With 30 years of age under my belt, I feel like I’ve learned a thing or two about life. The following are 30 lessons I’ve learned, mostly the hard way.
1. Success depends on how well you execute.
It doesn’t matter if you want to succeed in business, school, sports, or life, in order to be successful, you must execute. Plain and simple. The best ideas, plans, and intentions are worthless without execution.
After analyzing the failures I’ve had in business, I’ve narrowed down the root causes for most to be the lack of execution. Sure, I had great intentions, but failing to execute at key points along the way can derail the whole plan.
On the other side, I’ve noticed that my successes have also stemmed directly from properly executing at the right times.
The takeaway is that in order to succeed at anything worthwhile in your lifetime, you must put your plan into motion and execute.
2. Do what needs to be done when it needs to be done. Simple, right?
The quickest way to success is to have a plan mapped out all the way to your goal and execute every step you have planned. Once you know what needs to be done, do it. Then move on to the next step. And do it.
Like many others, I have this problem with procrastination. I tend to put off tasks for days or weeks that in reality would only take me 5-10 minutes to accomplish. While postponing these tasks, the sense of dread increases each day and becomes multiplied when coupled with other items I’ve put off doing. Once I reach that tipping point and can’t take it any longer, I knock out all those pressing tasks in a short time. Why do we all do this to ourselves?
Procrastination is not worth it. Just suck it up and do the things that need to be done when they need to be done. You will feel much better about yourself.
3. Make your family and close relationships a priority.
There is a 75-year study carried out by Harvard researchers that set out to figure out the secrets to a happy and purposeful life. This study, called the Harvard Grant Study, followed the lives of Harvard undergraduates from the classes of 1938-1940 for 75 years, collecting data on various aspects of their lives at regular intervals.
So what was this study’s most important finding?
They found that the only thing that truly matters for a happy life is the love in your relationships. This isn’t the romantic love you might be thinking. This is the true, caring love that you should have with family members and close friends. According to this 75 year study, cultivating good relationships is the #1 way to become “Healthy, Wealthy, & Wise.”
If you have a broken relationship with a family member or close friend, call them up or visit them today. Mend that relationship — Your life depends on it.
Also, I figured I would mention another finding from that study into this point: Alcoholism destroys lives. It was the leading cause of divorce, neurosis, depression, and early death with the men in the Grant Study.
4. Treat your time with the utmost respect and do not let trivial pursuits reduce any of the amazing time we have left on this earth.
There is no rewind on life.
You only have 24 hours a day to accomplish the plans you had for the day. The minutes slipping away should be maximized to their fullest and not be taken for granted. Once the day is gone, you don’t get it back. This is becoming more apparent as I age.
Look at the ticking clock with enthusiasm. The time it takes for one day to pass is the same for the President of the United States, a CEO of a tech company, or a little boy from Mississippi. The choices we make each day influence the level we play at in the future.
5. Help others achieve their dreams.
We are all players in this game called life and there is no single winner. When you help others succeed, you succeed.
6. Minimize Facebook.
Facebook (and other social media companies) are the digital form of “Keeping up with the Jones’.” All you see is the high points of people’s lives and due to the social comparison theory — which states that we determine our own social and personal worth based on how we stack up against others — you compare your life to theirs. Stop. Just stop. There’s a reason why depression rates are increasing with the proliferation of social media.
7. Do not hit the snooze button! As much as you want to, don’t.
Think about it. Just one 10 minute snooze each day for a month equals 5 hours of wasted time! That’s 60 hours in a year! I don’t know about you, but I can get a whole lot accomplished in 60 hours. If you want to make yourself better and get ahead of your competition, don’t hit your snooze.
Not enabling your snooze has bigger benefits, too. When your alarm goes off, you have two main choices: To get up, or to hit the snooze. I don’t know about you, but I want to start the day in positive territory with a ‘win’ already in the books. Trust me, you will feel more accomplished and less defeated when you start the day by dominating your alarm clock.
