It's crazy to think we've just entered a new decade. New Year is always a time of reflection for many, but with the ending of one decade and the commencement of a new one, it intensifies the amount of reflecting one does.
For me, at 30 years old, I have been alive for 3 decades. Well, I was alive for 6 months in the '80s, but I don't count that. I started this decade as a college student in junior college who had no idea what he wanted to do with his life. I ended the decade as a guy that accomplished a few things such as graduating from college, starting a few successful businesses, co-founding a non-profit, publishing a book "Shot Your Shot," and blah blah.
Ok, enough of the bragging, time for some self-deprecation. Although I've done some cool things over the past decade, I've taken more L's than W's. I've had some failed businesses. There have been periods where I've been so overwhelmed with anxiety from my business, and I'd take a few days off just so that I could lay in my bed and stare at the ceiling. I've had my heartbroken, I've broken a heart, which resulted in my heartbreaking again. I've lost all my money at one point (wasn't a lot to start with). Also, much like that 20-year-old version of myself at the beginning of the decade, I still feel a little lost.
Given that we're just starting a new decade, I wanted to reflect on what I did right this past decade, so I can double-down on my successes and reflect on the things I did wrong so that I do my best to negate those from happening again.
Here is my list of 20 life, career, and love lessons that you should implement in 2020.
1.Have Faith In People
Sometime in your life, you will probably be royally screwed over by someone. Whether that be in a friendship, a romantic relationship or business partnership, the fact remains the same, being screwed over sucks. For some people, going through an event like this will cause them to put up walls and not trust people. When you block people out and don't trust them, you may be somewhat negating being screwed over again, but the reality is that you're more than likely blocking out opportunities for good to come into your life.
At the end of the day, shit happens, and it is very little you can do about it. My outlook on life is that I give everyone my trust upfront, and I let them choose whether they want to keep it. By having this outlook, it's been much easier creating friends and opportunities around me.
2.Learn Something New Every Damn Day
Thanks to technology, information is more accessible than ever before. However, technology has also created a world where distractions (social media, games, etc.) are available at our fingertips at any time.
Although I do get sucked into distractions on social media, I do my best to leverage technology to learn something every day. For example, although I listen to music while lifting weights, I listen to informational podcasts or Audiobooks when I run. Instead of watching television while I eat, I put on a YouTube video where I can learn something. There is so much damn free great informational content out there, make it a habit to at least spend 30 minutes a day watching, listening, or reading something informational.
3. Live Your Life Unapologetically
Oscar Wilde was right when he said: "Be yourself. Everyone else is taken." When I was in my early twenties, I cared too much about what people thought, and I tried being the person I thought the world wanted me to be. Now I do my best to live my life on my terms even though I know I have traits that some people probably don't like or don't understand. The reality is, I really, really don't care.
Live life on your terms. It doesn't matter how you dress, your music taste, what you believe in, your sexual orientation, or how you choose to spend your money. Just live your damn life, and never apologize for being yourself. That is, unless you did someone wrong, then be sure to apologize and not be a dick.
4. Take Calculated Risks
The biggest risk you can take in life is not taking any risk. I believe life is best lived when it's full of fun calculated risk. How is said calculation calculated? Well, let's say you're in the twenties with no responsibilities. Instead of taking the higher paying job, take that free internship across the country at your dream company because the risk offers a much greater payout with only a potential short-term loss.
However, this doesn't mean you can't take risks when you're older and have responsibilities. Let's say you have a family of 4, and you want to start your own business. A dumb risk would be quitting your job tomorrow with no real-game plan on how you're going to start the business. A calculated risk would be leaving your job after working on the business part-time for 6 months and getting your first paying customer.
5. Health Is Your Most Valuable Asset
I've always been a big proponent of health, but when my dad had a health scare a few years back, it puts things in perspective for me and made me realize how quickly your life can change. Screw money, I just want my family to be around for a long time. You can have all the riches in the world, but if you're not healthy enough to enjoy them, they are useless.
I am truly blessed that I am in good health, and I now make sure to utilize my good health and youth anytime I get a chance. Any time I am working out, or boxing with my brother, or walking with my dad or hiking with my friends, I am beyond appreciative that my body allows me to do so and I am appreciative that I have friends and family that are healthy enough that I can be active with.
