30 Lessons From My First 30 Years

Well, I hit the big 3-0 last Tuesday, December 8th. That’s right…about 1/3 of the way through my life, give or take. It came and went pretty uneventfully, as I don’t tend to make much of a deal over birthdays. I went for some Mexican food and had some drinks and laughs with good friends.

So today is a little something different. I was thinking about some good lessons I’ve learned in life. We all have our own and here’s my version of 30 In 30. There won’t be any big time nutrition stuff or research in here, so if that’s what you’re looking for, skip this post. Otherwise, read on.

  1. Discussing nutrition in social gatherings is akin to discussing politics or religion. People identify closely with their food.
  2. Don’t neglect your health and fitness to pursue monetary success.
  3. If you’re in a bad situation (be that job, relationship, or otherwise), first take steps to fix it. If it’s beyond repair, do whatever it takes to get out of it. Life is too short to be miserable.
  4. Maintain a few close friendships. I’d rather have 2 or 3 close friends than 50 mere acquaintances.
  5. On that note, relationships (with friends and significant others) come and go. People change and grow. Enjoy the time you have with people and let it go when the costs to maintain it outweigh the benefits. Practice non-attachment. Read “The Way To Love” by Anthony De Mello.
  6. Apologize quickly. Forgive quickly.
  7. Let it go. It’s probably not worth dwelling on.
  8. Call your mom.
  9. Don’t let anyone crap on your dreams…most people are offended if you want to follow a different path (even if you aren’t an asshole about it). And don’t be an asshole about other people’s dreams either.
  10. You make your bed, you lie in it. I’m not talking about sleeping.
  11. Live in the present. The past is done and you can’t control the future. Plan for the future. Aim for goals. But don’t miss the present while planning for whatever is next.
  12. There are very few facts. Most “facts” are just individual interpretations.
  13. You can’t get rich quick, short of robbing a bank or hitting the lottery. I don’t recommend robbing a bank and your odds of hitting the lottery are slim (0.00000000512%)…any number that close to zero might as well be zero. I suggest you just get to working hard.
  14. Find a hobby you enjoy. Don’t worry about making money at it. Just have fun with it.
  15. Music trumps a movie any day of the week. Rock, classical, jazz, rap, or techno. Doesn’t matter…music, hands down.
  16. Don’t spend your life doing things you don’t enjoy. Sure, we all have to attend the occasional wedding or funeral, but if you find yourself being sucked into other people’s idea of fun constantly and it’s not yours, say no. Say it often.
  17. Take 90 minutes to watch these two videos: Steve Jobs Commencement Address at Stanfordand Randy Pausch’s last lecture. If you’ve seen them, watch them again.
  18. Eat high-quality food. If you drink coffee or alcohol, drink high-quality alcohol, high-quality beer, and high-quality spirits.
  19. If you’re depressed, there’s probably a reason other than chemical imbalances. Fix it.
  20. Meat won’t kill you. Neither will butter. Donuts won’t help though.
  21. Just because you get older doesn’t mean you have to age. Here I am, 30 years old, as fast as I was at 18 and stronger, fitter, and healthier than I’ve ever been. I don’t buy the nonsense about how it’s all going to catch up to me at 30 (or 35 or any other age). Things change as you get older: recovery takes longer, injuries are more detrimental, and you can’t abuse yourself like you could at 21. That doesn’t mean you have to turn into mush.
  22. Never stop learning. Step outside your comfort zone as often as possible.
  23. Set goals, re-evaluate on a regular basis. Spend most of your time doing things that progress you towards those goals.
  24. You work for you, regardless of who your employer is. If the demands are unrealistic, remember that you work for you. On that note, use all of your vacation days. They are there for a reason. Don’t let yourself be guilted out of benefits.
  25. Don’t concern yourself with other people’s vision of your success.
  26. Your health is the most important thing you have. Stay healthy and you’ll be better in every area of your life. Don’t sacrifice health for materiality.
  27. Before you give advice, listen. Listen some more. Keep listening.
  28. Selfishness is a virtue. Be selfish – take care of yourself first.
  29. A relationship or career can’t make you happy, but it can make you miserable.
  30. I hate to be cliche and quote a movie, but Andy Dufresne might’ve said it best: “Get busy livin’, or get busy dyin’.” Stop feeling sorry for yourself…no one else does.

So there you have it, thirty things I’ve learned in the past thirty years. Okay, to be truthful, I learned most of them in the last 5 years. Who knows what I’ll come up with in another decade.