Early this month, December to be exact, I turned 30. Grateful to reach this age, one of the main things I did around that time was look back at my life and career. Major events, places I’ve lived, people I’ve come across, how things impacted me, and just being lost in thought. In truth, all this gave me a great sense of appreciation.
Nothing was ever fully peachy, roses, lacking sharp and hard surfaces to run into, and anything else you could imagine. However, it’s been a good journey. I made mistakes, learned lessons, and held firm on life and career decisions that ended up panning out well! In the spirit of that, I’d like to share 30 life lessons I learned. My personal 30 for 30!
1. Appreciate The Moment
So much of life is chasing goals, and hitting milestones. It is important to strive for something, while at the same time, don’t let that be a deterrent from creating memories and appreciating the present space you’re in outright.
2. Be Wary Of Advice
Taking in and hearing advice from others is all well. However, I would say always be skeptical because you could be unknowingly casting doubt on something you’re confident and sure about. That doesn’t mean be unrealistic and forgo all reason. Just be practical in what you take in.
3. Be Self Assured, Never Cokcy
Having confidence in what you’re capable of is needed, better, it’s critical! Nobody is going to believe in you more than yourself, so you always have to be your #1 fan. However, there is a fine line between cockiness and confidence. Being cocky, and/or arrogant, is never the direction you want to go. So be cautious there.
4. Fail HARD
This stage of the internet has given everyone a false idea that life is supposed to be a highlight reel. Jordan crying over the trophy, or Kobe sitting in the shower with it. That’s just not the case. Moments of success are only sweet because of all the failures that came before them. Also, you only learn when you fail. So the harder you fail, the more you learn, the better person you become, and the sweeter winning will be.
5. Don’t Be Afraid To Walk Away
Either in life or in your career, you have to be able to identify signs when it’s important to walk away. There were countless situations in my career when I knew a position wasn’t serving me properly, and luckily, in a good number of them, I was able to step away. Not all though, unfortunately. Same with my personal life. Walking away isn’t a defeat, and anyone that thinks that it is just hasn’t lived enough.
6. Build A Vast Network
It may sound cheesy, but your net worth really is closely related to your network. I can honestly say I got probably as far as someone can get without having a qualified and close nit network. In lieu of that, my journey was much harder than it should’ve been because of it. In addition to that, the bulk of great opportunities and income I’ve had come my way was due to having positive relationships. The majority of people, I’ve worked with appreciated my ability, work ethic, and principles.
7. Growth > Cash
Having a high liquid(cash) compensation package is a great feeling. However, the most rewarding in the long term opportunity typically won’t always correlate to that in your career. There will be many points in your career where you’ll need to take a step back in the comp package and take an opportunity that has greater growth. Which will, in turn, will get you at a higher level down the line.
8. Equity Is King
Continuing with compensation, when thinking of packages it’s important to remember that cash is temporary. Equity is the long-term investment that’ll secure your future. Lean heavily into the equity side of packages, and try to be at the minimum amount of cash you need to take care of your personal responsibilities.
9. Nobody Cares About You
Most young people have a hard time understanding this as they get older, but it’s a harsh statement of truth. Your success typically will not matter to those around you. In fact, a lot will become resentful towards you for it. We all have our own problems and the problems of those involved in our intimate personal lives. Same as you probably do as well.
10. Explore All Possible Career Paths
This could be as simple as figuring out which industry best suits your long-term, maintaining the same position/department. On the more complicated side, this could mean figuring out everything entirely. Industry, position, department, etc. Nothing wrong with either, it’s all a part of the process of your life. You just owe it to yourself to do so.
11. Outline Your End Goal
To get the most out of life, and make the most impactful decisions, you have to know where you want to end up. Because at the end of the day, all the things you do between the beginning and end of the journey will determine how you end.
12. Build A Team
Going fast alone is great when you have a stern vision and mapped out validation points. However, once you confirm things at said points, you’ll need a solid group around you to get over the hurdles to come.
13. Take In Diverse Perspectives
The way the world is today, we all tend to live in isolated bubbles. I’m no exception, i.e. 6 years in Silicon Valley. It’s impossibly difficult to live a meaningful life without having a proper perspective on the lives of people with different upbringings and “status” positions. Genuinely though, not in a pompous and/or arrogant way.
