Last year I wrote a blog titled: “My top Experiences and lessons learned in 2016 (Written for Millennials)”.
This year, I’d like to share a similar piece, summarizing the most valuable experiences and realizations I’ve had over the last 12 months, not exclusively for anyone.ee
My goal is to be able to pass something of value to you. I write with the intention to exchange knowledge, give you actionable advice or share a story that could have profound positive impact.
The following collection of words will now attempt to do exactly that.
1. Stop criticizing yourself for the way you get things done
Earlier this year, I met a student wrapping up a degree in accounting. When I met with him, he’d consistently reflect on how he wasn’t going to finish his degree in exactly four years.
I personally tend to beat myself up for not consistently going to the gym at 5am.
Two questions: Who cares? Why is it important?
Who cares if you go to the gym in the morning or afternoon? As long as you go and receive the benefit of working out at some point in the day, your objective is complete, is it not?
Same for the school example, I personally did not graduate on time and experienced the anxiety and insecurity that came with falling behind my peers, however, at the end of the day I still received a diploma and got a job.
When things don’t go as planned and we have to experience uncertainty, it can summon that little doubtful voice inside our head that damages your self-worth. Don’t let that happen, hear out that voice, listen to what is has to say and then tell it he/she is wrong. If you are in a car and you have a single destination, it doesn’t matter which road you take, perhaps you take a boat there, a plane, a car, or you walk, but as long as you get there, the path is irrelevant.
Stop beating yourself up about the way you achieve an accomplishment. Just achieve.
2. Strategically carve out time for self-reflection & personal development
How many friends do you hear say” “Ohh, I wanna travel to that country”
Or “I’m gonna move there in 6 months!” maybe, “I’m gonna quit my job!”
In my experience, most people who make these statements rarely do them. I think traveling is the most common commitment people fail to follow through with.
Did you know on average it only takes 7 clicks to buy a plane ticket? So we know it’s not difficult, but why do so many people fail to actually take that big trip they’ve been talking about?
Because they don’t take the time to actually make it happen.
This October, I wrote a blog called “Explore your life’s purpose with this simple exercise” and shared my “vision development” practice. This is when I take one hour each Wednesday evening between 6-7pm and focus on my vision.
But you don’t have to think about “your vision”, instead you could take 1 hour per week to plan out that vacation you’ve been talking about for the last 8 months, or you could do the research to figure out what you would need to save in order to buy that investment property.
The bottom line is nothing will happen unless you actually dedicate time, effort and energy towards it.
Think about it, you go to the gym to work out your body, you go to school and work to sharpen your mind, yet we do nothing with our own time to make our goals happen?
Why not? Dedicating an hour per week to what I wanted to accomplish most in life has been a game changer and although I still do not have my “million dollar idea” or understand the meaning of life, I have gained clarity on what brings me the most joy, and gotten to know the deeper version of myself.
I also booked two trips last week 🙂
3. Realize how little you need
This year I realized how little you need in order to be happy, at least for me personally. I’ve detached from so many material items and possession’s, becoming more free and liquid in the process. Here are a few examples:
When I first moved to Boston, I made a huge mistake…Living in a studio in the city for $2,890 per month.
After 5 months of that I made the best switch ever to a house with three roommates for $650 per month.
When I moved, I packed up all of my possessions and furniture in 5 boxes and 4 hours.
I also sold my car this year. As a result, I have no car payment, no fuel costs or insurance bill and I can put that money towards savings, traveling or other ventures.
This entire year I haven’t spent a penny on shampoo or conditioner. The only cosmetic products I use and purchase include: Tooth paste, tooth brush, floss, comb, razor, deodorant and hair gel.
After realizing I didn’t need shampoos, fragrances, lotions, crème’s or any fancy face wash, I also learned how many toxic chemicals are used to make these things. Read more about the carcinogens in your cosmetics from safecosmetics.org
I went from shopping at Whole Foods, to local markets where items are a third of the price. I stopped purchasing meats (more expensive than vegetables in my experience), processed foods, dairy and eggs as well.
