Blah blah. Old year. New year. Blah.

I have my serious hat on today, kids. Okay fine – it’s not that serious. It’s more like a grey tweed on the outside with a bright blue cartoon whale pattern liner. You know, business time meets ‘I’m five-years-old’ which is generally what I want for my entire wardrobe. But, seeing as how this now awesome-sounding hat is entirely theoretical for the sake of setting the tone for my final post of 2023, maybe I should stop talking about it and get down to actual business.

[Hey hatmakers: I’m ready to partner on my line of No Ordinary Hats whenever you are. I’ll take my share of the business in unlimited hats* and bragging rights. Call me.]

This was a ridiculous year. As in, so ridiculous that I’m almost sick of talking about it. That’s not to say that the past twelve months haven’t been everything I’ve ever wanted and more, but 2023 offered only tastes of what I’m looking for – not the real deal. I’m just so afraid that I’ll spend too much time basking in temporary excitement at the expense of the momentum and focus I need to keep pushing toward my long-term goals.

Whatever those are…

See, I think I actually learned too much about myself all at once in 2023 – a couple great things but many more ugly truths and limitations that I’ve been trying to turn into wisdom. At first, it was great. I was able to adapt and adjust and plan for my own shortcomings with a clarity I’d never had before. But now? Well, I see the path to failure a little too clearly and get stuck making knee-jerk reactions and snap judgements at the first sign of that slippery slope.

Hi there, pressure. I figured you’d turn up eventually.

There you have it: Ben’s not satisfied again and no one’s surprised. I can almost hear my parents and the newf commiserating over Irish coffees from here. But, on a much more positive note and despite the manic obsession for bigger and better, I’m more excited, inspired and hopeful than I’ve been since my university days. 2013 was the happiest and most fun-filled year I’ve had in my twenties and you best believe I’ll do whatever it takes to keep moving in that direction.

So rather than bore you with the things you already know happened last year or dance around the secrets I have planned for the new year, I’m going to close out this bitch with a collection of the lessons learned that had me feeling like a brand new me at age 26. I tried to credit people but then scrapped it all when I realized how impossible that is when you’re surrounded by the coolest, smartest, funniest, hippest and most interesting people in the world – yourselves included.

Happy New Year, friends.

#1. Be nicer to yourself and those around you: knocking yourself down doesn’t get you anywhere besides stuck in the mud.

#2. Spend more time doing than you spend planning: a simple step in the right direction is better than any conversation about moving forward. (This changed my life last January.)

#3. No one sits around thinking about how they can make your life easier. Except maybe your mom. And she’s already put in her time.

#4. Fail often but fail fast and learn something new every time. Wouldn’t you rather realize you failed after an hour rather than six months?

#5. Tell people what you want instead of just hoping for it. Bonus: know who to turn to for what you need, when you need it.

#6. Say no to things that you don’t want to do. I mean, maybe not hygiene or rules of the road, but things like cookie swaps and sub-sub-committees.

#7. Focus on your cheerleaders and forget the downers. You think the Kardashians read our tweets? Nope – they’re busy making millions.

#8. Celebrate the people doing what you want to do. There’s room for all of us to be successful and hating each other certainly isn’t going to get us there.

#9. Be the first to bet on yourself. If you don’t buy it, nobody else will.

#10. Lean into your community: you’ll be amazed at what they can help you accomplish when you give them the chance.

*My lawyers suggest not making jokes when it comes to business proposals. So to be clear, I meant ‘unlimited hats, bragging rights, and lots and lots of money as to be determined by my representatives that boast a more sound and rational perspective that is not as easily clouded by pretty hats.’