29 Thoughts on 29 Years

Today is my birthday. I turn twenty-nine this year, so here are a few things to think about.

  1. Do the right thing the first time. It’s a waste of time to go back and fix what you could have done right at the beginning.
  2. Nobody will do it for you. Nobody is going to give you good health, a job you love, or the dream in your head. If you want something, you have to figure out how to get it. Nobody is coming to save you.
  3. It’s not what happens to us that matters, but how we respond. Everyone goes through difficulties and is challenged every day. But your response determines where you go from there. Do you pout and feel sorry for yourself, or do you respond and get better?
  4. Walk in the entrance and out the exit. You’ll be surprised how many people don’t do this, and the problems it causes.
  5. Follow the rules, but not the stupid ones. Rules are there for a reason, and they are non-negotiable. You can avoid many issues by simply following the rules. If the rules are stupid that’s another topic for a different day.
  6. Never be afraid to ask questions that you have tried to find the answer to. There are stupid questions. They are the ones you haven’t tried to answer yourself (see #2). If you have tried to learn on your own but can’t figure it out, ask someone.
  7. Remember that you might be the one bright-spot in someone’s day. Don’t forget how important your role is right where you are with the people around you.
  8. It is easy for people to say education doesn’t matter. Chances are, they are the ones who don’t have any. So their opinion doesn’t matter.
  9. You become what you allow. If you choose to look away when you know something is wrong, then you are no better than what you are avoiding.
  10. The smartest and wisest people are the ones you have never heard of. The best coaches, teachers, parents, and leaders are the people who avoid the spotlight and attention.
  11. My Dad taught me–and still teaches me–that education is something nobody can ever take from you. Learning is a lifelong process, and you should never stop learning.
  12. People will try to make you what they want you to be. They will try to influence your decisions and steer you down their path. But life is your own journey, and you can’t follow your own path by living through someone else. Think for yourself and make your own decisions.
  13. Taking care of your lawn is underrated. I used to hate it growing up, but now I love it. There is something about consistent work that makes it rewarding.
  14. Quality is its own reward. “You gotta make the back of the fence – the part that nobody will see – just as good looking as the front of the fence. Even though nobody will see it,” as Steve Jobs’ father taught him, “you will know, and that will show that you’re dedicated to making something perfect.” So go and make something perfect.
  15. Don’t hesitate to buy a book. Learning is the top priority (see #11), and you should pursue it at all costs. Even if you only learn one thing from the book, that’s one thing you didn’t know before you bought it. Buy the book.
  16. Make time for yourself. Life will fill your schedule if you let it. Do what you need to do to have time for yourself.
  17. Document everything. This goes for your professional and personal life. Save emails. Write things down that grab your interest. Keep track of things that are important to you. You will not regret having written it down. “The faintest ink,” as the old Chinese proverb goes, “is more powerful than the strongest memory.”
  18. Alive time or dead time. I learned this from Ryan Holiday, and he learned it from Robert Greene. Every minute you are alive is a gift. How will you use your minutes? Watching TV? On your phone? Or reading, learning, and improving.
  19. Study anything that interests you. Go down the rabbit hole until you learn something. It’s never a waste of time to pursue what interests you.
  20. Do the things nobody else wants to do. Get up early, exercise, eat well, read, and don’t make excuses. The greatest opportunity is where no one wants to go.
  21. Listen and think more than you speak. You can never take back something you said, so make sure everything you say has a purpose. You have two ears and one mouth for a reason.
  22. Make time to journal, and write by hand. I don’t know what it is, but there is something to the old-fashioned pencil (or pen) and paper. Write about whatever you want, but make sure you do it. And do it every day.
  23. You become who you are around. Look at the people closest to you – they are who you will become. Do you like what you see? If not, change something.
  24. Take a walk. Many times, the way to get through a challenge is to step away from it for a while. When you get stuck, get up and walk outside.
  25. Great teachers are underrated. They challenge you to think about who you are and what you want. And that skill is rarely taught anymore.
  26. Sometimes things don’t go your way, and that’s okay. It’s what you do after things don’t go your way that matters. 
  27. It’s never too late to be what you want to be. Never be afraid to burn it down and start over. The best time to start anything is right now.
  28. Choices make you who you are, not your circumstances.
  29. Don’t beat around the bush. Be precise, say what you mean, and don’t leave people guessing. 

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