30 lessons for 30 years

Oh Hello, 30!

In my teens and early twenties I thought I knew who I was, I thought I knew what I wanted and who I would become as an adult. But as I have gotten older I have come to realize I really don’t have a solid understanding of who I am and what I want and that is okay. What I do know is that there have been many lessons along the way to get here and, if I’m lucky, there will be many more as I get older. I have been very fortunate in this life and in the last 30 years I have learned a lot about who I think I am, who I know I am, and the type of person I want to become. This is a list of my top 30 lessons in 30 years.

These are lessons that are significant to me and a reminder to myself of lessons I already know to be true but may have sometimes forgotten along the way. There are many days that I don’t follow my own advice so this gives me a moment to reflect on things I know for sure and to try my best to continually remember these lessons on a daily basis. My hope is something in here may resonate with you as well!

  1. Trust the timing in your life.
    I believe in divine timing in our lives, that things will work out the way they need to when the timing is right. Of course we have to put in the work to get results, however when everything aligns, you’ll know because you won’t be able to deny it. Be patient, stay open, put in the work and things will work when they need to. It might not be the way you envisioned but it’ll work out the way it was meant to!


  2. People come into your life for reasons, seasons, and sometimes a lifetime.
    As we go through life we will meet people and build connections with those that are on the same frequency as us. But I learned over the years that some people are here for a reason, some just a season, and some will undeniably be a lifetime connection. It can be hard and confusing when a relationship ends, especially if it does so abruptly. However I have grown to learn that not everyone is a lifetime connection and that’s quite alright. Every connection we make is an opportunity to learn more about others but mostly about ourselves. It is a great lesson in being your most authentic self and if being you doesn’t resonate with someone then perhaps they weren’t meant to be in your life for more than just a season.


  3. Heartbreak is essential to becoming a better and more whole person.
    When your heart breaks it feels like you’ll never love again. The thought of giving yourself to someone is too risky and you may think that being alone could be your best option. Heartbreak sucks. The pain feels like it’ll suck you into a black hole of loneliness. But the real power in heartbreak is getting to re-know yourself, redefining and re-establishing your needs vs. your wants, learning and relearning things about your character, your values, and your morals and ultimately falling back in love with yourself. This is all a process of learning to depend on yourself and knowing that with or without someone in your life, you’re going to be more than just fine!


  4. Travel is one of the greatest gifts of life.
    Travel is by far one of my greatest loves. The thought of going somewhere far away, being exposed to different cultures, learning about places I’ve never known, eating foods I’ve never tasted before, hearing languages I’ve never heard before, seeing places I’ve never knew existed, and meeting people I would have never gotten the chance to meet otherwise, this to me is just awe. Step outside of yourself, get a little uncomfortable, eat where the locals eat, shop where they shop, get off the beaten path and just explore. Not only will you get to experience a whole new world, but I bet if you allow it, you’ll learn something about yourself too.A quote to sum up my feelings about travelling by the late and great Anthony Bourdain.

    “It seems that the more places I see and experience, the bigger I realize the world to be. The more I become aware of, the more I realize how relatively little I know of it, how many places I have still to go, how much more there is to learn. Maybe that’s enlightenment enough – to know that there is no final resting place of the mind, no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom, at least for me, means realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go.”

    This is a great reminder of just how small we are in this world, and how much we don’t know, so get out and explore a world outside of yours, you will be better for it, I guarantee.


  5. Pay attention when people speak to you, you won’t know what they’re trying to tell you unless you listen and when it’s your turn to talk, ask meaningful questions!
    How often, while in the midst of conversation, rather than listening to what a person is actually saying, are we thinking what our response will be or perhaps having an internal dialogue and not paying attention to the other person? I am guilty of doing this, especially in a disagreement and probably quite often without even knowing it. But over the years I have realized how important it is to listen to people, to truly pay attention to what they are saying and ask engaging questions. We are so caught up in our thoughts and perhaps think what we have to say is more important than what the other person is saying. What I have learned is that we all want to be heard and acknowledged, we all want to know that what we have to say is valued and that we matter. So the next time you’re in conversation, just try to listen and when it’s your turn to speak don’t forget to ask meaningful questions.


