We are finally here. The last 10 lessons of my 40 Learned by 40 AND the end of 2020. What a year it's been for all of us. When our minds next meet, it will be 2021 so let me pause for a second and wish you a warm, serene, and settled close to the year.
We've all proven to ourselves that no matter what the world throws our way, we will survive and come our stronger and smarter, so let's bring that inner flame of confidence with us as we look ahead to everything we have planned for 2021 and beyond. Watch out world, here we come...
...And here come the last 10 lessons in my series!
31 – Release the guilt and own your decisions – There will always be conflicting pulls on our time, energy, and resources. But instead of torturing ourselves with guilt about where we use that time, energy, and resources, let’s be grown-ups about what we choose to do and own our decisions, consequences and all.
32 – Protect what you already have – It’s easier to keep what you’ve got than it is to get more. So value and take care of your time, your income, your relationships, your investments, your customers, your health, everything you already have before you go looking for more.
33 – ASK – If you don’t ask, you don’t get. The worst than can happen is you’ll get ignored or hear “no” so ask for what you want or need, and be specific. You won't always get it, but at least you tried.
34 – Don’t focus on the void – It’s important to keep our eyes to the future and the goals we want to achieve, but it’s equally important that we recognize how far we’ve already come and how much we already have.
35 – Set and enforce boundaries – You have to be your own strictest guardian otherwise the rest of the world will live your life for you.
36 – Batch, batch, batch – There is a simple power in doing like activities in batches (checking email, making phone calls, paying bills, etc) instead of frittering your time jumping from one discreet task to another task. Batching will keep you sane and make you more productive than you thought you could be.
37 – Pay yourself first – This means emotionally, physically, and financially. You can’t pour from an empty cup. Think of it as being self-full instead of selfish.
38 – Run your own race – Comparisonitis is a bastard and will keep you from making progress and doing the things that are important to you. Don’t live your life with your head on a swivel. Or as my dad would say “Live an absolute life, not a relative one.”
39 – Capture your year – There is nothing like keeping track of the lessons learned each year and crystalizing what went well, where things could have improved, and learning as much as you can from your experiences. If you don’t capture what you learn along the way, life can end up being a series of repeated mistakes and opportunities for growth lost.
40 – PERSIST and keep going – One of my favorite quotes captures this perfectly: “Never give up on a dream just because of the length of time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.”
And one final bonus lesson that has been my personal mantra: Say yes to adventure! Accumulate great stories instead of great things. From performing in London 2012, to working at the CIA, to starting multiple businesses, to living on a farm in the middle-of-nowhere Costa Rica, I’ve never said no to an adventure, and I’ve never regretted it once.
We only get one shot at life. Make it count. And make it fun!
We are coming up to the final 20, and some of my favorite lessons are still to come! Hope you're enjoying these as much as I have enjoyed reflecting on what to include. Here we go...
21 – Decide against fear – Control what you can control and don’t let fear get in the way. It can be as simple as choosing not to be afraid and reminding yourself that so often (maybe always) F.E.A.R. is just False Expectations Appearing Real.
22 – Expand the life of your mind – Being alive and being human is about so much more than financial or professional milestones. Take time to regularly feed your brain thoughts and ideas that you’ve never come across and inspiration from other fields. You don’t have to become a polymath, but we all owe it to ourselves to be interesting and interested in the bigger world.
23 – Watch what you are proud of – Measure what matters to you and don’t worry about “vanity metrics.”
24 – Have a plan, but be flexible – The world likes to take liberties with even the most meticulously detailed plan, so have a Plan B, Plan C, and maybe even a Plan D.
25 – Be “there” now – It’s so important to have goals and aspirations and ideals that we are striving for, but the trick to being happy (most of the time) is to find the right balance between striving for what you want and contentment with what you’ve got.
26 – Use the compound effect to work for you – Even small decisions, accumulated over time can have massive impacts. For example, spending just 15 minutes a day on something adds up to almost 4 days’ worth of time over a year. Be careful with the “small stuff” and the “big stuff” will take care of itself.
27 – Track your stats – Keep track of where specifically your time, energy, and money is going. You need to have an objective measure of what you are and are not doing to see where there might be room for correction or redirection. As Plato said, "The unexamined life is not worth living."
28 – It’s ALL been done before… but not by YOU – It’s so easy to get disheartened or to succumb to comparison-it is when we are doing something new because it seems everyone has already beaten us to it. And the truth is, they have! But whether you’re writing a novel, opening up a café, or starting the next Google, only YOU can bring your you-ness and your take on things to the world. That is enough.
29 – Saturate your mind – Our brains are computers so Garbage In = Garbage Out. Saturate your mind with high-quality, high-value thoughts, ideas, conversation, and inspiration and see the difference it makes.
30 – Sometimes it’s better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission – Enough said.