14. The Good Suffers With The Bad
This is something my 1st-grade teacher, who was also my Kindergarten teacher for a short time, drilled into my head. It didn’t matter the percentage breakdown, or what was going on. If there was a kid not behaving properly, everyone suffered. Honestly, it’s definitely one of the most impactful lessons I’ve learned from school.
15. Corporate Success Is A Popularity Contest
There is nothing wrong with this in the slightest by the way, if you understand this is the case. Most people come into their professional life not understanding the opinions of those around them are the determining factor in your career acceleration. If the right people like you, you’ll more likely succeed.
16. Forget About Balance
Obviously don’t work for an employer that has you expected to work beyond working hours on the regular. However, in your personal time, don’t shy away from working on career-related goals outside your main employment. Massive success requires massive, and dedicated, commitment. Nothing is easy.
17. Titles Are Just Words
For the better part of my 20s, I linked arriving in my career to a particular title. For most that would be “Sr.”, I made that at 20. For others, it would be being a Tech Lead, Staff, or Manager. I was offered managerial roles and was a tech lead in Silicon Valley at 24. Honestly, the title didn’t mean much difference in my capabilities. In fact, I was already doing the work beyond the title prior.
18. Fun Is Not A Bad Thing
In moderation, having fun while you pursue your goals is perfectly fine. Don’t confuse this with the modern idea of “life balance”. Making time for fun, in my eyes, just mean that having a break to unwind is a great way to flesh out ideas in your head and make connections.
19. Keep Learning
There will be no point in your life where you’ll be able to say you know enough to the point you can stop learning. The world around you will always change, and there whatever it is you do for a living will always create new avenues that will disrupt what you’re comfortable with.
20. Everyone Thinks They’re the Hero
Being realistic, we all think we’re the hero in living in our own movies. That’s the farthest from the truth. We’re all just people living, interacting with others, and doing what we think is best based on the lives we’ve lived. Nothing more.
21. People’s View Of You Is Largely From How They Grew Up
This was tough for me to understand since I’m pretty open-minded and unjudging. People do have unconscious biases that they may not even realize based on where they grew up, and their parents’ backgrounds. You can’t avoid this, so don’t put much thought into it. Recognize, and move accordingly.
22. You’re Replaceable
No matter how much more talented or efficient you are than others at what you do, things will move forward without you. There is never a world where any one person stops a machine from moving forward, for better or worse. All pieces will be replaced to ensure continued forward movement.
23. Don’t Overthink
Things are really only complicated because we other complicate things. Life, career, relationships, and everything in between, it’s never as complex as we make it in our heads. Take a breath, replace yourself in the situation with a random person, and think accordingly.
24. Live In Reality
There is one singular truth, believe it or not. Obviously, there are different perspectives that can lead you down different paths. However, what happens just happens. There’s no point in trying to wiggle around it.
25. Always Be Accountable
Iterating on the last point, owning up to whatever shape your life took matters. Progression doesn’t occur when you avoid owning your past, mistakes, and all. Whatever shape your life is in as an adult, it’s your fault. Can’t avoid it, accept it, and move forward.
26. Be Solution Oriented
Problems happen, issues occur, and it’s unavoidable. Instead of dwelling and avoiding the issue, focus on finding solutions to move forward.
27. Prioritize Physical Health
Staying active and in good physical shape is important. Especially as you age. Active lifestyles lead to clearer thoughts, more energy, and better enjoyment of all your everyday activities.
28. Accept The Mistakes Of Others
This doesn’t mean forgiving and giving access to your life to whoever misleads you. More so, don’t let the misgivings done towards you put you in a position where you’re constantly jaded and passive-aggressive toward everyone else.
29. Don’t Compare Yourself To Others
All our journeys are different, not better/worse than others, just different. The hurdles you faced aren’t the same ones as those around you and vice versa. Focus on your own path, and never spend too much time comparing/contrasting.
Life is long. Make mistakes, and be ok with them. Have fun, and be in the moment. Build for the future, but stay focused on the now. Enrich your life with people, but be ok being alone. We get one go around, make it worthwhile.