30 Lessons in 30 Years

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One month ago I turned 30. And it was weird. It’s the first decade nobody really welcomes. Just think about it.

When you turn 10, it’s a big deal. Double digits baby! You’re big enough to know how to trick your parents, but not old enough for any real punishment.

Then you turn 20. Still a big deal. Now you feel like an adult (even though some of you have to wait one more year to buy alcohol). You start dreaming about independence, fame, and all the other cool things that will surely come in the next few years.

But when you turn 30 it’s different. You’re kind of in between. Old enough to know where you stand and what you can achieve, with enough time left to make it real. You still allow yourself to dream, you just filter a lot more.

At thirty a man steps out if the darkness and wasteland of preparation into active life; it is the time to show oneself, the time of fulfillment – Thomas Mann

I think 30 is a cozy spot. That’s why I want to share with you 30 of the most important lessons I’ve learned during the first 30 years of my life.

  1. Be nice to peopleIt’s cheaper, healthier, and more effective.
  2. Your complete and undivided attention is one of the greatest gifts you can give. And it’s free, so give it more often.
  3. You can become anything, but not everythingSo make a choice.
  4. You will regret the things you didn’t do more than the things you did.
  5. Discipline is a myth. It can only bring you so far. If you want long-term results, you need to learn to love what you’re doing.
  6. Happiness = Reality – Expectations. Also, happiness is not a goal/destination. It’s a journey and it’s constantly changing.
  7. Money can buy happiness, but only up to a point.
  8. Follow your passion” is terrible advice. There’s science behind finding the right job.
  9. Grit is more important than intelligence. (Don’t believe me? Read this)
  10. Deep work yields exponential results.
  11. Improving yourself is the best project you can work on.
  12. You can learn something from anyone you meet. Just listen.
  13. Try, fail. Try again, fail better. This is the only way to get better.
  14. To improve you need to leave your comfort zone.
  15. Work to acquire skills, not certificates.
  16. Showing up every day and doing the work as good as you can will put you in the top 50%. Grab the initiative and you’re in the top 10%.
  17. Don’t attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity (Hanlon’s razor). Far more people are stupid and/or incompetent than mischievous.
  18. Always share information.You don’t have the nuclear codes, so stop worrying.
  19. Competition is stupidFocus on being better than you were yesterday.
  20. Don’t strive for perfection. In most cases good enough (about 80% perfect) will do just fine.
  21. Physical fitness is important. It affects your intellect, mood, and relationship to others. You only get one body, so don’t neglect it.
  22. Nothing ever lasts. Everything evolves, decays, or transforms. People also change. So do their priorities, dreams, and ideals.
  23. Consistency beats inspiration in the long run.
  24. It’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission. Also, when you have screwed up, first admit it. Then you can ponder how and why it happened.
  25. Removing obstacles beats offering rewards. Avoiding pain trumps getting pleasure. Also, a loss is felt more powerful than a gain. (Read Kahneman’s book for more on this)
  26. To change a system you first have to understand its rules and learn to play the game to perfection.
  27. People can rationalize anything.
  28. Knowledge without execution is worthless.
  29. Stop askingWhat is the meaning of life?”. Instead, ask “What can I do to make life better?”.
  30. Go to bed early. Wake up early. And don’t make important decisions late at night.

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