The last two years I’ve had great responses to the posts I’ve done for my birthday. Two years ago I wrote 34 Life Lessons I’ve Learned in 34 Years, and last year I wrote 35 Things I’ver Never Told You or Many People Actually.
It’s that time again because on July 21st, I turned 36.
It’s hard to believe I’m six years into my 30s. I remember when I turned 30 I told myself the next 10 years were going to be better than the last 10. They had to be because I entered my 30s more lost and confused than any point in my life.
I didn’t have a plan though. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I was still searching for a way to make money so I could leave my job working at the family restaurant. I was still searching for what would make me happy and excited about life.
I was determined though because I didn’t want these next 10 years to feel like a waste.
Amazing things have happened these last six years. I finally have direction in my life. I feel excited about my future. I’ve had some great success. I found true love.
I have listed 36 reasons my life has changed since I turned 30. These weren’t all done at one time. They’ve happened over the last six years. All were pivotal to changing me, getting results, and becoming the person I am today.
They are listed in no particular order of importance.
1. Became the person I wanted to be
Before I had tried to follow steps A to Z to achieve my goals. We all do that, but it never worked out for me so I had to try something different. Instead of asking “What do I need to do?”, I learned to ask myself, “Who do I need to become?”
Makes such a big difference. Instead of just following the steps, I had to become the person that would achieve the goals I wanted. I needed to change myself FIRST, so I could have success. Not the other way around.
I achieved #1 because of all the reasons below.
2. Stopped reading and watching the local news
I used to read the local paper every day. Now I don’t. “But Benny you should be a good citizen and know what’s going on in your city!” I don’t need to know what’s going on. Honestly it doesn’t help me. Plus if I opened the newspaper, it is mostly about all the bad stuff that is going on. Since I’ve stopped reading it, I feel so much better.
3. Cut back on watching TV
I used to have the TV on all the time. Even if I wasn’t watching it, I’d have it on. By cutting back on watching TV, I’ve gained so many hours where I could be doing something productive. I still watch TV, but not as much. Sometimes I go days without turning it on.
4. Kept a gratitude journal
Before I turned 30, I was not thankful for anything in my life. I had money, a house, car, and my health, but I was always focused on what I didn’t have. When I was 33, I started a gratitude journal. I wrote in it every morning for a few minutes. I enjoyed it so much, I developed an iPhone app, Gratitude Journal 365.
In my 30s, I’ve found my biggest transformations have happened when I was physically at my best. I took kickboxing class in Taipei, and was by far in the best shape of my life. My confidence was sky high and eventually I met my wife at a club, which I used to hate going to because I felt I didn’t belong. (Turns out to be lots of fun).
In 2010, feeling stuck in life and out of shape, I trained for my first ever half marathon. I ran my first one in December. Then in February I ran a second one. It was around this time I began this blog and started work on my first iPhone app, Photo 365.
I always feel more focused and productive when I do exercise.
6. Wrote a letter to myself
I didn’t understand the power of writing letters, but it was something I felt would help me. One night in October 2010, after a terrible night at work, that’s what I did. I needed to get stuff off my chest, and have a reminder to stop wasting my life and take action. I typed it on my computer, printed it out, and taped it to my wall. From that day on, I was going to start making changes in my life that I wanted.
I still have that letter on my wall.
I’ve found other stories of people writing letters and how it’s helped them get out from terrible situations in life.
7. Took 100% responsibility for my life
If I wanted to have the type of life I dreamt of, it was up to me to get it. I had to stop waiting for someone else, and stop blaming others. If I was going to be happy and wealthy, it was because of me. If I was going to be unhappy and poor, it was because of me.
8. Stopped my microwave mentality
I don’t like to wait. I want everything done in an instant, but I had to realize that I wasn’t going to be an overnight success. Changes in my life were going to take time. Bad habits wouldn’t instantly go away nor would I instantly stick to good habits.
9. Stopped living in the past
When I hit 30, it was a wake up call to me. I could have spent the next 10 years wishing I had done so many things differently in my 20’s. Any mistakes I made in the past were done. Any regret I had couldn’t be changed. I had to forget about it all.
10. Didn’t worry about the future
What if I failed? What would I do? How would I handle the unknown? I didn’t think about those things. Worrying about the future is a waste of time because 99.99% of the worst case scenarios we imagine never happen.
