25 Years of Being Alive: 25 Valuable Lessons Learned in Life
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I have been alive for 25 years now in this world.
I have to say it’s been a fascinating 25 years for sure. While it hasn’t exactly been a smooth ride all the way, it’s been a heck of an interesting one so far.
In this blog post, which merges with the vlog I’ve created on valuable lessons learned in life (coming soon), I want to summarize briefly some personal and career life lessons that I’ve learned over the course of these 25 years that have had the most significant impact on my life.
Also, you will find books, audiobooks, and podcasts that have brought the most dramatic changes in my personal life and career, as well as the people who I consider my mentors.
While this post is meant more for myself as a fun summary of personal reflection, I believe it can be of use and value to you as you move along your journey through life.
Here are a few highlights of my past 25 years:
- 3 years old – Lost my dad
- 8 years old – Got diagnosed with a chronic heart disease, followed by three failed heart surgeries
- 12 to 18 years old – Consumed by suicidal thoughts and loneliness
- 18 years old – Quit high school without a degree
- 18 to 21 years old – Traveled for three years around the world (first country: South Africa)
- 21 years old – Became a professional travel & adventure photographer
- 22 years old – Started the company The IPS Project, a platform providing education on life
- 23 years old – Bought my own camper van named the Batmobile
- 23 years old – Earned my certification as dive master
- 23 years old – Became a bestselling Udemy instructor
- 23 years old – Moved to Barcelona to live for a year
- 24 years old – Reached the summit of my first true mountain, Mont Blanc
- 25 years old – Got accepted into a community of remote professionals named WIFI Tribe
- 25 years old – Traveled to over 40 countries in the last seven years
- 25 years old – Got my first apartment in Antwerp, Belgium
- 25 years old – Started volunteering at a suicide prevention hotline
LESSONS - Personal Life
1. Don’t Take Life or Yourself Too Seriously
It’s easy to be sucked into the seriousness of life.
Every day, at least one thing could go slightly wrong, someone might say something that offends you or puts you off, you might fail at something, harmful and negative news could be thrown at you, people on the street might not smile back at you…
The world as a whole can be a pretty grim and dark place.
However, if you tilt your glasses slightly, you might come to realize that life could also be seen as a grand comedy show.
Do not take life too seriously, and more fundamentally, do not take yourself too seriously.
Doing so will destroy you.
The fact is, things will go wrong. You will screw up. Life will throw shit at you. People will be unkind to you. But the same is true for everyone.
I promise you: significant relief will come to you and a heavy burden will fall from your shoulders once you take life and others with a grain of salt.
Put a smile on your face; once you learn to laugh and joke around, you will see how ridiculous it is that everyone seems to be taking life and themselves too seriously without even knowing why.
In the end, there is so little we know.
We have barely begun to understand the human brain, or seen anything of the universe and the vast mysteries that this planet we live on contains.
Who knows, in the end, what life is indeed all about? Up till now, no one can answer that question without disagreement from someone else.
In the meantime, while you are on this wild ride, why not enjoy it a bit more by allowing yourself to laugh more often, by taking it all a little bit less seriously?
Life itself will soon become much more joyful.
2. You Can’t Please Everyone
This one has been a challenging lesson for me to understand, as I care enormously about the wellbeing of other people, animals, and this world. Unfortunately, the truth is: no matter what you do, you will always displease someone.
Even if your intentions are only meant to be good, you still can never please everyone, as everyone differs with each other in terms of their views, opinions, and thoughts on how to live life and how life should be lived.
This is one of the valuable lessons learned in life that needs to be understood, but especially for those who are trying to do good for others and the world. Remember that in the process of doing so, you can never please everyone.
But do not let that stop you from initiating the changes that others and this world deserve.
3. Travel. Experience Life.
With seven years of traveling in hand, I think I have a fair understanding of what traveling can do for a person.
Traveling is as much a part of the education of a person as going to school—possibly even more. What can be learned through travel, schools cannot teach or touch upon.
Traveling isn’t merely about fun; it’s about experiencing life and the world. It’s about exploring new possibilities and expanding your capabilities. To travel physically is also to take a journey within yourself: it’s about discovering who you are.
The only way to find out what you want to do in life is through experiences.
That’s precisely what travel brings.
What I would recommend to anyone who has just finished high school is: Before going off to college, take a year off and travel, preferably on a solo backpacking journey.
And to try everything that you could possibly want to try.
Because so many young people jump into a course of study without even knowing who they are.
How can you choose wisely for a field of study or a future career if you do not give yourself the time to get to know yourself first?
That one-year backpacking journey around the world might be the best investment you could ever make to help you figure out what you truly want to do in life.
The alternative is wasting heaps of time and money switching over to different studies or jobs.
Of course, besides this point, investing in travel at any age is investing in experiences. And experiences expand us. They help us to grow and to become more.
A last fundamental reason why travel is on this list of valuable lessons learned in my life is that memories cannot simply be taken away from us.
In the end, it’s the memories in life you collect that you will cherish the most. All that materialistic stuff will expire, break, or eventually be taken from us.
Therefore, spend your money wisely and travel more. In the end, you can always gain back the money you spent.
