Another year is about to end again. This year, 2016, is far different from others mainly because of many events that shook our world – Brexit, US Election, Philippine Election, Marcos Burial, etc. This list does not yet include personal events that made most of us say, “What’s with you 2016?” To me, it is a very challenging in so many aspects. It will take another essay to tell all the happy, awful, and annoying things. But looking back, I think there are still a lot of things worth remembering like those simple smiles from the person you admire. Despite all that happened, there are still a lot of things and a lot of people to be thankful for.
Each year, I try to list down the top 10 things that I learned. I do this to help myself move forward and inspire others to grow. This way, I am also able to look at the past year positively by looking at its contribution to future growth. I usually put this in my year-end journal but I thought it will be useful to share this online. I’m sharing here my top 10 lessons for 2016 which I hope you can relate to:
- If the need is presented to you, there is no better way to respond than to do something about it. We all have something to do. We all have our own limitation. But have you ever thought why of all people, the opportunity to help chose you? There is always a reason for everything under heaven as they say. You might be the angel this person in need is praying for. We are all angels who are meant to support each other. Help does not need to be grand. It can be as simple as taking/sharing a photo of their situation or offering a connection to someone who has influence. Your small act of kindness can go a long way.
- Take every opportunity to inspire and teach others. You are blessed to bless others. This world gave you all those knowledge, talents, and opportunities to share it to others. Do not be selfish with your kind words and simple sharing of thoughts. A simple morning message of inspiration on your social media can go a long way than ranting on how awful your day is. Try to also teach others. This does not need to be a crowd. Even one person is enough as long as you teach the right thing.
- Make a stand. Stop standing on the fence. If you know what is right, why prevent yourself from fighting for it? As the saying goes, “evil prevails when good people keep silent.” If you keep on just agreeing to both sides just to prevent conflict, aren’t you tolerating the very reason why there are oppression, inequality, and corruption in this world? If you want to make this world a better place, learn to get out of your comfort zone and be part of the uneasy work to make a change. No one gets anywhere by just sitting down.
- Make time for important people in your life. Once work pops, it won’t stop. Life will always make you busy that you won’t even realize that time is over and you don’t have the people you value anymore. Make time for them. Set it as a priority in your things to do. Actually, don’t make the moments with them just part of your “things to do”. Don’t make your love ones a part of your checklist. Make every moment with your family and friends a requirement in your every day, every week, and every time. Allow your love ones randomly disturb you. Allow your family to take your energy. Let your friends mess up your schedule. After all, why are you doing all these things? Isn’t it for them?
- Make a budget, stick to it, and be wise on your spending. You will never know when money will come running out. Sometimes, even if you have a job, there will be times that your pay will be delayed or will not be enough. There will also be times that there will be an emergency and you are not prepared for that thousands-worth of expense. This is why you have to make a budget and commit to it. Set aside 50% of your budget (if you can) for emergency fund, savings, investments, and other social protection expense. That way, you will have something to spend when the going gets tough. Two important things I learned on the year 2016 are: first, to never use a credit and miss paying all the expenditure on time; second, to use the budget intended for something else. Missing these two points will give you a headache.
- Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Tell what you have to say. Mean what you say. There will be several times when we neither show nor tell what we have to say because we are so afraid on how people will react. If this will always be our mentality, we will never be happy because we hold ourselves back to possibilities. Be brave to face the consequences. When we show our true selves – what we feel, what we want, and who we really are – we experience freedom; we allow ourselves to be surprised to the price of being courageous. Fly butterfly!
- Travel responsibly. When I mean travel responsibly, I mean going outdoors with care and going on an adventure without compromising your other responsibilities. I won’t talk much about being a “responsible traveler” because I think there are a lot of resources on considering the environment in your adventure. But just in case you forgot, PLEASE TAKE NOTHING BUT PHOTOS, LEAVE NOTHING BUT FOOTPRINTS, and KILL NOTHING BUT TIME. What I really want to talk more is on being honest in the time and resources we use for travel. If we are supposed to be working then we work. Let us not use that “I am not feeling well” excuse to go to the mountains. Much more, let us be true to ourselves that when we travel, we really have the money for it than using our money for the monthly bills to pay for our trip. You will enjoy the beach more if the time and money you use is something that won’t worry you after.
- Let Go and Let God. There’s a debate whether you should fight or hold on to what you think you deserve. For me, I think the best way is to let God. If it is for you and it is the right time, you will have it. Continually struggling to have what is not supposed to yours will just drain your energy and nab you from opportunities that are meant for you. You will never notice the other treasures around because you are simply “preoccupied” with your imagined “what ifs”.
- Regret not the things that you did but the things you never did. Jump out of your comfort zone. Have fun! Life is short to prevent ourselves from enjoying the things that makes us happy. Travel to places you’ve never been. Say what you have to say. Dare to do the things that scare you. Try something new. Meet new people. Test your threshold. Be afraid but don’t let it stop you from doing what you want to do. Let go of that phone and experience more of life. If you were to die tomorrow, what will you regret not doing?
- Be thankful even if it hurts you. Remember how a tree grows with more branches? It takes pruning. Remember how a diamond is made? It takes some intense heat and pressure. Life will not always serve you with cakes and lemons. There will be days that the sunny sky will be cloudy all of a sudden. When that happens, you hold on to the one who made everything. There is a lesson that is meant to be learned in the pain you are feeling. The strong warriors are those who have gone through the times. No pain will take forever. If you pass the test of tears, you will come out as a better person.
I’m bringing all of these lessons to 2017. I am looking next year with a clear vision that it will be better because I am more ready given the learnings I had this year. Again, thank you 2016 and to all who had been part of it. Dear 2017, let’s make new stories. I am ready for you.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11