46 @ 46 (Things I have learned on my journey so far…)

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the lessons that life has taught me because I recently celebrated my 46th birthday.  I’m not the same person I was twenty years ago.

I thought I knew everything as a teen. I was too confident for my own good in my 20s. I thought I was doing fine but the truth was that I struggled through my 30’s and early 40’s; I struggled to connect to who I was as an individual. My life was not aligned with my values nor my purpose. (Purpose? I didn’t even consciously define my purpose.) At the time, I didn’t have use mentors, role models, or coaches to give me the type of direction I craved needed.

My life was not aligned with my values nor my purpose.

It’s taken a long time and lots of personal work, but I finally feel as though I’ve racked up enough years, experiences, and reflective time to share a little bit of the things I’ve learned.

Here it is… 46 things I wish I would have known and practiced decades earlier. Please consider putting some of them to good use in your own life.

  • You don’t ‘find’ your life’s purpose; you must ‘define’ your life’s purpose.
  • Attitude is everything and YOU control it regardless of your circumstance.
  • You are what comes out of our mouth.

  • Whatever you focus your attention on gets bigger (good and bad).
  • Love is something you give.
  • Gifts should be given without expectation of return (see previous lesson).
  • Don’t be a grump, nobody likes to be around grumpy people. (Credit my mom for that one. Thanks, Izzy!)
  • Our actions (or inaction) over a long time determine our results and our ultimate destiny.
  • Let others inspire and motivate you but never allow yourself to be jealous of anyone – ever.
  • You are perfectly created and blessed by God himself. (You are YOUnique.)
  • Failure is not permanent and pain is temporary.
  • Don’t worry about what other people think about you. (They’re usually thinking about themselves)
  • Do not wait for special occasions – use the good china – right now.
  • Now is a good time.
  • Being married to your best friend is a gift straight from God.
  • Forgiveness is something you give yourself.
  • “Stuff” does not make you happy.
  • Do more than you’re paid for and you’ll never worry about finding work.
  • No whining or pouting! (Credit my wife’s mother. Thanks, Rowena!)
  • You will regret inaction and indecision more than decisive action.
  • You can work dumb or work smart but working hard is required.
  • If you are not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.
  • Ultimately, people do things for their reasons; not your reasons.
  • Your body is your temple – honor it accordingly.
  • Progress, not perfection.
  • You do not have to be perfect.
  • Create magical moments, don’t wait for them.
  • The quality of your life is the quality of emotions you consistently experience.
  • You are in charge of your life.
  • You either give light or drain light. You either add or detract.
  • If you are nervous or scared about taking an action then you are probably on the right path.
  • You’ll never change someone with a different opinion; seek to understand them and quit wasting your energy trying to change them.
  • If you do not design your life then you are choosing mediocrity at best and unhappiness almost certainly.
  • The truth is often in the middle. Life is not always black and white.
  • Become a change monster – get used to change, THRIVE on change, lead change but, for God’s sake, don’t sit around and wait or resist change because you are uncomfortable.
  • Do something uncomfortable every day.
  • Do something nice for yourself and others every day.
  • Pray, be grateful, love yourself, forgive yourself, love someone, work hard, praise others, exercise, and get some sunshine every day.
  • Spend less money than you make and do it over a very long time.
  • Don’t go into debt. Ever.
  • Don’t confuse dumb debt with leveraged debt. Leveraged debt is advantageous and dumb debt is, well…
  • Big changes take time – enjoy the process.
  • Death is a part of life, not the end of it. Regardless, treat people like it is the last time you will ever see them this side of Heaven.
  • If you don’t advocate for yourself don’t expect anyone else to either.
  • Life isn’t fair. Get over it and get on with what you can control.
  • Use coaches and mentors to accelerate results. Yes, they cost money but so does delay and failure.
    —————– (I’m on a roll so I’ll keep going ) —————–
  • You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with, so choose wisely.
  • Problems are opportunities in disguise to show what you are made of and how much something means to you.
  • Change happens in an instant – the instant you ‘decide’ to change.
  • Dimming your light to make others feel more comfortable doesn’t serve anyone, including you.
  • Marriages and children are like a magnifying glass – they make everything bigger (positive & negative).
  • There is a God, and I’m not Him.

Over time, these lessons have become the grounding principles that I try to live by.

I don’t always get it right, I know, but

short term failures should not be confused with the end of the story.

What are some of the lessons you’ve learned so far that are most meaningful to you? Please share them in the comments below.

  • Dan Rockwell

    Wow! Great stuff Joe. Each thing you learned is a blog post all its own.

    Here’s one I’m trying to learn and live. Our value is determined by what we give, not what we receive.

    Best wishes

    • Thank you, Dan.

      I really appreciate all you do for me and so many others through your works on @leadershipfreak

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