30 Life Lessons at 30

Modern society generally tells us that turning 30 is something to dread, as if it were a turning point in one’s life, symbolising a ticket to the game of adulthood.

Reaching that milestone several months ago, I’ve had time to reflect on where I am today, and some of the amazing experiences I’ve been fortunate enough to have had!

This collection of experiences has provided the unique filters I now see the world through, with 30 life lessons I’ve learned along the way (and am now sharing) through the journey of life!
Departing words for us all are best captured by author Richelle Mead;

“I’m like a fine wine. I get better with age. The best is yet to come”

Invest in yourself: Particularly your mind, body and spirit. Many people assume investments are limited to finance, without realising their biggest asset is themselves! Investing time and sometimes money, in your ongoing growth and development will be the best investment you can make. It will continue to pay dividends for life in more ways than we can understand.
When was the last time I truly invested in myself and where would I like my next investment to be?

Keep physically active: The body has been designed to move…keep it that way! Every time we exercise, our bodies produce a range of ‘feel good’ neurotransmitters, helping boost our mood and overall well-being.
Some recent studies have suggested each hour of sitting can increase the risk heart disease by up to 14%, highlighting the importance to get off our behinds and keep physically active.

Think of your body as a fertile garden and nourish it with organic ingredients: Everything you put in and on your body affects you more than you think and we each have the ability to heal ourselves, given the right environment. Often forgotten, our skin is the largest organ with many of us not thinking twice about putting chemicals on it, whether that be makeup, shampoo or even sunscreen. Choose wisely!

Take risks (within reason): There’s a tendency to shy away from anything that’s outside our comfort zone. Wanting a job promotion or pay rise? Spotted a crush at the gym or bar? Got a great business idea?
One way I’m helping to re-frame my risk appetite is to ask myself:
What’s the absolute worst that could happen??

As Daryl Somers once said in a tourism ad for the Northern Territory;
you’ll never never know, if you never never go’

Be open to change and trying new things: Most people will proudly tell you they’re ‘open minded’, but are they really?! Having a truly open mind comes in many forms; being open to new ideas, opinions, beliefs, people, food and relationships to name a few. It’s only when we’re challenged we realise there are more to our ideas, values and beliefs than what we currently hold.
A few things I’ve recently tried for the first time; attending a Buddhist Monastery for a meditation/prayer session and taking an introductory salsa dancing class.
While I was initially hesitant and found myself second guessing whether or not to attend, once I overcame this internal barrier, both of these experiences ended up exceeding my expectations and turned out to be amazingly fun!
When was the last time I tried something for the first time?

It’s OK to be wrong (and admit it): There’s nothing worse than seeing or hearing someone deflect the blame and not taking ownership when things don’t go their way. We’ve all been there and it’s the natural response for many of us!
One thing I’ve observed and experienced is that it’s actually better when you admit (and accept) your failures and wrongdoings rather than deflecting the blame. Taking ownership and responsibility is an incredibly liberating experience, and it’s where much personal growth and development can spawn from.

Start your passion project: We’re quick to formulate excuses and reasons NOT to do something, rather than doing it! We all have an extra 15 minutes per day we could find to pursue something we’re deeply passionate about!
What is it you’re passionate about? Find it, start it, embrace it and you’ll be happier for it! Life’s too short!
If money were no object, what would you love to do for the rest of your life?

Nurture your mind: The words you’re reading right now are being processed by the most complicated and technologically advanced piece of machinery on the plant…your brain!Containing approximately 1 billion cells with trillions of connections, we sometimes forget to pay much needed attention to the way our brain operates. Slowing down and allowing for some introspection, as well as practising meditation (even for only five minutes) can do wonders for clarity of mind! Highly recommend the free meditation app, 1GiantMind to get you started.

Value your time: It’s the most valuable asset you own! Time is the one asset that’s constant for everyone and each day we live we have less to spend! Unless a future invention allows us to download our consciousness (like the movie Transcendence), we only get one opportunity to live life to the fullest! This leads to the next point…

It’s OK to say NO; to things and people: If there’s something you really don’t want to do, don’t do it! Your time is far too valuable! The older I’ve become, the more I’ve said no to things and people that are no longer aligned to where I’m heading.
Life’s too short!