For lunch, breakfast and dinner I usually eat sautéed vegetables and a green smoothie. My food expense is about 60 dollars a week. You really don’t need to buy that ice cream or that pack of Oreo’s, put it back on the shelf and eat what you NEED not what you WANT.
Are there items in your room, office or work space that you’ve had for more than 10 years? Why are they still around, what are they doing for you?
- Some item’s I dumped this year include:
- A scholarship plaque from high school
- My Bachelor’s Degree
- High School year book
- Shoes and clothing I haven’t worn in the last 60 days
- Old artwork
Most people think I’m crazy for throwing away such items. But they were no longer serving me. My Bachelor’s degree is a sheet of paper, I am aware of its significance, but it does not define who I am and I do not need it. The most important thing I got from school was the collection of memories and friendships, that sheet of paper is just a sheet of paper.
Same goes for the other items, they were all reflections of my past self and similar to how a snake sheds its skin, people should embrace the ability to “shed the past” and rid themselves of possessions that no longer contribute to their life’s meaning.
4. Look for reasons to reach out & make introductions
To illustrate what I mean by this point, I’ll share a few stories about my first couple of months in Boston and how I went about meeting people.
One sunny afternoon, I was sitting at Jaho Coffee and Wine Bar on Washington Street in Boston and overheard 2 women speaking about jobs and internships.
I work a company that is always hiring and we also offer an internship. Naturally, after hearing what I had heard, I asked “What sort of opportunities are guys you looking for?” The two instantly shared what their ideal positions would be and I was able to offer one of them a relevant position at Gartner. Shortly after, we connected, talked for an hour and they both became friends I still speak with today.
Fast forward 1 month, I was at another coffee shop in Brighton MA, working on some side projects. While reading, I notice a guy sitting next to me reading a book called “Learned Optimism”, by Martin Seligman. I knew the book because I am a huge fan on Martin Seligman’s work on Positive Psychology.
Anyways, the second the man removed his head phones, I asked him how he had come across that book. He mentioned he was a big fan of Seligman and we began talking about our shared passion for positive psychology for the next hour. The following weekend we went out for dinner and he is also a great new friend I have in Boston.
The point of both stories is to demonstrate the benefit of taking action. If you want to make friends, bring people into your life, you have to examine ways you can reach out or make introductions. In each scenario I used some knowledge I had to make a relevant comment to each person and from there became friends.
5. Realize there is more to life than your job, money, collecting possessions and relaxing on the weekends.
Use your weekends to pursue your passions, research the things you care about most or create a plan for how you can quit your job and reach financial independence. That time you have off from work is precious and you should spend it wisely.
Your weekends should not be “a vacation from reality” or a “break from work”. Your life should consistently have something exciting taking place. How that excitement reaches your day is completely up to you. You are more than your profession, your title or whatever your resume says; don’t stress too hard about your job. If you make a mistake, have an argument with a superior or even have the worst sales year of your career, the point is…it’s only a job and should not affect your level of satisfaction with life.
Your money and your career are only “things”. They are not the “only things”.
I have friends that want a lot of material items, they spend thousands on watches, buy nice sports cars, but those purchases only offer momentary fulfillment until you long for something more.
I now spend the majority of my time outside of work planning out how I can automate a six figure income, so I can be financially free and spend 100% of my time on other passions I have in life.
My job, my pay check, and my possessions are significant, but they are all independent of my happiness and life purpose. They are only a part of my journey for the time being, helping me learn, develop and achieve milestones towards my ultimate calling.
Hopefully you’re able to take something away from this list and incorporate it into your life. Please share your thoughts if anything in particular stood out to you or you have a similar/different view.
I always welcome thoughtful conversation and healthy debate.
Best of luck to you in 2018.
Danilo Vuk Capric