Today is my birthday and I love to reflect on how life is going for me, and where the next stage is heading. Getting older doesn’t worry me, in fact, I’ve learned to embrace it, because as I get older, I learn more and I develop more as an individual. I feel more and more comfortable in my own skin and I can feel myself growing more confident everyday.
But of course it has taken me going through some pretty rough things sometimes to learn these things about myself and to learn how to adapt.
I’d like to share with you some lessons I have learnt in my 36 years, and my hope is that you can learn vicariously through my mistakes, rather than make them yourself, or if you have already made the same mistakes as me, feel better knowing someone else has done it too – you’re not alone!
So here are 6 of my current life lessons:
Life Lessions Number One – Not Trusting Myself
This first one extends back to when I turned 18. I badly wanted to go travelling before starting university, and I even applied for deferred entry. I had dreamt about travelling around the world since I was around 12/13 years old, and loved the thrill of being in a new country. But then one of my university applications turned down my request for deferred entry. I was told that if I was offered a place, I had to start the same year.
I was going to ignore it and plan a year out anyway, but then I listened to those around me (including a new boyfriend I had at the time) and the doubts crept in.
“Will you be able to afford it”, “What if it isn’t safe”, “you can’t do that on your own”.
And I listened to this and chose not to go.
This has so far been the biggest regret of my life.
I didn’t trust myself to follow my own path and do what I wanted to do. I chose to trust other people above my own inner guidance, and this lead to a number of issues.
I constantly yearned for more, and this made me feel trapped – in my relationship (I felt resentful), in my degree, and later, my job. I think I have always yearned for freedom, but felt like a caged animal. As you can imagine, the relationship didn’t end well, and I quit my hospital career too.
Thankfully I have since been travelling, and I loved it. I would go again in a heartbeat, and I’m planning on doing exactly this as soon as I can.
Life Lessons Number Two – Spending Every Penny I Made
All the way through my childhood and early adulthood I spent every penny that came to me. Pocket money, job money, it didn’t matter, it all got spent. My mum used to say that the money was “burning a hole in my pocket” and that I should save more, but I didn’t listen.
I enjoyed spending money, it was my thing to do with my friends who all did the same.
There was never a point where I thought saving would be a good idea. There was always something to buy, something to want.
So I had no concept of saving money until I hit 30. I saved my butt off to get a pot of money together to travel with, but it wasn’t enough. I hadn’t planned ahead enough, and found it hard to save anyway. The savings tricks I learnt came later, particularly when I learnt about my money personality and how game playing worked so well for me to save money.
Now I will spend money on myself, but I have boundaries around it. I have “pots” of money to be able to buy the things I want when I need them. I know I need to set aside money for investing in my future and keeping a savings buffer available at all times.
Sometimes I can still struggle with buying things for my business and personal development – courses/software etc, but I love learning, and as far as I see it, this is a life-long process for me, so I don’t mind spending in these areas as long as I’m using what I’m buying (and I don’t use credit I can’t pay off to do it!).
Life Lessons Number Three – Saying “No” More
This has always been a hard one for me. I am a self-confessed people-pleaser and love to say yes to basically everyone. But since doing some coaching work with One Of Many, I have come to realise that there are 3 circles of people in my life, and they all get treated differently.
Those closest to me are at my “Hearth” and I would do anything for them, sometimes at the detriment of my own energy. I would drop everything to help out when needed. These include my husband, my closest family and a few friends and that’s it. I was treating people not closest to me like this, and I now know the difference.
The next circle are those in my “Realm” but not in my “Hearth”. People I’m friends with, but not close to, people I work with, clients etc. These people have my attention, but ideally not at the detriment of myself. This is the area I most struggle with because I can often forget that I’m overdoing it, but when I remember, I reset and push back on requests if it doesn’t fit what I’m working on right now.
The final circle of people are outside my realm in a frozen tundra. I don’t need to worry about these people. I’m respectful, never rude, but don’t feel obligated to help out. Think sales-reps in shops, cold-callers and random people who turn up at your door to ask if you’d like to talk about your political leanings.
So I’m saying “no” a lot more to give myself space and time. It’s a work in progress, but I’m definitely better at it now than I ever was.
Life Lessons Number Four – Caring Too Much About What Other People Think
Can you spot a theme in this post? As a recovering people pleaser, caring about what other people think its a hard habit to break.
Building a business has pushed at every single one of these buttons so far! As The Female Money Doctor grows in size, I am needing to be ok with being more visible.
I also need to be ok with the fact that not everyone is going to like me because I will trigger up “stuff” in them that shines a light on their shadows, and not everyone will agree with me charging for my work, particularly being an NHS doctor by background.
And that’s ok.
I don’t like everyone, I’m human! So how can I expect everyone to like me?
And not everyone is someone I would like to work with either.
I am definitely better at ignoring what others think, but I admit, it is hard for me. I now check myself when I’m starting to get upset about a comment or an “unsubscribe”, because it’s not a bad thing. It’s part of building a successful online business.
Life Lessons Number Five – Not Investing Sooner
I’ve spoken about this before, but I could kick myself for not knowing about this when I was younger! I image how big my pots would be now and I want to cry!
Saying that though, I didn’t know what I didn’t know, and I used the information I had at the time to make decisions.
Now I know better, I would be doing myself a disservice if I wasn’t investing. Investing is topping up my future retirement (future fun) fund so I can do what I want to do when I no longer want to work.
Investing works best when more time allows for it, so the best time to start is when we’re young. If you’re only finding out about investing now, then don’t fret, just learn what to do and get on with it!
You can get started with my free investing ebook here.
Life Lessons Number Six – Getting Into Bad Debt
This final one was the catalyst for starting to learn about how to manage my own finances, and then to help others do the same, so I’m grateful it has led me down this path to you.
Getting into bad debt was one of my biggest money mistakes. I will never, ever go back there again, and being debt free is the most liberating feeling after being tied down for so long.
There is so much out there to help too! I nearly went down the IVA route, but thankfully I learnt about the debt snowball and used that instead. It’s not suitable for everyone, but I was in a good position so could use it. I also leveraged the use of a loan to consolidate everything and got it paid off after a 5 year battle.
It wasn’t easy for me, but it was so so worth it.
If you want to learn about the debt snowball, take a look at my ebook: How To Pay Off Debt And Still Buy Shoes.
Getting older definitely comes with it’s perks. I love being able to live life on my terms and enjoy the freedom I experience to make the choices that are right for me.
I have more money to spend on what is important to me. I have no debt, and I invest for my future.
Life is good, and I can’t wait to see what happens over the next 12 months.
Oh, and Happy St. George’s Day!
2 thoughts on “Life Lessons Turning 36 – What Do I Wish I Had Known?”
Wow. We share the same birthday. I turned 50 today and it caused me to reflect a lot on life at this milestone (I am now the same age my father was when he passed away when I was 14)
Oh that’s bitter sweet. I hope that you had a great day to celebrate your birthday, but equally I hope you were able to remember your dad without too much sadness