Today (March 30) I turned 28 years old.
It’s hard to believe that I’ve been alive in this world for almost three decades! I have nothing but gratitude as each day we get is a gift.
This is an interesting age for me. I’m by no means old, and to many peoples standard, I’m young. But in many ways, I feel that I’ve had so many experiences already that are worth reflecting on.
In this post, I share 28 life lessons I’ve learned in 28 years of being alive. Let’s get straight into it!
- Your 20s are a perfect time to try new careers and experiment. In my ripe age of 28, I’ve already worked in six different industries including accounting, real estate, finance, education, creative and retail. I’m still yet to meet anyone at my age who have changed careers as much as me. I think there’s merit in sticking to one career if you’ve found work that you really connect with. However, I also know it’s been invaluable for me to try different paths as it has helped me to refine what I want and more importantly, what I don’t want as I move into my 30s. Creative entrepreneur Jonathan Fields has a great little video on what advice he would give to his 20-something-year-old self. Check it out below.
- Smartphones are the new television. In my life, I’ve watched attention for media switch from television to computers to now mobile devices. It’s insane how quickly technology has changed! With the combination of the Internet and smartphones that have more power than what computers used to have, every industry is somewhat forced to adapt. I don’t know too many children under the age of 15 who watch television, period! And the few that do, often use cloud based streaming services like Netflix.
- Mindless consumerism is evil. I get agitated when I see advertising for products and companies who are only interested in increasing their bottom line. I’ve learned not to be persuaded by savvy marketing and instead scrutinize every purchase I make. This has sharpened my decision making and has also helped me to respect and preserve all of the items that I own.
- Simplicity is beautiful but elusive. The journey of simple living is one that is incredible when executed but is something that is quite challenging to achieve on a consistent basis. I’ve found that sustained simplicity is a lot harder than it looks. But it’s ok. There’s no need to beat yourself up! Remember to celebrate progress, and there’s no such thing as perfection. At the same time when assessing decisions, always ask the question, “can this be simpler?”
- Enjoy your wedding day because it goes by quickly! Maša and I got married a few weeks ago and we’re still trying to relive moments. It literally feels like a dream. We remember more random things as each day goes on.
- Becoming vegan is easier than you think. It’s a recurring story. I tell someone for the first time that I’m vegan and they marvel in astonishment about how I can live without consuming meat and dairy. The truth is, it’s not hard to become vegan, in fact, I think it’s simple. Once I made the connection with how humans treat animals, it was easy for me to change the way I live. Like anything, if you’re why is strong enough, actions will follow.
- Humility always wins. Whether you’re trying to disarm an angry customer, you don’t know the answer to something, or you’re accepting compliments, I’ve found that humility is the best tool. You’ll see that more people will open up to you that way.
- Experiences are more enriching than things. I used to think the opposite. I thought material items was all that mattered. But I now realize that nothing beats honest, deep human experiences. It’s the series of moments in your life that create long-lasting memories.
- Decluttering is one of the most liberating things you can do. The moment that I realised that less is truly more, my life changed significantly for the better. I had a mild case of what we call “the more virus” and the scary thing was, I didn’t even realize that I had it! So look at all of your possessions and start asking the question, “do I really need this?”
- Selective ignorance is bliss. When I was a real estate agent, we were always taught to not watch the news or listen to the radio. That’s because as an agent, you couldn’t afford to listen to “experts” talk about how good or bad the property market was and instead, you’d focus on what you could control. This habit has stayed true to me today. Most of what we consume regarding current affairs are things we cannot control, and it can paralyze you from having amazing experiences. Sure, it’s sometimes good to be aware of what’s happening in the world, particularly if it’s positive, but be careful with where you draw the line.
- Empathy is key to relationship building. The ability to understand where people are coming from is one of the best life skills you can have in your toolkit. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to have some magical talent to read people’s personalities. It’s more about being genuinely interested in others and asking quality questions to find out what makes them tick. From here you have all of the information to relate to them and build trust. Empathy is a skill that I pride myself on and it has opened up a ton of opportunities for me over the years.
- There’s value in being able to deal with ambiguity. So much happens in life that you simply can’t control. At which point, you have two choices 1) freeze up and get down on yourself because things didn’t go as planned, or 2) embrace the idea of being agile and adjust your game plan on the fly. Dealing with ambiguity means making quick decisions and living with the consequences. It also means being adaptable when things go off course. I used to struggle with this concept as I’m a bit of a planner. But in the last year I’ve grown to accept that I can’t control the outcome and I need to be flexible.
