I’m only 28, so take my advice here with a grain of salt. That said, I’ve accomplished quite a few things that I’m extremely proud of…
– I’m genuinely happy
– I’m healthy
– I have no more chronic anxiety
– I have a successful and rising career in engineering
– I’ve built and continue to grow a modest following on a blog, earning a decent side income from writing, which I love
– Married a smart, beautiful woman
– I’m surrounded by an awesome group of friends and family
…And there’s much more to come
Most often, past behaviors are the best indicators of future success. I believe I’m on my way there, I just have to keep following the rules that have led me where I am today.
1. Health first, always.
I probably talk about this way too often, but I’m not going to stop anytime soon — health is the most important thing in my life.
For those of you that don’t know, I used to suffer from anxiety and panic attacks as a damn kid in college. What’s scary is that’s becoming the norm. Clearly, we’re doing something wrong as a society if millions of us end up with anxiety, depression, ADHD, OCD, or some other diagnosis before age 20.
Not to mention the millions of others who choose to fly under the radar, undiagnosed.
It’s time to put health first.
When you’re healthy…
– You’re happier
– Your energy increases
– You’re more productive
– You worry less
– You enjoy life more
I ended up “curing” my anxiety by adopting healthier behaviors. I literally felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders, and I was amazed at how much my life changed afterwards. It’s like everything just started falling into place.
My grades improved in school.
I made more friends.
I felt more confident.
I had better relationships with women.
It’s like I had been running around with shackles for a vast portion of my young adult life. Once I started practicing healthier behaviors, I was set free.
I know I’ll probably get a lot of flak for writing this, but I truly think a healthy lifestyle is the answer to many (not all) of our problems.
If you’re healthy on the inside, chances are you’ll have a happy and healthy life on the outside, too. Start taking small steps towards a healthy lifestyle by:
– Learning how to eat nutritious foods
– Avoiding fast and processed foods
– Taking time to relax and unwind
– Going easy on the booze
All of these things don’t take (too) much effort, but the returns are extraordinary.
Are you ready to live your life shackle-free?
2. Consistency wins every time.
Everybody knows the story about the tortoise and the hare…
“Slow and steady wins the race.”
Well, here’s a real life example of it.
One of my best friends is a guy I met many years ago in first grade. During senior year of high school, we both happened to take AP Physics, along with just eight other kids in our class.
My friend, we’ll call him Steve, wasn’t a dumb guy by any means, but it was unusual for him to be in the “smart kids” class with the rest of us. We were the nerds who had been taking these kinds of classes for a few years and had gotten to know each other well since we were usually the only ones taking them.
Steve was one of the “cool guys”.
Anyways, Steve enjoyed the class but struggled as a C student, whereas the rest of us coasted to A’s or B’s.
Just about all of us went on to be engineers, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in our craft. Steve? He’s got a Ph.D. in Astrophysics and is a million times “smarter” than the rest of us.
He struggled in high school but his deep interest in physics kept him learning through college. He blew past the rest of us because he slowly worked at it one day at a time.
When he gets drunk and starts rambling about space, it’s clear at how much of a higher level his brain operates.
I’ve seen the same results over and over again in my life as well as my friends and family members.
Want to become a runner? Focus on consistently running every day.
Want to become a writer? Focus on writing every day.
Want to [insert any goal here]? Focus on the daily behavior(s) you need to get there.
Over time, just about anything is possible.
“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years. ”— Bill Gates
3. Make mistakes but learn from them.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve made a ton of mistakes in my life. Different types of mistakes, but mistakes nonetheless.
Mistakes in my career.
Mistakes with my health.
Mistakes in my relationships.
Mistakes playing League of Legends (which are probably the worst — kidding…sort of).
Mistakes are how you learn. In fact, if you’re not making mistakes, you should be concerned. That means you aren’t doing anything worthwhile.
A couple years ago, I quit my engineering job. I left to pursue a freelance “career” in writing. I did OK, but ultimately landed flat on my face. For an entire year, I struggled to pay the bills, afford health insurance, and dug a significant hole in my savings.
Would I ever do that again? Hell no. But I learned a shitload about life and what it takes to be a writer during that year.
These days I’m doing things differently, and they’re working. I’m making mistakes but on a much smaller scale and adjusting as I go.
If anyone tries telling you that mistakes are for people who don’t know what they’re doing, please kick them in the groin on my behalf and walk away.
Let them know they just made a mistake by telling you that.
4. Less is usually more.
I used to have an older coworker who told me:
“Life is all about dying with the most toys. He who dies with the most, wins.”
If you ask me, keeping up with the Jones’ is getting old and going out of style. People used to want more stuff to make them feel better, less lonely, and like they’re “winning”. These days I think there’s a paradigm shift in progress.
