Today is my 33rd birthday. I’m now old enough to know that if you need to learn one more lesson each year for your annual listicle, you simply haven’t been paying attention the year before.

Those posts are fun for the audience but of little help for the writer, and on your birthday, you absolutely deserve to be the center of attention — even if it’s only your own. That’s a lesson my girlfriend taught me, by the way.

Perhaps it’s better to write down a lesson for every single year you’ve been alive and then repeat those lessons to yourself on an annual basis forever. My addition to the list this year? Big changes don’t have to be scary — as long as you are ready for them.

After two years of a long-distance relationship we started right before Covid-19, I was ready to move in together. It’s a commitment that scares many people, but given our positive experience of being together in our small flats for weeks at a time, I felt in a bigger space it could only get better still. I just knew it was the right time — but the universe disagreed.

My girlfriend had just started a new job, and she could not relocate within the first 12 months. So we waited. Ironically, even though the finish line was perfectly in sight, this one turned out to be our hardest year yet. Perhaps the very promise of it ending made all the travel feel more tedious, and so we skittered about a good deal more than we had before, not least because of several mini-crises I made up for us to “enjoy.”

That’s a related lesson about big changes: When you do have the privilege of feeling ready to make them, make them. Don’t let your readiness expire. Like fresh milk or the latest rush of inspiration, it never lasts, and by the time you do get to live out your transformation, perhaps you’re wholly unready again — and a great deal of potential goes to waste.

Thankfully, for us, moving in together worked out just the way we thought it would, even with a year’s worth of delay. The next big change? Who knows. Actually, I do — except it’s not relationship-related. Because right now, I’m going through another massive shift. But this one, I wasn’t ready for, and I’ve been in a tailspin ever since.

In 2023, I really had my roadmap figured out. I was going to publish lots of new content on Four Minute Books. That content would rank well on Google, bring in new traffic, and I’d finally reach a million monthly readers with that project. The income from the ads would take care of the rest, and then I’d write my next book. That all worked well enough for nine months. But one day, Google updated its algorithm, and the next morning, it really didn’t.

Unlike for moving in together, I was not ready to lose half of my traffic, and that’s why, four months later, I still don’t have a clear plan on what to do next. Time solves all problems eventually, but this corollary adds even more emphasis to the original lesson: If big changes are extra scary when you’re really unprepared for them, you should jump on the ones that feel ripe for the taking with absolutely everything you’ve got.

Let’s see what my 34th lap around the sun will bring. For now, all I know is that if there’s a big revolution floating by, as long as it feels right, I’ll be happy to reach out, grab it, and don’t look back!