I turned 30 on July 31, 2014. Just one day ago.
That’s really all I can say. I feel like I’m getting really old even though I’m living quite an amazing life. Much more amazing than my teenage years and most of my twenties.
As someone who has grown tremendously over the last ten years, travelled all over the world, met amazing people from all walks of life, started a blog that has introduced me to hundreds of entrepreneurs and adventures, married a sweetheart, and has started successful online business ventures…I thought it would be cool to think deep and share some advice that I wish I had when I was 20. Actually, I wish I had someone tell me these when I was younger than that, though who’s to say I would have listened. Of course, the advice isn’t just for twenty-somethings. It can be for anyone of any age. All of us have different backgrounds and lessons we’ve learned over the years. In fact, each of us can learn something from each other and I’d love to hear from you in the comments below on a tip/lesson you’d like to share.
Before you go on, I should warn you that this post is more tun 4000 words. Oh c’mon, it’s not THAT long.
These are my 30 tips on life from 30 years of life.
1. Invest more in yourself than anything else
So many people, including myself, grow up with a mentality of investing for retirement. That or not investing at all. I’ve had people ask me how to invest their first $500. While an investment account is GREAT to have, a smarter investment is always in yourself. It might be as simple as buying a book or taking a course or joining a club. Maybe you want to learn more about money, communication skills, entrepreneurship or world travel. Whatever it is, investing in yourself always pays off in the long run.
2. Think twice about higher education
Let’s face it. The job market is changing rapidly and most university and college courses/degrees/diplomas are becoming obsolete. If your career requires a degree, such as engineering and medicine, then you probably have no choice. However, for business and other non-technical studies, school might just be a waste of time. While school can certainly be a lot of fun, a few good books or working for a company that interests you can be much better. If entrepreneurship is your thing, starting your own business is a much better use of time. I have a degree in business and while I certainly enjoyed some classes, I’ve learned 10x more on my own by starting projects and businesses, failing and then starting more. You’ll figure much more out by actually doing things, making connections with people in similar fields and by working in your field of choice and learning hands-on than a class could ever teach you. You’ll save a lot as well. Want more opinions? Here is a link to 8 alternatives to College by Millionaire James Altucher.
3. Personal development is vital
Similar to investing in yourself, personal development can take you in many directions, all of which are positive. What could be better than becoming a better person? You might learn how to better relate with people, how to tap into your key strengths, how to be happier or how to reach a state of flow in your work and life. These are just a few of the possibilities out there. None of them require heaps of money but they do require effort.
4. Beware of personal development
I know, I know – I just said personal development is amazing. We’ll, it is, but you have to remember not to take it so seriously that you become serious yourself. After all, FUN is key to life and is one of the most important things you can do while on this planet. I’ve seen people (myself included) get so deep into personal development that they actually forget that it (and life) is supposed to be fun. Take personal development serious enough to make progress but not to the point that you stop having fun.
5. Less networking, More Action
If you have a business or are about to start one (or even a blog or creative project), you may find yourself falling into the trap of networking a little too much. I know I did. Some networking is wonderful and a great way to connect with like-minded people, share ideas and get inspired. But, like a good steak, it can be overdone. I see so many people (again, myself included) who end up meeting hundreds of people, going to tons of events and reaching out to all sorts of inspiring people but never actually creating anything.
Meeting people is GREAT but ultimately action is what produces results. Take some money out of your event fund and throw it into your business. Take some time away from networking and put it into your business. Then, you will not only be building something of your own BUT you will also have something to talk about with all the amazing people you meet.
6. Learn about money
I think we can all agree that money is important. While millions are certainly NOT needed to live a GREAT life, a basic understanding of money is. So many people waste money without a second thought. Why waste something you have to work for? You don’t need to be as advanced as Warren Buffet to create financial success for yourself. You just need to learn some basics, pick an investment vehicle and follow through. For example, the easiest thing to do is start an automated savings plan along with an automated investement plan. In my case, I currently drop $50 per month into a simple savings account and $250 into an index fund investment account. It’s been earning me 25% interest over the last 3 years and I only look at it for 15 minutes per year. Simple and easy.
