I celebrated my birthday last week with some very close friends and family.

This birthday was so much better than last year when we were in the beginning of the lockdown.

It was also so much more meaningful because I have grown exponentially as a result of being through a lot both personally and professionally which enabled me to find happiness again.

If you follow the blog, you know that it was like a bomb went off in my life about a year and a half ago. It basically sent me on a completely new path in my personal and professional life – one that I didn’t necessarily choose – but that I looking back, I can see I was ultimately destined for.

I used to hate change and be so afraid of the unknown. And now I am not. Don’t get set on anything in your life because you just never know what might happen and trust your gut most of all.

2020 gave me a new life along with wisdom, perspective and the tools to navigate new challenges. I’m really proud of the person that I am today. She’s a better friend, employee, sister and partner.

Here are a few other things I learned over the past year.

  1. Some friendships are not meant to be forever. Cherish the friends who are there beside you through thick and thin. Pay attention to friend red flags such as when they don’t seem happy when good things happen to you and relish in your failures and bad luck. I have a much smaller friend group now. Trust your gut.
  2. You can’t change people (and kindness always is the right answer). Mind your own business and treat people how you want to be treated. If you wouldn’t want to read a negative comment or social media post, then don’t write one. If you wouldn’t want someone to criticize you then don’t criticize them. If you want people to be respectful of you then respect them. It’s the little things that count and make people remember who you are and what you did.
  3. Things change, people change. We all have different phases in our lives and it’s okay to grow apart from people that we once were close to. Life is full of changes. I don’t often like them, but I have learned to embrace them because most of the time, change is for the best.
  4. Remove yourself from negativity and mean girls. Negative energy is contagious and I refuse to surround myself with it. If there are negative people in your life, you need to cut them out. Also if there is a mean girl in your life who talks negatively about other women, chances are she’s doing the same without you and about you. Don’t allow that behavior in your life or you may find her rubbing off on you. As women we need to support other women. I’m so thankful for the mean girls who pushed me to launch my woman who wow series whose mean behavior motivated me to become a better friend and ally for women.
  5. Proudly celebrate your birthday. Age is how you feel on the inside. Turning another year older is an accomplishment whether you are 5 or 65 – you deserve a day in your honor!
  6. You will meet people who dislike you even though you know they have no reason to. Don’t waste your time trying to change their minds.
  7. Accept your flaws. Nobody is perfect and we all have things that we might want to change, but since we can’t, we should just accept them while always striving to be a good person.
  8. Happiness comes from within. At the end of the day, you should never depend on somebody else to make you happy. Learn to love yourself, both physically and emotionally. Be comfortable in your own skin. It is a liberating and powerful feeling. 
  9. Worrying is pointless so stop doing it. Worrying will not change the outcome and it will steal your joy. Shift your focus to something else when you feel anxious or worried. Clean your house, go for a walk but don’t waste another minute worrying over something that probably won’t happen anyway.
  10. Authenticity is important, so don’t hold back the quirky things that make you, well you. Never shrink yourself to be someone you’re not or fit the mold of what someone wants you to be. The right people will love and appreciate for you, faults and all.
  11. Always listen to your intuition. When you get that gut feeling that something is right or wrong, don’t ignore it. You often know the answer before you even realize it.
  12. Trust the timing of your life because everything happens when it’s supposed to.
  13. Life rarely turns out the way we want it to, and we need to stop comparing our lives with other people’s timeframes. Have faith.
  14. I learned that some things just aren’t meant to be no matter what and not to be so hard on myself.
  15. We all have so much to learn about racism. White privilege is a real thing and I am determined to do better about understanding it, using my position to help fight it and to fight against police brutality.
  16. I learned that social media isn’t real life and that many people will only show you what they want. I vowed to not be that person too, which is why you see much more about me on the blog and on LinkedIn. People aren’t perfect and neither are their lives. Some people only showcase the positive in their lives because most of them think they need to keep their “perfect” image intact. The truth is that everyone goes through ups and downs in life. We can really establish strong connections with each other when we share vulnerable moments. My goal is to help others who can relate to me.
  17. Invest in your relationships. If there is something you’ve been meaning to tell someone or a relationship you wanted to repair, just go ahead and do it. There is nothing worse than just thinking about what could be, find out.
  18. Cut bad people out of your life. These are the people that are always taking from you, whether emotionally or physically. You deserve reciprocity. You need to surround yourself with people that make you feel awesome, so you can be awesome. Letting go is difficult, but you can always find people that lift you up.
  19. Not everybody will like you. I have learned that no matter how nice you are, some people still won’t like you and that’s fine. You don’t live your life to please others. What others think of you is their business. Live your life with integrity and surround yourself with people who respect and love you.
  20. Be nice to everyone. You never know who they know, what they’ve been through or what opportunities they may have done the line – anyone can become a client or a referral.
  21. Learn to love being in your own company. Being comfortable on your own is one of the greatest things you can learn to do in life. Spend time alone and learn how to entertain yourself, love yourself, keep yourself motivated and love life on your own. 
  22. Stop caring about what other people think of you. Live the life you want to live, not anyone else’s. Don’t compare yourself to other people, just do you.
  23. Practice meditation. Meditation is not about thinking of nothing. It helps build your awareness of your own thoughts and how you think about and treat others. With every distraction we have in this world, meditation helps you practice focus so you can appreciate being in the present.
  24. Help others. “Share it forward,” do good things for the world, even when you have nothing to gain. Making other people happy and successful will make you happy and successful. Always aim to add value to other people’s lives.
  25. Learn to let go. Let go of the past, let go of negative thoughts, and let go of trying to control the future.
  26. Everything happens for a reason and you are exactly where you’re supposed to be. When something doesn’t go my way, instead of getting upset, I just take it as it is because when you adopt the mentality of everything happens for a reason, it is much easier to accept it and move on. It just wasn’t your door to open.
  27. We may all be victims of something, but we should not let that ‘something’ stop us from being great and accomplishing what we want to in life. Let go of those who have hurt you, the negative feelings that are stopping you from being happy. Stop looking for happiness in the same place that you lost it. I promise you won’t find it there. You have to create your own happiness. Sometimes you have to choose to be happy.
  28. Have fun, assume good intent with others and always be yourself. Live healthy – if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything.

Everything I needed to build the life I wanted was already within me – I just needed to cultivate it and believe in myself more. I needed to cheer for myself more instead of beating myself up and being hard on myself.

Here’s to being unapologetically yourself and caring less about what people think. Here’s to working smarter not harder. Here’s to Marie Kondo-ing everything in your life, including relationships. Here’s to achieving greater success.