  6. Stop trying to constantly avoid pain and suffering.
    What I have come to know for sure in this life is that pain and suffering are a natural part of our journey. We spend so much of our lives trying to avoid pain and suffering and instead everyone is chasing this idea of eternal happiness, which we also know to be impossible. I wouldn’t want a life where I am always happy, because without pain, sorrow, and suffering, how could I possibly know what happiness and joy are? You cannot have one with out the other. This is the balance of life. If you were always happy, that feeling would fade into your new normal and then there would be no appreciation. Pain and suffering are great teachers in life, it shows us our ability to trust in ourselves enough to know we will overcome it. It teaches us how to ride the waves that life will undoubtedly go through and it shows us the importance of gratitude which in turn shows us how lucky we are to have the chance to continue to experience this life.


  7. There are lessons to be learned in every moment, but you have to be open to receiving them.
    I truly believe that there are lessons in all our moments, but if we are not open to receiving them then we will miss them. But fear not, in life when we don’t get the lesson the first time, it will keep coming back, usually louder and harder, until a ton of bricks fall on your head. Life wants you to get the lesson, so it’ll keep showing up until you can finally hear and feel it. It’ll most likely hurt but it’s likely necessary.


  8. Be still and just breathe; your breath is your life.
    We spend so much of our lives on the go, constantly making ‘to do’ lists and checking things off (I am so guilty of this, I adore ‘to do’ lists). But we also need to learn to just stop; stop always making things to do, stop chasing things that are unattainable (such as constant happiness), stop criticising yourself and others. Instead spend some time with yourself (as uncomfortable that can be) and just sit down, shut up and listen. I invite you to create a spiritual practice for yourself, either by spending time meditating, practicing yoga or even just having a conversation with the universe. But if not, I would invite you to at least sit with your breath and just focus on that. Focus on the thing that gives you life, your breath can centre you, calm you, and provide you with insight if you allow it to. Be still for awhile and just breathe.


  9. Have enough insight to know when you are the common denominator and stop playing the victim in your life!
    We all have those moments sometimes where if feels like people around us are ignoring us or that for some reason we can’t figure out why our relationships with others aren’t going so well or perhaps that the vibe at work feels off or different. It is easy to blame others and not take responsibility for our situation. Perhaps it’s all in your head or maybe you need to take some time to reflect on why things feel this way. Don’t be too proud to realize that maybe the issue is with you. If you are the common denominator in each scenario, it is likely that you are playing a part in its dysfunction. Have self-awareness so that you can recognize when you need to lower your ego and know that if it is you, now you can do something about it. Stop playing the victim in your life, stop acting as if everyone is out to get you. Everyone is dealing with their own issues, drama, stress, anxiety, heartaches, etc. Other people likely aren’t that focused on you. We are in control of our own actions and if something we’re doing is not giving us the result we want, maybe it’s time to change the way we’ve been doing it. Don’t wait around in the back seat of your life, get in the driver’s seat, take the wheel, and steer it in the direction you want!


  10. When you have done all you can, surrender and grace will take care of you.
    We try to be in control of every situation in our lives. We are taught that we just have to make things happen. And, to a degree, this is true. We have to put in the work if we want to see the results. But what we need to change is our expectations on how it will happen. We want things to happen exactly the way we’ve planned it out in our mind without acknowledging that life doesn’t usually work that way. What I have learned is that when we have done all we can, put in all our energy and work, then we need to just leave it up to grace and surrender. Accept whatever the outcome will be and just know that the universe (something bigger than yourself) is looking out for you. Be at peace with your work/decision and just let it be.


  11. Exercising and eating well is KEY. Live as optimally as possible.
    Very often we tend to put our health last and perhaps think we’re invincible or we’re just in plain denial of our mortality. As I have gotten older I have realized how important it is to live optimally in all aspects of our lives. We need to take care of our bodies so that we can live long and healthy lives. I want to prevent the aches and pains that come with aging (as much as possible) and avoid the all too common habit of blaming age for any physical ailment when I didn’t do what I could to nourish my body when I was younger. It is important to build these habits now because as life gets busier it’s likely that we’ll have less time to create new eating habits and exercise routines. Just follow the simple rule of eating real food, cutting out the junk, cutting out the processed food, cutting out the refined sugar (trust me I know this is much easier said than done, I am a food addict). Create a doable workout plan for yourself. A commitment to walking more alone would be better than nothing at all! Take baby steps and pace yourself, we’re in it for the long run! And don’t forget to celebrate your achievements along the way! We definitely know better but it seems when it comes to our health we often pretend like we don’t. Put yourself on your priority list now, your future self is thanking you!