7. Less partying
A good party is great and a life without some partying is a life not lived BUT too many parties can stifle your life. I think back as far as my high school life when I partied hard 2-3 times per week. While I certainly had some fun, I missed out on an incredible time to learn new skills, strengthen my strengths and many other things I could have benefited from. When I see people still doing this in their late twenties and thirties, I can’t help but think what a waste of life it is. Obviously, a good party with awesome people is good now and then but don’t waste your life doing nothing but drinking and certainly don’t spend it with just anybody, which brings me to my next point…
8. Get rid of toxic people
We’ve all had our share of bad friends and family throughout life. Some of them might literally be bad friends and some are just downright negative people. The last thing you want if your trying to be a better person or build a better life is a friend who keeps you down by being negative, complaining a lot, or anything that doesn’t boost you to new levels. Our time is limited and not a single second should be wasted with toxic people. Choose your friends wisely. Spend time with people who encourage you, inspire you and lift you up when you are down. Good laughs don’t hurt either.
Travel is really something I wish I had done more of in my early twenties and as a teenager. However, I’m not talking about travelling around the world to get drunk at a beach rave or spending a week at an all-inclusive resort to escape from life. I’m talking about real independent travel, especially in developing countries or countries drastically different than your own. You need to get out of your comfort zone, even if it’s just once in your life. Meet locals and spend time with them. Leave your stereotypes at home and begin as someone new. Go solo with nothing but a backpack, some old clothes and a cheap camera. Just go. See some stunning scenery, learn some new things and instil some adventure into your life. Being able to see, feel and touch a completely different culture will change your life in ways words can’t describe. If the other side of the world sounds too scary, then just travel around your own country to start, though the experience will be much more profound if you go to the developing world. You need to get away from your traditional surroundings and expectations and live like a baby in a new country, experiencing things for the first time. Your outlook on life will change dramatically for the better and follow you throughout life. Being able to experience true poverty will also radiate throughout your life and make you much more thankful, thoughtful and awake to the real problems of the world (and make you realize how insignificant your own problems really are). It may even inspire you to use your own set of unique strengths to change someone elses life. Enough of this. Go now. In fact, if you need more of a push, send me an email: matt (at) livelimitless (dot) net.
10. Work to learn
Too often we go through life looking at a job as just a way to make money. This is very short-sighted and ends up leaving you empty in the end. No passion, no key strengths, no directon. Take this as a simple example – Imagine if you always thought you would enjoy event planning but instead of day-dreaming in a random job or jumping right into school or looking for the PERFECT job, you actually went out and got any job related to the “event” industry (regardless of pay) that allowed you to get involved in some way. Even if its not exactly the task you had in mind, you’ll learn hands-on, meet people in the field and build a foundation for yourself. Who knows? It might be the best way to learn that you actually hate event planning (saving yourself future regrets and school debt) OR it could give you enough power to move forward and eventually CREATE your dream job. Random jobs can be okay if you have no clue what you want to do BUT if you have any interests, passions or stengths, chase those and not money. I wish I had done this.
11. Forget popularity
While this is likely more prominent in the high school years, it does occasionally follow people throughout life. There was a time when I was so into being “popular” that I actually ditched some geekier friends to join the so-called cool crowd. After a few years, I realized I didn’t even like many of them. There I was, wasting time and energy with people I didn’t even like just because they somehow earned the status of being “cool” among some groups and had hotter girls hanging out with them (which is what attracted me to the whole thing). Once I finally realized my mistake, I ditched the toxic friends along with my attitude and began to make friends with anyone who I thought was a truly good, interesting and amazing person regardless of how they looked, dressed or who they hung out with. Ironically enough, the “cool club” fades quickly as you get a little bit older and often times it’s the cool kids who do nothing with their lives and become the not-so-cool kids later on.
