In 30 days, I will be turning 30. So in these last few days of my 20s bracket, I decided to share 30 life lessons I’ve learned in the first 30 years of my life.
1. Life is really short
Like seriously short. I didn’t really realised this until after I graduated from university. After 24, life as I know it flies really fast. Possibly because I no longer in the routine of structured education. Anyways, I am sharing these 2 favourite videos of mine below. They are both very good at putting life in perspective, so I really recommend you to watch them.
2. Think small
You don’t have to change the world to make your life meaningful. In fact, only a few people ever got the chance. So think small. If you really wanted to make a change, start by changing one’s world and everyone around you instead. And instead of trying to build a million-dollar or billion-dollar company, try to build a sustainable business.
3. Your present isn’t a binding contract
Whatever thoughts or rules that you have set for yourself, or whatever condition that you’ve settled in right now, you can change them if you are not happy. The present isn’t a binding contract. Change the terms, change the conditions.
4. You don’t have to know everything
When you don’t know something, you can just simply say you don’t know and ask people what are they actually talking about. Share what you know, and keep learning things that you don’t.
5. Create your own luck
No matter how hard you work, you still need luck for everything to fall in place together. And even though you can’t really force luck to be on your side, you can, however, stack as many odds as you can in your favour. So, ship as many projects as you can. Write as many books as you can. Always do more.
6. Don’t be afraid to say no
When you don’t want something or don’t want to do something, don’t be afraid to say no. You only have so much time in a day, don’t waste it on things that don’t fulfil you.
7. Don’t be afraid to say yes
You never know when opportunities will come and knock your door and which series of events will lead you to the thing of your dreams. So say yes to that meeting that you don’t really see the point of going. Say yes to that trip that you think might be a hassle to go to. Say yes to that phone call. Say yes, because you never know what might happen.
8. Build an audience
When you have an audience, you are no longer talking to an empty space. You’ll finally have a say in something and you’ll now have somebody that will listen. So you can easily get opinions, launch a new product, ask for help etc. So start growing your followers/connections on Twitter, Instagram, Youtube or whatever channels suit you the best.
9. Travel more
Save your money, pack your things up and travel more. It will open your mind, changes your perspectives, learn more about other cultures, give you ideas/inspirations and many many more things that you won’t find if you just stay still wherever you are now.
10. Be kind to everybody
Be kind to everybody. People, animals, plants, our planet. Anybody and everybody. Because kindness is free and doesn’t cost you anything.
11. Don’t disagree if you don’t have to
When people tell you how excited they are about something, don’t shut them down because you thought differently about the subject matter. Especially if there’s no point of you doing so and they didn’t even ask you for your opinion. Just remember, if you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything.
12. Take advice with a grain of salt
People give you advices based on their own experience. They’ll tell you things based on how they worked out in their life. It’s called the survivorship bias. Thus, it is very important that you put your own judgement when you apply them to your own life situation.
13. You don’t have to own a lot of things
You don’t have to own a lot of things to live, to be a human, to be happy. Instead, you can do the exact opposite of that. I found that the lesser things I own, the happier I am. It’s just felt like all the burden have been lifted from myself. I wrote about how I only own 86 things, all of which can be fitted into my backpack here. Also if you are interested, I also did a tour of my minimalist 150sqft studio apartment here.
14. Eat well and live healthy
The older you get, the more you body will start to breaks down. It just how it is. But if you eat and live healthy, you probably won’t get as many problems as you could have gotten. If you want to start living healthy, start with what you eat. Go plant-based. It’s the only diet that is proven to be able to prevent and reverse diseases. I wrote my story about how I became a vegetarian here if you want to give it a read.
15. Read more
Most of the knowledge and experience you have now are based on your own life. Thankfully, books allow us to gain knowledge and experience of other people easily. So read more. They are bridges to wisdom of life that aren’t yours.
16. Do more instead of reading
Read more is good. But there’s also such thing of too much reading. It’s when you read but do nothing with the knowledge you consumed. Sometimes, you could forget about all the books and all the readings and just go do it. Because you will learn more by actually doing and experience something yourself than just reading about them.
