For me anyway, I don't feel I need a "Life Coach". Deep inside me, I am aware of my personal set of values and beliefs that serve as a rudder to drive my direction in life. If you listen closely, you may well find you are your own best "Life Coach" too. Image courtesy of David Costillo Dominici
IF I COULD HAVE MY FIRST FORTY YEARS AGAIN…
I have heard of many people writing reflectively and with poignancy toward the end of their lives – about what they have learned, what they would have done differently.
I guess I am at the half-way point of my life, having turned 40 less than 2 months ago. As such I guess this article is aimed at readers under 40. It’s purpose is to describe what I would have done differently if I were given the first forty years of my life again. (This understandably doesn’t include the first five years – I hardly remember them, and if I did, I don’t believe I could exert much will to achieve my goals without them being thwarted!).
So, from 5 to 40, this is what I would do differently next time round (and what I shall be embracing as a way of functioning in my life for the final forty years).
1. I wouldn’t care so much what people thought of me. If I was living a life true to my own values, others opinions would essentially be irrelevant. Worrying about what others thought would firstly be a futile endeavour, as no matter what one does, one never has the approval of everyone. I would have to be a chameleon changing my values and behaviour depending on who I was trying to make a good impression on.
In short, I would be fake if I did this. I would rather opt for authenticity.
2. I would have chosen a career that felt right for me, not what others thought would have been a good ‘fit’ for me. This would have been the case even if my own choice would not have led to a greater probability of employment.
3. When the kids in high school said they hated me for being ‘too quiet’ leaving me in 4 year period of severe social isolation, I would have insisted on changing schools. This is because the damage still resonates with me today.
4. I would value qualities like being loving, caring, thoughtful, selfless, disciplined and forgiving. These would be more important than competitiveness, selfishness, self-absorption, and doing whatever I felt like.
5. When I was picked last for the Grade 7 ball, I would have refused to feel ugly or unattractive. I would hold my head high and dance by myself if necessary!
6. Instead of seeking popularity, I would befriend those who seemed lonely, ostracised and a little bit different.
7. I wouldn’t be scared to ask teachers or university lecturers questions I didn’t understand, even if I was in a room full of students.
8. When mum insisted she was fine with the housework and that us kids should ‘go and play’ I would realise deep down she didn’t wish that, as a single mother. I would pull my weight as much as I could without irking her.
9. Instead of being so scared and terrified of people, I would talk to them. I would realise that we’re all really the same deep down – we all need love, we all need praise, we all need to feel appreciated.
10. After my Pharmacy degree, when I was rejected from my first job, and told I had a ‘learning problem’ I would take no notice. I would of course try to learn from mistakes, but I would not internalise inferior feelings of being stupid.
11. I wouldn’t feel guilty for being happy. I would realise of course it wouldn’t always be this way, but while it lasted I would relish it. I wouldn’t question when it would end, how long it would last – I would just go with it.
12. I would accept more invitations to go and to travel to places I hadn’t been before – into the country, to meet someone new, to go to a church function, a Zumba event. I would live life to the fullest.
13. I would treat my body as a temple. I would allow occasional junk food, but mostly I would eat healthy from the five food groups and drink 6 to 8 glasses of water per day.
14. Each morning when I woke up I wouldn’t hide underneath the blankets, afraid of difficult feelings, and loving too much the comfort of oblivion. Over time, this is paramount to a waste of life.
15. I would have spent more time and energy and put more enthusiasm into showing my grandmother (my nanna) how much I loved and appreciated her before she passed.
16. I would still watch television, but not spend quite as much time in front of the ‘idiot box’.
17. Before I yelled or said hurtful comments to someone I loved, such as my mother, I would hold my breath and count to ten. Even though I know she forgives me and knows I didn’t mean it, what I’ve said still lingers uncomfortably within.
18. I would demonstrate a healthy sense of self-discipline. This would be apparent by the fact that, once I had deemed a task worth completing in its entirety I would go through with it. I wouldn’t stop half way through and go onto some other project.
19. I never would have tried going to Pokie machines. How much money have I lost trying to learn this lesson?
20. I would spend my money more wisely – ideally the things I spent my money on would be in line with my values – Christmas presents for the children and my mother, Christmas cards.
21. I would pray every day and go to Church every Sunday. It’s only now that I am realising God is the foundation of everything. (And of course I am not pushing this view on anyone – this is just my opinion).
22. I would make a habit relatively early in my life of putting things away straight away after I used them.
23. Every day I would form a timetable – one that was realistic and reflected my value system – health and wellbeing, time and energy with family, my little cat, Suzie. And I would stick with it.
24. I wouldn’t be so paranoid – people have better things to do than to talk about me!
25. I would balance the qualities of a healthy self-discipline while being gentle and loving with myself.
26. I would never yell. I would never use abusive language. (Yes I am human and to say ‘never’ is probably unrealistic – but I feel it can’t hurt to have this goal).
27. I would go around committing random acts of kindness.
28. I would not buy things that I know, deep down, that I am not going to use. (For example, I have about 10 journals – with the first few pages of each scribbled upon).
29. I would forgive easier and more quickly.
30. I would make a more concerted effort not to make the same mistakes.
31. I would enjoy nature more – sun-rises and sunsets, green trees, flowers, birds, wildlife.
32. I would make a more consistent effort to ensure my behaviour was in line with my desire to slow the effects of global warming.
33. I would watch my finances so that I had money left over to give towards worthwhile causes – illness, starving children, and of course, my nieces and nephew.
34. My (somewhat idealistic but nonetheless wishing to cling to) idea of never yelling or speaking in a disrespectful way to my mother.
35. Not having done something before would not be an excuse in itself not to try it.
36. I would get into the habit of doing unto others as I would like them to do by me.