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!