Tomorrow I will be 30, and it's a blessing. I feel compelled to write a little about what that means. I started something that I wanted to do called a 30 before 30 but I really didn't finish nearly as much as I wanted to on it. However, it still give me some things to add to my bucket list even if they won't be before 30.
I'm really excited going into this birthday. Not so much because everything is perfect. I understand that it rarely is but because I can literally see the formation of the dominos that I've been trying to put in place. I tried to focus on the one thing before I even understood what the “One Thing” was. The idea was that when you focus on that one thing, things will be chaotic and even ignored while you try to master that one thing. That one thing that by doing it everything is easier and unnecessary. In 2016, I realized my one thing was networking–online and offline. It was the first domino in many I hoped would fall.
It's scary to think that 10 years ago, I was 20 and just trying to figure out what exactly what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Just for reflection, I wanted to take a look at my timeline (at least professionally) in the last decade. It's gone extremely fast especially since starting my business but it's good to see where I was and where I am now.
- 2007 – 20 – Sophomore Year / Started a Men of Character of Virginia
- 2008 – 21 – Junior Year / Joined my Fraternity
- 2009 – 22 – Senior Year / Interned at EPA / Graduated & Prepped for Law School / Started Exemplary Editing
- 2010 – 23 – Graduated from Masters Program / Started working at USPS / Started blogging
- 2011 – 24 – Started freelance writing / Tore my Achilles / Started working at Lil' Sports / Started what's now CEO Blog Nation
- 2012 – 25 – Worked at Yellowbook/hibu
- 2013 – 26 – Worked at Patch / Started my business / Joined BNI
- 2014 – 27 – Blue 16 Media
- 2015 – 28 – Bought my condo / Got Star
- 2016 – 29 – Merged Blue 16 Media & CBNation
- 2017 – 30 – Graduated from Leadership Program / Today
A few days ago, someone asked me what I would do differently knowing what I know now. While I just gave one answer, it made me think of a few other things. Some of these things I see on the customary “Things I've learned in my 20's list.”
- Get clear on what you want, then go after it. I always wanted to take chances and “gamble” before I had a wife and kids. It's a different experience to take a chances especially in business when you have a family to depend on. I “burned my boats” when I was young and tried to find those things that set my soul on fire. I started to ignore the masses and the “noise” and became really good at meditating, becoming quiet, observing and making decisions based on what I thought was best and what I thought was the path God spoke to me.
- Take care of your health. I've ramped this up tremendously over the last year in running a 5k and and 10k and even a 10 miler. Mentally and emotionally, I truly feel that I am at an extremely high vibration. However, I don't thing the biggest thing is operating at a higher vibration. I think it's recognizing when you are at a lower vibration and what type of micro-hacks you can do to change that. Which brings me to…
- Become self-aware. This is a constant challenge. Gary Vee talks about it all the time and with good reason. We are all running different races and it's imperative that we recognize that. I think it has a lot to do with us continuing to evolve as people and learning more about ourself. However, I think I have spent a lot of time in my 20's (as you see above) trying a lot of different things. Whether it be working with kids, being an adjunct professor, starting an editing company, starting a nonprofit, etc. The bottom line is I've been on the hunt (literally) of things that don't just make me content but those things (and even people) that set my soul on fire.
- Trust myself. Whether it's relationships (personal or business), I wish that I listened to that “little voice that already knows” as Steve Jobs would put it. Especially when I was young, I would always question that gut feeling especially when I was wrong
- Study people. We are fascinating and highly unpredictable however there are certain patterns or trends that I've notice over the year. I'm not sure if it's one of those things that you can truly study in a book but that's the reason for psychologist. Being in “sales” I have interacted and still continue to continue to come and contact with lots of people throughout the week. While everyone is unique for various reason, I have noticed certain patterns (e.g. actions speak louder than words).
- Life is hard. It's unpredictable. There's ups and downs and as much as I've tried to “control it.” It doesn't get controlled. A lot of that has to do with people (see above). It moves on and goes despite our good or bad breaks.
- Don't care what people think. This is the hardest thing. For me it requires a lot of “alone time” or time doing things like praying, reading the Bible, writing, jogging or working out.
- It's a marathon. 30 is not the end of the world. When I was younger, I hear people say enjoy college because it will be the best time of your life. When I heard this, I thought it was one of the most depressing things that I ever heard. I didn't live my life trying to follow anyone else's formula. I would be lying if I didn't say I felt the pressure of settling down and getting married but I fully believe that wasn't my path at this point. I was born and supposed to do what I'm doing now. I no doubt had fun during college and I had fun after college and this past weekend. I will next month and the year after that. I hear so often that life ends after a certain point. I think if you plan well enough you can plant seeds for your future self.
- Don't subscribe to work/life balance. Shoot for variety. I've always thought we have our passions and if we could fill our life with those things that we are truly passionate about then it would never feel about work. I usually describe what I do as work because I haven't found a word that would replace that and people would still understand. I just don't view work with the dread that most others do. I took Myers-Briggs test, tried out many things because I wanted to make sure that I could find something I was passionate about, I didn't mind working my ass off to do and would help me to live “free.” Unlike when I was younger, I do believe now that you can't just “work” all the time, you must have some variety built in. I just don't believe the word balance is accurate. I think that's a formula to be mediocre at both.
- Have experiences. This varies for everyone. It might be skydiving or starting a business. Maybe it's going out with friends or sharing a laugh. Maybe it's spending time with your siblings or parents. This will last beyond anything that you can buy. Some of my best memories are times I've had with friends or vacations and even times in building my company. It's hard to rank them all but going back to the point above, there's so much in this world to try and do. There's no reason we shouldn't have a variety of experiences.
- Get out of your comfort zone. When I was younger, I struggled with this. I honestly think that around the time that I joined my fraternity things changed. I think a lot of that was because it is something that I wouldn't normally have done. I truly feel like I've been on the go since then.
- Don't let fear paralyze you. Fear is something that never goes away. I tried to always exercise that muscle by doing different things like skydiving, quitting a job or talking to a girl. Even if those things don't go the way you hoped. I've come to realize that failure (except for skydiving) aren't nearly as bad as we make it in our heads.
- Pay attention to who and where you spend your time. I have made a deliberate point of making sure I was paying attention to who people are and paying attention to who I was around them. If that wasn't consistent with what I wanted in my life, I removed myself from that situation. This is especially true of toxic people or sometimes I just didn't click with others so I made it a point to do a better job of being aware of this and making adjustments.
- Working hard. I've touched on this a few times. In other words, once you find something you love to do, pour yourself into it and invest in yourself for the “marathon.”
- Love. This isn't always romantic. There's nothing stronger than love. It wins always. Try to vibrate higher and put as much love as possible in your life. It could be people, activities, friends. I'm a big believer that the more love you put in your life, the less room for negativity and toxicity you will have.
- Give. This is probably one of the things I've been able to do a lot more from a place of strength as I've hoped over the last year. Once you get clear on what your gifts are (self-awareness), you can give and give from a place of love. I think so often in my past, I would give even if it was of complete inconvenience to me. Now, I give and try to create win-win situations. It might be giving away websites or volunteering but I try to make sure that I'm giving and people are not just taking. Naturally being a giver, I've struggled with this in the past but now I'm clear on what I want so I know how to create those win-win interactions.
It's been a nice long road. I'm blessed to even say I'm turning 30. These are some of my reflections on my 20's I hope it helps because it's helped me. Life is a journey and it goes really fast so the biggest thing is to just enjoy the journey.