5 reflections from a 35 year journey

Lessons, revelations and thoughts from the journey so far…

I’m mere days away from staring down the barrel of my 35th year on planet earth, and what a wild ride it’s been. I still rightly or wrongly look at myself as young, but I’m neither as young nor as old as I believe I am.

I’m not one for celebrations or moments of pity over a set of numbers. Instead, I take moments like this to reflect on the good, bad and the ugly, and what (if anything) I can share with others to learn from too.

Here are a few things I feel are worth sharing:

Look after your body (aka your meat sack)

Yes, this feels like a rather basic thing to say but it’s the basics that we always go back to, right?

As a youngling (Pre-20’s) I never appreciated the benefits of physical fitness outside of the more well-known pursuits of vanity. I still recall watching Daniel Craig run through a wall in his first bond outing in Casino Royale when I was 19 years old and thinking ‘Shit! I gotta start lifting some weights”.

I’d spent time throughout my teenage years in and out of martial arts gyms but I’d never understood the benefits that physical movement could bring. Although I’d continuously trained 3–4 times a week, it wasn’t until my late 20’s that I truly recognised its power.

Long story short, the practice of physical movement is beneficial to most from a mental and physical perspective. I’m not saying it’s for everyone and you should do it.

The thing that stays with us throughout this whole journey is our mind and body, so we gotta look after them. I’ve written some thoughts on these benefits from a personal perspective before.

As I age, the realisation of one’s body not being able to recover and perform like a decade prior gives me more reason to look after the old meat sack so that I can function well into my 50s and 60’s.

Invest in your mind

It seems logical to follow up a focus on the body by talking about the mind.

I’ve heard the saying that the body follows the mind and your mind is your greatest asset but also your worst enemy (at times). I’ve come to find more evidence to support these in life so far.

For those who know me personally, I’m known for optimising what I consume from an information perspective. Like most, I struggle with my own demons behind closed doors and this has taught me to have intention in what I allow to come into my sphere of thoughts.

This applies to both what I consume from an intellectual view and for my general mental wellbeing.

In my younger years, I’d been neglectful of the mental element of my being. If I can share at least one piece of wisdom in all of these words. It would be to not underestimate or neglect your mind.

Invest everything and anything you have to keep it rich and healthy.

You don’t know everything and that’s ok

Have you ever had those moments where you feel like everything has aligned in your life?

Where it’s so good that you feel completely in control and that you have the answer to everything and anything, only for a curveball of life to smack you straight onto your ass?

Yeah, I’ve been there too — many times!

I sometimes feel that it’s a human feature and not a bug to believe that we need to know everything and it’s not acceptable if we don’t. This crops up in many areas of our life journey.

From the choices, we make for higher education to choosing a career, all way to caring for our children. Society screams a false narrative of needing to know what one should do. Yet, in reality, this is BS.

Yes, BS! And guess what? None of us knows everything.

There will be many, many times when you stare out into blank space wondering just what the hell you should do. Embrace these moments, the answers will always come good. Like the Roman General and renowned philosopher, Marcus Aurelius said, “Worry not about the future because you will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.”

We all live, learn and pass forward what we know to help those in similar positions.

Ultimately, we’ll all figure it out.

Change is a necessary (sometimes) evil

Change is a controversial topic for our species.

Mainly because we’re hardwired to resist it. Great feature, right?

Emerson Human Capital shared in their piece ‘We Are Hardwired to Resist change’ that the amygdala (part of our brain) interprets change as a threat and releases our hormones for fear, flight or flight in response. Which is apparently very normal as our body is actually protecting us from change.

The folks over at Be The Change go on to reassure us that “Resistance to change is actually very normal. Some reasons for it stem from how our brains are hardwired (the neuronal reasons); some stem from our psychological needs; some stem from our sociological needs, and some reasons are just that we might not like the practical effect a change might have on us.”

So, bottom line, our brain hates change. But, it’s needed if we are to evolve in life. Hence my title of a ‘necessary evil’. Perhaps similar to many of you, I have a very rocky relationship with change.

And, as someone who grapples with the old anxiety demons from time to time. Change is not something I relish.

Spending time to understand why change can be hard for me has been an eye opener to other areas of my life too. I’m not saying it will have the same effect for all, but if you sit there wondering why you struggle when big movements happen, then this might be one to explore.

Learning to embrace change no matter the outcome is a mindset and behaviour I’ll continue to develop to my final days. As life is an ever-flowing journey of change, Yet, that’s not a bad thing.

I mean, how boring would our lives be if we stayed the same all the time? Told ourselves the same stories over and over? What if we never truly discovered what we’re capable of because we avoid change?

That’s probably the saddest part of it all. The not knowing what could be.

So, insight four is all about recognising that change can be hard but necessary if we wish to improve our own time on this spinning rock.

Believe in the enormity of the possible

I know that title sounds like some corny laptop sticker somewhere (and it probably is!), yet it’s a stark reminder of the narrative we tell ourselves.

Spending the last 15-ish years around the world of workplace learning and performance has given me a unique opportunity to view and understand the mindsets of individuals from all walks of life.

What has struck me over this time, with probably the thousands of people I’ve connected with, is very few believe in the variety of possibilities that life presents us with.

More often I heard the phrase “Well, it’s just not possible, I can’t do this”.

This is one of the times, where through my own experiences, I’ve learnt that re-programming our mindsets and behaviours during several moments across our lifespan is needed.

What I’m not saying here is that you can do anything if you put your mind to it. That really is the worst advice ever. Just like follow your passion or do what you love and never work a day in your life. All great slogans to make a profit from people to decorate their walls with, but truly awful advice for the real world.

People who say the above are usually already wealthy or perhaps spending too much time on social platforms.

Instead, what I’m advocating here is to broaden our horizons just a little. Recognise that as humans, we have the hardwired ability to learn new things, create new pathways and change the course of our trajectory.

It’s not always going to be easy and we might fail many more times than we’d like, but it’s all possible.

And that’s it for now folks.

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Ross Stevenson

Ross Stevenson

Writer of thoughts, Learning + Career Consultant | Owner www.stealthesethoughts.com and its weekly newsletter.