I don’t know about you, but the more stuff I consume, the more it consumes me. “More” only leads to more stress, more anxiety, and less time doing things that actually bring me happiness.
What I’ve come to find out, thanks to my own experiences and a little nudging from a few good books, is that less is usually more.
Let me show you how.
Less stuff means more experiences and happiness.
A trip to the Bahamas brings me more happiness than buying the latest smartphone. My excitement in the smartphone fades quickly, but the trip to the Bahamas and all those memories last a lifetime. Experiences over possessions any day of the week.
Taking less pictures means more time to appreciate special moments.
Most pictures are just to brag to family or friends anyways.
Next trip, take just one or two pictures that, when looked at later, spark the beautiful memories of the outing. Then, try to be more in the moment when would usually be taking pictures.
Life is precious and you never know which moment will be your last. Hell, you may never get to look at those pictures again, so enjoy those fleeting moments and take them all in while you can.
Start saying “yes” less and “no” more often.
Saying “no” means doing less of the things you hate and more of the stuff you love. Do you really want to go to that after-work obligation your coworker organized? Or would you rather go home and spend time with your family and friends after a long day of work? The choice is up to you, make it count.
Be less controlling to be more at peace.
Some things are just out of your control. You might not be able to change what happened, but how you react is always 100% in your court. Let things happen as they do and learn to be OK with them. If you can do something about it, then do it. If you can’t, let it be and direct your focus on something you can control.
5. Don’t avoid the struggle, go towards it
United States adults are supposedly watching five hours and four minutes of television per day on average.
What in the actual fuck.
As someone who believes struggle is a key component to human life, this hurts a bit. If you aren’t struggling, you’re getting worse. It means you’re getting comfortable, which means you aren’t growing as a person.
A mentor once told me that it’s usually time to switch jobs (or at least responsibilities) every two to three years. It typically takes that long for you to become comfortable and complacent in your actions. At that point, the business is better off having some fresh blood in the role.
You want to be taking new positions that challenge you. These moments in your life are opportunities for growth. But, most people avoid them because they don’t like the struggle.
Have you ever tried to solve a Rubik’s cube? Or a Sudoku puzzle on hard or higher difficulty?
That’s the feeling I’m talking about.
It’s frustrating. It makes you feel inferior. But eventually, you learn enough to figure it out. And then you feel amazing.
You leveled up.
Struggle isn’t just important in your career, it’s important in your life.
– Lift weights to make your body strong.
– Go for a run and push past your mental limits.
– Learn new things as often as possible.
There are levels to this life. People watching TV for five hours each day are at Level 0, while others are breezing through on Level 50 or higher. Yes, there’s that much of a difference.
The TV watchers also complain about aches, pains, laziness, and how everything is someone else’s fault — never their own.
People who have made it past those early levels in life know that complaining doesn’t get you anywhere. They’ve leveled up towards bigger and better things.
Find that struggle sucks? Go watch this video by Jocko Willink, then get the f*ck up and go to work.
6. It’s never too late and you’re never too old to start.
At age 52, Ray Kroc started McDonald’s.
At age 55, Arianna Huffington started the Huffington Post.
At age 62, Colonel Harland Sanders founded Kentucky Fried Chicken.
It’s NEVER too late to do something you truly love. For those above, it was starting a business. For you, it could be anything.
– It’s never too late to put yourself out there and start dating.
– It’s never too late to get into self-improvement.
– It’s never too late to learn a new skill or pick up a new hobby.
– It’s never too late to start being healthy.
– It’s never too late to change careers.
– It’s never too late to apologize to someone.
It’s never too late for…anything really.
7. Most people are losers.
Find good friends and hang on tight.
I write about this concept often, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t the truest thing I’ve ever written about.
Despite all the self-help articles on the internet, or books in the world, or advice given by mentors, most people will continue to sit on their ass and do nothing but complain.
They’ll be mean to others.
They’ll blame the world for their problems.
They’ll flood the waiting rooms of hospitals for issues they could solve on their own.
You? I’m hoping you’re different.
Now, when you follow the other rules above and are out enjoying life — doing the things you love — you’re bound to run into a few others who also aren’t losers. When you find them, and when you become friends, hang onto them for as long as you can.
Solid friends and good relationships are hard to come by. You shouldn’t have to settle for anyone who brings you down. That’s why when you find one of the “good” ones, it’s best to keep them around.
Keep them around as long as you two are mutually benefitting. When one of your lives steers too far in another direction, bid each other farewell and rely on the others you’ve hopefully met along your own unique path.
This might be the seventh and final rule on this list, but it’s likely the most important.
Don’t try to take on this world alone, but choose your weapons (friends) wisely. Don’t take a butter knife to a gunfight.