Yesterday was my 34rd Birthday and as many of you know I am a very reflective person, especially around Birthdays. Rather than writing an incredibly long post that nobody will get through I thought I would focus on five key reflections I’ve had looking back on the last 34 years. Hopefully one or two of these will be relevant to you.
- How you spend your time is everything – my biggest takeaway after 34-years on this planet is that how you spend your time, and who you spend it with really is the most important thing. I learned this, like most things, by making a lot of mistakes. I used to be a guy who would work a “day job” and then have a million different “side-projects” – what I learned is that I was not putting the time into any one thing to do it truly well. Now I have zero side-projects and one singular career focus. I also used to spend all day away from Daina, now we spend all day together. It’s taken a long time but I now finally feel like rather than doing a million different things I am incredibly focused on the things that really matter to me.
- Learn to say no – this ties direction into the previous lesson, and it’s something I’ve had to get a lot better at especially over the last 2-3 years. I used to say “yes” to just about everything. Meeting for coffee, speaking at events, conferences, meetup groups, I said yes to it all. Learning to say “no” and saying it in a kind and respectful way has allowed me to be more focused and do the things that really matter to me.
- Keep an open mind – this is a lesson that I think I learned from my parents starting at an early age and I’ve stuck to it throughout life. It can be easy to make assumptions, believe things are a certain way. Now that I live in Austin a lot of people say things to me like, “so do you eat a lot of BBQ?” or “did you buy a gun yet?” I realize these people have already closed their minds, they have assumptions and never took the time to open their mind and think that maybe things could be different. Things are not always as they seem and if you assume that Los Angeles is just a city full of traffic, Vancouver and Seattle are just rainy all the time, and Austin is full of gun-toting cowboys then you’ll miss-out on some of the most beautiful and incredible places on the planet. Keep an open mind, those “assumptions” that you have are nothing more than assumptions.
- Travel – I have been incredibly lucky to have spent the majority of my 20’s traveling all over the world. I wrote an article on Medium about what I learned in my travels. If you’ve spent your whole life in the country you were born in, it’s time to go out and explore the world, this absolutely changed the way that I think and the person that I am today and I am so thankful to have traveled, traveled, and traveled some more!
- Pay attention to how people make you feel – there are some people that you will spend time with who make you feel great, inspire you, and make you want to be around them. At the same time, there are other people that will make you feel bad about yourself (not intentionally in most cases) and make you feel like you need to change. Pay careful attention to how people make you feel. You might meet someone that you “think” you should become friends with or you “hope” will like you. Your gut is a lot more powerful than you’d think and if you spend time with someone and don’t feel very good afterwards, there’s something to that. Surround yourself with people that make you feel good, life is too short for anything else.