35 Lessons on My 35th Birthday

35 Lessons on my 35th BirthdayAs you guessed from the title, today is my birthday.

And for some reason, I’ve been thinking a lot about the last 10 years.

Specifically how much I’ve changed in the last ten years.

{To learn how to make a change to YOUR life, read this post about starting a new life}

A decade ago, I was serving time in the military, engaged to my future ex-wife, attending graduate school on nights/weekends, and looking for a job when I entered the real world.

As I look back on this time I realize that I was a fairly mature and responsible 25 year old.

Flash forward to now…. I have no home.

All my possessions are in storage.  I don’t own a car.  And I’m traveling through Europe, hoping from one place to the next.

Most importantly, I would consider a 9 to 5 job to be some form of a prison sentence.

In short, I’ve developed a weird sort of immature attitude about the world.

So what’s changed in the last ten years?  Unfortunately, that’s a long story.  But I feel I can give a number of lessons I’ve learned during this time.

Some of them have to do with personal development.  Others deal with things I discovered during my Internet marketing education.    And a few come from deeply painful personal experiences.

And in honor of my own birthday, we might as well make it 35 lessons

#1- You can’t fix stupid (or crazy, or lazy)- This is one of the most important lessons to learn.  I’ve personally wasted too much of my time trying to change people who simply can’t be fixed.  Sometimes you have to know when someone is a lost cause and move on.

#2- It’s okay to walk away from some interpersonal relationships– Some relationships have an expiration date.  This is especially true if you’re conscious about making a change in your life.  The sad fact is you some relationships have to be sacrifice in order for you to grow as a person.

#3- It’s okay to say no– There are times when it’s easy to get sucked into somebody else’s to-do list.  Especially if you care about this person.  No matter what though, it’s alright to say no to somebody if you simply can’t help them.   We only have a set amount of time each day.  That’s why it’s okay to say no sometimes to people.  Remember, you can’t please all of the people all of the time.  Instead focus on the things that really matter.

#4- Learn to test people- While this might seem a bit Machiavellian, I’ve discovered the importance of testing people.  If someone asks for help, you should know if they’re worth the effort.  I like to do a small test and see how they react.  If they pass I know they’re worth my time.

#5- Stop Wasting Time on Video Games, T.V., and Surfing the Internet- Yes, these are fun recreational activities for relaxing.  However if you’re wasting hours each day, then maybe it’s time to make a change.  Do you really want to spend your life talking about what happened on Grey’s Anatomy or how you conquered  a new level on Halo 3?

#6- You are 100% responsible– I know this is been written on a number of other sites, including this one.  But it’s completely true.  You are responsible for both the good and bad things that happen in your life.  So if you want to make it better, then it’s up to you to make it happen.

{This philosophy has become the cornerstone of my successful affiliate marketing business.}

#7- The world doesn’t owe you a thing– Get rid of any sense of entitlement.  If you want something from life, then be prepared to make an effort going after it.

#8- There will be obstacles- No matter what path you choose, there will be roadblocks.  Expect the unexpected and practice the find art of looking for pathways around these obstacles.

#9- Keep trying- It’s important to keep trying no matter what happens.  I’ve seen a lot of people give up right at the brink of success.  Sometimes all it takes is a little more effort.

#10- Mistakes are a good thing– Be proud of your mistakes.  Usually they’re the best way to learn about the right way to do something is to completely fail.

#11- Practice Continuous Improvement– Success doesn’t happen overnight.  It comes from making tiny little improvements each and every day.

#12- Use the 80/20 rule with everything– Find out what actions produce the best results, and only focus on them.  For instance, if one source of traffic is bringing you 80% of your paying customers, then do more of that.  In other words, don’t waste your time chasing after little things that produce minimal results.

#13- The best tool you possess is between your ears– That thick grey matter in your skull can be your secret weapon in life.  To solve your problems all you have to do is sit down with a pen and paper, and practice a bit of creative brainstorming

#14- Have a passion and focus on it– The most fulfillment you can get is being paid to do something you love.  Find out what you really want to do in life and find a way to get paid to do it.

