Thirty Lessons in Thirty Years
My man, Gavin Mchale, did a “Thirty lessons in thirty years” post on his 30th and I thought it would be fun for me to do the same.
Honestly, I was excited to turn 30.
I think back to where I was when I was 20 and it fires me up to know how far I have come in 10 years.
I think people often think of getting older as somehow worse, but I think of it as opportunities for things to get better.
It’s an opportunity for your relationship with your spouse to grow stronger.
It’s an opportunity to get wiser.
It’s an opportunity to learn how to communicate more effectively.
It’s an opportunity to learn how to handle stress more effectively.
It’s an opportunity to learn about yourself and what does and doesn’t work for you.
It’s an opportunity to learn about others and what does and doesn’t work for them.
It really isn’t all that bad.
Obviously, the inevitably of aging is that some things go a little south but these deviations can be mitigated with the right mindset and the right healthy actions.
Here are the lessons I have learned in my thirty years.
1. Be humble
I have learned the most when I shut my mouth, checked my ego and stayed open to the suggestions of others.
It is when I accepted that I knew nothing, that I learned the most.
The older I get and the more I learn, the more I realize that I know very little in the grand scheme of things.
2. Take ownership
Take ownership in everything you do.
Take ownership for the results you have achieved so far in your life.
Take ownership of the solutions to get the problems in your life solved.
Take ownership in the action you’re going to take in implementing those solutions.
The truth about ownership is that is in empowering.
Once you get over the initial pain that everything in your life is the result of your choices,
You realize that you can change it.
When you blame others, that renders you helpless, you can’t change others,
But you can always change you.
3. It’s never too late to do the right thing
Whether it’s saying sorry,
Turning around a binge-eating episode,
or telling someone you love them.
It’s never too late to do the right thing.
Me and my dad never really hugged growing up.
Mainly because we’re both super tough, macho-men…NOT!
I don’t know, it was likely just a “guy-thing”.
But about 4 years ago, I said screw it. We should be hugging.
I hug my mom, I hug my grandma, I hug my aunts, I should hug my dad.
Well, at 26, I made the choice to start hugging my dad.
It was weird at first,
He certainly wasn’t comfortable with it,
Nor was I,
But over time it’s gotten way more natural,
And we never say goodbye without a hug.
4. Getting mad solves nothing
Getting mad at other people,
Yelling at them,
Or getting mad at objects and yelling at them
Does nothing to solve the problem.
I am a bit of a hot-head, so this is still tough for me.
What solves the problem is staying calm,
And even emotionally detaching from the situation to take a 30,000 foot view.
I’ll ask “how am I reacting?”
“What are the facts?”
“How can I best solve this problem?”
Getting pissed just makes it worse.
5. Relationships are everything
I used to ask wise folks who have lived a long life what the secret to happiness is, and almost all of them indicated that relationships are the most important thing.
Being an introvert, I never got it.
It didn’t make sense to me, but it does now.
6. Communication is key
Communication is more than the words you say.
It is the body language you put out,
The tone you use,
The way you present yourself,
and even the actions you take (as we know, actions speak louder than words, way louder).
Effective communication not only levels the playing field and ensures everyone is on the same page,
It opens up the opportunity to connect with others,
And it allows relationships to grow.
7. Willpower is not something you have, it’s something you battle for every day
Willpower is not an innate trait,
It is something you take action on every day.
It is a choice you make.
And the more you make the choice to display willpower,
The more you can apply it in other situations in your life.
I start off every day with a disciplined act.
That act is popping out of bed.
I could give in to the lure of laziness and hit snooze a couple times,
But I make the choice to get up.
That is my first opportunity to show discipline and I take it!
8. Everything that has benefited you in life was at one point uncomfortable
It is recognizing these movements of challenge as the gateway to something great that is crucial.
Make the choice to subject yourself to a little discomfort in the service of something awesome.
9. You have to show up every day for your partner…it’s not going to be easy
“Wake up every day and make the choice to love your partner”
I read this on a FB post and it stuck with me.
So much so, that I made it one of my vows to my bride.
