12 things I learned about life in 2012

In December 2011, I decided to pursue freelance graphic design full-time. Becoming self-employed was something I had dreamed of doing for years, but the idea was always very daunting. Could I make enough money to live? Where would the client work come from? Could I actually do it?

There were certainly some challenging moments, but on the whole, I can honestly say that 2012 – the year I turned 30 – was the most rewarding, happiest twelve months of my life, both professionally and personally.

Throughout the year, I complied an ongoing list in of mantras, life lessons and advice I was offered from friends, family and fellow freelancers. And I've always believed that the best thing to do with advice is to give it away!

A big part of last year was finding the balance between work and life, so I took my lengthy list, shuffled it around, and divided it into two parts: 12 things I learned about life in 2012 (below) and 12 things I learned about work in 2012 (coming tomorrow).

These ideas are not terribly revolutionary, but they were excellent reminders in a year filled with uncertainty. They continue to keep me centred and make freelance life a pleasure.

If you enjoy these or find them useful, please bookmark, read often  – and of course share with anyone else who might be interested.


p.s. Have a story or some advice you'd like to share? Please send me an email!

Drink more water. Walk. Run. Sweat. Nap. Sleep. Meditate. Sit up straight. Feed your brain nutrition-filled food. Listen to your body. Visit your doctor & dentist regularly. If your body is not at its best, your brain won't be either.

Don't wait for tragedy to remind you of life's priorities. Make the most of every precious moment.
"Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose." -Steve Jobs

Worrying is like praying for things you don't want. Don't stress – or waste time thinking about – anything that is out of your direct control.
"To be calm is the highest achievement of the self." -attributed to Yogi Bhajan

Embrace the power of positive thinking. Envision yourself with the desired outcome, and it will be so.

Don't compare yourself to others; don't be jealous of what others have or what others do. Don't dwell on how things could have been – always look forward, not backwards.
"Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering." -from The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

Take actions to make things better, or let it go.

Life's trials inevitably come in waves – when it rains, it pours. Ride the wave, and learn to celebrate both the good times and the bad.

Reflect on your life's hardest times – you got through those, and you will get through these. Remember: there's always someone who has it worse than you.

When life speeds up, resist the urge to rush - count to ten, and move forward slowly, methodically, and confidently. Escape the busy trap.

Make it a priority to turn off your electronics daily, abandon the virtual world, and get outside. It is never selfish to take time for yourself and personal well-being.

Surround yourself with positive, creative, authentic, like-minded individuals. Inversely, disassociate yourself with impulsive, superficial, gossipy, disrespectful people.

Of bad energy, of old dogmas, of anything holding you back. Purge everything you don't need. Give it away, throw it out, recycle it - make room for new creative energy to flow.

* See also: 12 things I learned about work in 2012