It’s true…tomorrow is a new year.

 Now, I know that I am not alone in reflecting on life at the end of this year and as the next one begins. And I am not usually the type of person to jump on a bandwagon, but I guess part of my lessons learned is that there are some wagons worth jumping on.

For the last few years, I existed. I believe that certain individuals can relate to that “all I can do is keep my head above water” feeling. Life is hard, busy, full, beautiful, and did I mention hard? We are pulled in so many directions by relationships and responsibilities that we cannot find time to relax and reflect.  

 Finishing graduate school and beginning a career (for those who know me, can I get an Amen?), I have finally found space during my day to do just that…reflect and relax (yes…relaxing is allowed and encouraged!)

 Well this morning I tried to relax and sleep in, but, at 6am, I awoke and thought to myself “this is the last day of 2015.” Of course my busy mind started racing, and so, I wanted to jot down a few of those thoughts before that space is overwhelmed with New Year’s Eve shopping lists and planning.

 Lesson #1     Life is short.

 Let’s be honest. As we get older, each year, relatively speaking, is becoming shorter. I am a very organized and calculated individual which bodes well often, but, my goodness, the words “spontaneous” and “adventure” give me hives!

 I’m 36 years old and have lost two good friends to cancer…quickly.

 My grandfather is 103 years old and has witnessed much more life and loss than myself.

 Lesson learned: I am not guaranteed tomorrow, so as important as organization and planning are, I will embrace the spontaneous adventure that life is.

Lesson #2     Never stop learning.

A wise, older friend of mine shared these words that I will never forget: “You know, Jess, the older I get, the more I realize I just don’t know.”

 At the age of 23, I thought I knew everything (hard to believe, huh?)! After a significant melt down and embracing the words “I don’t know,” I realized the power of genuine transparency.

 Lesson learned: No matter how much I know, there is always so much more to learn and there is powerful freedom in this growth process.

 Lesson #3     Never stop sharing.

Have you ever felt like a balloon on the verge of popping? I mean if you keep taking in knowledge and keep living life to the fullest, you might just pop if you do not give it away! 

I watched an introverted friend of mine lose herself among very extroverted co-workers. Because her unique beauty wasn’t recognized and encouraged by her team (unfortunately, yes) she began to close up and hide. We needed her. We all need each other.

 Lesson learned: I am unique and have plenty to offer others. I must recognize my unique talent or gift and continue sharing. I must encourage others to recognize their uniqueness and give them space to share too.

Lesson #4     Humble confidence is not an oxymoron.

Directly out of college, one of my supervisors, whom I respected and admired, told me that I was cocky. Still sticks with me to this day…

 Was the message relayed in a constructive manner? Not necessarily. Was the message incorrect? Not necessarily.

 I have always loved who I am, and I do have a confidence that is somewhat supernatural. As a young college graduate, this confidence apparently wasn’t communicated with wisdom and understanding.

Lesson learned: Having a deep confidence in myself is a great thing; walking in humility is also a great thing.

 Lesson #5     Keep having fun.

I have not only found a career, I have found a calling. I have always been a “work hard” person but overwhelmingly value relationships and fun (thanks to my former boss). Working for The Fun Dept. has given me the opportunity to not only work hard and play hard but to teach others the great value in this.

Lesson learned: I must regularly cherish all fun shared experiences and create opportunities for others to too.

 My conclusion…Life is short. Never stop learning. Never stop sharing. Humble Confidence is not an oxymoron. Keep having fun and play it forward.

This African proverb crossed my mind after evaluating my life lessons at the end of this full year: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” I’m ready to go far in 2016.


  • Jess Ruggieri

    Health Coach & Personal Fitness Trainer

    Jess Ruggieri has found her place as the ambassador of inclusion at the fun dept., a training and coaching company driven by the implementation of "innovative solutions for a happier, healthier, more connected workplace.” Featured on various news and media outlets, the fun dept.’s clients range from Fortune 100 companies to those with as few as 10 employees and is now working with Zappos’s training company, Delivering Happiness. Jessica's history with the fun dept. goes back nine years when the founder, Nick Gianoulis, went out of his way to work from her coffee shop. “I simply wanted to create a fun and welcoming environment for both my staff and my customers,” she said. It took Jessica nine years to make a career jump. With her extensive experience in management, psychology, interpersonal communication, organizational processes, training & development, and having received her Master’s in Health Promotion and her certification as a Health & Fitness Coach, Jessica landed her dream job—utilizing her passions and skillsets to impact company culture. “It is a simple and unique systematic approach where we teach companies how to design appropriate ‘play’ techniques to connect and de-stress employees.” Jessica and the fun dept. team have been “playing it forward” to improve work environments for customers, employees, and the bottom line!