8. Be brutally honest with yourself about everything.
My wife thinks it’s a bit weird that I talk to myself. I tell her that sometimes I need an expert opinion so I consult myself. While that may be a good joke, it’s actually something I do frequently. I like to talk through difficult planning strategies by answering myself with brutal honesty.
Most people wear rose colored glasses when advising themselves. It’s very easy to sugarcoat the truth about you or your situation. I’m sometimes guilty of overlooking the real truth because I don’t want to accept it at face value. However, I’ve learned that you must be 100% honest with yourself about everything to be most effective in life. The truth hurts, but it’s the truth that makes you better.
9. Figure out what your ONE THING is.
What is the one thing that if accomplished, would render everything else easier or unnecessary?
Figuring out what my most important tasks of the day are and then knocking them out first allows me to have time to take on the unknowns that hit me at all angles throughout the rest of the day. Figure out what your ONE THING is and then put the dominoes in motion.
10. Start saying “no” to more things.
“The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything.”
People that say ‘yes’ and agree with everyone will not get true satisfaction in life. I know that feelings of social awkwardness and pressure cause most of us to say yes, which leads to the rush of having pleased someone. But after that rush typically comes the regret in knowing that you committed to something you’d rather not do.
The point is to say no to the nonessential requests in our life so we can focus on saying yes to the things that truly matter. It is to say no, frequently and gracefully, to everything but what is truly vital to your goals.
11. Focus on your strengths. Delegate out your weaknesses.
Figure out what skillset is going to move you closer to your goals and focus on nurturing that. You will become greater by maximizing your strengths rather than trying to bring your weaknesses up to meet everything else. That’s just a recipe for mediocrity. I’m not saying you should shirk off your blatant weaknesses, but you need to realize what moves the needle more and work on that.
12. Don’t be scared to look stupid. Stop worrying about what other people think of you.
Here’s the cold, hard truth: People really don’t care about you. They don’t really care what you’re wearing, how you look, or what you drive. They have their own insecurities and problems to deal with so they don’t have time to deal with yours, too.
13. Own your life. You’re the one building it.
Take ownership for your life. No one else is uniquely suited to be you. Figure out who you want to be and what you want to do, then do it. Don’t worry about what other people think.
14. Never ever take high school & college sports for granted.
Once your playing days are gone, they are gone. I have dreams all the time about getting the chance to play college baseball again and I always wake up with the pain of regret for not trying harder. I could have put in that one more set, that one more bullpen, that one more session in the batting cage. Looking back, I didn’t give it a true 100% and that kills me. There are a lot of shoulda, coulda, woulda’s with regret.
My dad and coaches used to always tell me this was going to happen, but when you’re young and dumb, you don’t realize their wisdom.
I guess this goes for all journeys you’re on. Once they’re done, they’re done. Enjoy what you have in the moment and give it your all.
15. Be intentional with what you consume.
This goes for food and what goes inside your mind. If you eat fatty, sugary food and don’t workout, eventually you are going to be a fat slob.
If you watch stupid reality television, you are probably going to discuss stupid reality television with your friends.
If what you consume isn’t moving your forward to where you want to be, it’s bogging you down.
16. Eliminate the friction in your life.
While running two companies, I’ve become an efficiency addict. Because we all have the same 24 hours in each day, if you want to maximize all of your potential, you must search out the friction that is causing you to slow down and figure out a way to eliminate it. This starts with simple things like hitting your snooze button (Lesson #7) and minimizing time-consuming social media apps (Lesson #6).
17. Love your body and treat it right. It will be the very best tool you’ll ever own.
Your brain is hands down the best computer in the world. Your body is the best machine ever created. In order to keep these in tip-top shape, you must exercise regularly and eat healthy.
18. The last 20% of any project will take 80% of the effort. Power through it.
Called The Pareto Principle, this 80/20 principle states that 80% of the output or results will come from 20% of the input or action. This applies to many areas in business and in life. I’ve never heard of anyone applying it in this way, but I’ve found that the last 20% of a project takes 80% of the effort and thought. When you realize this is happening, you’ve got to grind it out and finish strong. Don’t stop when it gets hard.