- Goals aren’t that important. I spent so much of my life focusing on results as opposed to the process. What I realised is that there is no “there”. It’s all about what you learn along the way. It’s the doing part that matters most.
- Do more activities that make you feel present. Being 100% in the moment with what you’re doing is magical. Seek the opportunities that make you feel so engaged that you can’t imagine the thought of anything else. For me it’s casually going down to the basketball courts to shoot some hoops coupled with my favourite playlist, or having a deep conversation about topics I’m interested in. Whatever it is, find out what these activities are and fill your life with them. You’ll feel better for it.
- Avoid getting into debt. I can’t stress this point enough. I stupidly took out a loan when I was 19 to get a brand new motorcycle. This decision not only cost me more interest payments on the debt for years to come, it also created one of the biggest emotional burdens I’ve ever encountered. Having that debt was suffocating and quite frankly depressing. It got to the point when I was not opening up letters in the mail because I knew it was going to be from the bank. Now that I’m not in that situation, I appreciate and respect money a lot more and I don’t wish that feeling upon anyone.
- Double down on your strengths and outsource your weaknesses. Be honest with yourself and identify what you’re naturally good at. Is it playing an instrument? Being a nurturing mother? Are you an amazing salesperson? We all have gifts and talents. Stop wasting your time trying to get better at things you’re not great at and go deep with what you already do well.
- Learn how to ask for help. Humans are communal by nature and we’re a lot more generous than what we think we are. All you have to do is ask. Drop your pride and ask. Ask for money for your business, ask for directions when you get lost, ask for help with your assignment. I’m especially talking to young men as they tend to find it more difficult than women to ask for help.
- Start a blog. Challenging yourself to publish your thoughts and opinions will help clarify your thoughts like nothing else. If you’re lucky, you might build a readership and connect yourself to others who think like you. You can blog about pretty much anything these days and the best part is that you can start for free on platforms like WordPress or Medium.
- Don’t be afraid to question what’s “normal”. There are no rules. Really. Don’t follow others blindly just because whatever they’re doing is commonly accepted. You don’t have to have a wedding if you don’t want to. You don’t have to subscribe to a religion. You don’t have to buy a house. Do whatever makes sense to you. Of course be sensible and abide the law. But outside of that, you’re in complete control of whatever it is you want to do.
- Mistakes are the best learning tool. How do you know if you’ve won if you haven’t lost? Making mistakes shows that you’re putting yourself in uncomfortable situations. And it’s in the moments of failure that we grow the most. So with whatever it is that you’re doing, jump in with two feet and get ready to make mistakes and learn from them.
- Having an evening and morning routine is the key to great health. People often talk about how to create the best morning routine to ensure that you start your day with a bang. I’ve learned that the morning routine becomes less sustainable if you don’t have a solid evening routine to ensure you get a good nights rest. It’s the combination of both that set you up for success.
- Let go of expectations. The gap between where you are now and where you want to be can be can extreme contributor towards anxiety and stress. Stop beating yourself up and instead focus on what can be controlled.
- Experience gratitude through breath. It’s quite simple. The first breath we breathe as an infant symbolises new life and our last breath symbolises death. We are so lucky to be alive and one obvious way to remind yourself of how special it is to be able to breathe in and breathe out.
- Stop consuming, start creating. With the internet, it’s never been easier to procrastinate. There’s unlimited content online and it’s super easy to consume it all. However if you want to move forward and grow, you must focus on creating things that matter. This means reducing the amount of content you consume and instead focus on creating things that add value.
- Travel. Travelling is extremely important for so many reasons. It connects you to different cultures. It takes you out of your comfort zone. It creates memorable experiences. Most importantly, it builds your perspective.
- Be yourself. Stop comparing yourself to others and start becoming aware of what makes you unique. There’s something so attractive about someone who accepts themselves for who they are, flaws and all.
- There’s nothing to gain from whinging. I learned a long time ago that there is absolutely nothing to gain from complaining, whinging or being negative. It doesn’t mean you can never vent – however make sure you have a plan in place to quickly get out of your funk.
- You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. This is a famous quote from the great Jim Rohn that still holds much truth today. Be careful who you spend time with because over time you start picking up their habits. Be conscious about you inner-circle and the value that they bring. I’m still working on this and I’m excited about forging new relationships in the future.