The best life lessons I’ve learned about work, money, love and happiness…
What would you tell yourself if you could go back in time to when you started your first job, embarked on your first serious relationship, got your first promotion, bought your first home? Everything seems simpler in hindsight, doesn’t it?
Here are some of the things I wish someone had whispered into my ear when I was younger…
1. Let it go. That ex-colleague who was mean to you. That ex-friend who stole your boyfriend… Whatever. It’s a waste of time and energy brooding over past wrongs. Revenge uses up time and energy you could be spending on useful, fun stuff. (Bonus: In a way, enjoying your life and forgetting them is the best revenge of all!)
2. Learn to appreciate your unique beauty. I spent many years wishing I was taller, slimmer, more willowy… Now I look back and realise my figure was okay and I had nice hair and… err… knockout curves! Treasure the good things about how you look right now. I guarantee a few years from now you will look back and go “Hey, I was a bit of a babe!”
3. The minute you start earning, save 10-20% of your pay. When you’re in debt or have a mortgage to pay, you’re trapped. I look back at all the money I have earned over my life… What did I do with it all? Frittered it away on bags and shoes, and sparkly hair slides… that’s what!
4. Don’t expect your boss to manage your career. It’s your life, you manage it. Instead of asking “Where do you see me in two years?”, tell your boss where you want to go. Even if they don’t agree, it opens the conversation!
5. Get a pet. A cat, a dog… Whatever. Ideally from a pet rescue centre. They ground you, open your heart – and they’re fun to hang out with. In their own little way they teach you about unconditional love, and who wouldn’t want to be around that after a stressful day?
Seriously, get a pet. (Photo: @awwclub/Instagram)
6. Don’t stay with someone who is mean to you just because you fear being alone. At age 46, I found the courage to split from a selfish man who treated me really shabbily. I was sad to be alone (“Who would want fat, old, me at age 46?”, I thought) but I knew staying single for life was better than staying sad and crushed. And, guess what? Within two years I met a lovely man, and now we’re happily married. He’s a peach! There’s always another chance for love and happiness. Never settle for anything less.
7. Travel more. (Even weekend trips count!) I lived in London for years and hardly left the East End. I felt I was too busy to travel… So I hardly saw any of Europe, or even England. Looking back on that wasted opportunity, I could just slap myself!
8. Don’t bother hanging onto possessions unless they have tremendous financial or emotional value. When I moved to Singapore from London 18 years ago, I put the contents of my flat into storage. And paid the hefty storage bill every month. Two years ago I finally got it all out of storage… And realised 99 percent of it was now completely meaningless to to me. I had changed. My life had changed… So I gave it to charity or sold it. And I don’t miss any of it.
9. Start exercising and eating healthy long before you “need” to. Now that I have older relatives I know just how vital good health is for a happy life. So put down that cigarette and pick up an apple!
10. Quit trying to “rescue” other people. It might make you feel special and helpful and clever, but really, you’re just being co-dependent. I should explain: I’ve seen people who are addicted to drink or drugs bravely give them up and become happy, loving family members once again… So I know change is possible. And it is totally worth supporting people who want to change like this. But here’s the key: the energy and will has to come from them. You can support, but you cannot rescue. The only person you can rescue in life – is you.