17. Rely on yourselves
I’ve learned that we can’t really rely on anyone. Sure it’s good if there are people around that want to help us. We have to learn to handle problems by ourselves first. And consider other people’s helps only as our contingency plan.
18. Never judge other people
Everybody has their own story of why they did the things they did or said the things they said. Stop assuming things. Don’t be judgemental and try to put yourself in their shoes. And maybe then, you will understand them better.
19. Never stop learning
Learning shouldn’t have stopped at school or university. Life is full of interesting things. So get out there and keep learning new things, new languages, new skills etc.
20. Learn to tell a story
Storytelling is one of the most important skills to have. Whether you are telling a story about yourself, your work, your project or your own life, it is really important for you to tell a story in a clear and easy way for other people to understand and follow along. You can improve your storytelling skill by reading books, watching movies, watching stand up comedies etc.
21. Marriage is not for everybody
I used to see marriage as one of life greatest achievements. Indeed when I was in grad school, I remember setting up a target that I will be married by the time I was 24. But that didn’t happen and it was for the better. As my life took a different turn, I realised that if I was married, I might not be where I am today and will not be doing what I am doing now. I realised that marriage isn’t for everybody.
22. It’s ok to be an introvert
Living a life as an introvert has always been hard for me. Everyday mundane task as simple as making a phone call, always giving me anxiety. I thought I will be having a hard time going through life with this. And while it is kind of true still, I have now learnt to embrace it. I no longer feel bad about things that I’m not convenient of doing. I’ve learnt that it’s ok, to be the way I am.
23. Amazing things happen out of your comfort zone
None of the great things in my life especially for the past 6-7 years will happen if i didn’t push myself out of my comfort zone. Those interviews that I’ve taken, those exams that I took, those meetings that I attended, those trips that I went on. All of which were uncomfortable and inconvenient for me at the time, but I’m very glad that did them all as if it weren’t for them, I won’t be where I am today.
24. Save yourself before saving others
Save and help yourself before saving others. If you couldn’t sort yourself out, have a stable life etc, you couldn’t possibly help others in need. Or at least, you couldn’t do it in away that it will give a significant impact. You just need to remind yourself that it is not selfish. You just had to put your mask on first, otherwise, everyone will suffocate.
25. Speciesism is wrong
Speciesism or specism refers to the differing treatment or moral consideration of individuals based on their species membership. Most humans for example, have been practising this on animals by believing that being human is a good enough reason for them to have greater moral rights than animals. Many forget that animals are sentient lifes. They have the capacity to feel, perceive, or experience subjectively. They can feel pain, love and many other emotions that we feel as human. Thus, we should treat them like family, friends and one of ours. Not the food that we eat everyday.
26. Take your chances
Send that cold email you’ve wanted to send. Say hi to that person you’ve crossed path with. Ask someone if they would agree to something. Just do those things, because any chance > no chance at all.
As long as something is not a crime and not a wrong thing to do, just do it as You Only Live Once. 20, 30 or 50 years from now, you’ll regret and disappointed more of the things that you didn’t do than the things that you did.
28. Be patient with your calling
I feel blessed and lucky that as I’m turning 30 in a few days, my indie startup life has started to take off and I now feel like I’ve found my purpose. But there are bunch of different things that I need figure out now. So it’s ok if you feel that you didn’t have everything figured out yet. In fact, nobody really does. Those that look like they did, were just as clueless as you. Just at a different phase of their life.
29. Choose the road less travelled
When I was 16, I was taught in class about this famous poem: The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost. It was not until many years later that all those written words started to hit close to home. I wrote this on Instagram 3 years ago when I turned 27:
30. It’s never too late for something
I’ve met and heard people chasing and realizing their dreams in various stages of their life. Someone who started her degree in her 40s, one that founded a successful company in his 60s, or one that became a prime minister in his 90s. What I learned from all of this, is age is just a number. As long as your eyes are still open and your heart is still beating, you can still continue chasing your dreams and make a new ending.