In April, I turned the dreaded 30. Let me tell you something, I feel amazing both physically and mentally. I’m the strongest I’ve ever been in the gym and my mind is exponentially stronger than a decade ago. I don’t look at it and dread the inevitable decline, I look forward to the many challenges I will overcome and the goals I will reach. The 4-months in quarantine gave me a lot of time to reflect on the last decade. I’ll be totally honest with you guys. My twenties will be nowhere near my best decade. I’m just getting started. Below are the 10 most impactful lessons I learned in my twenties. They’re not in any particular order as they all have equal value to me.
- Save your money, invest and have a long-term plan. We’ve all heard the cliche “Money doesn’t buy happiness.” While it’s more or less true, I believe it’s an overly simplistic viewpoint to take. We’re all consumers in a global economy, and let’s face it: It costs money to do just about anything you want. In addition, due to inflation and many other factors, prices are not going down… While I’ll agree that money doesn’t buy happiness, it gives you options. Bedros Keuilian once said that money is the vehicle to freedom. Start looking at the difference between a short-term pleasurable outcome and long-term prosperity and security. The best advice I ever received regarding finances was to save-up 6-months worth of expenses then start investing. That way, you’ve got a safety net if you lose your source of income while simultaneously investing in your future. Quite simply, this is how you build an empire.
- Fail early, fail often. I don’t care what goal or dream you have, let me be clear. It is a minefield. Nothing ever goes the way we want it to, there are always setbacks. The great thing about failure? With the right mindset, it’s simply a stepping stone. Take the lessons you learned, adapt then apply to the next project. While I certainly don’t jump out of bed excited to make mistakes, I recognize that each misstep/failure/error brings me closer to my goal. Pay attention, for in every setback there is a lesson. Don’t let your ego force you to play things safe and never strive for fear of failure or public humiliation.
- Always a student. The years with the most personal growth were definitely 25-30, particularly 27-30. The big change? I recognized that I don’t know nearly as much as I thought I did and have a lot to learn. This mindset will continue into my 30’s and beyond. This led to me reading books, listening to podcasts, subscribing to email newsletters, listening to audio books, attending conferences and taking online courses. I simply sought out smarter people in my field and am extremely honored to learn under them. If you’re not learning something you’re not growing. Lao Tzu once said that it doesn’t serve us to be a rigid, stiff tree. When a storm comes, we’re much more easily blown-over and broken. It’s better to learn and adapt so that we develop the mental flexibility to weather the storms. Get used to saying “I don’t know, but let me find out” frequently.
- Keep your circle small and be very selective. Keep negative and toxic people as far away from you as humanly possible. Surround yourself with people that push and encourage you to get better and who are givers. Don’t get around a bunch of people that do nothing but criticize, gossip and take. Those people will use you up and toss you in the trash like a wet paper towel. They will poison your mind and get you off-track. Be kind and friendly with everyone, but know this: Everyone is NOT your friend. I’m very fortunate to have great coaches and human beings in my circle. While our political and religious beliefs may vary, we strongly believe in serving our clients with compassion and humility as well as giving back to the community. These are my non-negotiables. Find yours and start filtering out the energy vampires. You’ll save time, money and preserve your sanity!
- People are everything. Take care of your people, and they will take care of you. In my humble opinion, the people of an organization are their most valuable asset. With each person comes a unique set of ideas and in a healthy collaborative environment this can help an organization evolve. “Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys; look upon them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death” (Sun Tzu).
- Give back. This is something I’ve been focusing on more over the last couple of years. No matter how busy you are, you can always find time to give something back to the community. If you don’t have any money, simply donate your time. I’ll be honest with you guys. I love training clients, making money, building my business and learning about the art of coaching. However, I get the most satisfaction out of being able to serve others in need. It makes me feel like a valuable and worthy member of society. In addition, I feel it is my moral responsibility to reach out and lend a hand.
- Question everything and be ready to be challenged. Don’t just read a headline and make an immediate conclusion based on a tiny bite of data. Do your research and come up with your own conclusion. Let’s be honest, it’s lazy to reach a conclusion based on a superficial level of research. Over time, you’ll learn more and your “life lens” will widen.
- The tongue is a deadly weapon, use it wisely. It’s very easy to get angry and have an outburst. We’ve all been there. Rough day, you’re tired, stressed and nothing seems to be going right. Remember this. While you can apologize for past transgressions, nothing can ever be unsaid. My Mom used to pull me aside all the time whenever I started running my mouth. She always asked me if I meant to make someone feel unworthy or inadequate. Of course the answer was always “no,” but she pointed out that while I can say whatever I want I can’t control how my words are received by others. Mind your words, for they have the capacity to both build and destroy.
- Habits are EVERYTHING. I don’t care how strong your willpower is, it’s still a finite resource. If you use willpower alone to reach your goals, you probably won’t make it. The more effective solution is to build good habits. Think about brushing your teeth, taking a shower or starting your car. Those actions have become so automatic that you don’t even have to think about it. Treat the rest of your life the same way. Whether it’s business, fitness, work, relationships, it doesn’t matter. Build good habits and you’ll have a much more productive life.
- Take responsibility and ownership. In his “Discourses,” Epictetus says that while we cannot control external factors such as the weather or economy, we still have total control over our actions and thoughts. Tragedies happen, I totally understand this. However, if you’re willing to peel back the layers and check your ego at the door, I think you’ll realize that 95% of your current life situation is a result of your actions, thoughts and behaviors. When I came to this conclusion, my life changed completely. I started performing better at work, my relationships improved and I honestly became a better human.
The twenties were a roller-coaster decade for me. While I achieved some pretty big goals for myself, I also experienced some colossal failures. Like all of you, I’ve experienced heavy losses and have shed many tears. But, I’ll tell you this. I’m still standing, I’m still here, and I’m still going. I’ve learned a lot and am pushing forward. Give these tips a try, they might change your life as they have mine. Thank you so much for reading my ramblings.
To your lifelong health and success,