10 Important Things I’ve Learned In 10 Years

I moved out west in early March 2013 so it’s been 10 years since I began my journey away from home. I’ve learned some valuable lessons. I thought I would share some of those lessons today. Some are lessons I sort of knew before, but they really solidified over this past decade.

#1 It is worth it to move to your dream area

If you never try living in the place you always wanted to live in, you’ll probably regret it. These last 8 years in Vancouver have been the happiest of my life. Most of my life has been nice, but I really thrived when I allowed myself to live out my dream writing, exploring, and enjoying nature in Vancouver.

#2 A simpler life is a happier life

We all need a certain income in order to pay for bills, rent, and food while having a little leftover. That said, needing less means you can enjoy more of the simpler things like good food, nature walks, a walk at sunset, good connections, etc. When you want less, you can appreciate more of what you already have. I’ve met a lot of people who were doing really well for themselves, but they were so unhappy – one guy couldn’t even see the beauty in a snow-covered mountain landscape. I realized over time that true riches mean enjoying what you already have around you.

#3 The person who won’t stop messaging you when you are preoccupied will vanish when you need them

Have you ever noticed some people are really needy when you first meet them, but once you start to form an attachment to them, they’re suddenly nowhere to be found? Building new friendships or relationships take time. While we may hit it off with someone quickly, there’s still supposed to be respect for the other’s space and time. Yet when someone needs to message you all day or interrupts you when you need to go to bed or do something else important, that’s a bad sign. When someone tries to form quick, intense connections, it’s usually more about their need for validation than a real interest in the person they’re love bombing.

#4 If you put all your heart into a hobby/project, you’ll feel more comfortable moving on to other things

So this one’s more personal to me, but some of you might be able to relate. Once I settled in Vancouver, I wrote to my heart’s content. It’s what I did on most of my weekends or after work. I got to write so many different types of stories. I think for me, ten years is a solid amount of time to devote yourself to a hobby/art. While I may write more stories in the future, I feel it’s time to try other art forms and see how it goes. I’m already into reels and photography, so maybe I can focus more on that. Or it could be sketching. Because I wrote with no limits, I feel ready to try new things with no regrets.

#5 It’s okay to switch gears and try new things

This can apply to jobs, hobbies, living spaces, vacations, anything really. Like I mentioned with writing, I have wanted to try different art forms for a while. It’s okay to move on to another type of hobby if you feel you’re ready. With this one life we have, you don’t have to keep doing the same thing.

#6 Taking good care of your skin does pay off

I invested in good skin care starting at age 21, because I wanted to look really young in my 40’s. Let’s just say it worked. Neostrata, Neutrogena, and Aveeno are all worth the cost. Also, not lying in the sun too often helps.

#7 Fitness isn’t a luxury, it’s essential for your mental and physical health

I got into fitness in my mid-20’s and while I knew it made me feel great, I didn’t realize how bad I’d feel when I got out of it for about 6 months. This was during one time in Banff – I can’t stress enough that not exercising contributed to this being the worst 6 months of my life. I was living with roommates who didn’t respect boundaries and it created a feedback loop of guilt and anxiety which lead to depression. However, consistent exercise helps relieve stress and it also gets you out of the house. In bad roommate situations, the gym can be a haven and you might even be able to meet more health-minded people. For the last 8 years, I’ve prioritized fitness in my routine and it not only gives me a lot of energy, it helps prevent certain health conditions.

#8 The best dating advice is from people who are in healthy, loving relationships

I started out very open and ready to try anything when I first started dating in the big city – apps, events, the workplace. I wasn’t picky, as long as they were nice to be around and had a few similarities to me. There’s a lot of conflicting dating advice out there. One article will say “Be friends first so you can build a connection over time” while another will say “Go with the flow and don’t hold back when it comes to love.”

Single people definitely learn a lot about dating since they’re on the frontlines, but if you want really solid dating advice, listen to how the happy couples met. You’ll notice how similar a lot of the stories are in the big picture. The main trend I noticed is: It was effortless. No confusion, mind games, or stress. Of course, sometimes you need to clarify something or change plans, but if it feels like they don’t really care, they probably don’t. When you know this, it’s so much easier to tell if someone’s serious about you or not.

The key thing I’ve taken away from happily married couples is “It was easy, there was no confusion, and I felt so relaxed as we got to know one another.”