Time lost is lost forever.
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4. Life Isn’t Meant to be Easy
Many of us somehow assume that life should be a smooth ride.
Or at least a less bumpy one. The truth is, as you might have realized, life isn’t comfortable.
Because it wasn’t meant to be comfortable.
Life is expected to be an experience of growth.
Life will punch you in the face mercilessly. Not because life wants to pick on you or because it hates you. No, that’s not it. It’s because life is happening for you, not against you—whether you believe this or not.
But believing in it helps a great deal to accept that whenever something does go wrong or differently than intended, it isn’t because life dislikes you, but because it is happening for a reason.
Life is trying to teach and show you something—an experience of growth. I’ve been through countless challenging moments in my life. However, there are people who think I haven’t. The reason is that I’ve set my mind on the fact that life isn’t meant to be comfortable.
Whenever something goes very differently from what I expect, I accept it, fix the problem, and move on.
To give you a few examples of the difficulties, large and small, that have happened to me:
- Lightroom CC didn’t sync my photos, causing me to lose more than 200 pictures.
- My charger broke; I fell from a motor scooter and killed a cat; I couldn’t walk properly for two months as a consequence; I had a fierce argument with the girl I was dating at that time—and all that happened on the same day.
- Someone broke into my car and stole 12.000 euros’ worth of equipment from me. Yeah, that hurt my wallet.
- I lost my dad when I was three years old.
- I was born with a chronic heart disease.
- I am considered a short guy at 1m64.
- I have dyslexia and dyscalculia.
- I got no direct support from anyone when I was struggling with suicidal thoughts, even though people knew something was not right with me.
There are so many things that could frustrate me, things about my life that I could hate and blame others for.
But I don’t.
Not because it’s easy for me. Not because it doesn’t hurt me. No. But because I know that complaining doesn’t change a thing.
It’s downright unproductive to merely sit and cry; much better to stand and see what you can do.
To live is to struggle.
That struggle is there for a reason. And that reason is so that we may grow.
5. Don’t Take Anything Personally
You give what you have inside to others. If someone inflicts hate on you through words or violence, it isn’t because of you but because they have demons of hate crawling inside themselves.
If a person treats you with little respect even though you showed respect, do not take it personally.
They are merely facing something within themselves. Someone who has love, and love alone, inside will spread and show only love to the world, to others, and towards themselves.
How someone reacts to you is a mirror of what they are facing inside. Take a step back before immediately taking something personally.
Ask yourself rationally if the reaction of that person was indeed an honest response to how you acted towards him or her.
Did you talk respectfully to them but they aggressively, hatefully, jealously, etc. came back at you? If that’s the case, it isn’t your fault. They are facing their own inner demons. Do not take it personally.
This has been a very helpful life lesson for me, as I can often take things personally. However, understanding this fact has allowed me to learn to be more rational and observant about the reactions of others, instead of taking it personally immediately and thinking that it was my fault.
This also allows us to respond with calmness and figure out the true reason why that person reacted to you like that.
For example, in a fight with your girlfriend or boyfriend, he or she suddenly responds very angrily to you about some little thing you said when you had not intended to make him or her angry.
Instead of taking it personally and emotionally attaching yourself to that response, take a deep breath and dig a little deeper. Listen carefully and ask yourself why or how that anger was triggered by what you said or did.
You will see, more often than not, that it wasn’t your fault, but that it was a personal demon taking over.
6. Regrets are Poison
A lesson I learned at the very young age of three when I lost my father was that life could end at any point, and death could come to anyone—even those closest to you.
While I do not wish the pain of losing a loved one on anybody, what that death held and brought to me is one of the valuable lessons learned in life that doesn’t strike many people, as the realization hasn’t hit them yet.
Time is something beyond our control. It is slipping away from each and everyone one of us every second. Do not live with regrets as you cannot undo yesterday.
The biggest poison that many of us take every day is regret. Dare to try. Dare to live. No regrets.
7. Your Thoughts Shape Your Life
Be conscious of the thoughts that you allow inside yourself. They do not only affect and determine your whole outlook on the world and on life, but also about yourself.
Many people are their own worst enemy and creators of their own suffering because they are not aware of the thoughts they unconsciously allow inside themselves. They are slowly poisoning themselves through their thoughts, forming unnecessary demons and holding on to past events.
You are the primary source of your happiness. Much of that happiness is determined by the thoughts you allow inside. Choose carefully. Choose consciously.
8. No One Is Going to Save You
This might be a hard lesson for some people, and indeed, it’s never an easy one. Neither was the moment when I learned this lesson.
No one is going to save you. You must save yourself.
No, this does not mean you have to be a lone wolf and can’t ask for help. Of course, you can, and you should in difficult times. What this implies, however, is that you need to learn to take care of yourself.
In my deepest and darkest moments when I was closest to committing suicide, I learned this lesson.
What drove me back to sanity at that moment was how scared I was of what I had become, knowing right at that moment that I was fully capable of committing suicide and realizing how deep I had fallen in that pit and how stuck I was in it.
There was no one there that night to hug me, to listen to my story, and to support me. No one that next day at school, nor the months afterward.
