Our top 20 list of instructions for life (in no particular order)

  1. rulesStop worrying about how your kids are going to turn out. Once they become adults it’s up to them to get their lives sorted. All you can do is arm them with good principles, teach them right from wrong, make sure they brush their teeth and show them how wonderful it is to love.

  2. When faced with a health problem, get a few opinions. You may have been seeing your doctor since you were in the womb, but you’re entitled to have the broadest knowledge possible.

  3. Never be afraid to say I don’t know, or I’m sorry, or I love you, or I need help. Or I made a mistake.

  4. Sleep with a pen and paper beside your bed. When an idea hits you at 3am, or you remembered you need to do something the next day, scribble it down and then your mind will rest and you can go back to sleep.

  5. If someone is telling you a story about something great or something funny that happened to them, don’t be in a rush to come over the top with your own story. Let them have their moment in the sun, don’t rain on their parade. There’s plenty of time later for you to tell your story.

  6. When you get a crappy email, give yourself at least one hour before you respond. Overnight if you can. You may have been provoked, but provoking that person back just makes the problem circular. And when you respond, start with “Dear X, thanks for your email”. You’ll be surprised how setting a friendly tone can disarm the other person.

  7. It’s all well and good to marry someone you are hopelessly in love with, or someone with whom you have great sex. Or makes you laugh or has lots of money. But if you really want a life partner, pick someone who doesn’t ask you to sacrifice too much of yourself to secure the relationship. You were fine as you were before that person came along. You don’t need to change for them.

  8. Read to your children. Sing to your children. Listen to your children. In ten years from now, it won’t matter that the dishes weren’t washed or the sheets changed. It will matter that you all headed outside in the rain to kick water in the gutter.

  9. Don’t ever watch sausages being made.

  10. Go on every date you’re asked. Doesn’t matter if he’s too short, too dull or too old. You don’t have to sleep with him, just have a coffee. You don’t know if you may end up with a long term friend, or get further introductions to other guys, or even opportunities for business or travel. Don’t limit your experiences. And a coffee only takes 15 minutes.

  11. When you’re an overnight guest, don’t just make the bed in the morning. Ask your host for clean sheets and do the job properly. Chances are once you’ve left, your host would only have to strip it down and put fresh sheets on herself.

  12. You never need that last drink.

  13. You always need sunscreen. Even in winter. Put it on the back of your hands when you’re driving. Put it all around your neck and décolletage.

  14. Don’t think a higher price always means higher quality. But if you’re shopping for an item, be it a jacket, a lounge suite, a car or whiskey, that you think is going to be around for more than five years, buy the best you can afford.

  15. Don’t discuss business in the lift. You never know who might overhear you. If you’re going to have a good bitch about someone at work, take a look around first to make sure the coast is clear. You never know who might be listening and reporting back.

  16. Commit yourself to constant self-improvement. Learn to cook a curry from scratch, jog five kilometres without stopping, ballroom dance or meditate. Rid words like “try” and “should” from your vocabulary. Smile all the time. Write affirmations and goals and read them every day. With a smile.

  17. Learn to forgive. Forgiveness is simply accepting that you can’t change the past. No one can change the past.

  18. Give people a second chance. But not a third.

  19. Never deprive someone of hope. It might be all they have.

  20. Lend only books, CDs and DVDs you never want to see again

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