2017 was a year of firsts for me: first proper job, first year out of Rhodes University, first time traveling, first time living overseas and really my first time out of my comfort zone. It was a year of learning, here are some of the things I learned in 2017 that I would like to take into 2018 with me.
1. Say yes to opportunities!
Even if you don’t know how it will work, if you have the skill or if you have the money – say yes. The best experiences I had in 2017 were because I said yes to things I didn’t really know I could do. You either win or you learn a lesson.
2. The hardest decision is usually the right decision.
The reason we struggle to make decisions is not because we don’t know what to do, it’s because we try to find an easier way to do it — there is no easy way. Deciding whether to go to the Netherlands was one of the most difficult decisions because I knew it would be hard, staying in Zimbabwe was safe and it what a good decision it was.
3. Don’t count your chickens before they have hatched.
Meaning, don’t make plans that depend on something good happening in the future that might not ever come about. I told everyone I would be in the Netherlands for two to three years before I even got there. I assumed I would like it and immediately want to live there but that wasn’t the case. I have grown to like living the Netherlands but will I live here? I don’t know. Take things day by day.
4. Spend time with children.
They are the most honest, truthful little humans and if you want the truth, children will always give it to you straight. I made a basil pesto chicken pasta for two little girls that I used to look after — both of them hated it and they told me so! I never made that for them again. I cut my hair when I was coaching 11 year old girls hockey, half of them told me they loved it, while the other half were very upset and told me I looked better with it long! Children will give you a new perspective on most things.
5. Be grateful.
Every morning and every evening – find something to be grateful for. Being grateful doesn’t mean that your life will always be amazing or that wont go through tough times and it doesn’t make those tough times go away, but being grateful helps you appreciate what you do have. Most of the time we focus so hard on what is going wrong we cannot appreciate what is going right.
6. Be kind.
Smile, offer to clean the dishes, buy someone flowers or send a letter of encouragement, these selfless actions can go along way to making someones day. We are so focused on what is going on in our own lives we forget to give back to others. Even when you don’t feel like it – be kind.
7. Eat good food.
When I say good food, I don’t mean eat salads and vegetables, I mean eat a proper lunch as opposed to a packet of chips. Plan your days so that when you sit down to eat, you are having something that has nutritional value. Whether it is pasta, salad, stir fry or steak, make sure you are enjoying your meal. I ate too many meals on-the-go last year that I didn’t enjoyed and they certainly didn’t nourish my body or my soul.
8. There is always a solution to a problem.
Nothing in life is insurmountable. I thought being in the first world would mean I wouldn’t have problems to solve because everything works in the first world. I was sorely mistaken, trains break down, buses are sometimes late, documents are misplaced and things go wrong but as in Africa, there is always a way around it.
9. Life goes on.
Whatever happens to you in your past, present or future, life goes on. Time waits for no one, even when you really wish it would. It is best to be happy and appreciate all you have when you have it, life changes quickly and you cannot go back.
10. Life is short, live it.
The average age of life expectancy around the world is 71, which means we only have about 851 months here on earth. It is important to take trips on the weekends, have a job you love or work towards getting a job you love, spend time with your friends and family, have a hobby, go for long walks, eat, drink wine and do it all because we aren’t really here for very long.