And how could there be? No one knew what had happened.
While wounds on the inside bleed as painfully as those on the outside, those inner wounds are not always as visible to others as they are to yourself. You cannot simply expect people to see that you are struggling with something inside.
Do not wait for someone to come and save you, as there will not always be someone who will come.
Become your own savior.
In the end, you yourself are responsible for your own life, your own decisions, and the situation you are in. Be the leader, take control and oversee this life that you have been given. Look after yourself like you would someone else and provide the help you need.
9. Happiness Is Not One Big Choice
Many of us assume that happiness will flourish out of one big choice we make or out of something you will obtain in the future when you have that job, that car, that house, that girlfriend or boyfriend, etc.
The truth is, happiness does not depend on that one big choice, but on a hundred different decisions we make every day.
It’s a quote worth remembering and worth repeating here one more time.
Happiness is not one big choice, but a hundred different decisions we make every day.
10. Give Without Expecting Something in Return
Many give with an underlying motive. Start giving because you genuinely want to give.
There are a few reasons.
First, you will be less disappointed because you simply can’t be disappointed if you don’t expect anything. There are no expectations built on what you want the other person to do once you give them something.
Expectations always lead to disappointment; how we want things to go or how we want people to react will never be the same in real life as what we imagined. Our imagination can go in all sorts of directions; reality, only one.
Secondly, the moment you give without expecting something in return, it means you are giving because you truly care. The meaning behind why you are doing it is greater than what you want in return for it.
When you can give without expecting something in return, stress, anger, and disappointment will be greatly reduced, and meaning and happiness will increase tremendously.
11. Compare Yourself to Who You Were Yesterday
With so many social media platforms out there, it’s easier than ever to compare ourselves to others.
If you have a social media account—and let’s face it, most of us do—it’s almost a given that you often unconsciously compare yourself to others.
And, depending on how much time you are spending on those social platforms, you may be doing it daily.
Research studies have shown countless times that social media decreases the happiness level of people tremendously.
Because we compare our lives with hundreds of thousands of people every single minute.
People who look better than you, have more money or more friends than you, live a more awesome life, take better pictures, go on more vacations, appear altogether happier than you, etc.
Whether they are all those things is not the question here. Social media is bad at showing reality.
Rarely will you see a bad moment in someone’s life on social media: when they are feeling sad, when they are having a bad hair day, when they are not traveling, etc.
So if there are any valuable lessons learned in life that are the most timely, this is it: Define where you want to go in life and stop comparing yourself to others who may already be there.
Every minute you compare yourself to others, you are losing a minute to get closer to where you want to go in life. Instead, focus on the progress you are making by comparing yourself to who you were yesterday.
By simply checking social media less often, I have increased my happiness level enormously as well as increased my productivity and willingness to improve.
Because I am not focused on other people, I am focused on me and where I want to go.
If you care about who you are, stop comparing yourself to others and start comparing yourself instead to who you were yesterday and how you can improve on that version of you today.
12. Stop Caring About What Others Think and Be Yourself
Stop feeling ashamed of who you are—your hobbies, your passions, your dreams, etc.—and simply be you.
Oftentimes, we care a little too much about what others think because we want to be respected or feel that we belong.
The truth is, you can never please everyone with who you truly are, and even when you are pretending to be someone else.
You can’t earn the respect of everyone and belong everywhere. And in the end, that isn’t and shouldn’t be the point.
The point is to find people who care about who you are, the true you. If you always need to care about what others will think and adjust your life according to their liking, you are living their lives, not yours.
The better you can be at being you, the better off you will be in finding true friends, true happiness, and true meaning in life.
13. Don’t Strive for Happiness
This may sound strange, but it is one of the most valuable lessons learned in life: Don’t strive for happiness. Instead, strive for contentment.
Happiness and unhappiness are peak moments that happen now and then in our lives. In psychological terms, happiness is a hedonic pleasure that signifies enjoyment in real time, such as the sensation you get when eating a piece of chocolate cake.
This state fluctuates throughout the day. One may be happy while eating the cake, but not later on when one weighs oneself.
It is simply unrealistic to be surfing on this euphoria, this wave of happiness constantly, every single day.
Unfortunately, thanks to the thousands and thousands of magazine articles, videos, etc. on the topic of happiness, the world seems to be obsessed with finding and maintaining it.
Many people now feel confused as they think they should indeed feel this euphoria of happiness all the time. And when they don’t, it appears that there is something wrong.
That’s not true, and it is unrealistic to feel this euphoria all the time. Therefore, don’t focus on finding happiness in life. But instead, focus on being content.
To be content is to focus on the good that you have right now in your life. If you strive for contentment–balance–instead of the high of happiness, you free your mind to focus on living a more meaningful life, not a life of pursuit.
Contentment is a more lasting, deeper feeling of satisfaction and gratitude for spiritual blessings and people/relationships. Even our job can give us a sense of contentment.
LESSONS - Career
14. Have Patience – It Takes Time to Implement a Strategy
If you are building something, patience is key. With that, I do not mean you should sit on your ass and wait.
No, I mean that you need to work your freaking ass off. But, you also have to understand that nothing happens overnight.