Follow your curiosity and immerse yourself in it:
What gets you into the ‘flow state’ where you ardently loose track of time?
It could be art, bee keeping or history; whatever it is, become an autodidact and immerse yourself in it! You will become a far more interesting person by being passionately curious about it!

“Many who are self-taught far excel the doctors, masters, and bachelors of the most renowned universities.” – Ludwig von Mises

Understand the power of compound interest: Start saving and investing as early as you can and move money to a separate untouchable account. Having a basic understanding of financial literacy goes a long way, and would recommend the following books to cover off the basics (The Intelligent Investor, Think And Grow Rich, Rich Dad, Poor Dad).
Consider additional superannuation contributions (assuming you only start making additional pre-tax salary sacrifice contributions at age 30, $5000 per year, deposited monthly, at an average annual return of 7%, by the time you’re 65, you’ll have an ADDITIONAL $720,000 in superannuation…this also assumes you started with a zero balance and aren’t making regular employer contributions).

Live or study abroad: Living in Australia, we’re lucky to have reciprocal Working Holiday Visas with many countries for those aged 30 and under. If you’re fortunate enough to have the opportunity to go through university, (as I did at Copenhagen Business School), take it! It was one of the best life experiences, not only for my own personal growth, but the many friends and lifelong memories created.

Studying on exchange in Copenhagen

Travel at every opportunity: This is perhaps one of the most underrated educational experiences for personal growth and development! It provides worldly wisdom, opportunities, cultural appreciation and can help to see things from a different point of view. Each travel experience makes you richer and a far more interesting character. It doesn’t always have to be overseas or interstate, leading to my next point…

Explore your own city as a tourist: This can provide a new appreciation of what you have on your (front or back?) doorstep! Look up the top tourist attractions in your city or spend a day exploring, you’d be surprised at how much is on offer which most locals never get the chance to experience. In Melbourne, we have one of the worlds best Botanical Gardens, and I’m always amazed at how infrequently this gets explored!
When was the last time I tried something new in my own city?

Slow down: Everyone loves telling you how ‘busy’ they are! It’s become the cultural norm and something we seem to wear as a badge of honour.
We’re all in a rush to get things done, and at the same time we forget to appreciate the small (and often beautiful) things life offers us! It’s OK to do nothing and slow down the pace.
Mindfulness is a simple concept focusing on bringing attention to the present, which in its simplest form could be walking slower and paying attention to your immediate surroundings such as the buildings, sights, smells and noises which your brain would normally block out as ‘noise’.

Be grateful for what you have: A large percentage of the world’s population don’t have shelter, or access to fresh food and water. We really are in the top 5%. Be grateful for everything you have, from food, warmth, friends and family to being alive at this very minute. Studies on gratitude have shown even the simplest act of writing three things we’re grateful for each day, leads to increased levels of happiness and a more positive outlook on life.

Reduce the drinking and nights out: This is one of those points that’s much easier said than done with hindsight! The amount of time and money I spent out during my university years was more than enough to put a deposit on a house! Whilst I don’t regret a single moment, I would advise my 18 year old self to take it a little easier and put more towards savings for the future.

Spend more quality time with family and friends: Whilst I consider myself an introvert, spending quality time with those close to me are one of the most important aspects of my life! I’m not talking about general banter or surface level discussions, but genuine conversations to understand who they are as individuals, why they hold certain views and what insights they have to share. Some of my most profound learning experiences and insights have come through deep conversations with family and friends, often at times when I’ve least expected it!
When was the last time I had a quality conversation with a family member or friend, and what did I learn from that interaction?

Everything is temporary: Our feelings, emotions, (negative) experiences, possessions and our time on this earth, are all temporary. There’s a quote from the movie ‘Total Recall’ which resonated with me; “the past is a construct of the mind”.
Understanding this can be incredibly liberating! The way we perceive things can completely change, by not dwelling on the past, but by focusing on the present and future.

