Learning

I was clenching my teeth again. I know when I’ve been doing it because I’ll yawn and my jaw will go POP! If that’s too much information for a first sentence I’ll just give you the gist of what this is all about now: I stumbled upon one of those little mental tricks, or hacks, that’s helped me find some extra balance. I’m going to tell you what it is.

But first let me ask: Do you ever put everything you have to do and everything you want to do on a mental carousel and get dizzy watching it go round and round? I just realized while writing this that people only get dizzy watching a carousel spin, not riding one.

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A mentor once told me, “Your twenties are for learning. Your thirties are for taking action.” It’s funny I remember that now, the day I turn 30 years old.

I’ve spent some time thinking about what it means to reach this age. So far, it’s been a humbling reminder of how long and short life really is. I’m lucky to have made it this far, yet there’s still so much ahead. When we reach a “milestone birthday” there’s only so much time for reflection before we have to ask, “What do I want the next 5, 10, or even 30 years to look like?”

Throughout my twenties, I made it a habit to write down any quotes or pieces of advice I came across that seemed valuable. Going through those notes now, I’m shocked at how many great pieces of wisdom I’ve collected. Certain pieces I wrote down years ago, but am just now beginning to understand. There are others I wish someone had told me when I turned twenty.

One of my favorite books is Meditations, by Marcus Aurelius. Besides its overwhelming amount of straightforward wisdom, I love the idea that the Emperor of Rome (the most powerful man on Earth back then) sat down each night and wrote advice to himself on how to be a good person.

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With the new year upon us, it’s time to look forward and define what we want out of the next twelve months. My New Year’s resolutions always look pretty similar to years before: learn a new language, write that novel, reveal the abs that hide behind my love for french toast.

But before we decide what’s next, we need to look back. What worked? What didn’t? Which habits are we keeping or kicking to the curb?

Early last year, I added one small habit that ended up making the biggest difference in my life. It was something I had naturally avoided for most of my life.

It was using the simple phrase, “I don’t understand.”

This year, my resolution is to say it much more often.

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