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Lessons Learned in 2008

Happy 2009! We’re all back at work after enjoying some (but not enough) time off. My time helped me to reflect on this last year and draw some conclusions.

Among them, I found five lessons that I learned over the course of 2008. I thought I’d share them with everyone:

Lesson #1: You don’t have to be the best.
What a lesson. No, you don’t have to be “the best.” Simply put, nobody is “the best.” Not only is it an impossible thing to attain (it’s 100% subjective, I’d say), but trying to achieve that will just drive you crazy in the end.

You just have to be yourself and believe in yourself. Strive to be “better.” Plus, it’s lonely at the top, and who really wants to be lonely? Not you.

Lesson #2: You’re not responsible for saving the world.
“Changing the world” and “making a difference” is a nice motive, but you don’t have to put the weight of the world on your shoulders. It’s a noble idea, but it’s too idealistic and unfair to do that to yourself.

You’re not responsible for the fate of the universe, nor could you ever control it. Instead, try to make change in good, small ways, or as best as you can. Leave the rest to Barack Obama (ha), and don’t let it consume you or worry about it all too much.

Lesson #3: What you need and what you want are very different things.
What you need vs. what you want – it’s a classic battle, and confusing to figure out which is which. Sometimes, you think you need something, but it turns out that that’s driven by just “want” or “ego” (see lesson #1). It can deceive and tempt you, especially when it’s in reach, and it can create a big mess. Recognize which is which, and you won’t make those mistakes.

Lesson #4: Plans are good, but don’t hold yourself hostage to them.
A wise man, John Lennon (ever hear of him?) once said, “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” He, unfortunately, didn’t get to see old age, so I hold those words especially valuable.

Don’t let your plan cause you to miss out on life’s plan for you. Have guidelines, and don’t get dismayed if things don’t happen exactly as you want them to, or as you envisioned them to go. Not everything is in your control. Things happen, they’re part of life, and you learn a lot from them. Don’t view those situations as “setbacks,” but as “normal course” that everyone experiences. Above all, believe in yourself and know that everything will unfold as is should.

Lesson #5: Despite the Worst Situations, You’re Hard to Break.
In 2008, I’ve learned that despite the worst (or what I perceive as “the worst”), I can get through anything – any bad news, any situation – and it only makes me stronger and more knowledgeable about myself. My close friends know that 2008 has brought me more than a few surprises – some good, some bad, and everything in-between – many about myself, some about things family members were going through, and so on.

Over the course of these events, I’ve learned what to fear and what not to fear, and how things should and shouldn’t consume my mind, my soul and my spirit. But most importantly, my experiences in 2008 have taught me about my resilience and my strength through adversity. If I ever have any doubts, knowing this fact and believing in this fact will help pull me through any situation handed to me by this crazy thing called “life.”

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