30 Years, 30 Lessons

07 September 2020

I recently turned 30 and asked myself – as an exercise in self-reflection – could I come up with one lesson for every year I have lived so far?

I think there is a big chance that any list with a nice, round number of items in it is a sham. Anyone making a list of "100 best whatever" tries to come up with the content to fit the number.

Luckily my number is not that high, and the content flowed out naturally. Here is my list.


  1. Failure does more good than winning if you're smart about it. Learn to fail early.

  2. Do some kind of sport all the time. Good options: martial art, swimming, track and field.

  3. Read constantly before 20, and as much as possible after that.

  4. When you're not sure, doing something because someone whom you respect/admire does it, is better than not doing anything at all.

  5. Do not do drugs. Possibly, do not try drugs.

  6. Habits turn into character traits. Cultivate the right ones.

  7. There is no such thing as multitasking. Learn to focus.

  8. There is no such thing as a "night person". Morning is the best time to get things done. Win the mornings.

  9. Violence is not a solution, but sometimes violence is a good answer.

  10. If you did someone wrong, apologise. Early, wholly, sincerely. If someone did you wrong and you don't want to lose that person, be the first one to initiate a conversation.

  11. Have a sleep schedule. Follow it.

  12. Use futureme.org from time to time.

  13. Be able to fix anything at home. (This is gender neutral)

  14. When you feel any of the destructive emotions (anger, sadness, guilt) write down what you are feeling. Paper will handle those emotions better than your head.

  15. There are few things in life more important and valuable than a strong, supportive, understanding family. If you do not have such family, make sure to start one yourself. Not easy.

  16. If you want someone to open up to you, open up to them first.

  17. Eating well is a non-negotiable requirement.

  18. Start saving early. Investing is the next step. Plan to retire (not having to work for someone) as early as possible.

  19. There is no substitute for hard work.

  20. Love is an unlimited resource. But give it to yourself first and then to others. Sometimes there can be too much love. Respect others' love limits.

  21. Time is a very, very limited resource. Learn to say 'no' to most things.

  22. If you have a problem with someone or something, speak up. Be precise and clear with words and meanings you put into them. Miscommunication leads to hell.

  23. If you constantly think that you're on the wrong track and yet continue running, it's either a self sabotage or a comfort zone. There _are_ "good comfort zones".

  24. Ego is the enemy. Fight it ferociously.

  25. Clean desk (surroundings), clear thoughts.

  26. Try to be less wrong every day. Having fewer opinions and flexible convictions can help you to be less wrong ;-)

  27. Honesty is the best policy. Make sure to be honest with yourself first.

  28. Focus, patience, and clear mind are real life superpowers.

  29. Don't take yourself too seriously. Even if you're a VIP.

  30. Memento mori.

On purpose, I did not elaborate on these "lessons". Mainly because they only make complete sense to me. So I don't want to dress them as wisdom anyone must accept.

Also, they are not lessons that I mastered. I still have to exert effort to follow them. But maybe some of them will click with you too.