11. Focused on the present
Since I wasn’t living in the past, or worrying about the future, it freed me up to focus on the present. What could I do today that would move me a little bit closer to the results I wanted? Even if I did just one small thing, it was better than doing nothing.
12. Ditched the get rich quick mentality
I decided to not focus my time on any online businesses that promised money quick. I had tried many of them and lost interest in them very fast. It may work for some, but I wanted to work on something that created value for people.
13. Realized that I didn’t need to know everything to begin. Just enough.
When I created my first app, I didn’t know everything about developing an app. I just knew enough to get started. If I had prepared so much at the beginning so the process would have been flawless, I would have never gotten started.
14. Started this blog
I’ve started a handful of blogs before, but they were always created to make money. I wanted to start this one because I enjoyed understanding how to improve ourselves. I knew it was a topic I could still be writing about one year later. Blogging also has allowed me to do something creative, which was missing from my life.
15. Met awesome people
I’ve met some great people from all around the world all because I had a blog. I wouldn’t be able to do that without it. At WDS, I got to meet many in person and it’s a great feeling when you tell someone what your goals are and they support it, instead of questions why in the world you’d want to do that.
16. Found out WHY I wanted to do something
Instead of just following the steps I needed to achieve certain goals, I also needed to know why. Knowing why makes a huge difference. Why do I want to change my habits? Why do I want to make money online? When I found my why, it helped me stay focused and not give up easily.
For example, when I came back from my four month overseas trip, I was out of shape and fat. I wanted to lose weight, but that’s not really motivating. If I felt lazy one day, I would just say I’d do it tomorrow.
To make sure I exercised six days a week, and controlled what I ate, I found my reason why. World Domination Summit was just one month away. No way did I want to go to the conference looking chubby and feeling like that. My reason why I wanted to lose weight was so strong that it helped me get off my lazy butt many mornings and exercise.
If you know your why, you can beat any one that just knows how.
17. Ditched the excuses
The old Benny would be making excuses after excuses for just about anything. I’d slap him if I could just so he’d shut up. Because I decided to take 100% responsibility for everything in my life, that means stopping the excuses. It’s much easier to place blame on someone or something, but if we really look deep into the situation, the blame does rest with us.
18. Believed that the best years are still ahead of me
When I turned 30, I wanted the next 10 years to be the best years of my life so far. Honestly the bar was set pretty low because my 20’s didn’t turn out as I had hoped. I had to understand that I wasn’t too old to do great things in life. That’s why I wanted to write a post about famous people who didn’t find success until they were in their 30s and 40s. It wasn’t just to remind you, but to remind myself too.
19. Stopped waiting for a miracle
I stopped waiting for something miraculous to happen that would change my life. I hoped and I dreamt about it all the time while taking no action, thinking about how much my life sucked, and watching lots of TV. I never got what I was waiting for so I had to stop this belief.
20. Read books
In the last few years, I’ve read more books than I did the past 13 years combined. Reading books has really helped me fill my mind with clean water.
21. Turned my car into a classroom
The average American spends 2.5 hours driving every day. We spend about 38 hours a year stuck in traffic. In cities like D.C., San Francisco or Los Angeles it’s 60 hours. That’s time that doesn’t have to be wasted listening to the radio or music. I went to my library and checked out audio CD’s on personal development. I subscribed to Success Magazine and every month it came with a CD filled with interviews. You could learn a language or learn a new skill while driving. You could listen to audiobooks.
It also makes being stuck in traffic a little less painless.
22. Became the tortoise and not the hare
Someone who is consistent can beat someone who is just talented. Instead of trying to work really hard for a few weeks, I decided I’d be more consistent.
23. Learned to like myself
I thought this is what I’ve got and this is what I’ve got to work with. No need to put myself down or doubt what I could do. If I didn’t like myself, then no one else would.
24. Stopped doing what I should be doing
Instead of continuing down the path I was going, I stopped and decided to do something I wanted instead. If kept doing what I thought I should, I would have just given up going after any dreams and followed the path that was laid out for me. That would have been working at the family restaurant and then eventually taking it over.
25. Stopped thinking about what I didn’t want in life
I used to always think about what I didn’t want. I didn’t want to work in the restaurant. I didn’t want to be unhappy. I didn’t want to feel stuck in life. The more I kept thinking like that, the more I got what I didn’t want.
Instead, I started to think what I wanted. I stopped trying to get away from what I didn’t want. Instead I looked to move towards what I wanted.