  12. “When you know better, you do better.”
    This is one of my favourite quotes by Maya Angelou. It has always stuck with me because it’s something that seems so simple but there is a lot of truth in those words. It’s about taking responsibility for your life and your actions. The moment that you realize that there is a lesson and you learn from it is now a future opportunity to do better, because now you know better.


  13. Don’t be fooled by what you see on social media.

     “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” 

    Let us not be fooled by what we see on social media. We all love it, we go on Instagram/Facebook/Twitter/etc probably 30 times a day (if not more). We endlessly and mindlessly scroll and at times we get caught up in this thought, “oh wow ____ looks like they’re doing so well, she has XYZ,  and have accomplished this, this, and that” and at the end of that scroll session you’re probably not feeling too hot about yourself. You see how great everyone else seems to be doing and you start to compare your situation with theirs. Part of the power of social media is to make us feel insecure, to feel like we’re not enough, haven’t done enough, or haven’t accumulated enough. What we often don’t realize while engaging online is that others will only show their highlight reel. Everyone has their bad moments and days but it’s unlikely they would post such things for everyone to see. Social media is fun but don’t take it so seriously. The only comparison we need to worry about is who we were yesterday. We all have our demons and insecurities, don’t be fooled by what you see on the surface!


  14. Take time for yourself and treat yourself mentally, spiritually, physically, and emotionally!
    Never forget to take care of yourself and most importantly treat yourself every once in a while. We tend to put ourselves last and try to please everyone else around us but it’s important that you take time before you burn out. It is okay to be a little selfish and take care of yourself because if you can’t take care of yourself how are you going to take care of those around you, especially those that depend on you? Treat yourself right, give yourself permission to take time, and if you need help, ask for it. The relationship you have with yourself will be the most important relationship you have in your life but often the one you will give the least amount of time to. Remember to take time for yourself and build a solid loving relationship with you! You totally deserve it, trust me!


  15. Make time for your family!
    Why do we tend to take for granted those that are closest to us? It seems that we have this idea that our family will always be available to us, so often we don’t make them a priority and only show up for the big occasions. But as I have gotten older and reflected more about life and about mortality, I have realized the reality of impermanence. It’s important that we make time for each other now and not at some future point. I understand that life is busy and I don’t mean that you need to check in everyday or be with them 24/7 but when you have a moment take some time to reach out and let them know you’re thinking of them. We really don’t know when the end will come for any of us, so lets start valuing the people closest to us today and let them know we are there, that we love them, and that we appreciate all that they do for us.


  16. Sleep 7 – 9 hours a night, see the dentist every 6 months, go to the doctor at least once for an annual check up…be a responsible adult!
    Once you’ve reached the age of 30, you are undoubtedly an adult, and it’s really time for you to be responsible and do the things that a responsible adult does! By 30 make sure you know how to cook (more than just toast and eggs!), know how to properly do your laundry and fold your clothes and maybe even put them away! By 30 you should know how to mop, vacuum, clean the washroom, dust, wash the dishes, and take out the garbage (all of this without being asked). Being a responsible adult means you also take care of yourself, that you visit the doctor at least once a year, and when something seems off you actually go to get it checked out instead of dismissing it and hoping it goes away. By 30 you need to take care of your oral hygiene, FLOSS, and visit the dentist once or twice a year. And make sure you sleep 7 – 9 hours a night, it’s imperative to your health (watch this video about sleep, it’s fascinating)! By 30 we probably have a lot going on in our lives but there are some things that we just really need to get in order if we want to consider ourselves to be adults! 


  17. If you only ever say one prayer, let it be ‘Thank You’
    Have gratitude in your life. The moment you start being thankful for what you have instead of complaining about the things you don’t have, that’s the moment you’ll get more. When we are truly thankful of the life that we have and appreciate what a gift all of this is that is when the goodness in your life will start to expand. Because what you focus on is what will expand in your life, the more thankful you are for what you have, the more you’ll end up having!


