I’m 38, and I love it.
I secretly love getting closer to my 40’s. I love it because I feel better physically, mentally, and emotionally than I ever have before.
That said, I’d like to share some nuggets of wisdom with you that I’ve learned over 38 years of life.
I’d like to impart some bite-sized-chunks of common sense that I’ve learned through trial and error, over 38 birthdays.
Some of the stuff I’ll share is prudent and good. It’s based on facts and experience. Some of what I’ll share is more personal preference.
38 nuggets of wisdom.
- You are more than the sum of your past. Meaning: don’t let your past define you. Don’t let those little voices in your head that scream with insecurity get you down. You are better than you think you are.
- You are worthy. If anyone ever tells you that you’re not, you have my permission to punch them.
- You are loved. No matter who you are, what you do, or what you’ve accomplished in life, there is someone who loves you. You are never truly alone.
- Have confidence, you are good at what you do. Carry yourself with your head held high. Doesn’t matter if you make a ton of money, or not, have multiple college degrees, or not, or have a brand new vehicle, or not. Have confidence in who you are and what you do.
- No matter how others treat you, treat them better. (and with kindness) People will undoubtedly treat you like dirt at some point in your life. Forgive them, and serve them with the utmost kindness.
- Be on time. This one I struggle with, but it’s still worth mentioning. If you schedule a time for a meeting, appointment, or time with a friend, be on time. One of the biggest signs of not respecting yourself, and others, is not respecting someone else’s time.
- Use good words. Ever watch a popular comedian that swears during his routine? It’s funny for about 5 minutes. Then it just gets old. Instead use words that encourage people, and uplift others. There’s no need to curse incessantly, and there’s no need to use words that cut others down. Use good words.
- Improve your strengths, not your weaknesses. Find out what your strengths are and focus on these. Do not try and be something you’re not. For example, if you’re not mechanical in nature, don’t try and rebuild your father-in-laws truck engine. You’ll fail. (he’ll write you out of his last will and testament) Instead, focus on what you’re good at.
- Work with a chip on your shoulder. Some of the most successful people I know, operate with a bit of an edge. They’re not jerks, but they’re not pushovers, either. They stand up to bullies, and they don’t let others push them around. They are direct. They say what they mean and mean what they say. They are great at resolving conflict in a straight forward manner, yet don’t lose their cool.
- Stand up for yourself. When someone says something you disagree with, tell them. If someone is pushing you around at work, then push them back. Don’t retaliate or seek vengeance, but for God’s sake, show some backbone.
- Exercise daily. I’m in pretty decent shape. But I wasn’t always. Take care of your body in your 20’s and 30’s, or suffer with the consequences.
- Drive a modest car. I once worked with a CEO of a billion dollar telecom company that drove a 1996 red Cadillac DeVille. It was a two door and in tremendous shape. He’d been driving this car to the office for over 20 years. He was the kind of CEO that would pick up an empty gum wrapper that was lying in the office parking lot. He was humble, yet hungry. The point: you don’t have to drive a 2016 Corvette to be relevant or important.
- You can’t learn by talking. When you’re busy talking, you’re not listening. And when you’re not listening, you’re not learning. You learn by listening. You build relationships by listening. You love by listening. This is one of the hardest skills to learn how to do, yet the most profound.
- Be an independent thinker. The best leaders I’ve had the privilege of learning from had the ability to think independently. Anyone can say yes and be swayed by peer-pressure, but it takes a truly independent thinker to consider all options when making decisions. Surround yourself with these types of people. Stay away from those who want you to simply say ‘yes’ to them, whenever they come calling.
- Be careful what you eat and drink. I don’t know of many good things to come from drinking alcohol. I’ve also don’t know of any friends, family, or colleagues to be super healthy by eating large amounts of sugar and other garbage. Before it’s too late, be careful what you eat. It’s harder when you’re older to reverse course, so set good eating habits when you’re younger to avoid this pain.
- Learn to communicate clearly. Most people I interact with don’t know how to communicate with clarity and consistency. This is very common, today. Most people, young and old alike, fumble with words and struggle to verbally share what’s important to them. It’s critical to learn the the art of listening then framing a response that affirms the other person, all the while effectively communicating your point. Learning to clearly communicate is just as hard as learning to be a good listener, but equally as important if you want to better navigate your life.
- Care about your coworkers. When you don’t care about others, it shows. People will know if you truly care about their well-being by how you talk to them and how you treat them. If, by your actions, you reveal to those around you that you’re a blatant narcissist, don’t expect others to trust you or include you in conversations. You need to care deeply about your coworkers and colleagues. After all, you’ll end up spending the majority of your life with them. Why not make this time purposeful, instead of pointless.
- Learn new things. Be willing to learn how to do new things. You may not be awesome at them all, but be curious. My grandfather was a curious dude. He knew lots about a lot and had many talents. He acted in community theater, he baked cookies, visited the four corner of the earth, flew in the Army Air Corp, and was a middle-school teacher. That’s a pretty broad range of things to learn. Be willing to learn new things.
- Listen to music. Here’s a sample of my iTunes library: Needtobreathe, Darius Rucker, Meredith Andrews, Chris Daughtry, Bon Jovi, Train, Shawn McDonald, and for King and Country. I listen to classical, country, rock, Christian contemporary, and good ole’ fashioned southern gospel. Some of it is awesome. But most of it inspires me. Music is beautiful. Music is storytelling. I love storytelling and so should you.