#9 You don’t need to make money doing something for it to be valuable

In my case, writing didn’t make me a lot of money. Some opportunistic people over the years have wanted to push me to market them more or have them represented by a publisher, but they failed to see the merit in committing so long to a hobby that is enjoyable for me. Anything you enjoy doing is not a waste of time.

#10 It’s okay if you outgrow a place, even if you love it.

Sometimes you’ve learned everything you needed to while living in a certain area. It’s okay to move on. You can always visit or return at another time in the future. But if you stay too long in a place that is making you become stagnant, that can hinder your growth and cause other bad effects. Changing things up will show you new opportunities and allow new growth. (But if you are happy where you are, there’s no need to change. This only applies if you feel like you have outgrown an area).



  1. I’ve lived in the same city since I was just over a year old. 57 years in total. I so desperately want to live somewhere else, but I serioiusly doubt I ever well. Congrats to you on making the move and finding all of the personal happiness you have.

  2. Sara, Those are great lessons and ones I identify with. It does pay to take good care of your skin. So many years later, my right hip is hurting but my skin is beautiful!! Have a good weekend.

  3. Numbers 2, 3 and 8 really hit home. Personally, #3 was probably the hardest lesson I had had to learn over the last decade. It was particularly hard because of the cultural nuances I was exposed to that blur the lines between love bombing and people who are overly hospitable and kind because of their cultural upbringing. For example, in the Arab world, it’s not uncommon for men to be overly affectionate at the beginning stages of a relationship, but usually, this is because the “dating” timeline for most Arabs is relatively short (2-3 months), especially in a modern arranged marriage setting where there is a get-to-know-you stage (ie. dating) and then a religious ceremony to date “halal” before tying the knot. The key takeaway for me from point #3 was to sincerely and unequivocally trust my gut instincts. If the “attention” early on makes me feel uncomfortable, I’ll take pause and explore that feeling before jumping in with both feet.

    • That’s so great insight. Thank you for sharing. That’s true some cultures are geared toward a quick courtship and marriage while most of the western world is pretty nuanced. Everyone has their own standards and ideals of how a relationship should be and what role they want their partner to have.
      I totally agree with going with your gut instincts.

  4. Those are all words of wisdom. I think #10 was one that hit home for me. I outgrew northern Sweden but I still love northern Sweden and I like to go visit. However, I could not imagine myself living there the rest of my life. A big part of me was cut away, but it had to happen. I also outgrew ABB Robotics (in Wisconsin). It was a wonderful company to work for in some ways but there were also problems I could deal with in the long run, and they were getting worse. One year after I quit my former manager called me and asked for advice on how to look for a new job. They were closing shop.

  5. Wow. I’m moving to a new city – on the other side of the planet – in a few days. This can be a dreadful step. It’s motivating to read that you’ve had a great experience with it!

    • And funny enough I’ve recently moved back close to my hometown … in all honesty, the move to Vancouver was easy for me. It’s like I was in a dream for the past 8 years. It was harder to move back home where the environment isn’t what I’m naturally inclined to. I’m still looking to secure a stable job and I haven’t found a place yet. This period of transition can be great for your growth and of course when you are finally settled, you’ll feel so grateful.
      Enjoy Mexico! πŸ™‚

  6. Love the post! I can’t agree more with the advice on numbers 2 and 3. A simpler life does give you extra space to live in the moment and be present in your life.

    And the advice on number 3, not only applies to love situations but also to friendships. The kind of people who acts like your so-called friends but never really did, who always look for you only when they need support and to feel good bout themselves but then never bother to think/care about you, and are always gone when you need them. I did learn a lot of things from meeting and getting to know this kind of person, whether it’s through friendships or love relationships. They taught me a lot of things about life and also about myself.

    • Yes that’s very true. That simple life really lets you appreciate the important things – and the small moments where beauty can be found. πŸ™‚
      For sure, in general people who bug you a lot up front aren’t really that sincere in the long run. They’re usually just trying to fill a void. I think it’s actually important to see who is willing to help you when you need it … it’s very telling.

  7. I can relate to loads of this. For me I hate it when I’m telling friends that I’ve achieved something that I’m pleased with (currently I’m rendering an outbuilding) and they say, well yes, but you don’t work. After 2 redundancies, for the record let me state that what someone else decides to pay you, is not relative to your worth. Thanks for writing!

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