26. Improved my morning routine
The old me would have a morning routine where I’d make breakfast, then turn on the TV, use my computer, while eating my breakfast. After finishing, I’d stay on the computer until it was time to go to work. On my days off, I’d stay on my computer, while watching TV, until it was time for lunch. No wonder I never got anything done and felt unmotivated the rest of the day.
I improved my morning routine and it made a difference for me. I don’t check email first thing in the morning. Some days I read for 15 minutes. I may meditate for 5 minutes. I’ll check my emails after all that, but only respond to critical issues like something related to my apps. After that, I go exercise.
I’m not perfect and I don’t do this every day, but I do it as often as I can.
27. Stopped feeling sorry for myself
I needed to suck it up because no one cared that I felt sorry for myself. I could cry in my house all day long wondering why my life sucked so bad. Guess what? No one cares. If I wanted to walk around looking and feeling sad, it wasn’t going to help me. No one was going to come save me. People have so many of their own problems to worry about.
28. Used affirmations + visualizations
In order to change my beliefs, I had to flood my mind with new ones and the way I did that was through affirmations + visualizations.
29. Decided to become an optimist first
We usually think that once we find success and happiness that is when we will be optimists. That’s backwards. I learned that I had to be an optimist first before I could find success or happiness. Without optimism, I’d give up too easily. I would also not give anything my best effort.
30. Stopped trying to find my passion
In my 20s, I was searching for the ONE thing I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I thought if I had that, I would be happy. I couldn’t figure out what it was though.
In my 30s, I stopped looking for that one thing and decided to start somewhere. Doing something was better than doing nothing.
I started this blog, which had been on my mind for a long time, and I took a risk and developed an iPhone app. Both turned out to do really well and I’m really enjoying it for now. Will I be doing both of these forever? I don’t know. I don’t think so. I want to do many more things. I just can’t do everything at one time. Who knows what the future will hold. Maybe an unexpected opportunity will come from what I am doing now.
31. Kept screwing up
Before I turned 30, I tried all kinds of online businesses and they’ve all failed. After I turned 30, I kept on trying things like creating niche sites, blogs, and buying traffic to these sites. Didn’t turn out so great.
By screwing up, I realized what I didn’t like so I could focus on looking for something I did.
32. Stepped out of my comfort zone
I’ll just share a couple times.
I lived in Taipei, Taiwan from 2007-2009 and it took me about a year to have the guts to join a kickboxing group that met twice a week. It wasn’t the type that sparred, but a group of locals and foreigners that wanted to exercise. I finally got over my stupid fears and joined. Turned out to be amazing. Loved it. I went twice a week for a couple months.
Stepped out of my comfort zone again by going with them to a local club one night, even though I told myself I didn’t like clubs. Had so much fun. Went the second time to a different one and met a girl there who is now my wife.
Great things happen when I took huge steps out of my comfort zone.
33. Found true love
Finding someone who makes me laugh all the time, is my best friend, and supports me has been the best thing ever. I can’t believe I had to go half way around the world to find her.
If I ever had to accept an award and give a speech, I’d be one of those guys that would thank his wife for everything and probably try not to cry.
34. Did annual reviews
At the end of 2011, I did my first annual review. I was able to look back on my year and see what went well and what didn’t. 2011 was a great year. I did the same in 2012. This time I wasn’t so pleased with how the year went. By doing an annual review, I saw the reasons why I didn’t get the results I wanted and knew where to make changes for 2013.
35. Realized that what I want to do isn’t that hard
When we do anything new, we love to think it’s so hard. We think we can’t do it. It’s too much work and takes too much time.
If we really think about it, it’s not that hard. Doing chemotherapy is hard. Dodging bullets is hard. Putting out fires is hard. What we do isn’t that hard.
Yes it takes time, and we might get stuck, but eventually we will figure it out.
36. Stopped doing the same old shit so I would not have the same results
Out of the 37 reasons I just listed, I’d say only one or two I did occasionally before turning 30, but the rest I NEVER did.
Without doing number 36, I would not have done everything above. I knew I had to do something different. What I did before wasn’t working. If I didn’t change, I’d have the same shitty results.
I had to change everything in order to get different results.
I know lots of you reading this right now are getting the same results you don’t want and I bet it’s because you’re doing the same things over and over again. You’re expecting better results though. If so, STOP IT. Do something different. If you’ve never had a morning routine, create one. If are a news junkie, cut back and see how it makes you feel.