When it comes to looking at famous, well-known, or successful people, most only look at what these people have achieved, never digging deeper into the truth of the many years of hard work and craftsmanship it took before they ever achieved anything.
Building something takes time and small steps.
However, with the right strategy and with the understanding that it will take many years of work and patience, every mountain can be scaled.
15. Fall in Love with the Process, not the Destination
When climbing a mountain, you spend 90% of the time climbing and 10% standing on the summit enjoying the view.
If you only focus on what it would be like to finally stand on the peak and fantasize constantly on how it would be, it’s going to be a rough and unenjoyable climb.
This is true for anything in life.
If you are only obsessed with the final destination, you are setting yourself up for major unhappiness as life is a journey that consists mostly of progressing towards something.
While the destination should be a focus as you cannot climb a mountain not knowing which summit you want to reach, love for the climb should be included in the process.
It is on the journey to our destination where all the beauty, growth, and happiness accrue. Yes, this is a cliché—but oh, so true.
In your pursuit of building a career or a company, it’s most critical not to forget this else you set yourself up for misery.
16. Work Hard & Work Smart
Many people have called me lucky for the job I do and the lifestyle I live. The truth is, luck had little to do with it. It all came down to hard work.
Many people seem to have a vague idea of precisely what it takes to build something and what the definition of luck is.
Definition of luck: success or failure brought by chance rather than through one’s actions.
If I left everything to luck, I would have been at the same point many of those people are who call me lucky. That is, nowhere close to their dreams.
In the last three years since I started my professional career and built The IPS Project, I have sat down to work every day, every weekend, every month, every year, every vacation, every holiday.
I have not taken a single break, and I am not going to either. Because I understand the reality of what it truly takes.
Two words that sum up one of the most valuable lessons learned in life.
At the same time, if you genuinely want to go far in life, you need to combine hard work with smart work.
What that includes is a strategy for reaching your goals.
The act of doing, of working hard, is of profound importance and the hardest for most people, as it requires energy and input.
However, the act of thinking and crafting a strategy is equally important. Don’t merely rush into something without knowing how you will get out of it alive.
Take time to sit down and draft a plan before getting down to work. But obviously, don’t forget to do the work either. Ideas are great but worthless if they are never acted upon.
So, don’t merely have a strategy, do put in the work as well.
It’s the supreme balance for a successful career and of paramount importance when building a company.
Therefore, work hard, but do it smartly.
17. Focus on Being Productive, not Busy
What is the difference between being busy and being productive?
Being productive means you are getting quality work done that helps you get closer to reaching goals or finishing important tasks.
Being busy, on the other hand, means not allowing yourself a lot of free time because you are constantly trying to work on too many things, whether they are productive or not.
Many people who are busy and always feel busy often lack the skill of productivity and the thought process behind it. They do not use any of the many productivity tools and techniques to help them stay better focused, or outsource tasks.
Tools such as Cold Turkey, for example, that will block any social media platforms for a certain amount of time. Or techniques such as the Pomodoro Technique where you set a timer for 25 minutes and solely focus during that time on one single task.
Or platforms such as Upwork or Fiverr where you can outsource tasks that someone else can do better than you. All this so that you can dedicate your time on the tasks you are good at.
There is a lot more to the skill of productivity than most people realize. I get tons and tons of work done every day because anything I do, I do efficiently. And that’s because I’ve gotten good at being productive, not just busy.
I work on the most crucial tasks that will move me forward the most towards my goals, using tools and techniques to help optimize my focus. And I outsource many tasks by working with multiple freelancers.
That is what productivity is about: to use your time smartly and effectively.
If there is any skill I would encourage you to get better at and one that will have a dramatic impact on your career and even your personal life, it would be productivity, so do learn more about it.
In fact, I have created a course on productivity, which I invite you to check out if you are looking to be more productive instead of merely busy.
I gladly offer you a massive discount in appreciation for reading this article and for being a person interested in growth.
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18. Think Long-Term
People are generally bad at thinking long term, both in their personal lives and their careers. The reason is that short-term gains bring pleasure right away.
However, more often than not, these do more damage than good in the long term.
Think about eating a snack. At that moment, it is delicious and brings pleasure, but in the long run, it may cause great suffering especially when you become overweight.
Creating a shitty course, product, service, etc. for some quick money will result in negative effects that will come crashing down on you in the long run.
The truth will always find its way out. Doing the right thing will always be the right thing and will pay off for good in the long run.
So, save yourself time and those of others and build something genuine that will last and create value in the long run.
While you are in the process of building a company or a career, don’t buy stuff you do not necessarily need, such as a new iPhone, an expensive watch, a 1000-dollar purse, when the money could be more beneficially invested back into your company.
The short-term gains of buying a new item will bring temporary pleasure, but the spending of unnecessary money will hurt in the long run, as this money might have been better invested in building your business or career that would have earned you way more in the future.
Be in it for the long run. Life is not a sprint but a marathon.
Get better at the skill of long-term thinking. It’s harder than short-term thinking, without a doubt. But I promise you: if you ever want to build something lasting, you must learn how to think long term.