12. Be friendly to everyone
Not only will it make you feel better and happier but it will always come back to you in the end. You never know where people or going or what they can help you with. This is life’s ultimate boomerang. Whatever you throw at others will come right back to you at some point in life. You might make fun of someone who ends up owning a company you are trying to get a job with or you might brush someone off who later becomes so successful in life that you wish you had of stuck around and learned a thing or two from them. Be friendly to everyone and your happiness level and “luck” in life will grow exponentially.
13. Be more present
As simple as this sounds, it’s quite often a very difficult thing to do. Almost everyone out there is NOT present most of the time, which causes a lot of stress, confusion, discontent and unhappiness. Too often we think about other stuff while doing something and simply are not focused, even with something as magical as sex. It’s crazy and lazy. Read a book like “The Power of Now” and begin to practice being present in the moment. The NOW. Every ounce of your life will be better. I’m still trying to work on this. I never would have thought how to difficult this would be but its worth every bit of effort. I certainly wish I had tried this much sooner in life.
14. Be active in everything you do
Plenty of people are physically active but mentally lazy. Others are mentally active but physically lazy. Some are just inactive in all areas of life. Don’t waste your time being lazy. Get active. Mentally, physically , emotionally, socially. Everything. Create an energy in everything you do. Don’t waste your life on the couch or in activites that don’t give you great energy.
15. Be of service
I’ll be the first to say that I am NOT pefect at any of my tips I am giving. But I am certainly trying to be. Be of service. Help people. Volunteer. Use your skills and stengths to help others. Not only will it make you feel good, which will compound throughout your life, but it can also lead to new discoveries. And even business. Don’t help just because your expecting something in return either. Do it just for the sake of being awesome and I promise your life will be transformed for the better.
16. Learn about minimalism
Minimalism isn’t about owning 50 items or having an empty house, it’s about getting rid of the clutter, garbage and excess so that you can focus and make room for what truly matters in your life and what truly brings you value and joy. Does this not sound amazing? When you hold onto things, both mentally and physically, your mind and thoughts and physical space become cluttered and overwhelmed. In order to make room for new positive thoughts and actions, you must make room for them. When it comes to physical items, reducing the clutter will not only help your wallet but will also help you think better and even help the environment. Minimalism in its purest form is a win/win/win and win again. Everyone wins! A great book on the subject is called Everything that Remains.
If you find yourself in a boring monotonous job or a job where you are literally learning nothing, quit! Seriously, quit now. One of my biggest regrets is the two years I wasted working for a real estate company as a so-called researcher. It was by far the most boring job I have ever had and I learned absolutely nothing during my time there. It was probably the equivalent of smoking pot for 2 years straight. Just me staring into a computer, copying phone numbers into the system. I stayed there because I was buying a house from the company and because the pay was half decent for something so trivial and I knew I was travelling soon, though not soon enough. In the end, those years were absolutely wasted and I will never get them back. Had I spent that time working in sales (learning sales is good for entrepreneurship, which is my interest), a startup, marketing or something of interest, I would have learned skills that I could have brought with me into my next chapter of life. But no, nothing. Don’t do it. Find a job that you can actually learn from and/or be creative with. Use a job not just for the paycheque but as a chance to grow and develop.
18. Learn your strengths and make them stronger
Throughout life, many of us are taught to find our weaknesses and turn them into strengths. After talking to countless successful people in life, I have learned the opposite. Take the time to find your true strengths and then make them stronger. Make them superhuman. Delegate your weaknesses. Make your strengths so strong that not even kryptonite can break them. You will be invincible.
19. Do something crazy exciting at least once in life
You know, crazy! Bungy-jump off a bridge, skydive out of a plane, scuba dive with sharks, hang-glide over the sea, paraglide over a city. Get that adrenaline pumping. Push your limits, make yourself sweat and your knees tremble. Give yourself second thoughts and make yourself get sweaty hands. Get uncomfortable. I can’t even explain the feeling you will have when you accomplish something that scared the hell out of you. One of my first things was a simple 5m cliff jump in Mexico, followed by about 20 roller-coasters, skydiving, scuba diving, hang gliding, paragliding, surfing, bobsledding, skiing black-diamond runs for my first time, and countless other exciting activities. You will grow in ways nothing else can provide and you’ll earn a damn good story out of it while your at it.
