When we are in school, everything feels super important. Most of us work toward a degree, and make every effort to get out into the “real” world so we can finally become successful, happy and financially free. But once we graduate and enter the working world, we realize that things aren’t always what they seem. After spending almost a decade in the corporate world, working in advertising agencies all around the world, I felt lifeless and bored. It felt like my job was suffocating my soul. When my doctor diagnosed me with depression, I saw it as a wakeup call. I left it all behind to follow my heart, start my own business and become my own boss. After running my own sucessful company for almost a decade, I can now reflect on some major lessons learned.
1. The people you admire don’t have it figured out, and that’s okay.
We often think when we graduate or start our own company and make money doing what we love, we’ll be graced with instant clarity and acute focus. We see others who look like they have it all worked out. They seem sucessful, they have the perfect social media posts, but in the real world, we are all just figuring it out. Well into your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and even 60s, things are still evolving and falling into place. Life is an evolution of changes; you can reinvent yourself and change your mind at any time, and it’s okay. Learning who you are is a lifelong journey and a radical adventure at that.
2. The older you get, the harder it is to change a habit.
When we are young, we take for granted our nonchalant habits and change quickly when we desire. As you age, your brain is hard-wired to fall back on habits, and it is harder to change — much harder. You get set in your ways. Be honest with yourself. If there is a habit you want to change, it’s never too late, but be patient with yourself as the change is harder to make the older you get.
3. Burned bridges stay with you for life.
When you work for yourself, you realize how important all relationships are. A burned bridge will stay with you forever, and you quickly learn forgiveness is the most essential tool for success. Who can you forgive today?
4. Your beliefs aren’t as important as your behavior.
Your beliefs and values are important to you, but how you act and talk to others about what you believe in is more important than the actual belief. Treat others with kindness and respect no matter how different their views are. Contrast can bring clarity.
5. The more you believe in yourself, the less you need others to.
You don’t need to lean on others for support. When you have a dream or goal, the most important thing is that you believe in yourself. People are going to tell you it can’t be done, but when you connect with your own dreams, you will be unstoppable.
6. Almost everything is simple, but almost nothing is easy.
As you start to grow your own business, you begin to learn most everything is relatively simple. You recognize that you don’t have to work so hard or worry so much, and that things seem to fall into place. Learning this and accepting it as truth, however, is never easy.
7. People and situations in your past were never random.
You quickly learn how everything is connected. Instead of looking at your life as a random experience and unconnected occurrences, start to see that life isn’t happening to you, but actually it is happening for you.
8. Sometimes not getting what you want is the biggest blessing of all.
Everything is part of a larger plan. You quickly learn that rejection is actually protection.
9. Everything tends to work out the way it is supposed to.
Once you start getting into the rhythm of running your own company, you may realize that you are always changing, growing and becoming more of who you really want to be. Many of us often stress about things that are out of our control. As you become more established, you learn that the things you have always worried about turned out fine. In life, things always work out the way they are supposed to, so there is no need to worry.
10. Trust yourself much sooner.
Learning to trust yourself — sooner rather than later — is something that will help you feel more free. Stop fighting yourself, and trust your gut instincts. Trust your heart — it knows what your head has yet to figure out.