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience” – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Don’t burn your bridges: You never know when that bridge may be needed in the future! I’m a big believer in Karma, particular the phrase “what goes around, comes around”.

Be a nice human being: Everyone has a story and their own shit going on in life. It costs nothing to be a nice human being and you may never know how even the smallest gesture such as a smile or thank you could change someone’s day!
There’s a beautiful short film which won TropFest 2013, called “We’ve all been there”, which captures this.

Read everyday: We’re all guilty of spending too much time on social media or procrastinating. This creates an opportunity to spend time devoted to reading everyday. It doesn’t have to be books, it may be articles or magazines that interest you. As an example; I try and read one article from Mercola and PsychologyToday each day.  2 articles a day, 5 days a week = 520 articles a year! Knowledge adds up!
Make a conscious effort to take note of key points in an online note taking app, Evernote and Keep are great cross platform options.
If reading isn’t your thing, a TED Talk a day will open your mind, as will the thousands of podcasts available. Listen to the podcast I host at FeedMyMind.

Ask questions and question things: It leads to deeper understanding and insight. Many of us take the information/ideas/values we are presented at face value, without critical thinking and rational contemplation. Inducing a healthy dose of scepticism and questioning, produces far greater diversity in ideas and perspectives, helping us to make better decisions.

“I would rather have questions that can’t be answered than answers that can’t be questioned” – Richard Feynman

Write down your goals and what you do want: I’m often surprised by the response I get when asking people about their goals, particularly how few actually have them written on paper! Multiple studies have shown the benefits of writing down goals, and the neuroscience behind why you’re more likely to achieve them. This very small (and regular) investment of time into writing down your goals, can be one of the greatest catalysts for personal change.

Don’t be afraid to make your opinion known and stand up for what you believe in…even if it’s contrary to the norm. Over the years I’ve had my fair share of controversial opinions, and haven’t always felt confident enough to express them until now. Understand that people will vehemently defend their own ideas, values and belief systems as an extension of themselves, and anything that contradicts their world view will feel like a personal attack! I’ve learned that people will begin to attack you as an individual when their argument is weak, however do not take this personally, as this only exposes the chinks in their armour.

What we see is only a small part of reality: Everything that exists on this Earth fits somewhere on the Electromagnetic Spectrum; a range of energy emitted in the form of waves (light) or particles (photons). Some estimates suggest the human eyes are only capable of perceiving around 0.0035% of the entire electromagnetic spectrum. Quite confronting to ponder on this, and as the old saying goes; “there’s more than meets the eye”.

Electromagnetic Spectrum; showing limited range visible to the human eye

Capture events and experiences and store them safely: With the quality of smartphone camera’s increasing, it’s becoming far easier to capture precious moments (if done correctly). I’m fortunate to have grown up in a family that’s always owned a video camera, capturing nearly every birthday, sporting event, Christmas and holiday since the day I was born. While it can be annoying and embarrassing at the time, it’s not until now I’m able to look back and remember, appreciating these precious memories captured.
It wasn’t until recently when putting together a short video for my friends 30th birthday, I realised the difficulty in collecting good (especially original high quality) images and video from others.
Understanding the basics of lighting and having a steady hand, are the easiest ways to capture quality footage! Always remember to back up on computer and external hard drive on a regular basis.

What would your future self thank you for starting today? Want to get fitter? Write that book? Buy your dream house? Start a new business venture?
What would your future self thank you for starting today?

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” – Lao Tzu

Look up from your phone! A recent study by RoyMorgan revealed the average Australian aged over 14, spends almost six hours (340 minutes) on social media every week. Once you stop spending so much time glued to your screen and start observing life, you realise a funny paradox, we’re all so different, yet similar!

I’ll leave you with perhaps one of the most confronting, yet powerful poems and videos, “Look Up”, highlighting the relationship with our phones.

Hopefully there are a few nuggets of wisdom to be shared and I would love to hear your own experiences!

Hope you enjoy