#15- Beware of the word “easy” or “instant”– If a person uses the word easy or instant, walk away.  In fact, get the hell away as fast as you can.  Take it from a pretty lazy guy…there’s no such thing as easy.  If there was, I would be doing it right now.

#16- Over 99% of “Work at Home” Opportunities are Scams– I’ve tried (or researched) most of the so-called work at home opportunities.  Almost every single one is a scam.  Use extreme caution when buying one of these products.  Most of the time, the end result is you’ll be lining the pockets of some other person.  {This is the the only online business model I endorse 100%}

#17- Look for those rare, gold nuggets– Hidden underneath the piles of crap, there are few products which teach legitimate ways to make money.  How do you find them?  A quick rule of thumb is when you’re told that you have to roll up your sleeves and do some work.

#18- Have a system for your business- I achieved success with Internet marketing when I created started creating systems.  When you systematize a business, you take away all the guesswork.  Instead you focus on real, hard statistics that tell you how you’re doing.  This makes it easy to test, track, and quickly improve.

#19- People buy solutions not products– Your customers aren’t buying your products because you’re a cool person.  They do it because they hope you’ll fixe a major problem they’re experiencing.  Never ignore this hard fact when designing a business.

#20- Have a list– Yes this is a very Internet Marketing specific lesson.  But if you’re serious about an online business, you have to target a group of people, get them on your email list, and regularly promote products that’ll help improve an aspect of their life.  That’s how you make money!

#21- Work for yourself, not somebody else– When you work a 9 to 5 job, you’re basically working to benefit another person.  Instead of working hard to make somebody else’s life easier, you should be working to help your own situation.

#22- Don’t wear all the hats– As a small business owner, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of trying to everything yourself.  Instead of doing that, focus on what you do best, and pay somebody else to handle the areas that are beyond your expertise.   Remember that a jack-of-all-trades is a master of none.

#23- Don’t be ‘penny wise and dollar poor’It’s amazing how much time and effort people will waste to save some cash.   Again, your time is money.  So if you drive 30 extra miles to save $1.00 at the gas pump, then you’re basically saying that your time is worth less than $2 an hour.

#24- Your time IS Money– Time is the only limited resource we have on this earth.  Don’t waste it doing activities that bring zero benefit to your life.  Treat your life like a business.  Every minute you spend doing one activity means you have to give up something else.   Always be conscious of what you do with your time.

#25- Write down every idea that pops in your head– You never know when a million dollar idea will pop in your head.  Even if you think it’s corny, write down any thought that comes up.  In fact, carry a small notebook everywhere and record your ideas.

#26- You don’t have to work 40+ hours a week– You don’t have to bust your hump each and every week.  Instead, find a way to earn a full-time income in half the time that most people would spend on work.

#27- Enjoy the fruits of your labor-It’s okay to enjoy life a little after working for long periods of time.  Many people have the misguided notion that we have to work hard till retirement.  There’s nothing wrong with living off your past successes.  In fact, sometimes all you need to do is give yourself permission to goof off a little.

#28- The world can be an ugly, horrible place– During 9/11, I lived in North Jersey, about ten miles from New York.  Like many people, I realized on this day that human beings are capable of a level of evilness I never thought imaginable.

#29- The world can be a beautiful place– On the other hand, the beauty of the world outweighs it’s ugliness.  You don’t even need to travel to a distant country to see this… right now, it might be hiding right around the next corner.

#30- Regularly challenge your comfort zone– It’s easy to become complacent in life.  That’s why I recommend you persistently identify the things that make you a little scared and do something to push these boundaries.  So if you’re afraid of speaking in public, join your local Toastmaster’s organization and use this to overcome your fears.

#31- It’s okay to walk– During my late teens and early 20’s I refused to ever walk during one of my runs.  Now if I get a little tired, I’ll take a break or two.  This is kind of metaphor for life… you don’t have to push your limits every day.  Try walking a little.

#32- Read often– The world has an abundance of information.  To access it, all you need to do is crack open a book. Seriously, you can become an expert on almost any topic simply by reading 5 to 10 books on this particular subject.   If you practice this principle, you’ll be amazed at how much knowledge you can accumulate.