Just do something different.
If you enjoyed this post, I’d be awesome if you could share it because I know what I’ve learned these last six years can help someone who feels stuck and unhappy in life.
As you can tell by the photo on the right, I had a great birthday cake. All I wanted was a birthday cake made of cookies and ice cream, and my wife and sister surprised me with one.
If you have anything you’d love to add to this list of 36, please share it in the comments!
Such an awesome list bro.
It’s ironic that #30 is the biggest thing i’ve understood about myself. It takes me about 3 years to get bored of a subject and seem to gravitate to new things naturally. As an example, I used to be a massive video gamer when I was a teenager and believed it would be something I would go onto pursue as a career for the rest of my life.
But then I turned 23 and started to notice things about myself that wasn’t normal. I didn’t go out and make friends like the majority of people my age, and started to gain an interest in going out and becoming social.
Then I noticed at 25 that my career wasn’t going the way I wanted and fell into digital marketing. Fast forward to day (29), i’m not only scared about the prospect of turning 30 next year, but also excited because it seems like a new beginning for me.
Really cool you wrote this Benny as it came to me at the perfect time.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway I get can from this is that our 30’s is when we develop true clarity and understanding that time is precious.
So many of us waste our 20’s away thinking we will stay young forever.
what a great post Benny and belated Happy Birthday wishes.I really think you hit it on the head with number one. So many people let life get in the way of what they want. At least you know you want to be on your own and live your dream and not some one else. I think that alone helps set the pace for the week when you want to make a better life for you and your wife. Far too many settle for a life of mediocrity afraid to get out of their comfort zone.
I think the second part is that you are taking steps towards your dream. So many people die with the song unsung and a life of regret. I like the motto of Shoemoney, Lead a life of no regrets! Just knowing that you want more out of life sets the pace to achieve your dreams. Doing more of whats not working will only get you more of whats not working. I like how in number 36 you talk of doing different things. Have a great birthday brother. FORTUNE FAVORS THE BOLD. THE OTHER SIDE OF FEAR IS FREEDOM
John Muldoon says
Love this post, Benny! Happy belated birthday. Keep being awesome!
Good work Benny, keep it up! Always nice reading about people living life how they want to.
One thing (not to be that person, but just a heads up): you don’t need an apostrophe in 30s, 40s, 20s, etc. 🙂
Hi Gigi, I really appreciate you pointing that out! As i was typing it I kinda wondered if I should or not. I thought I was right, but I wasn’t. Went and changed all of them. Thank you for pointing that out to me! Now I’ll never forget. 🙂
Time flew so fast. My 30 is coming soon… Now with your 36 reasons, I realize that I should change sooner than later. Change is inevitable if we want to have a better future. I will work even harder now! Thanks for the reminder Benny!
Nice list, thanks for sharing your life journey. Happy birthday!
Thanks Benny ,I appreciate your blog it gives me that extra push I need to get me over that hump!
Sarah Li Cain says
What a wonderful post. May your 37th year be filled more wonderful insights such as this!
Tom Cobb says
What a great post! Thanks for sharing this.
Lorraine Reguly says
Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday, dear Benny…Happy Birthday to you!
Oh, did I mention that I wanted to wish you a Happy Birthday? I do. Happy Birthday!
Neil Butterfield says
These are serious life changing changes Benny. I admire anyone who wants to live life to the fullest. Keep marching forwards my friend.
Loved it. Thanks for sharing your experience, it is quite inspiring.
Thank you Chyrel for reading it! I’m glad you enjoyed it.
Rob Leonardo says
I find the list still decent and honest-to-goodness post that matters. #14 is something relevant to me in the past and present as I struggle to survive in what I once thought would be the achievement of my dreams. It is still there 🙂
Thanks Rob. I’m glad you enjoyed the list. 🙂
I am regular follower of your blog. The aspect of your writing which struck chord with me is that you regularly bring the perspective from “the other side” of 30. I am in similar situation and love to have messages emphasizing that there is still plenty of time to recoup losses if your 20s didn’t bring much home to talk about.
I was quite impressed by this late. This may sound funny, but for some reason I gave myself a challenge of memorizing this list so that I can repeat it to myself at any time of the day. This will serve as my internal reminder system if I become forgetful of any other pointers.
Also, since this is a long list, I tried to categorize your points around broad heads so that ideas become more organized. Hope that you will find this useful.