You can’t just expect love to magically flow the veins of you and your partner.
There is going to be days when it is easy to love them
And there will be days when it is tough.
I make it a point of doing at least one thing every day to make Meg feel loved.
Especially on the days when it is tough.
Whether it’s a back-rub,
A foot massage,
Scraping the ice off her windshield,
Or making her lunch,
I show up every day and make the choice to love her.
10. Look for chances to learn every day
I love to read.
I read fitness,
And I never let a day go by without learning something new.
Even something as simple as learning something new about your partner,
Or learning a new parenting strategy,
Never let a day go by without learning something new.
11. Listen every day
Like, really listen.
Don’t think about what you are going to say when the person is done talking.
with your eyes,
and your soul.
Hear the words,
Hear the emotions amongst the words,
and hear the real meaning between the words.
Listening is better than talking,
You learn more when you listen.
12. Finding my values, priorities and identity was the most useful thing I have done to be happy
I used to wander pretty aimlessly.
Wondering what to do next.
But, it wasn’t until I determined
Who I was as a person,
What I believe in,
And what comes first in my life,
And how to live according to these things,
That I really allowed myself to be happy and fulfilled.
13. Gratitude is the second most useful thing I do to be happy
Writing down 3 things you are grateful for each day not only makes you happy to have those things,
It teaches your brain to look for more of those things everyday.
Your brain basically goes on the lookout for more things to be grateful for
because it knows you are going to be writing down those things the next morning.
It’s like when you get a new red Honda and you soon realize that everyone on the road is driving a red Honda.
14. Daily wins are the third most useful thing I do to be happy
Same thing as the gratitude above.
I look for 3 ways in which I have lived according to my values, identity and priorities everyday and then write them down.
Again, you start looking for these things throughout the day.
Your brain gets “tuned” for them.
15. Pick the most important priority and attack it
This goes back to your values and identity.
Your values flow from your identity, your priorities flow from your values.
Pick 1-3 priorities each day to move the needle forward in your life.
What I have realized is that you don’t save time, everything evens out over time.
What you do instead is maximize time by selecting the right priorities.
16. Freedom > fancy stuff
There was a time in my life when I wanted to have a private jet,
and drive a fancy car,
But that doesn’t mean much to me anymore.
What matters most to me is the ability to have freedom.
Financial freedom to do what we want when we want,
and Time freedom to do what we want when we want.
17. Life is way too short to waste any second of it
A. To repeat #12 above, live in accordance with your identity, values and priorities
B. To repeat number #15 above – pick the most important priority and attack it.
Every second that goes by is a chance to be
A better husband,
A better wife,
A better parent,
A better business owner,
or a better employee.
It’s up to you what you make of this time.
18. Multi-tasking sucks
This one is more of a reminder to myself.
I struggle with this one.
Presence of mind and focus is essential for successful completion of a task.
Whether it’s teaching your kid about life,
Finishing reports at work,
Or having a meaningful conversation with your partner,
trying to multiple things at one time just doesn’t allow for that presence of mind and focus.
You can’t answer email and listen to your spouse at the same time.
You can’t be on facebook and have a meaningful conversation with your kid,
You can’t drive and text at the same time.
Focus on one task at at time.
It actually saves times in the end.
19. Self compassion
I used to come down hard on myself.
Like, really hard.
I thought it would motivate me to work harder.
Turns out, the opposite is true.
Being nice to yourself actually make you more productive,
Have better relationships,
Lose more fat and keep it off
And have better overall mental health.
For more on how to implement this, read here (link to article)
20. Consistency is key
One of our clients got hold of my workout journal.
He wasn’t blown away by the weight, the reps or the gruelling intensity of each workout,
But he was blown away by the consistency.
I have worked out 3 times per week for as long as I can remember.
I may have taken some time off for our honeymoon, but that’s about it.
If you looked at each one of those workouts, you would see some longer ones and some really, really, short ones.
So, even on the days, when I was slammed with stuff to do, I just did a quick 10-minute workout.
Just to keep up the habit.