#33- Often, you have to give up on what you love best- Due to a number of injuries, I’ve had to give up on competitive running.  In life there will be moments when you have to stop doing what you love.  The good news is you’ll often discover a hidden talent you never knew existed.

#34- It’s a marathon, not a sprint-I’ve always felt this expression is a bit trite, but as I get a little bit older, I’ve come to love it.  Don’t be in a rush all the time.  Consistent effort can bring amazing results in almost any endeavor.

#35- Leave nothing on the track– My old track coach used to yell at me for sprinting at the end of every race.  In his mind, if I had that much energy then I should have worked harder during the middle parts.

He used to say, “Leave nothing on the track.” In other words, you should be completely exhausted when you finish and know that you gave 100% effort.

As I close this post, I recommend the same thing.  During your life, you have many opportunities.  The important thing is to take advantage of these chances and don’t let them slip away.

In my opinion, the worst thing I could possibly imagine is to be on my deathbed, looking back on life, and wondering what could have been.  Don’t let this happen to you.

I’ve learned a lot of these lessons the hard way.  And odds are, you’ve probably discovered many of them for yourself.  Instead of just reading this post, I challenge you to implement many of them into your own life!

Take Action. Get Results.

23 thoughts on “35 Lessons on My 35th Birthday”

  1. Steve,

    Here’s wishing you a Very Happy Birthday!

    Now that’s an impressive list of 35! Frankly speaking, I have just skimmed through them for now, and I’m going to be back to read them with focus. A little tied up today and was not supposed to hop on to any sites, but just happened to see the title of this post and didn’t want to miss wishing you today.

    Have a great day!

    Warm wishes,
    .-= Mark of Success´s last blog ..If you can’t- you must If you must- you can- =-.

    • Glad to see that I sucked away from what you were doing. Anyway, thanks for the birthday wishes… Hopefully you get some use from this list when you have a chance to read it.

  2. Happy Birthday, Steve

    I wish you well wherever you are at in the world. Very nice list too…too much hard work on your birthday, though. Hope you pre-wrote it. I am trying to change myself along the lines of a few of your key points. Thanks for your tips and your site. Enjoy your birthday. Buy a beer on me. I left a few euros in a fountain. If you find them, get yourself a beer, man.

    Happy Birthday

    • Why yes. I did pre-wrote this post. Actually my Dad once told me to never work on your birthday, so I follow his advice. Once in awhile he says something pretty smart. I did have a good day of hiking, canyoning, and drinking a few beers. Forgot to write my brother like I planned…hopefully he’ll forgive me. haha.

  3. Steve,

    Happy Birthday!

    You’ve found out some great nuggets of wisdom in your 35 years that many people don’t figure out their entire lives.
    .-= Joe´s last blog ..A Different Way of Writing =-.

  4. Hi Steve,

    Happy Birthday! I hope you are having a wonderful day!

    Wow! This is an impressive list. I love the way you think. You’ve obviously learned a lot in your 35 years.

    I think it’s the beliefs you have that make you successful and your list gives me a clear insight into what it takes.

    Again, have a fantastic birthday.
    .-= Jazz Salinger´s last blog ..Learn and Earn – It’s a Marathon Not a Sprint =-.

    • I couldn’t agree more. I’ve learned that some of the most successful people are the ones who simply have the right kind of mindset or belief system. So I’m trying my hardest to adopt the same outlook on life.

    • Definitely will. Next year, I’m going to have 36 things I learned in the last year. Hopefully I’ll actually learn something during the next 360+ days.

  5. Happy Birthday! Now that I’ve learned you’re older than I am, I should really get motivated. You know, if an older guy like you can run a business while hanging out in Europe … don’t worry, I’m just kidding!
    .-= ShortHairDiva´s last blog ..Time for A Change =-.

    • Ouch. I guess I’m getting a little old…the funny thing is I’m not sure I’m actually getting more mature though. Oh well… at least I’m having fun.

  6. Happy Birthday Steve,
    Working on #18 and can’t wait to get to #22. I’m sending you a sneak preview of a blog post scheduled for 14th July, but don’t feel like you have to respond. enjoy your hiking instead, much more fun.
    .-= Gail´s last blog ..Sometimes I have the attention span of a gnat Other times- Im not that focused =-.

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