Wednesday, October 18, 2023

I'm 40. Here Are 40 Lessons & Quotes I Try To Live By

James and Samson at our the Oregon State football game
For my birthday, we went to our first Oregon State football game

I'm 40 and feeling reflective. So, here are 40 lessons and quotes I try to live by. I want my kids to know these as they grow up.

  1. The Bible is true and is the final authority on faith and life, so I study it.
  2. We were all created in the image of God, but I sin, and because of God's perfect justice, I deserve a physical and spiritual death.
  3. But God is also merciful, so he sent Jesus, who is both God and man, to take on my punishment by dying on the cross. I think of it as someone paying off a loan I don't deserve to have paid off.
  4. Because Jesus is fully God, it's a perfect payment for my sins. Through the spirit's prompting, I recognized that I'm a sinner and accepted Jesus's payment.
  5. I still commit sins and will experience a physical death as a natural consequence of my sins, but I will not die spiritually and will spend an eternity in Heaven. This is excellent news!
  6. When you sin, are wrong, or make a mistake, admit it without excuse. Verbalizing it is powerful.
  7. A little structure and routine allow for creativity and spontaneity. Having a plan reduces your mental load in the moment, so you're free to think creatively within that space. Your subconscious also goes to work because it knows you already prioritized the thing. And, every once in a while, break the plan to shake things up and explore. Discipline = freedom.
  8. Action breeds clarity. So, what's a small step I can take to learn? Reading and learning are good, but they don't count.
  9. Drink 1 cup of water after waking up.
  10. Try to do 30 minutes of something active every day. My favorite: walking around the block while talking on the phone.
  11. If I'm too tired to do anything but watch TV, I should go to bed (from Ramit Sethi).
  12. Related, if I wouldn't wake up early to do something, I probably shouldn't stay up late to do it (*cough* YouTube *cough*).
  13. On Sundays, I look ahead at my week and make a plan. In general, I have more items on my list than time. I would rather have the heartache choosing what to do on Sunday than in the moment during the week. Without a plan, I tend to prefer the urgent things, not necessarily the important ones.
  14. Ask Gary Keller's question on prioritization: "What's the ONE Thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?"
  15. When deciding to take a risk, Tim Ferriss asks, "What are the worst things that could happen? Could I get back here?" I find this incredibly helpful because it's usually not as bad as I initially think.
  16. "Not all time in life is equal. Life serves up some moments that count much more than other moments" - Jim Collins in Great By Choice. Learn to recognize those moments and do things to elevate them more or create insights. Read The Power of Moments to learn how to do it.
  17. I agree with Jocko Willink about embracing hard things. Focus on the good from setbacks, failures, delays, defeats, and disasters. Focus on what you'll learn and new opportunities. If you must, play the Everything is AWESOME!!! song.
  18. A few years ago, I started photo/regular journaling (using Day One) every day. It's great for getting my struggles out of my head, and I love seeing pictures from previous years.
  19. George E. P. Box, who has the same birthday, said, "All models are wrong, but some are useful." So, look for the usefulness. Here comes some controversy: All the climate change models are wrong, but some are useful for guiding our decisions.
  20. Dishes are lame, but they gotta get done.
  21. Spend less than you earn. Experts suggest 50% on needs, 30% on wants, and 20% towards saving/investing (50/30/20). I recommend flipping the allocation: 50% towards saving/investing, 30% on needs, and 20% towards wants (30/20/50 if written the "expert" way). I've done this, and even though cutting spending is hard, watching your account rapidly grow is fun.
  22. When deciding to purchase something, try asking Mr. Money Mustache's question: what negativity does this remove? I find it can reveal cheaper alternatives.
  23. Keep an emergency fund. Even $1,000 is helpful, but ideally, it's 3-6 months of spending.
  24. Invest in assets. I use Robert Kiyosaki's definition: an asset is something that puts money in your pocket. Stocks, bonds, real estate, and businesses count. Your personal car and house don't (if you don't believe me, look at your bank statement and see if your home is earning or costing you money).
  25. Jeff Bezos also has investing advice: "Invest in things that don't change." People will always want things to be free, perfect, and now. So, invest in things that help get them closer to that ideal.
  26. Investing in yourself is probably one of the highest ROIs you can achieve. Plus, the internet makes continued learning highly accessible. Take at least one online course a year and read at least one book a quarter. You don't need to invest 10,000 hours to become a master. You can get "good enough," in less than 20 hours, in 30 days or less.
  27. Automate saving/investing and tracking. However, with tracking, you must review it at least once a month (automation lets you do less data wrangling or more analysis).
  28. Experience is more important than money.
  29. Cal Newport & Tim Ferriss recommend eliminating distractions because producing at a peak level requires working for extended periods with full concentration on a single task. To help, I only use one monitor, turn off most of my notifications, and only check email a couple of times a day.
  30. Be a person of value. Rather than asking, "what's in it for me?" Ask, "what's in it for them?" - Dan Sullivan
  31. Jim Rohn suggested you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. This is 100% true. So, I review who I hang out with once a year. Authors and shows count. Another way to think about this is: "What you choose to pay attention to is the stuff your life and work will be made of."
  32. Read the book Grit by Angela Duckworth (especially if you're a parent). Here's a quote that changed how I parent: "...abide by the Hard Thing Rule and, in addition, the Fun Thing Rule. Ask your kids to do something that will teach them, through experience, deliberate practice and resilience. But also make sure they're doing things that they find interesting and enjoyable, even if it doesn't seem that they could ever lead to anything more serious."
  33. I'm not a great small talker, but Debra Fine gave some great advice that I regularly use: "One of the easiest ways to start or keep a conversation going is to compliment another person."
  34. When coaching/leading, don't try to solve the problem. Instead, ask questions to help them solve the problem. Here are questions I use, and here's a coaching book.
  35. When reviewing a project/product/event, I use a three-question framework called keep-stop-start: 1) What should we keep doing? 2) What should we stop doing? 3) What should we start doing? (from my strategy professor, Rob Wiltbank)
  36. If you have a business idea, think small at first. Seth Godin recommends asking, "What's the minimum number of people you would need to influence to make it worth the effort?" Daniel Priestly reminds me that my job isn't to please everyone. My job is to find people who can't live without me.
  37. Practice tactical empathy - which is hearing and understanding what someone is saying. I do it by mirroring: I repeat the last three words, and then I'm silent. It encourages people to open up and share deeper.
  38. People have a significant life change every six months (job, housing, school schedule, family, etc). So, if someone said no to you, wait six months and check in.
  39. Alex Hormizi finished his book with a quote: "Neil Strauss once said "Success comes down to doing the obvious thing for an uncommonly long period of time without convincing yourself you're smarter than you are." The right action in the wrong amount still fails. Most people, myself included, stop too soon. We don't do enough."
  40. Give credit to others when it's due (like my quotes above). It's the right thing to do, and people respect you for your integrity.