I turn 29 tomorrow and every year my dad always asks me, 'do ya feel any older?' It's something he's asked me since I was old enough to remember. My answer has always been, 'NO dad. I feel the same.' And, while it's true, I definitely know that I don't feel the same today as I did when I was 16. So, when did I change?!  I've learned little things over the years--small life lessons that don't seem like a heck of a lot until I reflect on all of it.. I realized that, 'yeah, maybe I do feel a little different?" Here are my nuggets of life advice that I've learned over my 29 years of life.

1. Take care of your skin. You'll need it your whole life. In high school, I'd go to bed in my makeup and wash it off in the shower the next day. I wish I could go back in time and scold my younger self.

2. Put money in the bank for a rainy day. Rainy days seem to happen a lot more frequently the older you get.

3. Find a passion in life. Life gets a lot better when you start doing things that ignite that fire in your soul.

4. Put your phone down. So much is happening around you that you miss when your head is buried in your phone. In high school, I'd sit and talk to my friends for hours. In college, I was obsessed with social media. Now, I have to train myself to live more in the moment.

5. Doing things yourself feels great. Learn how to do your own nails, change a tire and cook your own food. I still can't change a tire, but I'm open to learning!

6. Listen to your gut. At the end of the day, if you feel passionately about something, don't let others talk you out of it. It took me time to realize that I'm the one who has to live with my choices, not the people telling me what choice they feel I should make.

7. Don't be someone or something you're not. Nobody likes a second rate version of someone else...be a first rate version of yourself. Not everyone will like you, that's OK. Be unapologeticly yourself.

8. Wear clothes you feel confident in. I used to buy clothes just because others said something looked cute...now, I only buy things if I feel excited to wear them.

9. Don't burn bridges. No matter how angry you are at someone in the moment, realize that controlling your feelings is a better reflection of your character.

10. Don't sweat the small stuff. I've spent a lot of time in the past worrying about things that now seem so trivial and silly. Don't let little things keep you down. Focus on the bigger picture.

11. Be as honest as you can. Honesty really is the best policy. It's not easy to be honest, but the discomfort builds character.

12. Make others feel good. Don't flatter them, but you should let someone know when they've done a good job, or deserve recognition.

13. Learn how to budget. This was a hard lesson for me to learn that took a very long time. Putting yourself on a budget is vital to reaching your long term financial goals. It's still sometimes hard to do, but it builds discipline.

14. Take care of your body by eating right most of the time. You'll need your body your whole life. My old gym teacher used to say that your health is your greatest asset.

15. Don't try to be better than anyone else, just work on being better than you were yesterday. Who cares what those Instagram influencers are doing...they AREN'T you. Be better than YOU were yesterday and eventually you'll get to where you want to go.

16. Figure out how to keep yourself focused and motivated. Everyone loses motivation so you need to figure out how to get yourself to refocus and hold yourself accountable. For me, I've tried dieting a million times in the past. I'd fail every time...because, I was riding on my feelings of motivation. Eventually I'd lose those feelings and grab a bowl of ice cream and a bag of chips. Instead, I decided to make a more emotional connection to the reason why I wanted to lose weight. That emotional reason keeps me focused even on days when I have ZERO motivation. Now, I just do it whether I want to or not.

17. Find a mentor. You don't have to be the trailblazer. Chances are, there's someone doing the exact things you want to do in life. Mimic their behavior and you'll get similar results.

18. Read books. Read all of the books you can about all of the subjects you're interested in. I truly believe that knowledge is the second most important power there is...the first is focused action.

19. Focus on your gratitude everyday. I heard somewhere that it's impossible to be in both a state of depression and a state of gratitude at the same exact time. If you want to feel better, look for the good.

20. Be quiet. Sometimes you learn the most when you stop talking and start listening to someone else. This was a tough lesson for me to learn. As a young adult, I always felt I needed the last word. I realize now, I was wrong.

21. Lose the battle to win the war. You might be totally right and justified in a certain situation...but, sometimes it doesn't actually matter who is right.

22. Eat the things you love and feel NO guilt. Why do we make ourselves feel guilty for enjoying delicious things? Do everything in moderation and you'll be OK. You better believe I'm having a big slice of birthday cake this year!

23. Hold on to your ability to dream. I became a mom in 2017 and so many people acted like his birth was the death of my ambitions. It took me a relatively long time to realize that it's actually really important for me to have dreams because I'm teaching my son how to have dreams and goals.

24. Talk to your neighbors.

25. Force yourself to be uncomfortable. That's literally where your growth comes from. If you start to feel yourself feeling uncomfortable, push forward. Smile to yourself and know that you're literally watching yourself become a better person.

26. Realize that failure is not only OK, but it's a good thing. EVERYONE fails at new things. It's called LEARNING how to not do something. Eventually, if you stick it out, you'll find the right way to do it.

27. Speak up in your meetings. Your opinion matters. YOU matter.

28. Children can teach us so much. Pay attention to them because they're wiser than we know. They can say the most simple, yet profound things.

29. Visit your grandparents, parents, and friends. Don't pass up those opportunities to spend time with them because life is shorter than you know. SO much shorter than you know.

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