19. Take Extreme Ownership
Everything that goes wrong in your business is your fault. A big reason why many people fail to succeed is that they do not have the stomach to take the punches.
And trust me, if you set out to start your own company, you will take knocks and punches to the face on a continuing basis.
Something is always going to go wrong, and that needs fixing. But if you dare to call yourself a leader, then be a leader and take extreme ownership.
You are responsible for all that goes wrong.
No one else.
20. Build a Business That Can Stand on Its Own
A big mistake many entrepreneurs make is building a company that relies too heavily on themselves, because soon, they will become a slave of their creation.
If you want to create a good company, there are two main criteria to keep in mind.
First, you should always run a company as if it will last forever. Secondly, the best businesses are sellable—even if you have no intention of cashing out or stepping back anytime soon.
To be an asset, your business should at some point be able to run without you.
Think things through when building a company. An incredible book that helped me a lot in building The IPS Project into a company that can stand on its own two legs is the book “Built to Sell,” a highly recommended read for anyone who is building a company.
21. Don’t Dwell on Mistakes
As a creator, this has been a most valuable but also a most difficult lesson for me to learn these past 25 years.
You can’t create perfection.
It’s simply impossible. Mistakes will always exist.
I am a perfectionist at heart and always strive to do my utter best with every single photo I take, each new course I make, each article I write, each vlog, podcast episode – everything.
The truth, however, is that no matter how hard I work on things, there will always be some mistake. There will always be something that isn’t as perfect as I want it to be.
Also, with The IPS Project being my startup, there have been more mistakes than successes throughout the years. You won’t know it now but most of the things I tried had failed.
While mistakes aren’t exactly easy to digest, the truth is that mistakes are a part of life; they are a part of the work we do as creators, artists, and entrepreneurs. Without them, we would not be human.
Don’t let your past mistakes stop you from using the gifts of creation that you have been given.
It’s thanks to those mistakes that we manage to figure out what does work in the end.
And what we can improve next time.
Or how to get better at our craft.
And ultimately, achieve the closest we can get to perfection.
If you remember that mistakes are all part of the process in your career, it can greatly help you to not let those past mistakes define your future work.
Therefore, do not dwell on your past mistakes and simply move forward.
22. Confront Your Fears
Whatever your fear is, it is something that you are meant to face because it is something that is holding you back from living more fully and accomplishing more in your career.
If you are an ambitious person and you want to move on to the next level in your career, you will have to deal with many fears along the way.
As with anything new, a certain degree of fear will always be there.
Learn to accept that fact and learn to do it anyway despite your fear.
Fear can help teach us some of the more valuable lessons learned in life.
A few thoughts that have helped me to face my fears are: a) knowing that fear is merely a feeling; b) seeing these fears as a personal challenge to grow; and c) whenever I feel fear rising in me and wanting to stop me from doing something, I simply say this to myself, “Fear, get out of my way, I have got things to do.”
Do not let fear control your life.
If anything, be more open to facing your fears. If you think about the moments when you learned the most about yourself and felt the greatest triumph, it’s those moments when you confronted your greatest fears.
23. It Can Be Lonely – Find Good Friends and a Community to Belong
It can be extremely lonely when you are self-employed and 90% of your work is done through the internet. Mainly, you are by yourself the whole day, not interacting with anyone in person.
Sure, you can go to coffee places and work from there, and chat with some people now and then. However, the overall feeling of being just by yourself will return in the long run.
I have struggled tremendously with loneliness, and while it has been much better, it can still be a real struggle.
Feeling a sense of community and having the right friends—which means people you can connect with emotionally and intellectually on the same level, or in other words, people you understand and who you feel understand you—are significant components that increase your level of contentment and help you live an altogether more meaningful life.
Many people establish a lot of their connections at work.
I don’t, as I work by myself. If you are in the same situation, it is important that you find other ways to make the same kind of connections happen.
Joining a community is seriously one of the best ways to do so. You can find communities through several channels, such as joining a sports club, a gym, or yoga classes, doing volunteer work, joining events or workshops, etc.
All of these venues bring the opportunity to connect and find good friends.
Co-working or co-living spaces are also excellent places to connect.
You can also use Facebook to find groups, or visit Meetup.com to talk about subjects you are interested in.
For my fellow digital nomads out there reading this, joining a community like WIFI Tribe—a community of remote professionals all over the world who work, travel, and live together for certain periods of time—has been a more meaningful way of traveling for me these days, as I have found lasting friendships through it.
While I wasn’t sure at first whether this lesson belongs in the personal life or the career section, in the end, I determined that this challenge has been brought about by my choice of work. Therefore, it made more sense to me to place this as a lesson under career.
Find your tribe. Find your community. It’s of paramount importance to stay connected and sane.
24. Take Advice From People Who Know What They Are Talking About
Would you follow medical advice from some random stranger telling you which medicines you should take to get better if you are sick?
I think it’s fair to say you will not. Rather, you would follow the advice of a specialist, such as a doctor, on taking medication, right?
Funny enough, many people constantly take advice from people who don’t know what they are talking about, and this advice is about how they should live their lives or the career choices they should make.
I have had tons of people who had never built any business for themselves give me business advice.
