Well, kids, it’s 2020. And while I know that every new year is technically of equal significance, it’s hard to ignore the weight that a new decade carries — and the emotion that’s attached to leaving the last one behind.
If the conversations I’ve had with friends and the introspective posts I’ve seen on social media are any indication, the past decade has been momentous for many of us. Maybe that’s an age thing, maybe it’s a societal shift, but whatever the reason, it feels vast.
And it’s led me to do a lot of thinking about the last 10 years. The ups, the downs, the surprises, the sorrows, the hopes and dreams, and the disappointments — I’ve been through them all. And as I look back, I realize that I’ve come out of it all with some pretty amazing lessons, many of which can be applied to workouts and wellness in addition to life in general. So, I thought I’d share my biggest takeaways in the hope that it sparks some insight into what some of your experiences may have taught you.
1. Nothing is guaranteed.
Health, love, physical ability, mental clarity, work, finances — none of it should be taken for granted. It really doesn’t matter whether you earned it, or whether you deserve it, because that’s not always the way the universe works. That’s not to say that none of this is within your control, because you’ve got a lot of say in how many aspects of your life play out! You can eat well and stay active, which benefits your health, you can treat those around you with kindness and respect, which helps to foster love and friendship, and you can work hard to excel at whatever work you do.
But the main thing you have control over is how you react to your current situation, and if you can find a way to react with gratitude, you’re way ahead of the game. And I don’t only mean gratitude for the things that are going well — although that’s certainly easier to do. I also mean gratitude for the challenges and disappointments, because without those, you can’t possibly see how wonderful the good stuff really is.
2. You should never give up.
I have to give props to my husband for pointing this out to me, because while I was navel-gazing and pontificating on how we should never take a single thing for granted — and going over the list of things that I absolutely took for granted in the last decade, much to my chagrin — he looked at the same exact set of circumstances with a completely different perspective.
I’m so glad he did.
Because it’s true that nothing is guaranteed, but that’s not just the case for the awesome things you know you shouldn’t take for granted! It’s true for the challenging bits, too. If something is difficult right now, that doesn’t mean it will remain that way. But the only way to make sure you’re ready for whatever your next step might be is to refuse to give up. Keep trying new workouts and healthy foods, remaining open to the possibility that you might just find something you truly enjoy. Continue showing yourself unconditional love and reminding yourself that you deserve it, exactly as you are in this moment. Say yes to coffee dates with interesting people and go on that job interview — even if it’s scary.
3. Don’t wait for “when.”
I’ve written about this lesson before, but it’s important enough that it’s worth repeating: Putting qualifiers on happiness is essentially the same as saying you don’t actually want to be happy. If you believe you’ll only be happy when you, let’s say: get married, lose 10 pounds, find a job you enjoy, have a certain amount in the bank, get through your son’s terrible twos, feel fast and strong, make some friends … or anything else you can imagine, then you’re doing nothing but putting obstacles between you and true happiness.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t set and work toward your goals, because accomplishing something that makes you feel proud rocks! But just remember that your circumstances need not be perfect in order for you to choose to be happy today, exactly as you are. Because even if everything is objectively terrible, the fact is that worrying about it probably won’t fix a damn thing. Choosing to feel joy where you can find it might not fix it, either, but it might give you more strength to face what you need to face.
If you had to name one important lesson you learned in the past decade, what would it be? —Kristen