- Use technology. So many friends of mine don’t know how to use the basics of technology. From marketing automation software, to email, to iPhones, to apps. It’s all relevant. Don’t shy away from it. The world is only getting more and more reliant on technology. Embrace it. You’ll be glad you did.
- Make good decisions. King Solomon was the wisest King in the bible. He was also fabulously wealthy, built a majestic palaces, gardens, roads, and buildings. He accumulated thousands of horses and chariots, and became the wealthiest king of his time. He was an excellent writer, poet, and scientist. He made treaties and alliances that brought peace to his kingdom. But he was also one of the most foolish kings. He couldn’t control his lust and disobeyed God’s commandments. Instead of choosing to make poor choices, like Solomon eventually did, aspire to make good decisions. Walking the straight and narrow may be hard, but the rewards are totally worth it.
- Talk to people. It’s sad to me when I see couples, or people, at restaurants looking at their devices, rather than talking to one another. It shouldn’t be this way. Instead, take a break and talk to one another. Talking to people can encourage them, and help them. Listening to stories can be an incredible source of tremendous joy. Talk with people.
- Learn to say you’re sorry. Want to know how I learned this? By watching my father. Growing up, I saw how quick he was to take action by admitting he was sorry to others. I’m a big fan of resolving conflict through apologizing first in order to build a bridge. Instead of being divisive, bridge gaps through saying you’re sorry.
- Get invigorated. I work 60-70 hours per week. I love it. I love to work. I enjoy my calling. But sometimes I become burnt out and require a break. Even adults need a timeout. When you disconnect from email, text messages, and social media, something miraculous happens: you get inspired. Ideas start to swell in your mind, and your become invigorated. Don’t get me wrong, work does not equal a buzzkill of creativity. But all work, with no time to smell the roses, is truly a life wasted.
- Stop complaining. (especially to your boss) Pete Krainik, the founder of the CMO club, recently noted in an Instagram post that the best leaders don’t complain. Especially, don’t complain to your boss. Being labeled as negative, grumpy, or a complainer is a terrible title to carry. You don’t want that. Instead, rise above it and don’t grumble.
- Have empathy. perspective. Having empathy means you’re willing to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. It means you’re willing to expand you perspective. Be willing to understand the other side of someone’s story, and be open to at least affirming them in their worldview. You’ll grow from this exercise.
- Give freely, and freely give. No matter how much money you make, give some of it away. You can’t take it with you when you die.
- Volunteer. One of the best ways to learn, grow, and give back, is by giving away your time through volunteering. Volunteer by helping others through mentoring, or by developing a MasterMind group, or by tutoring. Doesn’t matter what it is, just get involved and volunteer.
- Spend less time on social media. I don’t know about you, but every time I log into Facebook or LinkedIn, 50% of my news feed feels like sponsored ads. Instead, read a book. Either on a tablet, Kindle, or a physical copy. Read instead and spend less time on social media.
- Travel. I live in the Midwest. It’s great. But there’s a lot more country to see for those who live in the U.S. It’s a huge place, with tons of great sights to see. Great big things, built by even bigger dreamers. Go see it.
- Learn to play a musical instrument. It’s a goal of mine to learn to play the guitar. I don’t know when, or who will teach me, but I will learn how. Making music and playing music is a lifelong achievement that you can take with you for the rest of your life. Don’t hesitate.
- Don’t be stubborn. Too many people I know let relationships completely burn to the ground because they’re too stubborn to change, too stubborn to say they’re sorry, too stubborn to reconcile and heal. You’ll be on your deathbed someday and find yourself regretting being stubborn, assuming that’s how you live your life. Don’t do it. Instead, break free of this nasty character trait so you can truly live.
- Stay. If you’re married then this one’s for you. When your marriage is falling apart, stay. When you want to give up on your spouse, stay. When there is nothing left in your gas tank, stay. When you’re heart is checked out, stay. When your mind tells you to give up, stay. When every fiber in your body says to quit, stay. Quitters quit, and winners don’t give up. I know marriage is not as easy as black and white, or winning versus losing, but I know from experience that staying makes you a better person.
- Journal. I write in a my journal almost every day. I use the Penzu app and write something that’d I’ll remember, when I look back on a particular season of life. It’s one part therapy, and one part memory building.
- Take pictures, but not too many. One of the great things about smartphones is how you can easily capture moments in life. But the downfall to being engrossed by taking selfies every 5 minutes with your iPhone, and uploading them to Instagram, Twitter, Flickr, and Facebook is you can miss the significance of that specific event. Take pictures, but don’t forget to make memories, too.
- Develop a bucket list. I have one. I created this list years ago to help me manage and achieve my life-goals. There’s incredible power in writing things down. Your subconscious mind activates some crazy things when you pen your goals. So develop a list of things you want to accomplish before you’re dead.
- Do stuff outdoors. Because I live in America, I have the privilege of seeing many things that are outdoors. Things like state parks, camping grounds, national monuments, and the like. Enjoy the creation of this earth. You won’t be here for long.
- Eternity. Despite what you may think, there is a Heaven and a Hell. There is life after this one on Earth. If you were to die today, where will you spend it? You have a beautiful soul. You will eventually be called to one of the two places where you’ll spend eternity. Seek the truth and find out how you can spend eternity in Heaven. Take a look at how a friend of mine talks about Heaven by watching this short video.
What are your nuggets of wisdom to share? What in your short life have you learned that’s of value?