40 Lessons Learned By 40

I know it isn’t the “done thing” for a woman to reveal her age, but I’ve always found that such a silly idea. To me, age has always been a totally arbitrary marker of everything other than base chronology (we all know “old” people who are are “young” and “young” people who seem to be “dead” already).

But “milestone” ages (again arbitrary in that they tend to end in “0”s or “5”s) can also be a great trigger for change, evaluation, and reflection.

That’s why I thought I’d celebrate my 40th year of life on this amazing planet by summarizing some of the biggest lessons I’ve learned. The list isn’t exhaustive, but these are some of the key ideas that have helped me breathe life into life and reminded me that anything really is possible.

There are no shortcuts to success, but a life better, more thoughtfully, and more happily led are what I know you will gain from what I share. I say that with the confidence that comes from experience (I won’t say “age” just yet!). So get reading, get going, and keep growing…

1 – Mindset is everything – Get your head “right” and everything else will come. If I had to distil the wisdom of the world into one idea, it would be this. If you do nothing else for yourself, build and work on your mindset.

2 – Work on your money blocks – We all have them, and if you’ve never heard of them, I recommend you get googling. It’s amazing how things we don’t know are there can hold us back. (Australian coach Denise Duffield-Thomas, and Entreprenora Caroline Hughes do some great work around money blocks.)

3 – Be careful who you take advice from – There’s that irreverent quote about opinions and (*ahem*) a certain body part… everyone’s got them! So make sure whoever you listen to has been there, done that with regards to what they are giving you advice about. All opinions are not created equal.

4 – Trust but verify – This is true for everyone, but perhaps especially so about colleagues, co-workers, suppliers, or employees. Default to trust, but make sure they are doing what they are supposed to do. Some (maybe many) people will only do the bare minimum or what they can get away with.

5 – You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with… CHOOSE CAREFULLY! – Sit and reflect on this for a few minutes, and do a mental inventory of your five. Either they’re helping you move forward, or pulling you backward. There is no standing still. (If I had to distill the world’s wisdom into a second key idea, it would be this.)

6 – Curate your environment – This is true about your physical, mental, social, and emotional environment. Get rid of the garbage and fill your personal space with high-quality thoughts, things, people, and places. We respond to and are a product of, our surroundings far more than we may realize.

7 – Be deliberate and *selective* with yes’s – Don’t fall into the trap of being your way through life; be careful about where, how, and with whom you invest your time, energy, and resources. “Yes” and “no” are two of the most powerful words in your life arsenal.

8 – Be decisive – “Successful people are quick to make a decision and slow to change their mind; unsuccessful people are slow to make a decision and quick to change their mind.” Be the successful one: decisive, but not hasty; deliberate, but not daft. Make a decision, make the best of it, tweak it, and keep moving. Ever forward, ever upward. One decision at a time.

9 – Demand a true partner – Don’t settle for a half-a$$ed commitment from anyone in your life. Share the mental, practical, financial, and administrative load equitably with the life and business partners you have. It will take some difficult conversations to get there, but don’t shy away from having them.

10 – Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you – It’s great to be the “dumbest” person in the room because it means we are growing and stretching ourselves… and that we are humble enough to know that we can’t and don’t need to be experts at everything.

I’ll see you next week for the next installment of my “Top 40”.

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About Me
Rupal Patel logo
The daughter of Indian immigrants, Rupal is a born-and-bred New Yorker now living near London. Her high-octane career as a CIA officer turned serial entrepreneur has taken her from military briefing rooms in jungles and war zones to corporate boardrooms and international stages.

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