I turn 31 (whoa!) on Thursday and, in my opinion, this marks the real beginning of my 30’s because it’s no longer the celebration of a new decade in life, but a rather sobering realization that my 40’s, and the notion of being “over-the-hill”, are coming up really, really quick.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited for the next 9-10 years, but holy-Moses where did the time go!?
As I thought more and more about the significance of this particular birthday, more specifically how awesome the first 31 years of life have been and how quickly they went, I decided I wanted to make the next 31 years even happier, more productive, and more fulfilling than the first 31.
To do that, I thought about the 31 most important life lessons I’ve learned up to this point and how I must apply those lessons from here on out to make the next 31+ years the best ever.
So, without further ado, and in no particular order, here are the 31 life lessons I have learned over the last 31 years that I believe will help me live a happier, more productive and more fulfilling life.
After reading the list, make sure you add your two-cents in the comments section below by answering this question: How many of these lessons have you learned what lessons could you add to the list?
1. Time Is Running Out Quickly: It took me a while to realize this, but our time here on earth is like a blink of an eye. I was about 25 when it dawned on me that life would be over before I knew it and I realized it’s imperative that I make the most of it. I plan on living until 100, therefore I now have 69 years left…and that’s not a lot of time.
…but as C.S. Lewis once said, “You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream.”
2. Be An Abundance Thinker: There’s only two ways to think, either in abundance or scarcity. Abundance thinking leads to success, happiness, and contentment and scarcity thinking leads to fear, worry, and disappointment. When I’m thinking in abundance I’m more resourceful, creative, positive, and effective in my daily life and on my journey towards my big freakin’ dream. Thinking in abundance will bring abundance.
“For a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” – King Solomon
3. When You Fail Treat Yourself, When You Succeed Just Savor The Moment: I was given this advice when I was 23 by a 50 year old real estate professional at the time who was a millionaire by 21. I took him to lunch one day and he told me something I’ve always followed. He said, “Chad, when that $10,000 commission real estate deal falls through at the closing table, the first thing you do is go buy yourself the biggest and best steak you can find, no matter the cost. It will give you comfort and help you stand back up and get back in the ring. BUT! When that $10,000 commission real estate does go through, don’t do anything. Just savor the moment and don’t buy anything. You’re already high enough from that win that you don’t need anything else.” I’ve followed that advice ever since, even when I was nearly broke. Made all the difference in helping me get back in the ring to fight.
4. Past Failures Don’t Predict The Future…And Neither Do Successes: I have failed a lot, probably more than most. I have also succeeded. When I failed I would sometimes get down on myself and think that these failures were predicting a future life full of failure. It’s not true at all. In all honesty, I think past failure predicts more future success…that is unless the same mistakes are made twice. On the flip-side, past success doesn’t necessarily predict a future life full of success. Point here, just keeping working my ass off and enjoy the roller coaster ride.
“How you see your future is much more important than what happened in your past.”- Zig Ziglar
5. Everything Takes Longer Than Expected: This one has been a particularly hard realization to swallow. I expect things to happen quickly…like yesterday. After years of battle, I’ve finally accepted that most ideas, dreams, business ventures, etc. take wwwwaayyy longer than you hope, like 4x longer. I thought our web series, Stampabout, would be up and running within in a year. Wrong! It took 4 years. I now mentally prepare to be in it for the long haul whenever exploring an idea or project, so I better listen to what Steve Jobs said and I better love what I’m doing.
6. Forgiveness Is The Key To Happier, More Fulfilling Relationships: I’ve learned that this could be the single-most important thing in having amazing relationships. I’ve hurt others and others have hurt me throughout the years, it’s part of life, but being able to ask for and accept forgiveness has made all of my relationships exponentially better.
