26 Things I Learned at Age 26

[stag_intro]“Love yourself like your life depends on it, because your life does depend on it.”[/stag_intro]
At age 26 I want to share a few things I’ve learned over the years about living a prosperous and purposeful life.

1. Never Accept Anyone Else Telling you What You Can or Cannot Do.

No one can decide what you’re capable of except you. Don’t let anyone choose which lines you want to colour in.

2. If You Don’t Go After What You Want, You’ll Never Have It.

The biggest enemy of progress is using the phrase “someday”. Successful people don’t wait for opportunities — they create them.

3. Focus on Possibilities instead of Problems.

Problems are often opportunities in disguise.

4. Create More than You Consume.

We spend our lives in front of screens of various shapes and sizes, scanning, reading, and consuming. In a garbage-in garbage-out world, share your wisdom by creating a wealth of knowledge rather than only consuming it.

5. The World Doesn’t Owe You Anything.

There will be times where the world will seem unfair to you. Your work will go unappreciated. Your partner will take you for granted. Your boss will take credit for your work. Let’s hope none of this ever happens to you (I have been fortunate in this regard) but if it does, remember that the world owes you nothing and that your future is in your own hands.

[stag_intro]“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play them”.[/stag_intro]

6. Good Actions Count More than Good Intentions.

What you do matters more than what you intended. No one can read your mind and no one owes it to you to really try.

7. Be Kind to your Body and Your Soul.

I think it’s safe to say that every 10 years, one can look back a decade and feel markedly different about their physical fitness, levels of energy, and drive. As we age it is important to take care of your mind and body.

Get out more. Go take a walk. Get off the computer. Take a 30 Day Health Challenge.

8. Expect Nothing in Return for The Things You Do for Others.

You don’t need to believe in Karma to do good things for others. Be selfless in helping others and do not do it for any other reason but brighten someone else’s day.

9. Strive for Happiness and Nothing but Happiness.

Strive to be happy and content no matter what you spend your time and efforts on. Focus on maximizing your happiness over everything else: status, money, power, ego, etc.

1o. Failure is a reflection of an Event, not a Person.

When you fail learn from the experience. Life is full of chances (whether you create opportunities or chance upon them) and learning from your failures will help you shape into a better person.

11. Don’t Think Twice about Saying “I Love You” and “Thank You”.

These words are free and should be shared regularly. It is not enough to expect your partner, family, or friends to ‘understand’ that you appreciate them. Verbalize it.

12. You aren’t Truly Wealthy until You Have Something Money Can’t Buy.

Money is a great enabler and can open many doors but having money is not the same as being wealthy. True wealth comes from the sense of freedom and contentment that is not easily displaced or replicated.

13.Regret will Cause You More Pain than Heartbreak or Broken Bones.

Speak your mind, do the things you want to do, and take full responsibility for the consequences (good or bad) but don’t look back and say “I wish…”.

14. Spend a Few Moments with Yourself Alone, Every day.

Take a couple of minutes every day to be at peace with yourself. If you’re into meditation then take 10 minutes to do that. If you aren’t, spend the time grounding yourself by appreciating what you have today and preparing for the dreams you want to pursue tomorrow.

15. Choose Your Partner Carefully. They Can Make Your Life 100X Better or Worse.

All relationships take time, effort, and understanding but having the right partner can make life 100X better.

16. Maintain Great Relationships with your Aging Parents.

As I get older I appreciate the things my parents have done for me more and more every day. I can imagine that when I become a father myself this appreciation will only grow. Life’s best moments are fleeting and in a fast paced world it’s important to continue the relationships we’ve had with our parents as kids.

17. There’s a Song that Makes Everything Alright for 5 Minutes.

For me that’d be U2’s Electrical Storm. Songs have powerful effects on your cerebral cortex, bringing back vivid memories of sights, sounds, and smells from important times in one’s life.

18. Live a Humble Life.

No matter what you’ve accomplished you’ll find more serenity in life and attract the right people into it when you’re humble.

19. Learn when to Disconnect.

Your body wasn’t built as a productivity machine. When you are feeling burnt out it might be time to disconnect and go on that vacation you’ve been planning for a while.

Better yet, turn off your notifications, stop checking your email, and turn off your phone.

20. Look for Work-Life Fit, not Work-Life Balance.

Your boss and colleagues count on you to pull long-hours and you may be dissatisfied with your job. Most people aren’t actually motivated by money to switch jobs but instead look for w0rk-life balance.

At least in Tech and Marketing, it doesn’t really exist. Instead, look for work-life fit. Work-life fit focuses on allowing employees flexibility in their working hours, allowing them to balance work along side personal goals or duties.

Many startups and companies strive for work-life fit including my own agency at Powered by Search.

21. Learn Something New Every Day.

Some call these “life-hacks”. No matter what you call them, spend your downtime learning new things that can enrich your life. I learned how to pitch better on my daily drive into work by listening to Zig Ziglar audio books back when I was around 19-21.

22. Learn to Listen Twice as Much as You Talk.

Everyone wants to be heard. It pays to listen to anyone you speak to and really understand what they are saying instead of thinking of your next response while they’re talking. This way we speak with each other instead of at each other.

23. Break Big Projects into Tiny Blocks.

When I was starting my undergraduate studies and working a full time job I remember it being fairly difficult to complete intermediate finance exercises and create scope of work proposals at the same time.

I eventually learned to “chunk” projects and problems into much tinier bits. In it’s most rudimentary form I’d chart out any given project into an outline first and then work out individual sections one-by-one.

24. Pick the Something you Love and Be amongst the Best in the World at It.

When thinking about your life’s work you don’t have to settle for what’s proven. What’s important is to pick a passion that you’ll likely never get bored of and then be the best at it. Success and money will come in spades as long as you choose something that others also care about.

25. Always be Hungry and Fight Complacency.

Never get too comfortable in life. Seek new challenges regularly. At work as your boss to help set goals for you that you can work towards if you aren’t allowed to set them yourself.

26. Let Go of Your Anger and Jealousy.

Seriously. It isn’t worth it and the only person you’re holding back is yourself.

A good life is when you assume nothing, do more, need less, smile often, dream big, laugh a lot, love with complete abandon, and count your blessings every single day.