36.2 lessons for 36 years

It’s my birthday today

1. [This space intentionally left blank]

2. Getting started is always the hardest part. Objects at rest tend to stay at rest, and objects in motion want to stay in motion. Just get on with it.

3. Once you’re in motion, make sure you’re headed in the right direction and you’re not going too fast to miss what’s passing around you.

4. You need someone to remind you of the above lesson.

5. Life moves in cycles
I still think in freshman, sophomore, junior, senior terms. Figure things out, struggle, break through and feel like you’re on top of the world. Then it starts again. Everything is impermanent.

6. Don’t argue with people on the internet
No good can come of it

7. You’re wrong about something right now
We can admit when we’re wrong about things in the past (present presidents excluded), and it’s logical to think that you’ll be wrong about something in the future. That means you’re also wrong about something literally right now.

8. Changing your mind is one of the most impactful things you can do
If free will is a real thing, then changing your mind is the most powerful illustration of your autonomy. It’s not a sign of weakness, but of strength.

9. Write thank you letters

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10. Mental health days are sick days too

11. You rarely regret reading a book

12. Get lost more often
When I came to college, I would explore my new city by going for a run and deliberately getting lost but keeping my eye on a tall building to orient myself when I had to get back to campus. It’s harder to do that now with GPS and phones. But still the best way to explore is to not have expectations, get lost and leave a trail of bread crumbs to get back when you need to.

13. You can’t do it on your own. You just can’t. You need an amazing team. I’m ridiculously lucky to have one.

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14. There is power in naming what you’re feeling
Not trying to fix or change it, but just naming it and understanding it.

15. The recency effect is real
We live and breath breaking news and what’s happening right this instant. If we let it, it will take over our brains. To really understand things you need to pause, back up and get to root causes.

16. I have to write down these lessons to learn them and remember them

17. You usually have to clear your throat before you find your speaking voice.

18. Usually you’ll find your beginning in the middle.

19. The only true currency in this bankrupt world… is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool. (Thanks Cameron Crowe and Jason Parry)

20. Enjoy every sandwich. (Thanks Warren Zevon and maureenlewis342)

21. “It seems that perfection is attained not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing more to remove.” — Antoine de Saint Exupéry, writer, poet and aviator.

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From the office of Paul Salsini, my writing coach and friend

22. There’s nothing so perfect that it can’t benefit from editing

23. Drink more water. (Thanks Joshua Arter)

24. Slow down, organize and get rid of what you don’t need anymore.

25. It’s OK to take a break from reading/watching/hearing the news

26. Don’t run a marathon like a sprint
You know the saying “life is a marathon, not a sprint.” But that only helps if you actually pace yourself and not run a marathon like a sprint. I’ve run 11 marathons, and in only 1 or 2 I haven’t gotten too overeager, started out too fast and paid for it dearly by mile 17.

26.2 You keep learning the same painful lesson
Related, you rarely learn a lesson one and done. It’s easy to fall back into old habits and bad habits and let the lizard brain take over. When you screw up, just start over.

27. Take nothing personally. It’s probably not about you. (thanks Kyle Ronald Freund)

28.Thank you, Mom and Dad

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29. Be more patient with your kids. They’ll be out of the house before you realize it. (Thanks Sonya Jongsma Knauss)

30. See a doctor and get rid of it. (Thanks ann laatsch)

31. All advice is autobiographical (thanks Austin Kleon)

32. Be mindful every day
That doesn’t mean you have to be in the lotus position overlooking an ocean. Just take a 10 minute walk and pay attention to your body and your surroundings.

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photo by Jess Cigelske

33. I have to write down these lessons to learn them and remember them

34. Everyone should have a fake nemesis (thanks Christopher Stolarski)

35. “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

36. Don’t be obsessed with learning lessons. Look up at the stars and forget about everything.

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Thanks Chris Jenkins

Written by

Educator. Podcast addict. Wrote a book about creativity: http://bit.ly/thecreativejourney

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