Ask people how much they truly know about a subject before taking any of their advice on that subject. Learn to not take advice from just anyone, only from those who have gone through the experience or have earned their expertise in that field.
An important question you can use to catch many people who talk a lot without knowing what they are talking about is: Have you ever done this?
You’ll soon notice that many simply like to talk and give their opinions. Don’t, however, let your career path or your road in life be influenced by someone who merely has an opinion but no true experience.
25. Do Something That You Love
This last life lesson that I’ve come to learn these last 25 years might be too obvious. However, you’ll be surprised how it doesn’t appear so obvious to many.
Do a job that you love.
The truth is, many people don’t love what they do. Most people see work as work. A way to earn money so they can have fun on the weekends, take a vacation or two in a year, and by age 65, retire to finally do what they have always wanted to do.
That’s fine if this is a conscious decision and you feel happy with that.
However, countless people suffer from depression or burnout while at work because, yes, more is demanded from us, but also because of the lack of passion and love for the work they are doing.
In the long run, it is smarter to start building a career out of something that you love.
Certainly, in the short term, it will be more difficult and challenging than simply applying for some job that will bring a basic monthly income.
But again, everything pays off in the long run.
I struggled during my first years to earn something with my photography and startup business, The IPS Project.
However, every month and every year brought gradual improvements as I worked my ass off with a good strategy in place.
Today, I am fully able to make a living out of what I started. Of course, it wasn’t as simple as these few words imply; in fact, it was an incredible challenge.
However, this is where passion and the love for what you do can help tremendously to keep you going.
In the short run, it’s true I did not earn as much money as everyone who had a 9-to-5 job and a steady income did.
But in the long run, I will get more out of it—much more, in fact, as what I do will only keep growing and developing into something larger than myself.
BOOKS - PERSONAL LIFE
The Road Less Traveled, Timeless Edition: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth
Perhaps no book in this generation has had a more profound impact on our intellectual and spiritual lives than The Road Less Traveled. With sales of more than 7 million copies in the United States and Canada, and translation into more than 23 languages, it has made publishing history, with more than 10 years on The New York Times best seller list.
Told in a voice that is timeless in its message of understanding, The Road Less Traveled continues to enable us to explore the nature of loving relationships and leads us toward a new serenity and fullness of life.
It helps us determine how to distinguish dependency from love; how to become a more sensitive parent; and ultimately how to become one’s own true self.
The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, A Toltec Wisdom Book
In The Four Agreements, don Miguel Ruiz reveals the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering.
Based on ancient Toltec wisdom, the The Four Agreements offer a powerful code of conduct that can rapidly transform our lives to a new experience of freedom, true happiness, and love.
Don Miguel Ruiz has dedicated his life to sharing the wisdom of the ancient Toltec. For more than two decades, he has guided others toward their personal freedom.
Today, he continues to combine his unique blend of ancient wisdom and modern-day awareness through journeys to sacred sites around the world.
Man’s Search for Meaning The Classic Tribute to Hope from the Holocaust
Internationally renowned psychiatrist, Viktor E. Frankl, endured years of unspeakable horror in Nazi death camps. During, and partly because of, his suffering, Dr. Frankl developed a revolutionary approach to psychotherapy known as logotherapy.
At the core of his theory is the belief that man’s primary motivational force is his search for meaning.
Man’s Search for Meaning is more than a story of Viktor E. Frankl’s triumph: it is a remarkable blend of science and humanism and an introduction to the most significant psychological movement of our day.
The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment
Eckhart Tolle is emerging as one of today’s most inspiring teachers.
In The Power of Now, already a word-of-mouth bestseller in Canada, the author describes his transition from despair to self-realization soon after his 29th birthday.
Tolle took another ten years to understand this transformation, during which time he evolved a philosophy that has parallels in Buddhism, relaxation techniques, and meditation theory but is also eminently practical.
In The Power of Now he shows readers how to recognize themselves as the creators of their own pain, and how to have a pain-free existence by living fully in the present.
Accessing the deepest self, the true self, can be learned, he says, by freeing ourselves from the conflicting, unreasonable demands of the mind and living present, fully, and intensely, in the Now
Way of the Peaceful Warrior: A Book That Changes Lives
Way of the Peaceful Warrior is based on the story of Dan Millman, a world champion athlete, who journeys into realms of romance and magic, light and darkness, body, mind, and spirit.
Guided by a powerful old warrior named Socrates and tempted by an elusive, playful woman named Joy, Dan is led toward a final confrontation that will deliver or destroy him. Readers join Dan as he learns to live as a peaceful warrior.
This international bestseller conveys piercing truths and humorous wisdom, speaking directly to the universal quest for happiness.
The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself
If you’ve ever wondered what it would it be like to free yourself from limitations, soar beyond your boundaries, and discover true inner peace and serenity, The Untethered Soul can show you the way.
Whether this is your first exploration of inner space, or you’ve devoted your life to the inward journey, this book will transform your relationship with yourself and the world around you.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
In this generation-defining self-help guide, a superstar blogger cuts through the crap to show us how to stop trying to be positive all the time so that we can truly become better, happier people.