20. Try new things or dive deep into a passion
If you’re not sure what your passionate about, keep trying new things throughout life. Don’t just coast through life waiting for some magic moment to hit you. It wont. Have fun with it and try all sorts of stuff. Take a salsa class, try out for the Olympics, act in a movie, take a public speaking course, work tons of interesting jobs, travel the world. Do anything and do everything. By the way, I did all these things above and they were all amazing. If you have a passion for something, dive deeper into it. Learn everything about it. Study everyone who has the same passion. Meet people. Give it everything. Whatever you do, don’t just stand around. Before you know it, you’ll be 90 and even standing around will be tough.
21. Read more
I’m not sure if anything has changed my life as much as reading. As a kid, I loved reading. In fact, my parents tell me that after my first day of school, I cried my eyes out because I wasn’t able to read yet. Then, as I got older and partying got in the way, I stopped reading. Luckily, a few years later, I randomly picked up a copy of Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point”, which ironically enough, became my tipping point into reading a lot of books and changing my life. Books will help you be more creative, get new ideas and expand your mindset. Some of the top books that have changed my life are:
- The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
- The 4-Hour Work-Week by Tim Ferriss
- Vagabonding by Rolf Potts
- Choose Yourself by James Altucher
- Leaving Microsoft to Change the World by John Wood
Don’t stop with non-fiction either. I made this mistake and am just getting into fiction as well, which can be equally as groundbreaking for your creative side.
22. Choose your priorities carefully
Everyone has priorities but most haven’t thought them through. Many people ask me how I travel so much. Many think I must be rich. In reality, I just make travel a priority. It’s the #1 thing I want to do with my money and it’s a passion of mine, so I make it a priority each and every year. By making it a priority, I’m end up finding good deals, earning free flights, couch surfing all over the world, meeting interesting people and just making it a part of my life. If you find yourself smoking a pack of cigarettes every day and drinking at bars on the weekend but tell yourself you wish you could travel, you need to change your priorities. In this case, your priorities are drinking and smoking, which is likely costing you about $600 per month. That’s more than $7000 each year, which is enough to travel for about five or six months. If travel was a priority, you would be doing it. Recheck your priorities in life and make sure they align with what you really want to accomplish. Otherwise, you will find yourself wasting a lot of time and complaining about the same stuff year after year.
23. Don’t waste time
This doesn’t mean you should never relax. It just means to take your time seriously. At times, relaxation is very important but many people simply waste a tremendous amount of time watching TV, playing video games or just sitting around to fill a void in life. If you haven’t figured out how precious time is, you will eventually. If you’ve always dreamed of having a side business or painting or playing guitar or sculpting your body or whatever, you DO have the time! Stop watching an hour or two of TV each night or stop surfing the web and use that time wisely to start creating a new life with your hobby/passion/activity of choice. Try to create rather than consume. I’ve met people who say they want to play guitar but then surf the web all night and claim they don’t have time. Five years later and they are doing the same thing. Had they just used their wasted time for playing the guitar, they would practically be a professional musician by now. Just like money, time adds up. Time is limited though so don’t waste it.
24. Step into other shoes
Each and every one of us was raised in a different way with different values, traditions, friends and family. It’s easy to get lost in our own ways without ever thinking about all the possibilities out there. Take the time to see how different people live their lives. Everything you think of from whether to own a house or to rent or whether you want a fancy car or not to whether to go to school or not is all from what you’ve learned and been around in the past. Other people do things totally different. If we don’t step into other shoes now and then, we just accept everything as is, when in fact its just one of many options. You might be happier following a completely different route you didn’t even know existed. All of us have effectively been brainwashed in one way or another, for good or for bad. But with technology and books and movies and meetups, it is your respinibility to see the world with a different set of eyes and realize that everything is a choice and there is always another view.
