simply take small, gradual steps towards the things that drive you, that make you excited, that you love doing and things will fall into place.
  16. Don’t be afraid of religion. It’s not faith itself that causes separation. You don’t need to follow any particular rule to have faith. Spirituality serves the purpose of keeping you plugged into something much bigger than you and me. Find your own version of what spirit means to you and go from there. Having faith and engaging in ritual is actually a really healthy mechanism which leads to greater happiness and resilience.
  17. Meditate. In any way that you can: in silence or with a guided track, seated, walking, in bed, on the train. Find a meditative activity and keep returning to it. It will keep you sane. 
  18. Worry is a choice. Stress is a physiological response of our body when the mind deems our safety is at risk. Overwhelm can cause physical stress. Worry is the mind’s way of trying to deal with that threat, yet it’s unhelpful, inefficient and toxic. Choose a higher thought.
  19. Little things matter a LOT.
  20. You do not have to take on other people’s anxiety. You can be there for someone without taking on their problems and concerns. You cannot help anyone if you’re in the same anxious and emotional state as they are.
  21. Sensitivity and introversion are superpowers.
  22. Forgiveness is more important than winning. Especially in marriage.
  23. Make time for adventure. Build time in your schedule for exploration, for going off track, for being in nature.
  24. Set good, healthy boundaries for your time and energy. Be mindful of the people who drain you, as well as the tasks and habits that leave you feeling empty. Protect yourself by setting clear boundaries and in turn empowering others to do the same.
  25. Say NO more. Just say no. It’s ok. People will respect you more when you don’t try to please them as much. If they don’t, you’ll need to ask yourself if it’s worth worrying about them in the first place.
  26. Seek your own guidance. We are so afraid of looking in for guidance, because we feel the answers are somewhere out there, in a book, a mentor, a course, a teacher. So we keep paying money to study more, we keep wasting time reading more, forgetting that we have so much knowledge and wisdom within. Sure, be a student as much as you want (I personally am) and definitely seek support and guidance, but not at the expense of listening to your inner mentor. This is one of the most important things I teach my coaching clients – plug into your intuition.
  27. Make self care your number one priority. Amen. Investing in yourself is the wisest investment of all.
  28. Become more visible and don’t be afraid of sharing what you’re about. We spend so much time worrying about offending others with our joy, our light, our success that we shrink into lesser versions of ourselves. You don’t serve anyone by hiding. Own your talents, share them with the world and that way you let others know it’s ok to do so.
  29. Not everyone will like you. This one is a hard one for me as I am used to feeling liked. But the truth is, especially when you have an online business and therefore a bigger reach, you cannot please everyone and nor should you try. The sooner you accept this, the freer you will be to just do you.
  30. Ebb and flow. Sometimes you will feel you have it all together, sometimes you will feel it all sucks and you might as well give up. Sometimes everything will flow with ease and grace, others you will struggle to make one coherent sentence. You will have bad days and you will find a way back.
  31. Listen to music; it’s like therapy.
  32. Play more.