Today I turn 26. And right now I can say that I’ve lived in the way I’ve wanted (and not so many people thought it was the right path) and now in hindsight I can say that I’m glad I chose to do things in my way.
I’m not saying that I have everything figured out, it’s more like the opposite. But specially in the journey I’ve got in the last three years, I learned critical things that will define the following years. And I want to share with you 26 ideas I’ve learned in that journey (some of them in the hard way)
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1. Being busy is a trap. It doesn’t matter if you work 100 hours a week. It’s better to work less and spend more quality hours in the things that matter.
2. The right time is now. Too often we ask ourselves what is the next best thing? Right now it’s what’s next.
3. Read books. Lots of them. Learning by doing and failing is okay if you have all the time and resources in the world. I prefer to learn by reading how others failed so I can avoid those things and move forward.
4. You don’t need permission. It’s always better to say sorry than ask for permission. Every successful person worth mentioning followed this path. They just did it. “Permission granted. Nobody asks for permission. The basic strategy is «Ready. Fire. Aim.» — James Altucher.
5. You need mentors. Dead or alive. You can find mentors everywhere. They just have to know more than you in a particular area so you can learn from them. Or you can get inspired by some people from the past. You’ll discover that reading biographies is a great way to learn from people.
6. Don’t take every advice for granted. When we seek for mentors we think we’ll get a magical answer that’ll solve all our problems. In fact, taking advice from just one source can be dangerous. In the end you, and only you, are the one that knows your situation. “What’s ahead is always unknown for everyone. Just trust yourself and do your thing.” — Jason Fried
7. Keep your luggage ready. If you settle you can get too comfortable and overcoming the status quo will be more difficult. Maybe you don’t have to actually have your luggage ready, but your mind should.
8. Less is more. Declutter your life. Owning less and not being dependent on material things will make you happier and ready to catch up opportunities.
9. Travel more. I can’t get tired of telling people to travel more.
10. Say No more often. Read No “yes.” Either “HELL YEAH!” or “no.”. By default everybody says yes to everything, and they forget that there are huge opportunities on the way that we miss because we say yes to often to things. And this is not only in the professional sense, it’s also (specially) in your personal life, how you spend your time, who you hang out with, who you date with… You go down the list. HELL YEAH! or no.
11. Surround yourself selectively. The people you choose to surround yourself with will define who you are.
12. People will criticize you. It always happens. Just let them, keep focused, and do the work.
13. Don’t follow a trend. Doing things for the sake they’re popular is a foolish way to work your way up. Invest in things that don’t change. Thus, while everybody’s busy finding the next big thing you’re just working on things that will still be important tomorrow.
14. Know when you’re wrong. It’s your best asset.
15. Focus and plan. People want to do everything, but as everything in life, there’s no time to do everything. So focus on something you want to accomplish and say No to everything else. That’s the way you get time to do great stuff, read lots of books and spend more time with your people.
16. Send thank you notes more often. I love saying thank you to writers that share great blog posts. They’re always grateful (no matter how famous they are). So if I can make their day better with a quick email and get an energy boost when they reply, why don’t we do this more often?
17. Exercise on a regular basis. Your body and mind will feel better. And here don’t say that you’re too busy to exercise. When the day ends, you can accomplish more by taking an hour of exercising rather than being at your office the whole day.
18. Do more of the things you like. It’s okay from time to time to do stuff you don’t want, because that’s part of the journey. However, if doing things you don’t like become your day to day, then you gotta change something. There’s always a way to stop doing those things and do the stuff that brings you joy, you’ve just got to figure it out.
19. Plan ahead. Bad times will come. So having a practice where you put yourself in the worse case scenario is a good habit. It will allow you to plan ahead in a way that you can avoid certain situations you don’t like.
20. Start tracking your work. Sooner or later you’ll start to lose control on your work. It’ll become messy and great ideas will get lost. Having a way to organize and track your work is critical to create art. You can start using Evernote, Google Drive, or whatever service you prefer and start tracking everything you do. And also gaining the habit of writing ideas down in notecards and notebooks is key to create remarkable ideas.
21. Networking is BS. Why would you go to a place where people just expect that a few handshakes will help them in the future to get a gig? I don’t like networking. I prefer to hang out with people and have great conversations. Instead of going to “network”, do some work and put it out there. People will find you.
22. Complaining is worthless. You can complain that if you’ve just got a little bit more of money… Or if you’d live in another country, or be prettier… All of them are excuses. Acknowledge your situation. Then with the set of cards you’ve got, play in the best way you can. And if you don’t like the table, go play to another one. Always give it all, you’ll never regret it.
23. Make some noise. Act small, but think big. Really big. Then you can hustle and make some noise in the way. Shake things.
24. Get bored more often. As the writer and philosopher Robert Pirsig said: “Boredom always precedes a period of great creativity.”
25. Control the schedule. Time is everything. “Make your schedule before you start.” — Zig Ziglar
26. Do what you’re not supposed to do. I wasn’t supposed to start working on marketing while I was studying it, I wasn’t supposed to go to China with nothing but my luggage, I wasn’t supposed to quit my job, or travel the world… So many things I wasn’t supposed to do. But in the end, all of them made the difference.