For decades we’ve been told that positive thinking is the key to a happy, rich life. “Fck positivity,” Mark Manson says. “Let’s be honest, shit is fcked, and we have to live with it.” In his wildly popular Internet blog, Manson doesn’t sugarcoat or equivocate.
He tells it like it is – a dose of raw, refreshing, honest truth that is sorely lacking today. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck is his antidote to the coddling, let’s-all-feel-good mind-set that has infected modern society and spoiled a generation, rewarding them with gold medals just for showing up.
The Way of the Superior Man: A Spiritual Guide to Mastering the Challenges of Women, Work, and Sexual Desire
Though much has changed in society since the first publication of The Way of the Superior Man, men of all ages still “tussle with the challenges of women, work, and sexual desire.”
Including an all-new preface by author David Deida, this 20th-anniversary edition of the classic guide to male spirituality offers the next generation the opportunity to cultivate trust in the moment and put forth the best versions of themselves in an ever-changing world.
The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream
Paulo Coelho’s enchanting novel has inspired a devoted following around the world.
This story, dazzling in its simplicity and wisdom, is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of treasure buried in the Pyramids.
Along the way he meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls himself king, and an Alchemist, all of whom point Santiago in the direction of his quest.
Out of Your Mind: Essential Listening from the Alan Watts Audio Archives
In order to come to your senses, Alan Watts often said, you sometimes need to go out of your mind.
Perhaps more than any other teacher in the West, this celebrated author, former Anglican priest, and self-described spiritual entertainer was responsible for igniting the passion of countless wisdom seekers to the spiritual and philosophical delights of Asia and India.
Now, with Out of Your Mind: Essential Listening from the Alan Watts Audio Archives, you are invited to immerse yourself in 12 of this legendary thinker’s pinnacle teaching sessions about how to break through the limits of the rational mind and begin expanding your awareness and appreciation for the Great Game unfolding all around us.
PODCASTS - PERSONAL LIFE
The Tim Ferriss Show
Tim Ferriss is a self-experimenter and bestselling author, best known for The 4-Hour Workweek, which has been translated into 40+ languages. Newsweek calls him “the world’s best human guinea pig,” and The New York Times calls him “a cross between Jack Welch and a Buddhist monk.”
In this show, he deconstructs world-class performers from eclectic areas (investing, chess, pro sports, etc.), digging deep to find the tools, tactics, and tricks that listeners can use.
Groundbreaking Peabody Award-winning conversation about the big questions of meaning — spiritual inquiry, science, social healing, and the arts.
Each week a new discovery about the immensity of our lives.
Hosted by Krista Tippett, new every Thursday.
BOOKS - CAREER
Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win
Sent to the most violent battlefield in Iraq, Jocko Willink and Leif Babin’s SEAL task unit faced a seemingly impossible mission: help U.S. forces secure Ramadi, a city deemed “all but lost.”
In gripping firsthand accounts of heroism, tragic loss, and hard-won victories in SEAL Team Three’s Task Unit Bruiser, they learned that leadership—at every level—is the most important factor in whether a team succeeds or fails.
Willink and Babin returned home from deployment and instituted SEAL leadership training that helped forge the next generation of SEAL leaders. After departing the SEAL Teams, they launched Echelon Front, a company that teaches these same leadership principles to businesses and organizations.
From promising startups to Fortune 500 companies, Babin and Willink have helped scores of clients across a broad range of industries build their own high-performance teams and dominate their battlefields.
Built to Sell: Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You
According to John Warrillow, the number one mistake entrepreneurs make is to build a business that relies too heavily on them.
Thus, when the time comes to sell, buyers aren’t confident that the company-even if it’s profitable-can stand on its own.
To illustrate this, Warrillow introduces us to a fictional small business owner named Alex who is struggling to sell his advertising agency.
Alex turns to Ted, an entrepreneur and old family friend, who encourages Alex to pursue three criteria to make his business sellable.
Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination
From Neal Gabler, the definitive portrait of one of the most important figures in twentieth-century American entertainment and cultural history.
Seven years in the making and meticulously researched—Gabler is the first writer to be given complete access to the Disney archives—this is the full story of a man whose work left an ineradicable brand on our culture but whose life has largely been enshrouded in myth.
Gabler shows us the young Walt Disney breaking free of a heartland childhood of discipline and deprivation and making his way to Hollywood. We see the visionary, whose desire for escape honed an innate sense of what people wanted to see on the screen and, when combined with iron determination and obsessive perfectionism, led him to the reinvention of animation.
It was Disney, first with Mickey Mouse and then with his feature films—most notably Snow White, Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo, and Bambi—who transformed animation from a novelty based on movement to an art form that presented an illusion of life.
The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich
Forget the old concept of retirement and the rest of the deferred-life plan – there is no need to wait and every reason not to, especially in unpredictable economic times.
Whether your dream is escaping the rat race, experiencing high-end world travel, earning a monthly five-figure income with zero management, or just living more and working less, this book is the blueprint.
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Since its release in 1936, How to Win Friends and Influence Peoplehas sold more than 15 million copies.
Dale Carnegie’s first book is a timeless bestseller, packed with rock-solid advice that has carried thousands of now famous people up the ladder of success in their business and personal lives.
