This is going to be a quick post on the key lessons I’ve learnt in 2019. I hope in sharing these that you can take something from them and maybe learn something new in 2020.
Believe in the enormity of the possible
Something I kept telling myself this year was to not limit my beliefs and aspirations because other people could not conceive that such things were possible.
I find we focus more on what we can’t do when presented with situations or challenges, rather than what we can do. How many times have you chased a train of thought on how you can’t do this or that? Perhaps, we can achieve much more by re-framing that narrative and focusing on what we can do.
Sometimes we have to have a little more faith in ourselves. If we believe in the enormity of what is possible instead of building safety barriers all the time, who knows where we might end up.
Change is neither good nor bad, it’s just change
2019 brought a great deal of change in my life.
Of course, I’ve experienced large changes before but this year I learnt some valuable lessons on the philosophy of change. Mainly, that it’s not out to get me and it’s just change. An essential part of life that we are all flowing through.
The result of change can be positive or negative, but change itself has no agenda, it is not out to get anyone, especially me (although I’ve told myself it has on several occasions).
I unpacked this in more detail in one of my thoughts released in late 2019, where I talked about the things nobody tells you about change. It’s pretty raw, emotional and full of profanity laden language but it might just be the most authentic thing you’ve read about the process of change.
I stopped seeking happiness and instead focused on meaning
This was probably the biggest revelation for me this year.
Like any fellow human on this planet, all I want is to be happy. It sounds ever so simple and the continual thought pattern has always been once I’m truly happy everything will be better.
I now feel very naive in that thinking. Like most of us, I’d told myself once I have this job, earn this much, buy this or stop worrying less that I would find the elusive destination of happiness.
But then like a smack to the face, I realised that happiness is not a destination at all.
Happiness is just an emotion and a fleeting one at best. We do what we can to hang onto it, yet it is meant to come and go. It’s not some cabin we rock up to and stay in it’s bliss for the rest of our lives. I was actually starting to find that always chasing happiness was making me really unhappy.
So, I had to change. I had to redefine my understanding of happiness and find something more that drove my life. This led me down the rabbit hole of some incredible internal searching (which I won’t rekindle you with here as I wrote two deep thoughts on this here and here). A journey which eventually led me to the realisation that the actual road to happiness, growth and fulfilment lies within understanding my meaning.
Instead of chasing the mythical happiness dream, I asked myself, “Why do I rise in the morning?” I wanted to understand what brought meaning to my days. It was from asking this question and eventually discovering the answer that I have found more personal happiness in my life than ever before.
The journey to understand my own meaning and live it day by day has brought me more moments of happiness than I’ve experienced in the past 31 years. Note how I say moments of happiness. As, it cannot be sustained but the more we know about ourselves, the more I believe we can create an environment for those blissful moments.
It’s not about falling down, it’s about how you get back up
I’ve said this before, so I’ll say it again, failure is an essential element of life.
Getting knocked down happens, but staying on your ass is a choice. This is something I came to learn on several occasions in the last 12 months. Shit happens, life happens and I will fall on my ass countless more times but I don’t have to stay there.
2019 showed me the type of character I have, to not only get back up but in how I did it too.
This lesson always reminds me of this quote from the Dark Knight Trilogy:
“And why do we fall Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up” – Thomas Wayne
I can live in the moment and prep for the future
We all know how big the “live in the moment” movement has been in the last five or so years.
Yet it’s so damn difficult when we have an archaic operating system in our heads that is obsessed with planning for the future. In 2019, I finally felt like I found the balance to living in the moments of my life but still planning for what I want to do in the time ahead.
Living in the moment is great to an extent but it’s still wise and recommended to have a plan for the days to come. I can’t give you a magic formula to find this for yourself. You’ll have to discover that one on your own.
Be fucking kinder to myself
We could all do with being kinder to ourselves.
If you’re anything like me, you can be your own worst critic at times. Despite all the great stuff I do, I am always the first person to kick myself when I’m down. It’s something I’m continuously working on.
I see this in many of those who are around me daily too. We easily forget all the great things we’ve done in the face of a slight detour from the course. I have been focusing on the practice of being kinder to myself much more in the last 6 months and it’s most certainly helping me reframe my problems.
The lesson here – shit happens, life will go on and you’ll figure it out so be kinder to yourself.
“If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.”
– Jack Kornfield
Conquering the inner bitch is a daily practice
I must repeat the words “You need to conquer your inner bitch” to myself almost daily.
I first came across this phrase through one of my most loved podcasts and it was a philosophy I first used when keeping myself focused on my physical fitness routine. Now, it has scaled as a daily philosophy across my life, most prominently in dealing with the little voice of conflict in my head.
We all have our demons and battles. I’m no different from you and working with all of my own shit is a daily practice. Sometimes I’m on it and other times it’s on me but I keep true to my philosophy of challenging myself. Conquering my inner bitch is all about getting to the crux of what I’m really feeling and taking the actions that will support my wellbeing in that moment.
We have to recognise when to push past that little voice in our head and when we need to take time for ourselves. Like the Buddha once said, “It is better to conquer yourself than win a thousand battles.”
I can still write a lot and maybe even more…
October 2019 marked the first anniversary of my little project/human innovation centre/journal/ ramblings on this matrix like life. How I’ve been disciplined enough to do all of this in the last 12 months and get my newsletter out the door every week, is as much a mystery to me as it might be to others.
Yet, here I am still writing stuff that I hope helps others.
2019 has seen me throw down 64,000 words which you can rekindle yourself with at anytime on my website. Just like I said last year, I don’t have the answers to everything or anything really.
Yet if someone can learn from something I’ve already done or a challenge I’ve overcome through the content I share, then I can sleep a little better at night.
For those interested, here’s my shameless plug to where you can find everything that I write and share on planet earth – www.stealthesethoughts.com.
I regularly publish content on learning, personal development and mental health as often as possible. I do it because I love it, all the content is free for everyone and if you’re super keen, you can subscribe to my newsletter where once a week I’ll dazzle you with 3 pieces of content to make life that bit more awesome.
Stay weird, keep dreaming
And finally, something I did not embrace enough in my 20’s.
We all talk about being our authentic selves, bringing ourselves to work and removing the mask. I often wondered what the hell any of that meant for a long time. Maybe it was the language but something about embracing my ‘authentic self’ felt incredibly cult like.
It has really been in the last 5 years as I’ve moved from my late 20’s to early 30’s that I’ve started to understand what this really means.
In my mind, it’s simply this:
Just be me and do the shit that makes me happy (as long as I’m not hurting anyone)
For a long time in my younger years, I shied away from who I really am, what I like and what I could offer. Yet, all this did was limit my potential to be whatever I wanted to be and dream about the enormity of the possible. I was playing a character that I thought people wanted me to be, a role that I foolishly believe would bring me all the success and happiness I wanted.
I was younger and more foolish than I am now (trust me I’m still foolish, that never changes).
It’s an experience that I will write in detail about in my deep thoughts series in 2020 at some point. But, if you take anything away from reading this, I would love it to be this:
Throw away the masks, unplug yourself from the matrix of what society expects and discover what you want. Be true to yourself as long as it does not hurt others. Find the stuff that gives you meaning, because yes we are here for a fun time, but it’s not a long time. So, make sure you make the most of your time and be who you are, not what you think you should be.
Have a great 2020.
Before you go… 👋
If you like my writing and think “Hey, I’d like to hear more of what this guy has to say” then you’re in luck.
You can join me every Tuesday morning for more tools, templates and insights for the modern L&D pro in my weekly newsletter.
You might also like
A bunch of stuff I learnt in 2018 that might help you too