  18. Live within your means! Get your finances in order NOW!
    It’s really difficult in life not to compare our lives to others and not to get caught up in the materialism. We want the fancy cars, the beautiful homes, the diamonds, outfits, make up, vacations, fancy meals, and all those unnecessary accessories. I am so guilty of this too, however what I have grown to know is that if I live outside of my means, nothing good will come from that. I don’t want to struggle financially, I don’t want to be concerned my credit card will get declined or have collectors looking for me.  This money talk really should have started in our teens, however schools never taught us how to be financially responsible and often I find parents don’t either (probably because they’re struggling with it all too!). If we can’t get the answers from our parents then it is extremely important that we teach ourselves. Understand where your money goes, do your taxes, start saving for retirement now, max out your TFSA if you can, have 6 month emergency plan, build up your credit, understand how debt works, pay off your credit card every month, learn about interest rates, the stock market, ETFs (I recommend looking into Wealthsimple), dividends, and life insurance. We need to create a plan for ourselves so that we can lessen our financial stresses. We all want financial freedom and it’s probably not the best plan to hope you win the lotto. Take control of your finances because no one else will. Everyone else is looking out for their own so it’s so important to take control and make sure that you don’t need to depend on anyone but yourself to take care of yourself and your future responsibilities. Debt is unattractive. Get your finances in order, make a realistic plan, and live within your means.


  19. Eat all things delicious (but eat well and eat smart and always try new food!)
    Food is literally one of my greatest loves. Eating is a huge part of my life, anyone that knows me knows that I don’t joke around when it comes to food. One of the best things in my life is enjoying a great meal, and even better is enjoying a great meal with the people in your life you care the most about. Eating is like traveling to me, they go hand in hand, new food means new experiences, new culture, new taste and new places to go. Go out for a meal every once in a while, try a new place,  something new on the menu and share that experience with people you love!


  20. Being uncomfortable in life is a good thing, it means you’re growing and that means you’re changing and challenging yourself.
    There have been many times in my life where I tried my best to avoid uncomfortable situations. To me comfort meant being safe but also complacent and unmotivated. When things are comfortable we tend to want to keep it that way, we don’t go out of our way to make things uncomfortable but the problem with that is then we don’t feel the need to make changes. If you’re not growing that means you’re not changing, and if you’re not changing that means you’re the exact same person. And if you’re the exact same person then it probably means you’re stuck. Keep an open mind, stay curious in life, ask questions, read books, learn about new thoughts and ideas, have conversations about things you don’t understand yet want to learn about. Get a little uncomfortable and see how that can shape you and keep you guessing and growing!


  21. Be consistent, loyal, honest and respectful as a person. Don’t flake and be fake!
    I think this on speaks for itself. Look to yourself and ask if you are truly there for the people in your life. Do you show up when you’re needed or are you the type that make plans and cancel all the time? Are you flakey or do you respect people’s time enough to be considerate? Treat people in your life the way you’d want them to treat you, have enough respect for yourself to not disrespect others, show up when you say you will, and be there to celebrate the good times and lend an ear in the bad times. Be the type of person you would want to have in your life. It’s that simple!


  22. Don’t go into a relationship half a person (two wrongs don’t make a right).
    So often in movies and love stories we are taught to believe that we are only half a person and that we must go outside of ourselves and look for someone to complete our other half. ‘Major Eye Roll’. This idea plays on our insecurities. We put so much of our time and energy into finding someone that’s the right fit and much of the time we don’t realize that all we need is to be whole. If we find someone to share in that with us then that’s a plus. Go into your relationship whole, know your worth and know your vulnerabilities, and know your insecurities and your strengths before you commit to someone. Know yourself and most importantly respect yourself enough to know that another person doesn’t complete you. From here you will realize that instead of needing a relationship to feel good, you want it because it feels good.


  23. Have a solid understanding of what your morals and values are, this is the foundation of who you are.
    There is a quote I love, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything”. That speaks volumes for me. It is important in life to know what your morals and values are. What forms the foundation of who you are? If we don’t know what our morals and values are then how can we know what we stand for? How can we know what we believe to be true in this life? How can we know how to act in this world? Without a solid foundation then we’re just flailing all over the place. We need structure in our thoughts so that we understand that these are the consistent ideas that make up who we are and what we believe to be true in order to live a good life.


  24. Remember that everyone has a story.
    In the West we are almost trained to judge others before we ever give them a chance. We tend to forget that everyone has their own story; their own struggles and demons. We like to assume that everyone should be the way we expect them to be. But what I have learned is that we are all one, we are more similar than we are different so we need to stop treating everyone as a stranger and embrace the fact that we are all after the same thing – love. When we see each other, instead of ignoring and trying to look through one another, why not share a smile and acknowledge the fact that we are all very much the same? We’re just trying to figure out what to do with this thing called life!


