We sat there with a glass of wine in our hands, chatting about the year we were about to leave behind.

“Oh. My. Gaaad. Was that the fastest year yet?”

We’d all flown in for the first trip of many, I hope, to have with this amazing set of friends. And as we toasted our friend on her 50th birthday, we all contemplated all we had done, what we had left to do.

Now we’re smart people. We realize there were 12 months, 365 days, 525,600 minutes in every year we’ve been alive. (Minus the leap years of course when you have to add in a few more.) But we all agreed that somehow the years have seemed to speed up the older we get. We all felt it. We all noticed it.Hitting 50 But Not My Potential

It was a time of reflection, a time of contemplation.

“Have I achieved success? What does it mean to me?”

“Have I done all I want to do?”

“I had wanted to travel more.”

“I wanted to start that business.”

“I wanted to write a book.”

So much left to do.

And no matter how much we had done – you could never argue with the successes this group had accomplished – there were still stones left unturned, big items left on our bucket lists.

But as I sat there, reflecting back on our weekend, I discovered one thing separated enormous success from smaller victories, true happiness from just existing.

The discovery of being able to jump off the rat race and change your course whenever you choose.

Some of us have that ability. I saw it in our group. We’re the ones that have the knack to look at what we like and what we don’t, changing it for the better the moment we discover what it is we need.

For others, round and round they go, always assuming stuff is happening TO them rather than taking control themselves.

And hitting the 50-year mark this year has made me look at things differently. Because let’s face it, like everyone, I have a large list I consider successes, and there are definitely things I regret.

But the more I looked at my regrets, the more I realized they were more in abundance in my younger years, and fewer the older I get. And I know that isn’t the case with everyone.

I realized that in the past couple of years, I have taken more action than ever before, which has led to far fewer regrets. Something about turning 50 has made me take a no-holding-back-take-action-now attitude.

Like travel. Exploring the world has always been a large to-do item on our bucket list. And by selling off our home, getting rid of two-thirds of our stuff, and making the move 1200 miles from the place we grew up, the place we’ve called home for the majority of our lives, we’ve put our plan into play. Slow travel, that’s what we’re doing. And we have a plan for how it will play in the coming months and years too.

Like writing. Several years ago I decided I wanted to transition into the writing lifestyle for my future. Today I blog, write articles and content for a variety of companies, while working on both my non-fiction books and novels. With a timeline for when my books will become my major source of income. Yep, meeting those goals too.

Like relationships. I’m closer to my husband now than I’ve been in many years. Why? Because I made our relationship a priority in my life. (And yes, the priority is returned. It can’t be a one-way street and work.) It doesn’t stop there. I know who my friends are and treat them well. I respect those around me and give them as much care as I can. I treat people how I wish to be treated.

I changed the way I approached life. No longer accepting what was happening around me as my definite. As my path in life. And it’s made all the difference.

Yep, I’ve learned a lot. And I realize I have a lot more to learn at the same time. I plan on learning a lot more.

You have to BE happy to BE happy
Sounds easy enough. But it’s easy to catch yourself complaining, worrying, judging, bickering. Finding fault in all around you.

It’s hard to be happy. It’s hard to say “I’m content where I am right now.” I’m happy with the money in my bank account, the clothes in my closet. I’m happy with the job I’m doing, the people in my life. I‘m happy with what I’m doing right now.

I’m practicing loving NOW every day. Because NOW makes you happy. If you’re happy.

Talk instead of hide
Ever reached out and told someone they have a beautiful smile? Or you love their sweater? Or just said hi?

Don’t look down, look up. Join the human race and share a little piece of you with everyone around you.

We went to the coast over the weekend, and through a quick comment at breakfast, we discovered another couple we shared a lot of interests with. They gave us travel tips to other places nearby. We shared ideas with them. Will we ever see them again? Who knows. But for a moment, we were friends, we smiled, we shared, and we were happy with this thing we call life.

Get messed up occasionally
We walked the beach, wind whipping through our hair, tears streaming down our faces from the sheer force of the gusts. Yep, it was incredible. We found beautiful purple and orange starfish clinging to the walls. We saw a wave crashing in a cove. We discovered hundreds of tiny fish making the tidepools their homes.

It was breathtaking.

Yep, I had to go into the restaurant, hair clipped behind. I washed my face, taking traces of mascara with it. I wasn’t perfect. And that’s okay. Because for the rest of the day, I couldn’t remove the smile from my face.

Get wet. Dance in the rain. Jump in the puddle. Play in the wind. Stop worrying about all others. Be you. Have fun.

Become an artist
Yep, we’re all artists in our own right. Because we’re unique, we approach everything we do in a distinctive way. We all have things to share, ways of doing things, tactics that make us into who we are.

The art comes from the approach. You’re the only one that has your life story. You’re the only one that can do things your way.

The more you share it, the better you become. Because you see the light in someone else’s eyes, happy that you are who you are.

Shoot higher
Those little nudges going on inside you won’t go away. That voice that is telling you to do something right now.

When my little voice said move, leave the comfort of a city you’ve lived in your entire life, it took more than a little bit of courage to listen to it. I questioned it again and again. And again. I hid from it, never bothering to tell anyone about it.

Then I got a little braver and shared it with my husband. He liked the idea. We explored. We learned. We grew. And then we acted. We jumped in. We did things. Which led to even more.

Your crazy ideas are valid too. Share them with someone, a spouse, a sister, a friend. Even a private online group on Facebook is a great place to meet friends and find someone to share with.

It gives you the motivation you need to take the next step. And the next. And before you know it, they add up to something big.