Oh, My Rollercoaster Year — 10 Valuable Lessons I Learned in 2015

by Sofi Sitha Natarajah

Before you read this, follow my yearly tradition and spend 5 min. with me reflecting and asking yourself:

What are the main 3–6 lessons you learnt in 2015?

This is one of my absolute favourite weeks of the year, because I not only take the time to draw my dream-board for the entire upcoming year and not always reach every dream, but I take a really close look at some of the valuable lessons that I learned along the way in the previous year.

Here are 20 valuable life lessons that I learned in 2015.

1. Fail forward

Both 2014 and 2015 have been on a rollercoaster. Impatient. Emotional. Mistakes. And yeah. The truth is that life is filled with hardships, and if we can’t endure, we lose. We become deeply insecure, apathetic, and depressed. However, if we work towards regaining control, then we come out scarred but stronger. If you ever find yourself in a situation that makes you feel helpless, don’t dwell on it — focus on what you can do to make things better . Looking back I must say that both years have taught me lessons that have turned me to whom I am today and how I shape my life and future. Failure is an opportunity: no great man or woman ever achieved significance without great failures to learn from. Late this year, I realised that failure is a proof of trying. Life goes hand in hand with responsibility and experience— it will therefore not get much easier. The world has plenty of opportunities — you better keep trying.

2. Celebrate your DNA — Family-ship

Care and treat your family as how you would treat your best friends. Last year, I celebrated Christmas and New Years Eve for the first time without my family. That’s also the time, I realised the bond of a family— what parents sacrifice for their children. It’s definitely the time I understood that parents are also humans. Put yourself into your parents’ shoes. They were never given a guidebook about parenthood. Putting that into perspective, appa and amma, saying thanks will never be enough. Showing my gratitude is the only right way.

3. Be with people that make you a strong, happier and better human

In your teenage years, you wish to have a lot of friends. However, throughout life, you realise that some people join, some leave and it’s okay to let go. People naturally develop into different directions. Magic is those who still manage to cross your path, those who care, share, trigger and encourage with a lot of positive thinking and energy. Reminding you to recharge strength, stop complaining, be grateful and share good values to make the world a better place.

4. Be your own prince(ss)

Never settle for average. Stop dreaming that someone else can make you happy and feel as a prince(ss). Look to grow yourself before you set out to do anything else. So many of us, including myself, look to help and love others way before we even start to pay attention to our own well-being and happiness. This doesn’t mean to boast about yourself — but to pay more attention to yourself. When we love ourselves more of the time, we have that much more to give to the world, our business and other people.

5. Limitations are set by you, not others

Until now you might have thought, that you have shaped your own identity and know your limitations. I believe that you never stop developing. The time you also start poking, pushing and challenging the bubble you live in, you will see things in different perspectives. Last summer, I had the of being in a hallway looking at various doors and the one I wanted to open was closed. Remember all other doors that are open. With two of my powers, imagination and creativity there is no space for limits, only more doors, knowledge and experiences.

4. Own less, be more, do more

Master your life with a decision-making diet. In today’s rush stressing and dealing with all kind of everyday situations i.e. lack of sleep, catching the bus, deadlines, what to wear etc., I started reflecting about my daily routines and started breakting down all my bad habits. As many girls, I was used to be extremely excited about owning as many shoes and dresses as possible. After my travels with one backpack of the most necessary things, the last couple of years, I started selling out (I still am). Not to surprise, it simplified and reduced a lot of my every day stress and gave plenty flexibility, mobility, room for spontaneity and actual time for myself.

5. Value time

Time is a fickle mistress. Everyone says, “time flies,” but it’s true. With or without your permission, the world keeps turning and before you know it you’re probably thirty-something with a dog and kid and trying to figure out why you aren’t twenty-two anymore. Use your time wisely in order to enjoy every year of your path. I used to blame my genes and culture for coming late. However, this year I managed to take time management to the next level as I realised that it’s okay not to be pressured by a clock as long as others are not involved. Appreciate their time and design how much you spent yours — no time to waste. Lean On.

6. Think in, post-its and lists

To find a good balance within yourself and in an overwhelming daily life. Wunderlists and post-ists will be truly helpful with reminding you with small tasks and empower your day with productivity — remember, work smart, not too hard. This is my easiest ways of getting things done. I have several daily motivations — on of them is writing a to-do-list when I wake up, checking it throughout the day and asking myself before I sleep what made me happy and what I rocked 100% at.

7. There is more within you right now than you think

This is a truth that I learned midway through 2015 when I wanted more out of my life. I started to challenge myself and set the bar even higher than what I thought was ever possible. I have always been a big dreamer, but once I realised that as long as we are still breathing, there is more inside each and everyone of us to be, do, and achieve — and I was never the same again. Every morning that you are given the gift of life, there is more waiting for you. Go out and get it.

8. Open and hack, mindset and habits

Take self awareness to the next level. I firmly believe that those who don’t tap into their full potential and achieve some of their biggest dreams in life don’t necessarily lack in talent or skill but in phenomenal habits. The best of the best know that what they do daily determines their level of success and quality of life. This year I stumbled upon a crash French Programme. I have to admit that I still haven’t cracked the code of hacking my everyday habits. However, I am still working on it — building healthy habits in 2016 with more focus on health, meditation, yoga and learning. Just as brushing your teeth everyday, try to learn/improve a skill 10-30 min. every day. This will be my 2016-challenge.

9. KISS, a fly.

Yes, Kiss. Simple, Stupid. Things are just getting more and more complicated. The best entrepreneur is the one who manages to come up with the simplest solution. The same goes to any human being. One of the surprising realisation I made this year is how much we constantly pressure ourselves and others. Take yourself out of the picture and think yourself as a fly. Is that really how you would like to treat others or be treated? Now when we also consider ourselves as flies, why not make ourselves spontaneously fly out of our comfort zones.

10. Fill your bagage with learning, inspirations, visions and goals

If you need a breakthrough, you must first start to fully believe that the future is going to be bigger than the past. I had a lot of short-term disappointments in 2015, and the only way I was able to keep moving forward despite the setbacks was because of the vision that I‘m creating. Keep learning, inspiring and being inspired. Think well by reading good books, building good, loving relationships, having good conversation, and rise by lifting others on your way. Goals are not only for New Year — keep tracking, checking and moving.

Taking a look at what you have learned in the previous year is just as important as planning for the year ahead. Take the time to give some thought towards some of the lessons that you learned in 2015 that can benefit your life heading into the New Year. There were plenty of valuable lessons that I learned in 2015, but I hope the above lessons that I shared add value to your life.

Raise your glasses. Celebrate life and love. Happy New Year 2016 — let it be another thrilling adventure!

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