2019 marked the end of the first decade of the 21st century, and we finally entered the year of 2020, a brand-new chapter! The past ten years passed by so quickly unnoticed, but when I look back, I realize that it did leave some traces filled with excitement, joy and sorrows.

On the first page of the new year, I want to reflect on the 6 important lessons I’ve learned in the past decade and share with all of you.

1. Live in the present

My best friend’s dad passed away last year. It was indeed her darkest moment in the past ten years. What’s even sadder was that she also missed so many precious moments with her dad because she and her parents lived separately in two different countries and didn’t spend much time together in the last decade.

We always give ourselves excuses like we’re busy or it’s not the best time so we WILL do X thing later, but that best timing never comes.

We’re so interested in planning and predicting our future, but we tend to forget that the most important thing is the present moment.

We all only live once. Each day, each minute and each second is unique and cannot be repeated again.

Worrying about the future and regretting about yesterday will lead us to nowhere. Live in the moment and do it now.

2. Focus on who you are

Is popular the same as good?

Is being popular your goal?

Does the number of ”likes” you get represent how much value you provide to others?

In the past few years, “social media influencer” has become a buzzword. We’re bombarded by so many messages from the influencers and the web every day that we sometimes get confused about our own identity and values.

We say things to try to please others instead of our true beliefs, we post pictures and words to only show the bright side of our life instead of our true feelings, and we follow the trends instead of our own needs and principles.

But are OTHERS’ attention and values really important to us? Do we really want to live OTHERS’ lives?

Most of us would say NO.

In a world full of noise, focus on who you are and what’s most important to you.

3. Smartphone does not make you smarter

Our world has profoundly changed with the creation of smartphones. The tool, which was supposed to improve the productivity and communication among people, now becomes the culprit of distractions and unfavourable human connections.

The average attention span is down from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds now. So much info on the internet and apps, so little time we possess that we are obliged to bring each of our phones with us all the time and even sleep with it because we don’t want to miss any info or message.

We stick to our phones and spend less and less time in social interactions. Even when we’re with our loved ones, we often look at our phones instead of talking to them.

Surprisingly, while everyone finds smartphones indispensable, the famous writer Yuval Noah Harari, who writes about technologies and trends, does not even have a smartphone!

If people more successful than us, like Yuval, do not need a smartphone to achieve their success, we should seriously think again about the real benefits of the smartphone.

Do a digital detox as often as you can. Learn to control your attention and put your phone away to focus on your important work and people.

4. Play the long game

People tend to overestimate what they can achieve in a year and underestimate what they can achieve in 10 years.

When we go to the gym once, we don’t feel a big difference. But when we go to the gym three times a week and keep doing it over 5 years, it’ll make a big impact on our health. When we save 5$ a day, it won’t change our financial status. But if we saved 5$ a day for a year, we would have $1825. If we invested that $1825 with annual earnings of 4% for 35 years, we would have $14,700. That’s the power of compound effect.

Most of us are seeking for short-term gains; we want to see the results fast and emphasize too much on the outcomes instead of the process. However, it’s those daily habits and consistent efforts that will lead to greater results.

Start small and keep the long-term view in mind. The longer you play the long game, the easier it is to play and the greater the rewards.

5. Adapt to changes

“To change with change is the changeless state.” – Bruce Lee

In the past 10 years, I’ve traveled and lived in many different places, moving from Montreal to Toronto, then to Singapore. If you had asked me 10 years ago where I would live, I would’ve probably said the place I was currently living.

It’s hard to predict the future as life always reserves some little surprises for us.

I’ve never thought I could go that far, and I’ve never planned to live in some of those places, but time for change comes when situations change. All we have to do is to face the challenge or opportunity and adapt to changes.

Whenever our life stage is, we need to remain flexible and open, so we can adjust and learn new things.

6. Less is more

When we get older, we tend to keep our circle of friends smaller because we want to spend more time with our close friends.

We may have different types of friends or even a large group of friends, but there are only a few whom we can share our true feelings with, we can count on and we can proudly recommend to anyone else without hesitation. In the past 10 years, I’ve no longer been interested in going to large networking events and staying on the superficial level by adding more people to my circle; instead, I’ve tried to deepen my relationships with my close friends and get to know them better.

Similarly, I’m no longer looking to do more but rather identify my not-to-do list and only focus on the most important tasks.

Time is our most valuable asset so use it wisely and focus on key relationships and work.

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