19. Change your perspective, get a different outcome.
I’ve hit obstacles numerous times that I thought were dead ends. All you have to do is reframe the situation and think about the problem from a different perspective. You can change your whole entire life by changing the way you view it.
20. The bigger the problems you’re required to deal with, the more you’ll personally grow to resolve those problems.
Each time you find yourself up against seemingly insurmountable odds and the road keeps getting harder, keep pressing on and don’t quit. This just means you’re about to level up.
Every time I was faced with a situation like this, I kept at it and grew into the person that could handle the newly acquired pressure. Looking back at my old self, I laugh at what I thought used to be difficult.
21. Be Decisive.
Yes or no. Right or left. Stay or go. It doesn’t matter what the questions is, just make a decision. If you stand still, you’ll get run over.
Relax, analyze, and make it happen.
22. Every decision matters.
With #21 being noted, I’ll make it even tougher and let you know that every single decision you make matters. The decisions you make today impact the decisions you have to make tomorrow. No one said this would be easy.
23. You can’t make everyone happy.
This is probably a lesson we all learn well before we turn 30. Some people are just unhappy people and they won’t see things like you do. Get over it and let them be.
24. You don’t always get what you want.
“You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.”
I’ve learned this so many times. In the end, it doesn’t matter what I have planned out or what I think is the best direction for my life, God is steadfast in putting me in check and giving me what HE wants me to have.
25. People will let you down.
People will look you straight in the eye and lie to you. It doesn’t matter what your plans are, their plans usually revolve around themselves. It’s best to understand that this will happen in life and don’t get all worked up about it.
26. Don’t take what you have for granted.
A few years ago, I opened up my refrigerator and because it was jammed packed, a few containers of food came crashing out and exploded all over the floor. Now my first reaction was pure anger and frustration due to the fact that now I had to clean up this mess. But immediately after those feelings surfaced, I had a moment of revelation: I had so much food in my fridge that it was pouring out when I opened the door. And I was mad about that? What the heck was I thinking?! People all over the world are starving for just one meal and here I am being mad because I have too much!
That one little moment in my life has completely changed the way I view the world and everything in it. Our “stuff” that we think we own is not ours. It’s God’s and he gave it to us to manage. Don’t ever take what HE gives us for granted. You could always have it worse off, don’t forget that.
27. Learn something new every day.
Never stop learning. I’ve made it a personal mission over the past decade or so to learn something new every single day. I consume news articles pertaining to the healthcare industry, artificial intelligence, blockchain innovations, 3D printing capabilities, and the general future of technology every single day. I listen to audiobooks while I travel and I read the Bible and other books every morning. Knowledge is a good thing.
28. Don’t let the fear of failure hold you back.
It hurts to fail, but the type of pain you feel from regret is much deeper. Let me get this nugget of advice out of the way — YOU WILL FAIL IN LIFE. This is pretty much inevitable. The best part about failing at something is you get to learn how to do it better the next time.
Back in 2008, I was in the PRCC baseball field house getting in a weekend workout when I came across a quote written on our whiteboard that has stuck with me ever since. This quote has been a driving force for me every time I start to feel complacent. Take a read:
“I do not fear failure. I only fear the slowing up of the engine inside of me which is pounding, saying, “Keep going, someone must be on top, why not you?”
-General George S. Patton
29. Stressing out and worrying about something doesn’t alter the outcome of it.
“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
Worrying about something isn’t going to make it any better. The longer you worry, the more negative thoughts will enter your mind and stress you out.
I deal with a lot of stressful situations in business and I’ve found only one true thing that works, and that is to give it all to God. Seriously. Once you realize that God is the creator of the universe, you realize how much HE is in control of everything.
30. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.
Ask for what you want in life. That’s pretty simple advice. If you want something, just ask.
That was just the first 30 lessons I came up with. I have many more that I guess will have to wait until next year!
Thanks for reading.