7. People Are The Most Valuable Asset: Not the house, the car, the boat, the title, or whatever we place value on these days, is more valuable than the people in our lives. They bring us love, comfort, hope, joy, happiness, and they help us overcome our biggest challenges and accomplish our biggest endeavors. I’ve received more value from the people that have been put in my life and the people I’ve chosen to be a part of my life. Without them, I don’t have much.
8. There’s No Such Thing As Being Lucky: I used to think certain people were “lucky”…but I quickly realized that was only for lottery winners. Real luck is simply preparation meeting opportunity.
I’ve made this equation visible to me everyday: Luck = Preparation + Opportunity.
9. Education Never Stops: It’s funny; I was never that much of studier in high school or college. But after graduating college I became more of a student than ever. I devoured books, went to classes, and met with mastermind groups. Without my “continuing” education I wouldn’t be on the road I’m on today. A degree doesn’t mean you stop learning. For me, learning is a life-long priority at the top of my daily, weekly, and yearly goals list.
10. Money Is NOT The Root Of All Evil: I don’t exactly know where this came from, but when I was growing up I felt like it was a recurring theme that money was evil. It wasn’t until I read about how much Warren Buffet gives away and how much good he does with his money that I realized money isn’t evil, just the people who use money in evil ways are. I no longer hold on to the notion that making lots of money is a bad thing; rather it’s an amazing resource that can create incredible value for others.
11. Celebrate The Wins: We have all accomplished more than we realize and we need to give ourselves credit, even down to the smallest thing. I made a decision to celebrate my victories, no matter the size, so that I could look back and see that I’ve done more than I give myself credit for. To help, I created an “Accomplishment Jar” where everyday I write down at least one victory for the day no matter how big or small. I put it in my accomplishment jar and at the end of the month I read everything I accomplished for the month. It helps me see how much I really did get accomplished. It sure helps create confidence and rekindle excitement for what you’re doing, especially when things are moving slower than you’d like…remember number five above?
12. Building A Legacy Is What’s Important: It’s not about what I take with me to the grave, it’s what I leave behind to help others live a better life.
13. Don’t Follow The Status Quo And Have Lot’s Of Fun: Can I just be blunt here? Screw the status quo. Be bold, be unreasonable, do things that people think are crazy, and have a blast doing it. Because guess what? I’ll not only have more fun, but I’ll feel free from the daily grind, rat race, and a life of mediocrity. Only 69 years left to live. Give me fun, fun, fun!
“Freedom lies in being bold.” – Robert Frost
14. A Cleveland Sports Team Will Win A Championship: Someday. I still have hope and that hope is all I have.
15. Fail Faster And More Often: I used to fear failure, a lot. I still fear failure in some ways, but I’ve learned so much more through failure than I ever did with success. Plus, I’ve found that my failures actually create more opportunities for success. The more I fail and the faster I fail, the faster success comes to me. That also means I have to get over things quicker, which is still a work in progress.
16. Debt Is The Silent Killer Of Your Hopes And Dreams: Get rid of debt.
17. Don’t Reinvent The Wheel: If it’s been done before, I duplicate what worked and add my own flavor to it. Trying to create something new and exciting takes way more time and resources. I now take my creative ideas and break them into categories and then go find the most successful example for that category. Innovation is the name of my game.
18. Setting Goals Is A Must: I’ve actually received a lot of comments in the past from people disagreeing with me about the importance of goal setting, but history shows that people who accomplish the most, or accomplish their big freakin’ dream, set some kind of goal. There have been times where I’ve accomplished under 20% of my goals for the year, but I still set them anyway. They are a pre-requisite to the life I envision and will continue to be so.
19. Focus On Significance Not Success: I talk about success quite often, but success means different things to different people. What really matters is creating significance. Success then becomes a byproduct. My focus is on creating significance.
“God calls us not to be successful but to be significant. When we focus on significance, success is often part of the package.”- Tom Ziglar
20. Your Thoughts Become Your Destiny: My destiny could be the legacy we talked about in number 12. Simply put, what I think about will predict my destiny and the legacy I leave behind.
Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
21. Formal Education Is Unnecessary: Generally speaking, with all the access to information these days, going to college or grad school, to me, is no longer a good use of time or money. My education will come in the form of learning from others before me, learning from those around me, learning from the best in the business today, and then taking action and using the motto of “fail forward” as my education.
22. Daily Exercise And Proper Nutrition Is A Must: This one also took a while to learn. As a collegiate soccer player I was always exercising and I never had to worry about what I ate. But now that I’m in the “real world” I’ve had to make it a priority to get 20 minutes of exercise daily and fuel my body with the right nutrients. Anytime I don’t exercise and/or eat junk I become lethargic, less positive, and less productive.
23. Always Take Action: Nothing will ever beat taking action. I’ll learn as much as possible on a topic or skill, but at some point I just have to put down the books and act. Action leads to more learning, which leads to more confidence in my competence, which leads to more effectiveness and success.
24. Nothing Counts Until The Money Is In The Bank: This was a very harsh lesson back in the day. When I was just getting started selling real estate in Chicago, my first three real estate deals fell through at the very last minute. Each time I had already started counting that income, which was a bad idea since they didn’t work out and I didn’t get paid. Moral of the story? Don’t stop running any race until that finish line is crossed…or the money actually hits the bank account.
25. You Become The Average Of The 5 People You Surround Yourself With: I constantly re-evaluate the people I’m spending my time with. Are they helping me grow, helping me learn more, holding me accountable, and encouraging me to be a better version of myself? If I want to do great things then I need to surround myself with people who also want to do great things. I’ll often ask myself, am I becoming who I want to become by spending most of my time with these 5 people? If not, I make changes.
26. Get Trained By The Best: If I want to do something well, then I get trained or coached by the best. I did this recently for one of my sales jobs. I had to make cold calls to sell our company’s product and I wasn’t very good at it, yet my livelihood depended on it. Instead of just trying to “get by”, I worked out a deal with the top cold-calling trainer and author to teach me how to be a better cold-calling sales person. With practice and coaching I became the best and it took my career to new heights (and I was featured in his top-selling book). Now if only I had done that with soccer when I was younger. These days, I know the difference great coaching makes and I’ll never make that mistake again. I’ll always hire a coach or trainer no matter the subject.
27. Don’t Stop Believing: Having the right mindset is 90% of what makes life happy and fulfilling. One of the most important things for me is to keep on believing in myself and what I believe I can and will accomplish. When times are tough and my dreams are looking bleak, I’ll repeat to myself, “I believe in my abilities. I believe I can do this.” Pretty easy, but works every time.
28. Look First For The Value In Others: EVERY-body provides value in some form or another. It may be hard to believe but it’s true. I’m making the efforts to look for that first before looking at any of the negatives. If I want others to view me in a positive light from the start then I need to first see in them what I hope they see in me.
29. Life. Is. Awesome. Speaks for itself. There’s no point in believing anything else. Think this way all the time and I’ll have a lot more fun.
(Use the highest quality sound system and turn the volume up for most awesome experience)
30. Do What You Can With What You Have: I’ve learned that if I want more resources then I have to do what I can, with what I have, where I’m at. If I’m able to make something out of nothing, then access to more incredible resources will usually follow…and then I can make a lot out of a lot.
31. It Doesn’t Matter What Others Think: I’m trying to live out my dream of becoming an adventure travel host on a major TV network at the age of 31, sacrificing any thoughts of a “normal” career. Some people think I’m nuts, think that what I write or the videos I make are stupid, and that I’m wasting my time. I’m sure there’s much more they think about me but won’t tell me…but it doesn’t matter what they think. My mom always said, “if you died today would what they thought of you matter?” Nope.
Obviously, there are a lot of lessons I’ve learned in 31 years and I actually had a running list much, much longer. These, though, are the lessons I felt were the most important ones and when applied, will make the next 31+ years happier, more productive, and more fulfilling.
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