I love getting older. Love remembering how my younger self thought he knew it all. Cute. Love realising how I don’t know it all.
This my fourth year doing this, 23, 24, 25 are all there. For 23, I wrote a list like this, for 24 I wrote my principles, for 25 I wrote a list of things I was going to do before 26, before today (spoiler: they haven’t all happened, yet).
Today we’re going 23 style. Lessons learned and things I want to remind myself of for the next 26-years. Straight from the heart, soul, brain.
1. Writing is therapy
Creating is therapy, making is therapy, art is therapy, dancing is therapy, whatever gets you lost turning thoughts into something.
I switched. Switched from consuming to creating. Switched from browsing to making. I had to. My brain was overflowing. Getting lost in thoughts. They had to go somewhere.
I write every day. It’s the best habit I have. A conversation with myself every day sometimes it’s a group discussion. My multiple personalities show up, the minimalist, the capitalist, the lover, the fighter, the tech CEO, the artist.
Every time something is bugging me, every problem I face, I write about it. I dig deep. Get to the root cause. Go inside myself and workout what demon has decided to set up camp in a far corner of my brain. Then I go to battle it. Battle it with my sword made of words.
I get lost in thoughts but found in the words.
Most of my public works are notes to myself. Reminders. Figuring out how to live. There’s no right answer. But trying is fun.
I started by using 750words.com every day. Built the habit. Didn’t stop.
2. Bare your fucking soul
I feel it. Feel it every day. A poke in my side. A twist in my gut. Every time I try to forget it shows up.
I don’t know what it is. But I know it’s there.
It comes up with every decision I make. Love or fear. Do I choose out of love or do I choose out of fear. Every time I choose something out of fear, it flares up.
Choose not to do something because I fear what others will think. There.
Choose not to do something because I fear it won’t work out. There.
Choose to do something because it’s the safe thing to do. There.
I’ve worked it out. When I choose with love. It’s gone. The poke goes from the side to a push in the back. A force pushing me forward.
Call it truth. Call it authenticity. Call it a gut feeling. Call it God.
All I know is I feel best when I’m my authentic self. When I bare my soul in whatever it is I’m doing.
When I choose out of love instead of fear.
3. Less social media, more social
I live at home with my parents and three brothers. I love it. I love seeing people I love every day.
I’ve been off social media all year. No Facebook, no Instagram, no Tinder, except for a 2-month stint. Waste of time. Downloading Tinder is a sign I’m not loving myself enough. I use Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube to share my work but don’t browse.
I don’t miss it. I’m happier when I don’t use it.
When I see someone I know, I ask them how’s life, they ask me if I’ve seen their posts, I tell them no, then they tell me what they’ve been up to. We talk about it. I love those moments.
I’m working out how I could use zero social media. Write words, make videos, share them, that’s it.
4. Actionable advice is helpful in the short-term but dangerous in the long-term
What’s the actionable advice?
What’s the next 17-steps to do this?
How can I do X whilst doing Y and make sure Z happens?
Whenever someone gives you a step-by-step way of doing things, it’s helpful. But they’ve done the thinking for you.
My high-school physics teacher was a bit of a kook. A genius kook. He used to say there’s 1000 ways to skin a cat. Another way of saying there’s no single right way of doing anything.
He was right.
Most life advice you need is general. Stay healthy, value relationships, work for what you want, develop skills you can use to bring value to others.
There comes a point where you have to ignore actionable advice and figure things out for yourself. Otherwise, you’ll lose the most valuable skill you can develop. An ability to think for yourself.
5. The quickest way to the target is straight to the target
I knew it. I knew it but I didn’t do it. Why not?
I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I could see it. It was right there. Why didn’t I do it?
Too often I know the exact thing I want to do. The girl I want to talk to. The art I want to create. The place I want to go. The idea I want to pursue.
But I don’t.
I don’t know.
I throw up excuses. I’m not ready to leave my job and go full-time on my own business because I need to learn more about business first.
I’m not going to ask this girl out to dinner because she might say no.
I’m not going to pursue this idea which has been burning in my head for weeks, months, because I’ve got other things which need to be done.
Silly. Every time I finally end up going for it I laugh myself. How could I have been so worried? That wasn’t so bad.
It turns out doing anything is as simple as doing it. Sometimes it doesn’t work out, sometimes it does.
6. It’s all about confidence, baby
I sent her a message. Let’s go to dinner on Wednesday night.
She replied. I’m busy Wednesday night, how about Thursday?