A. Action – Emotional health
2 Stop watching local news
4 Maintain a gratitude journal
6 Write a letter to yourself
28 Use positive affirmations and visualizations
B. Action – External output
1 Become the person you want to be
14 Start a blog
15 Meet awesome people
20 Read books
26 Change morning routine
33 Find true love
34 Do annual reviews
36 Stop doing the same shit so that you stop getting the same results
24 Stop doing what everybody else thinks you should be doing
C. Action – Physical health
D. Action – Productivity
3 Reduce watching TV
21 Make you car your classroom
E. Change in attitude – instant gratification
8 Get out of microwave (quick solutions) mentality
12 Get out of get rich quick mentality
22 Be a tortoise, if can’t be hare
F. Change in attitude – live in the present
9 Stop living in the past
10 Stop worrying about the future
11 Learn to live in the present
G. Change in attitude – own responsibility
7 Take 100% responsibility for yourself
17 Ditch making excuses
19 Stop waiting for a miracle
H. Change in attitude – premature optimization
13 Start something without waiting to have all the information about it
30 Stop trying to find a passion
31 Keep trying even if attempts get screwed up
32 Get out of your comfort zone
I. Change in attitude – self awareness
16 Understand motivation behind endeavor in question
35 Believe what you to do isn’t that hard
J. Change in attitude – stop negative thoughts
18 Believe that best times are still ahead of you
25 Stop thinking about what is not right in life
29 Start being an optimist even before seeing positive results
K. Change in attitude – towards self
23 Start liking yourself
27 Stop feeling sorry for yourself
Nick Loper says
Happy belated birthday! Great list that pretty much everyone can learn from or relate to. And love the pic in the WDS t-shirt 🙂
thanks Nick! The shirt is pretty awesome. 🙂
I’m 29 and totally relate about turning 30 and being lost and confused. I’ve been looking for more ways to clarify things and these look like great ways to help, and stay focused. Thank you very much for the guidance and inspiration.
Hope my experience will help you so you can learn what helped me. Try different things too. Taking action is the best way to learn about yourself and what you want in life.
Buck Inspire says
Happy Belated Birthday! What’s next on the plate? A new app or ebook? Have an epic rest of 2013!
Thanks Buck! Just had a new app released. Calculatorxapp.com. Doing some cool updates for existing apps with iOS 7 coming out. 🙂
Chris B says
Great post – thanks for sharing your positive attitude and the list of major positive changes you’ve made. I work professionally with TV and video but, interestingly enough, I’ve also found #3 (cutting back on TV) to be extremely useful. For most people, you couldn’t really do #20 (start reading) unless you free up that time.
I loved this article. I agree, cutting back on sedentary lifestyle while using this time more productively can truly improve one’s life! Hopefully, your positive attitude will spread to your readers. You not only gave one good reason, but 36 – great job.
awesome post! You and my brother have the same bday! he just turned 30 this year I’ll def. share this with him and my friends!!
It is a fact that time never wait for anybody. So we should always move ahead with time and make changes in ours with the time. Learning from everything is the best hobby and I really like the 34 life lessons which you learned at the age of 34. As I think we should worry for making mistakes because we can also learn something new through that mistake. I wish you will be more successful in your life. 😉
Nice list. No. 9 is the hardest to do, any tips?
Luisa Raw says
Wonderful post! Congratulations! 🙂
François Thibaud says
I would add :
1. Stop believing that world is empty today, with very less opportunities and everyone as an enemy/competitor. World is filled with abundance, you just have to know how to see it like this, and find your unique stuff you can offer to seize those opportunities.
2. Putting the extra degree in every work you do. “At 211°C water is hot, at 212°C it boils, with boil comes steam, and with steam you can power a train” Sam parker (I highly recommend to read his little book “212 The Extra Degree”.
Nice list benny thank you for sharing.
Aaron Andrews says
Great post man! Numbers 7 through 12 are the #’s I believe I need to focus on improving the most in my life right now.
Shobelyn Dayrit says
I was crying like crazy when I read this I was doing all the wrong things and I am forty. I still do not know what to do, but I know for sure that I have to live to see what happens to me next.
Benny Hsu says
Forty is the new thirty. It’s not too late for you to change. Be really determined to do whatever it takes . Start now and in one year from now, you will look back at your old self and not recognize that person because of all the changes you’ve made.