24 Lessons From 24 Years

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I recently turned 24 and learned a ton over the last few years. And so I felt justified in giving some unsolicited bits of life advice. 

Here are the 24 most important life lessons from my 24 years on this planet.

1 - Health Is Underrated.

This might be the most important one. Being successful is worthless if your body is broken beyond repair. It's hard to enjoy life when you're crippled by chronic back pain.

Your life literally hinges on your health. And I hate to break it to you, but you're stuck with this one body. It's the only one you're ever going to get.

The earlier you get your health in order, the better. Health is the product of compound interest; your body and health right now are the result of the lifestyle choices you made months and years ago.

2 - You Can Always Go Faster.

The average pace is for chumps. Almost anything can be done faster if you're willing to work for it. Learning new skills, getting a degree, you name it.

In school and business, the 'normal' pace is geared towards the lowest common denominator. But smart people are capable of going a lot faster if they're willing to put the work in. There's no limit except the ones you set for yourself.

3 - Chase Your Curiosity

If you're obsessed with some new idea or topic, give yourself the freedom to explore it. Clear your calendar and chase it down.

Want to read a book about 19th century construction techniques, or to pick up a new hobby? Go for it. When curiosity strikes, don't question it. It doesn't have to match your plan and the book doesn't have to be on your reading list. Sometimes being curious is reason enough.

4 - You Are What You Pay Attention To

You are what you eat, and you become what you read. The ideas you consume on a daily basis will determine how you think about the world.

Research has shown that people who exclusively consume highly opinionated news are more like to hold that opinion themselves six months later, even if they weren't beforehand.

Be extremely picky about what ideas you consume; the news you watch, the podcasts you listen to, and the people you surround yourself with.

5 - People Don't Care.

Don't let the opinions of other people stop you from doing something. They don't care. They're too busy living their own lives to pay attention to yours. 

Nobody makes fun of overweight people on their first day in the gym. And your friends won't laugh behind your back about your failed business idea.

Consider this a guilt-free pass to try whatever the hell you want to. Nobody cares, anyway.

6 - Understanding Yourself Is Never Wasted

Time spent on deep introspection is never wasted time. Neither is time spent meditating, journalling or practicing mindfulness.

It's easy to consider this a waste of time. Fact is that you can only benefit from understanding yourself more deeply. Very few people really know themselves and understand their deepest emotions and desires. Knowing yourself is a superpower.

7 - Spend $$$$$ On Your Tools

If you use something a ton, you should buy the very best you can afford. Kevin Kelly has a good maxim for buying almost anything: "Start by buying the absolute cheapest thing you can find. Upgrade the ones you use a lot."

What are the items you use most on a given day? Here's a hint, what about your chair, mattress, shoes and socks? Odds are you're using at least a couple of these right now! Given that we use these things so much, it makes sense to lavishly spend in these areas. While expensive at first, the cost can be amortized over a long period.

The height of stupidity is spending $1,200 on the newest iPhone while sleeping on a $100 mattress from Ikea.

8 - Dress well to feel well.

Your body is a reflection of your habits and self-esteem.

If you wear sweatpants and dress like a slob because you're working from home, you'll feel like a slob. It's easier to feel like shit when you're dressed like shit.

Similarly, it's easier to feel great when you look great. Just as we feel refreshed shower after a long workout, making sure you're well-dressed and groomed will set the tone for the rest of the day.

9 - Sleep Is Fucking Awesome

Sleep and naps are fucking awesome. It's astounding how much better life is after 8 hours of sleep.

I'm happier, healthier, more energetic, look better, and get sick less often. Now, I've come to prioritize 8 hours of sleep per night, at minimum. If sleep was useless, we wouldn't have evolved for millions of years without getting rid of it.

Also, nothing beats a 20-minute caffeine nap in the early afternoon and waking up really fucking early to do work.

10 - Run Towards Fear

If something is scaring you, you probably need to do more of it. Tim Ferriss says that “A person's success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.” Substitute 'conversations' for 'activities' and you've got the winning formula.

If you hate doing something in the gym, that's a sign you should be doing more of it. And if you have an aversion to public speaking, it means you have some deep-rooted fears and should probably tackle it. Leaving weaknesses unaddressed is a major liability in life.

11 - Avoid Draining People

Avoid people that drain energy. The people that create drama, are constantly depressed or gossip endlessly.

Whether they're colleagues, friends or family members, get these leeches out of your life ASAP.

12 - Don't Be A Critic

Never criticize someone who's taking action and chasing their goals. It's easy to criticize and ridicule, but infinitely harder to take action. In the end, it's the people who do things that make things happen.

Better to focus on your own work than to throw mud. After all, better to have tried, failed, and gotten back up again than never having tried in the first place.

13 - Be More Extroverted

This is something I should tattoo on my wrist so I never forget it. Going to parties, dinners, festivals, and get-togethers are all massively underrated. There's a lot of evidence that both introvert and extroverts benefit from being more extroverted.