6. Your Time Is An Extremely Close Second
Time is the lowest common denominator. It doesn't matter if you were born rich or poor, gifted or not; we all have the same 24 hours in a day. That's not to say privilege doesn't allow for some to be able to utilize those hours more than others, but the fact remains the same. We ALL only have 24 hours in a day.
I've learned to do everything I can to maximize my 24 hours that includes turning my phone on airplane mode while working, living and dying by my calendar, not spending more than one hour per day on TV, avoiding time sinks and aiming to get 6.5 hours of sleep per night.
At 6.5 hours of sleep, I still feel rested, but in comparison to someone who averages 8 hours of sleep per night, I am given 40 additional hours per month than them to do whatever I want. That's a whole workweek that I can use to work on my business or spend time with family.
7. Don't Lose Yourself In Love
Love is truly a beautiful thing. However, you shouldn't lose yourself during the process. Being in love can help you become a better person if you have the right partner, but love shouldn't force you to lose your own identity. What I mean by this is that you should never have to give up your friends, family, or dreams to be with someone. You should do your best to understand and support your partner's dreams. Dream with your partner, in fact.
8. Follow Your North Star
It's alright to feel lost in this journey we call life, this holds especially true when you're in the twenties. Heck, I'm 30 years old, and I still don't fully know what I'm doing with my life. The important thing is, you don't have to know exactly what you want out of life, but you should have a north star that can at least guide you in the right direction.
What is the North Star? It doesn't have to be something specific like "Doctor" or "A Millionaire," it really can be as simple as an ideology in life that guides you. For example, my North Star is Freedom and Impact. Everything I do in my life, I want to be in align with installing more freedom in my life and making a positive impact where I can. When it's time for me to make tough life decisions, I see if the options are aligned with my North Star.
9. Never Stop Exploring
Ok, I know I ripped of North Face's slogan, but a) I love North Face and b) it's so damn true. The world is such a beautiful place, never stop exploring it. This also doesn't mean you need to leave the country once a year, although that's a great goal if you can, your backyard is pretty cool. Look on google to find a national park or city within driving distance that you want to explore and do exactly that. Explore the US, we have some many great states, I've been to over half of them, and each one has its own charm. My friend Chris Altamirano has a great blog that shows you how to do international travel affordably.
10. Envy Is An Ugly Trait
I used to find myself talking shit in my head when I saw someone I knew achieve accolades that I hadn't reached yet; "Screw them, How did they get so lucky?".
I later realized this was just envied on my part, and envy looked very ugly on me. Plus, I found that being envious only hurt me as it was a constant source of negativity in my life. I relinquished all envy once I came to an understanding that someone else's success does not determine my failure, and someone else's stagnation does not determine my success.
"Athletes who swim and run are instructed by coaches not to look to the side to see the competition because it slows them down."
11. Always Shoot Your Shot
Although my book "Shoot Your Shot" is specifically about dating, I am talking about always shooting your shot in life in general. I hate referencing the cliché Wayne Gretzky's quote, but it's so damn true, "You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take".
Whether it's that dream job across the country, the attractive girl/guy you follow on Instagram, or that business idea keeps you up at night, shoot your damn shot. I know this is easier said than done, but my whole life has literally been me shooting my shot repeatedly. Although 90% of the time, my shots are missing, every once in awhile, I'll hit my target and create a business or whatever goal I'm shooting towards at the time.
Understand, the bigger your goal, the more shots you will need to take. So don't give up after missing a few times. Plus, once you achieve it, no one remembers the misses anyways.
12. Don't Wait On People
Although it's great to experience things in life with the company of others, never wait for other people to do things you really want to do. There is a good chance if you have to keep waiting on someone to do something you really want to do, it will never come to fruition at their expense. That new restaurant? That special trip? You shouldn't have to wait for anyone to do those things. Don't be afraid to experience things in life alone.
13. Looks Aren't Everything, But They Are Something
Listen, at the end of the day, as long as you're healthy and happy, that should be all that matters. With that being said, I believe everyone should take care of themselves, which includes their appearance. I'm talking about eating well, doing some physical activity, and dressing well. Although clothes can be a money sink, trust me, I know as I spend too much on them, they can be used as a great tool to make you look better.
