Let me start this post with full transparency – this is mostly for me. Today, August 4th, 2016, is my 27th birthday.
Now, 27 is not old. I know that, so don’t go accusing me of whining about being old.
I’ll be the first to admit that I still have so much to learn about life. We all do, but this is made more obvious to me every day. The more you learn, the more you realize you don’t know, or something like that.
My colleague Eric Bach had a quote go viral not too long ago, one that really hit home with me.
“Success lies in relentless execution of the basics.” – Eric Bach
This really struck a chord with me, because I’ve realized that I’m trying to do everything and be everywhere at once. Talk about a fast way to exhaust yourself, while accomplishing nothing.
As a reminder to myself, I wanted to write down 27 invaluable things I’ve learned about life, at least so far. Sure, if we really get down to the basics, it’s a lot less than 27, but this list is something I want to have written down, to come back to over and over as a reminder of what’s important.
I’m not the most accomplished guy out there, but I’ve done a few things that I’m proud. Last year, in the span of six months, I signed my first book deal with Adams Media, a publishing company, and moved to San Diego, CA, a move I’d dreamed of making for as long as I can remember. Both of these came with their own tremendous difficulties and challenges, but that’s beyond the scope of this article.
I’ve also spent countless hours reading and learning from mentors. I’m fortunate enough to have built a business that has allowed me to help literally hundreds of people around the world improve their health, happiness, and confidence. I run a coaching business where people I’ve never met in-person put their trust in me, allowing me to guide their training and nutrition, and on top of that, they pay me for it – this is not something I take lightly.
By reading everything I can get my hands on from the great writers and leaders of our generation, people like Neil Strauss, Ryan Holiday, Hemingway, Vonnegut, Ramit Sethi, and countless others, as well as finding expert mentors, like John Romaniello, I feel I’ve grown tremendously as a person over the last several years.
In no particular order, this post contains the most important lessons I’ve learned in my 27 years of life. Lessons related to money, finance, fitness, relationships, and more. Thank you for reading. I hope at least one of these helps you make better decisions in life. I
1. Intentionally going out of your way to help those who need it, and trying to improve the lives of those around you, is the fastest path to happiness.
2. Life is too short to keep toxic, negative energy people around. Surround yourself with those who will push you to become better, not those who will drag you down. It’s tough, but cutting out those relationships will be incredibly freeing.
3. Don’t own a lot of things. Buy only what’s essential, and periodically go through your stuff and get rid of things you haven’t used in the last six months. Don’t be sentimental; be practical, and declutter your life.
4. Reading good books on a regular basis will make you a better person. I promise.
5. When it comes to fitness, do what you love. I don’t care if it’s bodybuilding, Crossfit, hiking, swimming, or power walking – don’t worry about what other people say, and find a physical activity that you genuinely love. Don’t have one? Try new things until you find one.
6. Do something every day that scares you a little bit (or a lot).
7. Eat nutritious foods, regardless of your macros or budgeted calories. Playing “how many donuts can I fit in my daily diet” is not the way to optimal health.
8. Hydrate. Live with a bottle of water in your hand, and sip it all day long.
9. How you do one thing is how you do anything – give 100% of your effort to every task, no matter how basic or easy it may be. Put 100% of your attention into making that french press, or mixing that Old Fashioned. You’ll enjoy the final product much more.
10. When life gets overwhelming, control as many variables as you can, and automate as much as you can. Get up at the same time every day, make your bed, floss, meditate, eat the same meals – get into a regular pattern, and save your decision-making efforts for the hard stuff.
11. Read The Obstacle is The Way. Keep it by your bed, and re-read over and over. Every page is a life-changing lesson.
12. Work to live, don’t live to work. This one is tough, and easier said than done, but I genuinely believe it. Do everything in your power to find a career that doesn’t dominate your life, because you as a person are so much more than your job. Go do awesome things, and make your life a grand adventure – don’t spend your entire life working on things that don’t make you happy. I’m not the richest guy out there, but I do what I love, and so I’m happy with my career path.
13. Clearing your mind is the fastest way to decompress. Meditate, pray, journal, or do something else that takes you away from the real world and social media. Shut everything off, and be selfish for 10-15 minutes a day. It’s toughtat first, but your sanity needs it.
14. If you drink alcohol, as I do, drink the good stuff. Alcohol is meant to be enjoyed, and should be a treat. Spend a little extra on quality drinks, and maybe drink a little less. An excellent glass of whiskey is better than three cheap beers, which don’t deserve any of your money or calories.
15. Master your actions and emotions, like the samurai would (if the half-sleeve doesn’t give it away, I love the samurai and all things Japanese culture). I struggle with this all the time, but I’m getting better. When work sucks, or someone is rude, or a situation seems tough, you have a choice – will you play the victim and react negatively, or control your mind and look for the silver lining in things? You always have a choice, you just need to practice making the right one. (See #11)
16. Always be learning a new skill. Whether it’s a language, a musical instrument, or a new sport, learning something new is incredible for your development as a person. You’ll lbe terrible for a long time, but if you can stick with it, you’ll learn a lot about yourself, and no obstacle will seem too overwhelming.
17.Watch this video of Neil Gaiman’s commencement speech at least once or twice a month. I also watch Jiro Dreams of Sushi a few times per year, and can’t recommend it enough if you need inspiration to master your craft.
18. Do the things you’re worst at when it comes to fitness. Suck at pullups? Go figure out what you need to do to crush 10 in a set. Stiff and tight? Devote the first 10 minutes of each workout to mobility. You can’t just train the stuff you’re good at. This includes cardio – if you’re a typical gym bro, start getting some cardio in.
19. Learn to say no. I’m awful at this, but I’m trying. You determine what you do with your daily life, so don’t be afraid to say no to things you aren’t absolutely pumped about.
20. Your physical appearance should be a reflection of who you are inside. Be yourself, and don’t conform to what others say you should look like. Want to get shredded? Want to give yourself a mohawk, nose ring, and get a full tattoo sleeve? Or wear weird, nerdy t-shirts out to the bar? DO IT. If you feel like your external appearance isn’t a reflection of your internal qualities, change that.
21. Do a brain dump every night. I stole this from Tim Ferriss, or someone, but spend five minutes each night writing down the two or three most important tasks you have for the next day, in order, and any other thoughts/notes on the next day. Now instead of worrying about it as you try to fall asleep, you can rest soundly, knowing you’ll wake up to a pre-made task list.
22. Get sunlight every day, if you can. If you can’t (even if you can), take some Vitamin D. You’ll be healthier and happier.
23. In business and life, be a person of honesty and integrity. Keep your word. Don’t promote stupid shit to make a few bucks – your clients, readers, followers, friends, and whoever else you influence deserve nothing but integrity from you.
24. The Baltimore Ravens are the greatest organization in the NFL, and I’ll fight you if you say otherwise.
25. Never, ever do anything for someone else’s approval. Remember Fight Club: “We buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like.” Don’t be that person, no matter how hard it is.
26. Life is short, and it could end at any time. Don’t focus on things that don’t matter in the long run. Focus on leaving an impact in this world by serving others, not on chasing money.
27. You are not better than anyone else. Regardless of your social status, wealth, or physical appearance, you are not better than anyone, so treat others with respect.
I really hope this post helped you in some way, and even if it’s not applicable to you, you now know a little more about me. If you know someone who would enjoy this, feel free to share it, and please hit me up in the comments with YOUR top life rules.