Consider this: you almost never regret going a party. You might leave early if the party's dull, but you never deeply regret going — unless you do something monumentally stupid. However, if you miss out on an amazing party with all your friends, you could potentially regret missing out on lifelong memories.

When in doubt, go!

14 - Know What You Don't Want

"Follow your passion" is the worst career advice. Humans suck at knowing what they want. A better way to approach it is to figure out what you don't want.

You should try different careers, develop new skills, explore different countries, meet new people, and maybe try starting a business or two. Keep trying new stuff, discarding whatever you dislike..

Slowly but surely, you'll narrow down the search until you stumble upon something you think is enjoyable to do. You'll have 'found' your passion.

15 - No Failure, No Growth

If you're not failing occasionally, you're not trying hard enough. If you're consistently reaching your goals every single time, you might be setting your sights too low. If you never fail, you might be coasting throughout life.

You should get comfortable being uncomfortable and get used to failing occasionally. You could argue that you never should get to a place where you're comfortable in the first place. If you're comfortable, you're not pushing yourself as hard as you can.

16 - If They'll Do It With You, They'll Do It To You

Cheaters will cheat. Gossipers will gossip. Liars will lie.

If a person badmouths someone behind their back, you can almost guarantee they'll do the exact same thing behind yours.

As with energy leeches, avoid these people like the plague.

17 - New People = New Ideas = Growth

New ideas and insights are usually the result of meeting new people. Some of the biggest decisions I've made in my life were the direct result of random conversations I had with strangers.

A throwaway line here, a half-formed idea there; a tiny spark is all that's needed. Optimizing for this serendipity in your life is one of the best things you do.

18 - Commuting Sucks

No really. Many studies show that job satisfaction decreases when people have longer commutes. Even with podcasts or audiobooks, nothing beats getting somewhere in a reasonable amount of time.

Being stuck in traffic kills the soul. Try to minimize it at all cost. 30 minutes should be the maximum, preferably less.

19 - Time's A-Wasting

The average American spends 5 hours per day watching TV. Let that sink in. Five. Hours. That's almost a full-time job. And let's not even get started on how often we use our phones or social media.

Fact is, we waste a boatload of time. And for the most part, we consume entertainment because it's there. If you had to go up four flights of stairs every time you wanted to check your phone, watch a video or scroll through Instagram, how often would you do it? Exactly.

The first step to solving a problem is admitting that there is one. And frankly, we've all got a problem. One of wasting our precious time in this world.

20 - Any Moment Is The Right Moment

You don't need New Year's Eve to set new goals or to change your life around. There's nothing special about January 1st. You can decide to change right now. But being the silly monkeys we are, humans attach humongous value to these 'special' dates.

In reality, the same decision can be made on every other day of the year. Any Monday can mark the day you quit smoking and any weekend can be the first time you go to the gym.

Look for an excuse to change your life and you'll inevitably find one.

21 - Less Media, Not More

Turning off the news solves more than problems than turning on the news does. And the same goes for YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

When you feel overwhelmed or anxious, first try turning everything off. Get rid of the news. Stop scrolling. Take off your headphones. Shut off the TV.

Then, be present. Go for a walk, meditate, think, journal, and exercise.

Consuming more media (and especially news) will rarely make you happy, but it'll happily tell you how terrible your life is.

22 - The Paradox of Abundance

Modern society overwhelms us with options, distractions, and tools. This abundance is bad for most people, who get sucked in. An abundance of food leads to an obesity crisis and an abundance of entertainment leads to smartphone addiction on a massive scale.

However, some manage to resist the lure of endless consumption and manage to use the abundance to their benefit. They use the abundance of food & Internet access to become healthier than ever and build businesses online. So while the majority of people get sucked in, a small number of people achieves extreme success.

23 - Be A Kind Taskmaster

When making plans or setting goals, make sure you don't treat yourself as your slave. Have empathy for your future self. It's not realistic to expect to work non-stop 16-hour days.

Come up with habits, plans, and goals that are enjoyable to do and are adequately rewarded. Don't expect your future self to do something just because you wrote it down on your to-do list. You'll need to cajole, tempt, and bribe your future self to do it.

24 - The Deathbed Game

In what Buster Benson calls the Death Bed Game, you get one point whenever you do something that you believe will still be valuable and meaningful to you when you’re on your death bed. The entire point of the game is to maximize the number of points before you inevitably kick the bucket.

So when faced with a choice, always ask yourself, "When I die, what would I rather look back on?" Then go do that.

"If only" are the saddest words in the English language.

25 - Go The Extra Mile

Always put in the extra effort. Delight people by doing one more.

One more rep. One more sales call. One more tweet. One more sprint. One more lesson.

Did any of these resonate with you? Are there others you would add to the list? Please let me know by reaching out on Twitter or via email!

Also, there's a condensed Twitter thread of these lessons available right here.

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