“One day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now” (Paulo Coelho).

As I approach my 30th birthday and reflect over the past decade of my life, I conclude that the biggest lesson I’ve learned this past year is this: It is possible to coast through life and not have control of anything that happens to you.

Of course, I arrived at this big lesson out of fear of turning 30.

It is easy to become a passive bystander waiting on the sidelines; waiting for a big break, for something to change, for things to get better. On the flip side, it is also possible to take an active role in your life and reach for the things you want. It is ultimately one’s choice. It is fitting that I learned this lesson this past year since I scrambled to squeeze in or start achieving more of my life goals into this decade before approaching a new era.

The Value of Being Active to Pursue Dreams

As I look back at the last five years of my life, which have really been dedicated to pursuing my dreams in NYC, I realize I am where I am now because of the actions and decisions I made while participating actively in my life, going after something more or something different. I have a point of comparison, since there was also a period that can be described as my passive stint where I got too comfortable while coasting and waiting for things to happen.

Looking back, my first active decision was to apply to dance programs in New York and move from California to a city known for its limitless artistic opportunities. The result was completing a two year professional training program. After that, I decided to stay in NYC for good and started actively looking for internship opportunities. The result was landing a position at one of the most prestigious ballet companies in the world and soon after, amazingly, receiving a permanent position with the company. My dream job.

The Lesson

After that active participation period, came a period where I coasted through and although I waited, nothing happened. Time flew by and before I could blink twice, I turned 29. I quickly learned, out of fright, what from this moment on will be called The Lesson, capital T, capital L. I made a promise to myself that I would take charge of my life and make active decisions every day. Because it is VERY easy for life to pass you by. I believed, and still do, that in order for me to take a real active role and never the passive one, I would have to live mindfully every day and be present in every moment. I would have to work towards one of my goals every day, even if it was a small step. Something, anything, every single day.

If I was told I would be where I am now when I was 10, 15, 20, even 25 years old I would have laughed and said no way.

To celebrate my 30th birthday, I gathered 30 sayings and lessons I’ve learned. Some can be considered clichés and some I’ve heard (not learned) for as long as I can remember, however, all of them I’ve proven to be true, I try to live by, I’ve taken to heart, they need to be repeated, and I can no longer ignore if I want to live an active life.

30 Lessons by 30

  1. The Lesson: Only you can decide whether you want to coast through life or actively participate in it.
  2. It is easy to get stuck in what is comfortable, even though there is so much out there waiting for you.
  3. Your values, lessons, and the way you were brought up make you who you are today. Don’t forget them but choose your own path and not the one other people want you to choose. It can be easy to try and please everyone but yourself. Make your own choices AND take responsibility for them. It is YOUR life.
  4. You are responsible for your own happiness and creating your own path.
  5. Be grateful for everything you have and everything that you are. It can be easy to overlook when you are constantly trying to achieve more.
  6. Don’t sweat the small stuff. My mom bought me this book when I was fifteen years old. I never paid attention to it and instead drowned in my teenage sorrows. Now I realize how much truth there is in it.
  7. You are way stronger than you think you are. Life will throw curve balls at you and YOU will overcome them.
  8. When a hardship confronts you, you can decide to be resilient, learn from it and move on.
  9. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. It is of the utmost importance to always have faith.
  10. You can work each day or each week toward achieving a goal. This can make turning any age seem less daunting.
  11. It is easy to say what you want to do; it is very hard to actually do it.
  12. You can embrace your past mistakes and decide that they made you who you are today. Someone better.
  13. You can never learn enough. Ask for advice, read a book, take a class.
  14. You can learn a lot from other people, whether it’s from biographies or from face to face interactions.
  15. Do not leave for tomorrow what you can do today. Getting started is the hardest part.
  16. Exercise is an integral part of life. It does not only make you physically fit but emotionally and spiritually fit as well. It is medicine and it is imperative.
  17. Everyone has a passion. You can decide to do something with it.
  18. Physically smiling can brighten your day and make any day better.
  19. Time heals all wounds. This too shall pass. I was told this repeatedly when I was younger and nursing many heartbreaks; I wish I could’ve told my younger self how much truth is in that statement.
  20. Enjoy every minute of the day if you can. Time really does fly by.
  21. Happiness can be found in the little things in life: taking a new fitness class, coffee from your favorite coffee shop, cozying up with a good book, eating avocado toast while writing, catching an impromptu act on the subway from really talented break dancers, catching up with people that make you smile, etc.
  22. You can find opportunities all around you and from the least expected places.
  23. In the work place and in your personal life, you have to ask for what you want.
  24. It is easy to get trapped in your own life and bubble when you are going through hard times and not realize there is so much happening around the world. Get out of your own head.
  25. There is truth in the saying Fake it ‘till you make it.
  26. Being a confident person is one of the most attractive qualities you can have.
  27. Never underestimate kindness and the importance of never judging others.
  28. Family is everything. They are the one constant in this life and the people that will ALWAYS be there for you.
  29. Jack Dawson’s toast: To making it count sums up many of my birthday lessons. You only get one life, so you better make it a good one.
  30. There will never be enough lessons…

Check out my website for the easiest wellness tricks and how to feel happy and healthy everyday.

Originally published at www.ivonneackerman.com on September 15, 2016.

Originally published at medium.com