17 Truths About Life 2017 Has Taught Me

black and white photo of girl laughing in sunglasses
Seth Doyle

“Michael, in life, there are some things you just don’t challenge. As soon as you accept that, your life will be a lot easier.” — My dad

Recently I was reminded of my dad’s words above when listening to a Seth Godin video where he was stressing the importance of finding a tribe:

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Do not challenge that quote by Jim Rohn. Just accept it as truth.”

As 2017 comes to a close, Seth’s words combined with my dad’s advice, got me thinking about the other “truths” that I have finally accepted.

And my dad was right — my life has gotten a lot easier.

1. You have a life, not a career.

The best part about being a year short of 40 is that patterns begin to emerge. One of the most glaring is that the people in my life who prioritise relationships seem to be doing alright for themselves.

Work is important, no doubt, but there is no work title that is cooler than being a good friend.

2. There is nothing more attractive than being thoughtful.

The older I get the more I have noticed that the people that take the time to do what some may consider “inefficient actions” end up being the most efficient.

Write out thank you cards. Get on a plane to see a client if only for a short lunch. Pick up the phone to call a friend to check on them instead of sending a text. Over time these little actions will compound and result not only in a lasting career, but a more meaningful life.

“There are no words more powerful than, I saw this and thought of you.” — My mom

3. Being vulnerable is pretty damn attractive also.

Life is a lot more fun when it is shared and that means not only the good moments, but also the bad. Looking back over my relationships that have lasted, the theme that shows up, time and time again, is that I stopped trying to be cool and allowed myself to be“uncool.”

Tell people what they mean to you. Tell people what is on your mind. Tell people what is troubling you. A shoulder to cry on leads to a shoulder to stand upon.

Speaking of being vulnerable:

4. The most important person you can forgive is yourself.

Yesterday when watching my standard Tuesday afternoon video from Conor Neill, it dawned on me that when writing out the benefits of writing everyday I had overlooked quite possibly the most important one.

Somewhere in-between the months and the words, I began to let my guard down and actually began to write my truth and in the process I forgave myself for some of the actions that were holding me back from moving forward.

The most important relationship you will ever have is with yourself, so treat it as such.

5. Those who make others smile, smile the most.

A few years ago I was complaining to my dad about my horrible first world life. Before I could really get moving, he stopped me and said, “Michael, shut up and go buy that pretty wife of yours some flowers.”

It is possible that wiser words have never been spoken.

When things are going bad, get up and go do something nice for someone.

6. The people that go the furthest seek advancement, not perfection.

It is so easy to get caught up in the idea that we have to knock the skin off the ball at every at bat, that we forget that not one “Hall of Famer” has ever hit more home runs than singles.

Keep your eye on the ball, make contact and aim to advance in your relationships, in your skills and in yourself.

7. Life is a lot more fun if you get off the bench.

I used to hate giving my kid a bath. That is until one day he asked me to get in with him and I said yes.

8. Embrace those who tell it like it is and tell you how you are.

Receiving negative feedback is not fun. However, it stings a lot less when we recognize that the people who are honest enough to give it to us actually care about us the most.

Being surrounded by people who lift us up is important, but so is being surrounded by those that keep us on the ground.

9. Going through the motions never got anyone anywhere.

Passion is not something you find, it is something you bring. Stop worrying about making something great and start focusing on getting great at the making. People will notice.

10. The most important part of your calendar is found in the empty spaces.

How you decide to spend your time when you have nothing to do determines how well you do the things when you have something to do. Identify the people and the activities that give you energy so when the time comes to be energetic you run instead of walk.

11. We all meet on the long road to the middle.

You never know when someone or some lesson will come back into your life. So in the meantime be good to the “little ones,” because over time they seem to be the ones that continue to grow the most.

12. Those who listen first— end up with the loudest voice.

For the first 38 years of my life I desperately wanted my voice to be heard and as a result my audience was crickets. It was not until I was told to punish myself every time I said “I believe,” before asking others what “they believe”did my words begin to find a home, and more importantly, did my contacts begin to shift to connections.

13. You attract what you represent.

Prior to meeting my wife I had allowed my weight to get out of hand and a job to run me into the ground. Yet if you had asked me to describe my dream girl, the words “attractive” and “successful” would have topped the list. It was not a coincidence that we met when I had begun to put my health first and went after work that gave me a purpose.

14. Some of the greatest moments in life come from doing something you initially did not want to do.

I met my wife giving a presentations and negotiations seminar for her office and I stutter. I was proud of myself for doing something that scared me and in the process the person I could not imagine living a day without took notice of that and thought I was “interesting.” Most brave people are chicken shit, but they took the hard left instead of the easy right and it made all the difference.

15. Start the day on your terms.

The first words that come out of my kid’s mouth each morning are, “I am going to play.” Not “Papa do you want to play?” Not “Papa can I play?” But “I am going to play.” He is not asking for permission. He is making a statement and jumps out of bed in the process.

Take 30 minutes and write. Curl up with a book. Go for a run. Play with your kid. Just open your eyes and think of something you want to do and go do it.

Speaking of running….

16. Life is a lot more fun if you prioritize your health.

One of the best pieces of advice I received prior to having a child was to get in shape. I never would have guessed that since starting a family my career would finally be exactly where I wanted it to be and I believe 100% that this is due to putting on my running shoes each day and hitting the pavement.

17. Good things happen when you slow down.

Odds are high that each of you reading this will work for 50 years. This may sound scary, but each year represents only 2% of your overall career. There is no doubt that the world is moving fast but the ones that are deliberate and take their time are the ones who stay ahead. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

I teach storytelling to Fortune 500s, MBA students, and first graders

Keep up with Michael on Instagram, Twitter and mikethompsonblog.com

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