As relevant as ever before, Dale Carnegie’s principles endure, and will help you achieve your maximum potential in the complex and competitive modern age.
The Intelligent Investor: The Definitive Book on Value Investing. A Book of Practical Counsel
This classic text is annotated to update Graham’s timeless wisdom for today’s market conditions…
The greatest investment advisor of the twentieth century, Benjamin Graham, taught and inspired people worldwide.
Graham’s philosophy of “value investing” — which shields investors from substantial error and teaches them to develop long-term strategies — has made The Intelligent Investor the stock market bible ever since its original publication in 1949.
Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative
You don’t need to be a genius, you just need to be yourself. That’s the message from Austin Kleon, a young writer and artist who knows that creativity is everywhere, creativity is for everyone.
A manifesto for the digital age, Steal Like an Artist is a guide whose positive message, graphic look and illustrations, exercises, and examples will put readers directly in touch with their artistic side.
The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle
A succinct, engaging, and practical guide for succeeding in any creative sphere, The War of Art is nothing less than Sun-Tzu for the soul.
What keeps so many of us from doing what we long to do? Why is there a naysayer within? How can we avoid the roadblocks of any creative endeavor-be it starting up a dream business venture, writing a novel, or painting a masterpiece?
Bestselling novelist Steven Pressfield identifies the enemy that every one of us must face, outlines a battle plan to conquer this internal foe, then pinpoints just how to achieve the greatest success.
PODCASTS - CAREER
The GaryVee Audio Experience
Welcome to The GaryVee Audio Experience, hosted by entrepreneur, CEO, investor, vlogger, and public speaker Gary Vaynerchuk. On this podcast you’ll find a mix of my #AskGaryVee show episodes, keynote speeches on marketing and business, segments from my DAILYVEE video series, interviews and fireside chats I’ve given, as well as new and current thoughts I record originally for this audio experience!
Akimbo: A Podcast from Seth Godin
Akimbo is an ancient word, from the bend in the river or the bend in an archer’s bow. It’s become a symbol for strength, a posture of possibility, the idea that when we stand tall, arms bent, looking right at it, we can make a difference.Akimbo’s a podcast about our culture and about how we can change it. About seeing what’s happening and choosing to do something.The culture is real, but it can be changed.
You can bend it.
How I Built This with Guy Raz
Guy Raz dives into the stories behind some of the world’s best known companies. How I Built This weaves a narrative journey about innovators, entrepreneurs and idealists—and the movements they built.
MENTORS - PERSONAL LIFE
- Tony Robbins (Anthony Jay Robbins is an American author, coach, motivational speaker, and philanthropist. Robbins is known for his infomercials, seminars, and self-help books including the books Unlimited Power and Awaken the Giant Within. His seminars are organized through Robbins Research International.)
- Tim Ferriss (Timothy Ferriss is an American entrepreneur, investor, author, and podcaster.)
- Eckart Tolle (Eckhart Tolle is a spiritual teacher and best-selling author. He is a German-born resident of Canada best known as the author of The Power of Now and A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose. In 2008, The New York Times called Tolle “the most popular spiritual author in the United States”.)
- Wim Hof (Wim Hof, also known as The Iceman, is a Dutch extreme athlete noted for his ability to withstand freezing temperatures. He has set Guinness world records for swimming under ice and prolonged full-body contact with ice, and still holds the record for a barefoot half-marathon on ice and snow.)
- Joe Rogan (Joseph James Rogan is an American comedian, podcaster, actor, television, host, and mixed martial arts color commentator. He is best known for his podcast The Joe Rogan Experience. Rogan began his career in comedy in August 1988 in the Boston area.)
- Brené Brown (Casandra Brené Brown is an American professor, lecturer, author, and podcast host.)
- Alan Watts (Alan Wilson Watts was a British writer and speaker known for interpreting and popularising Buddhism, Taoism, and Hinduism for a Western audience. Born in Chislehurst, England, he moved to the United States in 1938 and began Zen training in New York.)
MENTORS - CAREER
- Seth Godin (Seth W. Godin is an American author and former dot com business executive.)
- Gary Vayernchunk (Gary Vaynerchuk is a Belarusian-American entrepreneur, author, speaker, and Internet personality. He is a co-founder of the restaurant reservation software company Resy and Empathy Wines.)
- Jocko Willink (John Gretton “Jocko” Willink is an American retired naval officer who served in the Navy SEALs. He is also a podcaster and author.)
- Walt Disney (Walter Elias Disney was an American entrepreneur, animator, writer, voice actor and film producer. A pioneer of the American animation industry, he introduced several developments in the production of cartoons.)
- Chase Jarvis (Chase Jarvis is an American photographer, director, artist, and entrepreneur. Since April 2014, Jarvis has been the chief executive officer of CreativeLive, an online education platform that he co-founded in 2010.)
- Casey Neistat (Casey Owen Neistat is an American YouTube personality, filmmaker, vlogger, actor and co-founder of the multimedia company Beme, which was later acquired by CNN. In 2018, he founded 368, a creative space for creators to collaborate and influence each other.)