  25. Honour yourself as a woman, you’re badass.
    As a woman I know how hard we can be on ourselves. We constantly try to please everyone in our lives and put ourselves last. We are people pleasers and never want to cause conflict with others. There are times when we allow people to take advantage of us and then we question our worth. As women we are taught to be polite, quiet, and submissive. As a woman I know there are times when we love to judge other women. We can be insecure and quick to blame others for the way things are going. Sometimes we put all of who we are into a relationship that doesn’t serve us. But as I have grown I have learned that women are amazing. We are strong beyond what we think we are capable of, we are resilient, empathetic, compassionate, and loving. Let us stand with the other woman in our lives and vow to be better to each other. Instead of tearing each other down let us lift each other up and remind each other just how badass we are. We are daughters, sisters, mothers, aunts, lovers, and teachers. We birth the future, we matter and it is so important that we show up for our children and teach them to be confident, kind, brave, and respectful. Make time for yourself, respect yourself, and know your worth as a woman!


  26. Don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s okay to laugh at and make fun of yourself.
    In recent years it has become very apparent that we’re living in a world where people seem to get offended by everything. Some people take things too seriously and can’t seem to just laugh things off. If you allow yourself to be easily offended, you’ll live a very exhausting life, constantly fighting with people, trying to defend yourself and even playing a victim in your life. It’s important to learn to let things roll off your back and to not allow everything to get under your skin. The more confident you are, the more you will understand what makes you tick and that’s when you will start to understand that always being offended and arguing with others probably won’t get you very far in life.  Don’t take yourself too seriously. Laugh, enjoy, and if someone does say something offensive, let them know, let it go and just keep living your life!


  27. Have a vision for your life and manifest it by putting in the work! Without action there is nothing.
    There is this idea out there that we need to manifest what we want in life and I completely agree. But I think people also think that as long as they want it then they deserve to have it, and life definitely does not work that way. You can want something so bad but if you haven’t put time, energy, and effort into it, then do you really deserve it? We need to understand that things don’t come because we think we deserve it. You have to be willing to give your energy to it in order for a ripple effect to happen. We may not be in charge of everything that happens in our lives but perhaps we should assist in it. What you focus on is where your energy goes. We are the story we tell ourselves. Have an intention and a vision for your life. Those that think their lives are hard, that blame others, constantly complain, and only see the negative, will likely only attract that back to them. Focus on the vision you have for your life and go into your days putting thoughts into action and watch your life unfold into something even greater than you imagined!


  28. Forgiveness isn’t about the other person, it’s about allowing yourself to live freely.
    When people do us wrong we tend to hold onto the pain and frustration and we’ll play the scenario over and over again in our heads. We think about it and let it eat away at us. It can cause breakdowns in relationships and we want people to take our side. But over the years I have learned that forgiveness unchecked is like a cancer in your soul. It will eat away at who you are and it will seep into every aspect of your life. You will grow to be bitter and it will show up in your life in ways you won’t be able to recognize. When we are hurt by those we trust it can leave us feeling vulnerable and hurt. However, when you learn to forgive you allow yourself to heal from the pain and not let it have power over you anymore. Forgiveness isn’t about letting the other person off the hook it’s about you allowing yourself to get your power back. Just because you forgive doesn’t mean that you have to invite this person back into your life but rather it means that you are ready to move forward with your life and that you love and respect yourself enough to know that you deserve better for yourself!


  29. Even in our darkest nights trust that the sun will rise again.
    Those dark moments often feel like they will ever end and that things will never get better. But the sun will always rise again. Even when things seem to be in an impossible situation, trust knowing that in time things will get better. Trust that you will get through it, that hard moments can hold great value for us if we pay attention to them. And know that if you feel that the darkness happens often, please reach out to someone, you never have to suffer alone. The sun will always rise again.


  30. At the end of the day everyone is just wants to know they are enough and that they are loved.
    Everyone deserves to feel that they are enough in this world and that they are loved. We all are in search of the same thing, and at the end of the day we want to know that we are heard in this life, that we matter and that we are loved for who we are. Life can be cruel, hard, and confusing but life can also be full of gratitude, joy, and love. Don’t forget that we’re all in this together, so treat each other well, value those around you and go into your day with love and compassion!

There are many more lessons I have learned along the way but these 30 are ones that really resonate and stick out for me.

Let me know what some of your biggest life lessons are, I would love to hear them!

With love,

Olivia xo

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