When you look good, you feel good. Plus, when you are the best version of yourself, this pays dividends in a relationship, in your career, and so on. Long story short, don't feel bad about spending money on that gym membership, that skin moisturizer or new pair of shoes.
14. Stop F#CKING Complaining
I know this is a little hypocritical, but one of the few things I complain about is when I have to put up with people complaining about their life. Whining, complaining, giving reasons for why you're failing, they're all excuses, and they all remove YOUR ability to BE HAPPY. At the end of the day, when something bad happens, and if it's outside of your control, you shouldn't complain because, unfortunately, there is nothing you can do about it. If something bad happens to you and it's inside of your control, don't put energy into complaining, instead work on a remedy.
15.Roll With The Punches
In boxing, there is a concept called "rolling with the punches," which means when an opponent throws a punch that you can't get out of the way, you should turn your body in the same direction the punch is being thrown to minimize the impact. The opposite of this would be stepping in as someone punches, which will cause you a lot more damage.
In life, just like boxing, it's inevitable that you're going to get hit in the face. However, this doesn't mean you have to get knocked out every time life hits you. Learn to be flexible and not let life's obstacles jabs and crosses bring you down.
16. Leaders Eat Last
If you're in a position of leadership, such as a manager, teacher, coach, and so on, you should be the last to eat. What does this mean exactly? This means as the leader of your team; you should be the last to benefit (eat) and the first to sacrifice for the success of your team. As a previous CEO of a tech startup, I made sure my co-founders and employees were fed (paid) before I was. Without them, the company wouldn't exist, and I knew as their leader, I had the strength to take the financial burden, so they didn't have to.
Another related leadership quote that is aligned with the leaders eats the last ideology is "As a coach, the wins are theirs and the losses as yours." This means let your team get their proper credit for wins and take full responsibility for any losses or shortcomings.
17. Relationships Are 60/60 Efforts
Giving something 110 percent is a common idiom, meaning your absolute maximum effort. It means going beyond 100 percent of your effort and giving that extra 10 percent.
When it comes to relationships, maximum effort is usually defined as the relationship is 50/50. This means both people in the relationship are contributing equally. However, just because you're contributing equally doesn't mean it's always enough, though. Relationships, just like anything else important in life, require maximum effort. Many times, you need to give that extra 10 percent. I believe successful relationships are a 60/60 split effort. Relationships thrive when both partners contribute equally as much as they can.
18. Life Goes On
As the scholar, Lil Uzi Vert once said "You'll Get Over It." I have had failed startups and relationships that I thought were going to be "the one." Even though at the time, it felt like my dreams were crushed, I eventually learned that there will always be other opportunities. Failure is a part of life, and no matter what happens to you, if you're still breathing, life goes on.
19. Don't Prove The Haters Wrong, Validate Your Believers
I remember back in the day; I used to rock a shirt by a skate brand called DGK that said "I <3 Haters" in big, bold letters. I used to believe that my main motivation as an entrepreneur was proving the haters and naysayers wrong. I was always looking for immediate gratification or an opportunity to flex on my haters that I'd make decisions that were not the best for me or my business in the long-run. It wasn't until I got a little older that I realized this type of outlook was very shortsighted.
What I found was my true motivation was validating those who believed in me, whether that was my parents, investors, customers, or just so that cool dude on Instagram that would comment rooting for me. I found any time that I was able to put a smile on the believers' faces, and it was much more fulfilling than putting a smirk on a haters' face. Don't get me wrong, I still grind with a chip on my shoulder, but I don't let it distract me from the big picture.
20. I Can Only Share My Truths
My whole career has been spent in the quantitative research field. I've helped fortune 500 companies survey the market so they could make data-driven business decisions. On the opposite spectrum, the majority of my career as a writer, I've been sharing my own humble opinions on topics based on my own anecdotal experiences. One method takes into thousands of data points into consideration, and the other method considers one data point. Given that I am from a research background, I understand my opinion is just one of many, and very rarely are any opinions absolute.
When I share my truths, I don't expect them to be relevant to everyone. I hope you guys found this post helpful, but if you didn't, no worries. Just because your truths are different than someone else's doesn't mean yours are false. Live life-based on your truths, and don't go around changing them every time you read a random article on the web J