It feels like just yesterday that I was terrorizing the other kids in the neighborhood and destroying the golf course near the house I grew up in. The truth is, it was a long time ago. This past week I officially entered my early thirties. I know what you’re thinking “But he’s dashingly handsome and looks so young.” – I know, I know. Contain yourself, let’s stay on topic. I want to share with you 30 things I learned in 30 years of my life.
As many of you know, I’m a firm believer in self-reflection. So naturally, when I turned 30, I intentionally set aside time to reflect on my life. So, there I was, just me and a notepad talking with God and thinking back on my experiences over the past 30 years of my life.
As I began writing in my notepad, I realized I had a pretty substantial list of things that I had learned. I thought to myself, “Could I come up with 30?” I sure did. And that’s why you’re getting these 30 things I learned in 30 years post today. These are the 30 things I’ve identified as the most important in my life. I hope they speak to you today!
30 Things I learned in 30 Years:
#1. Trends come and go.
What’s cool today won’t be cool tomorrow. Your new sports car isn’t the fastest anymore. The clothes you just purchased are outdated by the time they get delivered to your front door. But guess what? Who cares! Possessions are not that important. What you have will never be trendy enough. You will waste your whole life attempting to keep up with the Joneses.
#2. It doesn’t matter what people think.
Unfortunately, I’ve found that there is no substitute for time and age on understanding this. In my late teens and early twenties, I cared what people think. Now I don’t. That’s not because I’m prideful or arrogant; it’s called wisdom. There will never be a time when everyone likes me or agrees with me. And that’s okay. The sooner you learn this, the better.
#3. Stop thinking about the future so much.
Want to know why life seems to be passing by so quick? Because you’re always looking ahead, never where you are today. Learn to enjoy and embrace the journey of your life. Be content where you are today!
#4. Being in community is what makes life meaningful.
If there is one thing that everyone knows about me, it’s that I’m passionate about creating community. Here are a few points on community:
- Friendships come and go. And that’s okay.
- You are who you hang with.
- Encourage the people God has placed in your life.
- Give people your full attention in conversation – Focus on them and care about what they are saying.
- 4 Secrets to Developing Stronger Friendships
#5. Movies and TV aren’t real.
Watching Netflix is fun. I get it. But what you see is not real. One of my favorite songs is from my friends, The Avett Brothers. Their song, Love Like the Movies says, “I don’t want to be in love like the movies, because in the movies they’re not in love at all.” This couldn’t be truer. Everyone needs to understand this fact. Stop pretending your life is like the movies or wishing that it would be. It’s all fake.
#6. Social media isn’t as important as real life.
I don’t care if every dollar you make or every opportunity you get comes from your social media. It’s never going to be as important as face to face interaction with another human. When you are with another person, prioritize it. Put your phone away and stay off of it, even if they are on theirs. Social media isn’t as important as what’s happening in front of you right now.
#7. Manage your money (budget) and time (schedule).
Control your time and money, or they will control you. Learn to budget your money, so you know what is happening with it. Learn to schedule your time, so you see what it is being used for. Both of these things lead to freedom, not bondage.
#8. God already forgave you for your sin.
When you get to heaven, God isn’t going to bring up your sin. He doesn’t care about it. He’s going to bring up your time. What did you do with it? The real “sin” and shame of your life is what you are doing with your time. I’m willing to bet you’re wasting a lot of it. Stop focusing on what you’ve done wrong; God doesn’t care about that.
#9. Popularity is a hoax.
You know the cool kids that you always want to be “in” with? You think about them when you have nothing going on, dreaming about what cool activity they have happening at that exact moment. Guess what? They are doing the same thing you are. I’ve found that popular people tend to be the loneliest and have shallow friendships.
#10. Learn to say no.
Each of us has a maximum capacity. Everyone’s is different. But it is our job to discover it, then protect it. Stay focused on what matters to you and push the rest away. This means saying NO to some big things. We have to be willing to do that our we’ll never get anywhere in life.
#11. Yesterday ended last night.
You’re not your past. No matter what you’ve been through, no matter what you’ve done, that’s not you today. God has forgiven you; you need to forgive yourself. Seek to become better every day. No matter how you believe you’ve failed or messed things up, pick yourself up and keep going. All of that was yesterday, and today is a new day.
#12. Be a reliable person.
Don’t be sketchy. People shouldn’t have to wonder if you’re going to follow through on your word. When you tell someone you’re going to do something – do it! Be the person that others know they can count on.
#13. Love yourself and who you are.
“To be yourself is all that you can do” – Chris Cornell (R.I.P. old friend.) Wise words. Don’t act like someone you’re not. Don’t be prideful or pretend like you have all of the answers. Love who you are, be true to that person. It’s who everyone else likes the best.
#14. Prayer is powerful.
Prayer is more powerful than many people realize. There is a reason that God has told us to pray for the USA and Israel. There’s a reason some people always seem to be “blessed.” It’s because God hears and responses to faith-filled prayers. Pray for yourself more. And believe that something is going to happen as a result of your faith-filled prayers.