25. Be a selective spender
Let’s face it. Every dollar you spend is a dollar you need to earn and with so many people complaining about their jobs, you would think they would be more careful with how much they spend. When you buy a $5 latte, that’s $5 you have to make. That could be a half hour of work if its minimum wage in Canada. It’s actually more once you factor in taxes. So many people just mindlessly spend money without really thinking about the work that’s involved. You don’t have to be cheap, you just have to be selective. What do you value? What do you really want out of life? Do you actually want to travel? Do you want to pay off your mortgage? Be selective and spend wisely only on the things that truly mean something in your life and bring you value. I practically stopped going to bars when I realized I was spending about $500 per month (which was actually low compared to some friends). With $12,000 saved in just two years, I was able to travel for six months throughout New Zealand, Australia and Indonesia – a trip I had been dreaming about for seven years. It was that simple. The money is there, you just have to be selective with how you spend it.
26. Get back into nature
There are many studies out there showing a direct link between sadness (and many other negative things) and not feeling connected to nature and the world we live in. Don’t take my word for it. Just try it and see what happens. But don’t bring the “outside world with you. Leave your phone at home, don’t bring music. Just listen to the birds and to the breeze. Look at all the colours. Marvel at how an ecosystem works. The best experiences I have had in life involve nature and animals. Go scuba diving to see the amazing underworld, go do some hiking in a nearby park, go camping without an RV, go for more walks, read by a lake – Just get outside. If you’re are stressed out, this is the best way to detox.
27. Be a one world citizen
And realize that we are all in this together. Try to forget about politics, religions, race and all that stuff that divides us. While we may all be from different countries, we all come from the same world and we all have to work together if we want to change it for the better. Having too much pride in ones own country is damaging in my opinion. We’re all humans and we all want the same thing – Peace and love.
28. Turn off the news
While it’s okay to know what’s happening now and then, the news is nothing but negativity that will make you want to lock all your doors and throw away the key. The “news” is meant to be that way because it keeps you coming back for more. Do you really want to listen to negativity and biased opinions all day long? The world is better and safer than ever before. Even war-torn countries when visited will quickly make you realize how few bad people there are and how everyone else is just as sweet and kind as you but just stuck in a bad situation. Most human beings want the same thing. A happy life, peace, tranquility, the ability to feed their kids, and a roof over their head for when the rain gets rough. Seriously.
29. You become who you hang out with
There are many articles you’ll find all over the place about being the sum of the five people you hang out with the most. If you think about it, it’s quite true. While five may not be 100% accurate, there is no doubt that if you hang out with entrepreneurs, you will be an entrepreneur and if you hang out with travellers, you will become a traveller. At the same time, if you hang out with people who complain, you will complain. If you hang out with party animals, you will be a party animal. The good news is that you don’t necessarily need to get out and find five successful millionaires (or whatever) to befriend over the weekend – You can also do so by following what they do, reading the books that they read and getting into their minds from the outside. Find someone who would be a great mentor and just follow them online and pick up on what they do. With technology, you don’t always need to meet someone one-on-one to learn a lot. Eventually, as you blaze your trail, you’ll find yourself actually hanging around with the people you should be hanging around with. Just remember, you will become who you hang out with the most.
30. Finding happiness at all points in life
One of the things I am most definitely still working on is finding happiness at all points in life. Most of us are conditioned to believe that happiness lies around the corner with certain successes and feelings. I’ve met a lot of successful people in the last few years and have found this not to be the case. Contentment is often linked to happiness and we should all strive to be happy in all points of our life. It doesn’t mean we don’t have to strive to become better, it just means we should be happy where we are as well. If happiness is some far off point in life, we will never find it. It all starts now and in every moment and intersection throughout life. There is no happiness destination but only a journey of happiness.
What do you think? Did any of these strike a chord?
Do you have any you would like to share? Please leave your comments below!