‘You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.’ Dr Seuss
When our daughters were little, people told me that they’d grow up so fast. It didn’t really sink in back then because when you have toddlers, some days seem to last forever.
They are adults now and living their own lives and Elsa is about to move away for a while. I’ve been reflecting on just how quickly the time went by and thinking about how I’d happily do it all over again.
Like most parents, we didn’t get it all right bringing them up but there were some things that have stood them in good stead.
1. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes
Of all the lessons we learn in life, empathy has to be one of the most important. When either of the girls had conflict with friends we’d talk about how the other person might have been feeling to make them act that way. Learn to be curious about other people’s feelings and motives. When someone acts badly it’s usually because they’re experiencing some kind of pain.
2. Be true to yourself
The thing that makes this world a beautiful place is acceptance and celebration of our differences. Each of us needs to be courageous enough to stand up and say ‘this is the real me’. Look for the ways that you hide your real self for the sake of conforming. You don’t need to be the same as the people around you – it’s energising for you and inspiring to others when you’re willing to be yourself. Authenticity is what matters most.
3. Be creative for the pure joy of it
You don’t need to be gifted to enjoy being creative. The real joy comes from immersing yourself in the experience of being creative. Make creativity part of your everyday life – from the way you solve problems to the activities you pursue. Be curious and open and willing to try new things. Not only will you enjoy the practice but you’ll also open up your world to new ways of thinking.
4. Have a good work ethic
My own parents taught me that hard work never killed anyone and while I’m also an advocate for practicing self-care, I know that a great work ethic will make you stand out from the crowd. Be the person who arrives at work ten minutes early, be proactive about your career development, be pleasant to be around, be solution rather than problem focused and always keep your temper in check at work. Behave like a professional so that you gain the respect of your managers and peers. Then it’s easier to set boundaries that will help you have a more balanced life, like leaving the office on time.
5. Be a saver, not a spender
Regardless of what you earn, put at least 10% (and ideally more) into a savings account every time you get paid. Make sure it’s not easy to access your savings and if you haven’t done it already, get rid of your credit cards. Nothing will have a more positive impact on your finances and ultimately, your sense of freedom than learning to manage money well.
6. Go after the things that matter to you
If you want something badly enough and you’re willing to put in the hard yards, there’s every chance you can have it (or get somewhere pretty close). Don’t give up on your dreams too quickly. Be innovative in the way you think about them and be bold in the way you pursue them.
We would be delighted for you to reproduce our articles as long as they remain intact and contain the author’s details as follows: ‘Kate James is a coach, speaker and writer. She works with people who want to live meaningful, creative lives. Kate can be contacted at www.totalbalance.com.au.’