#15. He/she won’t always look that way.
My wife is beautiful – she always will be. However, neither she nor I look the way we did when we got married. We’re older; we’ve aged. What’s caused us to last is that we connect on a level deeper than just physical appearance. You’ll die alone (or miserable) if physical appearance is your primary focus when searching for a spouse.
#16. You can only control your response, not what happens to you.
Learn to control your emotions regarding external factors. If someone says something offensive, get over it. You cannot do anything about it. The human race is becoming smarter but emotionally immature. If you want to make it somewhere in life, you need to stop getting offended and going on a rant about everything that “hurts your feelings.” #triggered
#17. If you want to be successful, stay focused and be intentional.
If you want to succeed in life, you have to remain intentionally focused on your path. Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Warren Buffett all say that focus is the key to their success in life. Learn to stay focused and cut the busyness out!
- Live a life of intentionality. Stop running aimlessly. Be intentional with the direction of your life. You’re called to something. Figure it out and stay focused on it.
- Set goals for your life. Even if you’re not a “goal person” become one. You’ll go much further this way.
- Spend time reflecting on your life and where you’re heading.
- Know your natural strengths – take personality tests. (Strength Finders 2.0 is my favorite!)
#18. There is a need for self-discipline.
We must be willing to be disciplined in life. It’s not always going to be fun. But we need to grow. It’s time we all become genuinely disciplined people to drive our lives forward. Be willing to give up comfort for the sake of growth.
#19. Understand that you’re not in control.
People stress out a lot. I was losing my hair in my early twenties. (It caused me to stress even more and lose my hair even faster.) Then I learned something – I’m not in control of my hair. Or most of the things I was stressing about. I learned to manage this by surrendering to the fact that I’m not in control. Now, in my 30s I have more hair than I did in my 20s and I’m far healthier.
#20. College isn’t for everyone.
I’m over 30 now, but people still ask me why I didn’t go to college. My answer: It’s not for everyone. I’ve found that traditional education in many cases limited people’s ability to think for themselves. The main benefit of schooling is that it teaches you how to learn.
#21. Learn to self-educate (Become a learner)
If you’re not learning, you’re dying. We must all learn to master new skills. We cannot merely say “I can’t do that.” It’s not true – you can do it! Figure it out. Learn something new every day.
#22. Exercise regularly and eat healthy foods.
You need to take care of your body. There is enough research out there and resources for you to understand what to do. It’s essential that you be a good steward of your body and what you’re putting into it.
#23. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I just turned 31, which means I’ve lived 31 full years and am starting the 32nd year of my life. I mixed that up when I was planning to write this post – so this post is one year late. But, guess what? Who cares! We need to learn to stop sweating the small things in life. Don’t get stressed out by little things like these.
#24. Don’t follow the path the world has for you.
The world tells you to graduate high school, go to college, get a job, get married. Buy a house, get a dog, have kids, retire, die. (I added the last one to make sure you’re paying attention.) You don’t have to follow what the world says. Maybe kids aren’t for you – that’s okay.
#25. Stay in church.
You’re making a mistake if you’re a Christian and not staying plugged into a church. It’s not perfect, it’s even wrong in many ways – but it’s the best option we have. It was God’s idea. Your job is to fill in the gaps and become what you see that is missing; not to leave the church.
The last 5 of the 30 things I learned in 30 years are the most important:
#26. Walk in integrity
Let there be no duplicity within you. Be yourself 100% of the time. Don’t give a group of people one side of your personality and someone else a completely different version of you. Be the same no matter where you are or who you’re around.
#27. Love relentlessly
Aside from salvation, the main thing that humanity is missing and searching for is love. There is a reason that love is the number one most searched, tagged and discussed topic; we all need it. The world we live in is growing more and more hateful. Our job is to stand out and love God more and love those He has placed in our life relentlessly. Love those God has placed in your path no matter what.
#28. Serve others
Serving/helping people goes right along with loving relentlessly. I can say that much of the joy I’ve experienced in my life has come from serving others. It has led me to many of my most memorable experiences, and many of my strongest friendships have been formed while serving others. Seek to leave a lasting impact on other people’s lives.
#29. Enjoy your life
Ultimately God made us, His creation to enjoy what He has given us. Enjoy your days! Even if you’re going through difficult times – be full of God’s joy. Find a positive perspective in every situation you find yourself in. Be full of laughter and enjoy your life! Don’t take life so seriously. Life is temporary, and you need to enjoy the time you have. Be positive, be a joy for others to be around. Be uplifting. Don’t be so serious all the time.
#30. Make sure your identity is in Christ
If your identity is not found 100% in Christ; you’ll never live the life you were made to live. Think about it like this: if you lost your job, your family, your capable body, would it change who you are at your core? If you answer yes, you still need work in this area; just as I do. Life is about gaining a bigger picture of who God is. Nothing else. Read the Bible, spend time in prayer. Be bold for God. Show the world your faith. Walk with God. Know him and be known by him.
There you have it! 30 things I learned in 30 years. It’s a lot to take in, I know – It took me 30 years.