I replied. I’ve got things on Thursday, Friday?
She replied. Okay, too busy for me on Thursday hey? Friday is good.
We went to dinner. A nice Japanese restaurant down a side street, past the dumpster, through a black door.
She called. Where are you?
I just parked, now I’m walking down a back street, is it the right way?
Yeah, if it looks like you’re walking down a deserted back alley, you’re in the right place.
We had dinner. Talked about her adventures overseas, she asked if I saw the pictures on Instagram, I tell her no, keep asking questions about the trip.
After dinner we walk towards the water. I reach out hold her hand, say nothing, keep walking. She turns, smiles. I smile back. I feel the energy flow through me. Up my hand, through my shoulder, into my head, down my legs. The best feeling in the world.
We have dessert, she takes a photo of the lights on the bridge, saves it to her 1-second everyday app. Says I want to remember this night. I take a photo with my brain. I do too.
We walk back to her car. Holding hands. Say goodbye, she’s moving to Germany in a couple of weeks, kiss. The energy comes back. The best feeling in the world.
I order an Uber. Tell the driver about my night. Say I went on a first and last date and it was amazing. He smiles, says he can hear the excitement in my voice.
The radio comes on. Ocean Alley’s song Confidence plays. All the words make sense.
Before asking her out, nervous.
Before holding her hand, nervous.
Before kissing her goodbye, nervous.
I ignored the nerves. Remembered. Having guts always works out for me.
Now every time I hear the song I think of her. I hope she’s enjoying Germany.
7. Grab your balls boys
We used to go to the casino every second day. I’m good with numbers so I pretended I could manipulate the casino into to paying my bills. It worked for a little while.
The cards came up. They weren’t in our favour. In blackjack you want 21, we had 16, the dealer had 10, basic strategy says hit.
Dave and I played together. We had $300 on the hand. A lot for us.
We were nervous, asking ourselves what to do. We knew. To keep playing the rules, we had to hit. The rules work best when you always follow them, it was simple statistics.
Greg had big brown boots, big belt buckle big hat big personality big everything. He was playing $1500 per hand. He was watching us. Using the same strategy as us.
We waited. Looked at each other. Looked at our other hand, $100, why couldn’t it be that one?
Grab your balls boys. You know what to do.
There was a 66% chance of us going bust. We hit, a 7. Bust. The dealer pulled a 4 then a picture card worth 10, the dealer went bust. If we didn’t hit, the dealer gets 21, everyone loses.
Luckily the casino habit died. But Greg Brown’s saying lives on.
Every time a hard decision comes up, it does too.
I tell my brothers. If you’re at a crossroads, choose the path hardest in the short-term. Grab your balls boys.
8. I should’ve learned to fight earlier
I did karate in year 6 then stopped. I’ve been wanting to do a martial art since.
Then I was in the US and sent Josh a message. Let’s sign up to a martial art when I get back.
He sent me back a photo of a sign on a building down the road. A Jiu Jitsu gym was opening the day I got back. A sign indeed.
Six weeks later, we were in our first Jiu Jitsu competition. Standing across the mat from someone I wanted to submit and who wanted to do the same to me.
I lost my first fight on points. Won my second one via arm bar submission. And the lost the next on points.
Then I went to New Zealand for their national competition and lost both my fights.
I’m addicted. There’s something primal about it. Deep down every man loves fighting. We wrestle every night, someone wins, the other learns. And we shake hands after.
I’ve learned how to control myself under pressure, learned how to inflict damage to another person if I want to, learned how to stop when another person says they’ve had enough, learned how to push myself against someone with a higher skill level, learned how to teach someone I know more than.
I’m privileged the world I live in is a peaceful garden. And I don’t plan on ever getting in a real fight. But I’d rather be a warrior in a garden, than a gardener in a war.
9. Expertise is a scam
You don’t need a degree to work on something you want to work on.
You don’t need a PhD to be a data scientist.
You don’t need a computer science degree to code.
You don’t need millions of dollars to start business which brings value to others.
Don’t be held back by a lack of credentials.
Credentials are a status game. Avoid status games. Life is a game everyone can play.
Solving problems is a game every one can play.
Creating art is a game every one can play.
If you want to play the game, play it.
10. Man has two lives
And the second begins when he realises he only has one.
Confucius said that.
It’s worth putting in fancy quotes.
Man has two lives. And the second begins when he realises he only has one.
I wrote it on my wall in sharpie.