Something is always better than nothing.
And something maintains consistency way better than nothing.
Each day is not going to be perfect,
That’s a given.
But how will you find ways to move every day?
Even if it is for 10 minutes.
21. Putting your foot to the floor every workout doesn’t work
Workouts don’t need to run you into the ground.
Back in my late teens and early 20s, I thought that if I wasn’t crawling out of the gym, I didn’t do anything.
But, a few run-ins with overtraining and a stay in the hospital has taught me that not every workout needs to bury you.
Each workout should be about a 7/10 difficulty, with the occasional 8 or 9.
Working out should make you feel good.
You should feel energized and ready to attack your day.
Not ready to wrap yourself around the toilet bowl.
22. Move every day
Again, consistency is key.
Find something realistic that you can do each and every day.
It could be gardening,
walking your dogs,
Or playing catch in the backyard with your kids.
Whatever, just move!
23. Whole, minimally processed foods are where it’s at
I was pretty confident that I ate healthy,
Until I went through Precision Nutrition coaching and realized I had some areas where I could tighten up my nutrition.
One of those areas was including more whole foods.
Whole foods take longer to break down,
making you feel fuller longer.
They have more nutrients to make your body run like a well-oiled machine
And they have fewer additives or cheap fillers.
24. Colourful veggies changed my life
I always ate fruits and vegetables.
But I ate a ton of lettuce,
Now, don’t get me wrong, these things are great!
And you can definitely eat them.
But, it wasn’t until I started to get some more colour into my veggies and fruits that I really started to see changes.
Colour = nutrients.
Nutrients = energy, less sickness, less fat and better overall health and function.
25. Healthy fats are awesome
Ah man, I avoided fats like the plague.
I did everything I could to remove fat from meat,
Not eat butter and oils,
and Not eat nuts and seeds.
It messed me up.
It interfered with my hormones,
It dried out my skin
And it interfered with my brain function.
It was brutal.
It wasn’t until I started putting these healthy fats back into my diet that my libido was restored,
My skin was nourished,
And my head straightened out.
Healthy fats are where it’s at.
26. Omega-3 fish oil is amazing
We don’t do a ton of supplements,
But one I have fallen in love with is omega-3 fish oil.
I am obsessed with energy and productivity and I don’t think anything has had the effect on my brain function quite like omega-3s have.
Omega-3 fats also help keeps joints mobile,
They help build muscle,
They lower inflammation,
And they help with cell communication in our bodies.
We also started eating more fatty fish and that provides a ton of omega-3s as well.
Omega-3s were a game-changer for me.
27. Recovery > intensity
If someone is gassed, sometimes the best thing you can do is ditch the workout and focus on foam rolling,
And breathing exercises.
Sometimes, to make long-term progress, the best thing you can do is recover.
28. Simple > complex
I think in life, we often look for the most complex solution to our problem.
This could come in the form of a crazy diet,
A sophisticated periodization scheme,
Or some wacky-ass exercise.
But, the truth is it’s never that complicated.
Leave the complicated programs for the olympians,
Leave the crazy dieting strategies for the bodybuilders,
And leave the wacky-ass exercises for ignorant dumbasses.
The simplest option is probably the best one.
29. Do one thing at a time
Whether it’s eating lean protein with every meal,
Starting your pre-bed ritual 30 minutes before bed-time,
Or taking omega-3 fish oil,
Pick the habit that is going to move you closer to your goals,
Make sure it aligns with your identity and values,
And then crush it.
30. Being healthy shouldn’t be a chore
Do stuff that you love,
Stuff that you are good at.
Eat foods you love,
That are still good for you.
This nutrition and health thing should be fun and enjoyable.
It shouldn’t be a knock-down, drag-out battle every day.
There will be periods that are challenging and uncomfortable,
but to make this health thing work in the long run,
You need to make it work within the context of your life.
Growing up doesn’t have to be scary,
And It doesn’t have to be dreadful.
There is much to learn,
Opportunities to grow,
And relationships to develop.
The truth is every day that we get on this earth is a gift.
What will you make of each day?