For the first few years of my blog I wrote exclusively about digital marketing, social media and technology. As I got older, and my career shifted into more of a managerial/operational mode, I didn’t feel as motivated to write about those things anymore and started to want to write more about whatever inspired me. It was the only way I could find the motivation to continue writing. As I close in on the first year of my 40s, I’ve thought a lot about what I’ve learned in my life. For whatever reason, when you turn 40, you all of sudden become “wise” and “introspective”. Perhaps it’s the growing feeling of mortality, but regardless, I wanted to write a blog post about the things I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older. I asked myself, what top things do I wish I could somehow have taught my younger self. And these 8 nuggets are the result of that. Enjoy and use at your own risk.
1. Don’t Sweat The Small Things
Life is too damn short to stress out about things that don’t matter. As I’ve gotten older I’ve become more aware of the things that contribute to shorter life spans…specifically stress. You can’t see it, so it’s easy to disregard it, but stress kills. I eventually reached a point where I started to make a conscious effort to stop stressing out about every little thing. It’s just not worth it. Once you do the same, you’ll be amazed at how much healthier you start to feel.
2. Truly Learning The Art Of Patience
Some people are inherently more patient than others, and god bless them. Because I’ve never been. Being impatient is not an attractive trait, and when you really think about it, getting angry, stressed or upset about it isn’t going to make any difference. It’s not going to get you there any quicker, and it’s certainly not going to win you any points in any of your relationships. Making the effort to be more patient with people and situations only leads to good things. Certainly has for me.
3. The Value Of Personal & Professional Mentors
True fact…you don’t know shit until you experience shit. When we’re younger we certainly think we do, but we don’t. And the best way to get there quicker is to find as many mentors in your life you have and learn from them. Whether personal or professional, having people to mentor you earlier in your life is incredibly invaluable and can lead you to success much more quickly. I say this now acting as a mentor and not having ones earlier in life. I wish I had as it would have allowed me to avoid many mistakes along the way.
4. Diversify Your Life
The saying “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” could not be more true. Outside of serious relationships, you’d be doing yourself a favor by creating options in your life. Friends, investments, insurance, income….etc. All of these areas are important for you to have options with. Have friends across different areas of your life. Make sure you spread out your investments and insurance to minimize risk and maximize return. Even buying life insurance for my grandparents become more important than it was to me, mentally, 20 years ago. Find ways to supplement your full time income and/or constantly invest in yourself to ensure when you lose that job (and you will), that you’re more prepared for it.
5. You Are A Brand
Many moons ago I was laid off by Microsoft out of nowhere. Despite being well regarded, highly reviewed, and liked, I was a number that was expendable. Out of nowhere I was out on the street, not prepared to do battle with the thousands others like me from the company that would now be looking for employment elsewhere. I had invested no time on myself regarding my personal brand, and I had to start from scratch. Don’t make the same mistake I did and make sure that you cultivate and market your personal brand ALWAYS. Whether it’s a blog, your social channels, a robust LinkedIn presence, whatever makes you YOU, do it, and do it now. Because chances are you will not be at the company you are at now. Whether by choice or not. Which leads me to my next point.
6. Professional Loyalty No Longer Exists
The days of people working at the same company their whole life are a thing of the past. To most companies, you are a commodity, a resource, an investment. And just like a commodity, resource or investment, you are replaceable at any time for any reason. The same goes on the flip side. Most folks these days don’t stick around either and will jump ship at the next better opportunity when it comes along. It’s just the reality of the current working world. I’ve come to realize that you can’t ever feel safe, and always need to adhere to #4 and #5 no matter how hard you work.
7. Most People Suck
You know what’s the most rare things these days? Good people. The more this planet gets filled with walking meat sticks, the less percentage of good people exist. Generosity, kindness, respectfulness, etc. Traits long lost amongst most these days. Why you ask? I say it all starts with parenting, another long lost art. We have to take a test and get a license to drive a car, but anyone can spit out a kid. I would argue taking care of the latter is 1,000,000% harder, and there are too many that aren’t up to the challenge.
8. Everything Changes…Everything
The only constant in life is change. You have to be able to adapt and expect that the majority of the different facets of your personal and professional life are going to change. Sometimes for the good, sometimes not so much. I’ve found the people that can adapt, change the way they think, and are versatile are usually the types of people that are happier, more successful, and less stressed on a day to day basis.
What say you my 40s brothers and sisters? Anything to add to the list?