11. Health in four points
The healthiest cultures on Earth keep it simple. No 8-week programs. No superfoods. No meal plans. No Apple Watches.
What do they do?
- They eat good food, less often, 1–3 times per day is enough.
- They move every day, they know movement is medicine.
- They sleep when they need and get enough.
- They love and laugh often.
Any day with these four is a good day.
12. The world needs more savagery
My little brother is getting into photography. I tell him someone who takes photos is a photographer. I tell him to tell himself he’s a photographer.
When I ask him what he’s been doing today, he tells me he’s been taking photos.
I say what else?
He says editing photos.
I know he’s telling the truth but I also know he’s been playing video games for 8-hours.
I keep talking.
Have you published your new photos?
What have you been doing?
We keep going back and forth. My goal is to get him to be honest with himself. I’m firm with him. My mum says it’s harsh. I say it’s not.
There’s a difference between being honest and being mean. Somehow honesty got confused with being savage.
You don’t need to be radically honest. But you can save a lot of time telling it like it is.
13. Don’t read yourself stupid
Reading is learning. But the author has done the thinking for you.
Every time I’ve gone too long reading something without using the knowledge, I’ve lost the knowledge. Knowledge is wasted unless it’s used.
Don’t lose your ability to think. The formula is: read, do, read, do, read, do.
14. Learn how to learn
I took the Learning How to Learn course on Coursera. I should’ve taken it in high-school. Then again at university.
I spent 5-years at university learning how to learn. That’s worth more than my degree.
Learning is the ultimate skill. If you can learn, you can learn anything. And if you can learn anything, you can do anything.
15. They just do things
Think of all the successful people you look up to. Now think about what they do.
Notice how it seems like a lot.
It’s because it is.
The secret? There is none.
They just do things.
Have a bias towards action with whatever you do. We’re visual creatures. We like seeing things being done.
16. Because is enough of a reason to do anything
I want to make videos.
I want to write blog posts.
I want to learn to code.
I’m not going to the party this weekend.
I want to leave my job and start my own business.
17. A lot can change in a year
2016 I was working at Apple Retail. 2017 I was driving Uber. 2018 I was a machine learning engineer at a tech company in Brisbane. 2019 I make money writing code, words and making videos in my bedroom.
My first 500 articles sucked. This one is my 365th in a row. It’s better than my first.
My first 30 videos are me sitting in my car. Yuck.
I tried to learn to code 3 times. On the 4th I didn’t stop.
I got addicted to learning. Addicted to creating. That’s my mantra. Create to learn and learn to create. There’s a nice Japanese word for it I’m sure.
Life is about managing addictions.
I got a job in tech. Then I got paid for video. Then I got paid for an article.
I had to get a job in tech to realise I wanted to work on my own. I had to make money on YouTube to realise I didn’t need fame. I had to get paid for an article to realise I didn’t need millions of reads.
All I need is enough to keep learning, keep writing, keep making.
That’s what 2020 will be.
18. Skin in the game
A good filter for advice is to see if the person giving it has skin in the game.
If they’ve been through the fire, listen to their stories.
19. The old you has to die
The good reason I got off social media is it means there’s less information I have to worry about.
The real reason is the old me had to die.
My accounts have old posts, old friends, old ways of thinking. I needed to cut it all off. Cut cut cut.
I upgrade my iPhone software every year. New software means old code gets deleted. Why not do the same with ways of thinking?
Removing myself from everything except what matters most helped me delete old ways of thinking.
20. Build something you want
If the thing you want in the world doesn’t exist yet and you’re waiting around for someone to build it. There’s a good chance you’re the one who should build it.
And if you want it, there’s a good chance other people will want it to.
That’s my formula.
Write articles and stories I would want to read.
Make videos I would want to watch.
Build things I would want to use.
And if someone has made something you’re a fan of, let them know they’ve done a good job. You know the feeling you get when someone compliments you on your work? Yeah, that one. Give it to someone else.
21. The crossover
I used to play RuneScape 15-hours per day. It taught me how to type and talk to others.
My marks were poor in high school because I was the leader of a Call of Duty clan, we were number 1 in Australia. It taught me how to lead a team and communicate strategy.
I worked a job stacking boxes at the airport. It taught me what I didn’t want to do.
I graduated university with a nutrition and food science degree. My parents asked what are you going to do with your degree? I said be healthy.
The skills I built playing RuneScape help me work step by step towards goals I set, leading a Call of Duty team helps me be a good older brother, my shitty jobs made me want non-shitty jobs, studying something for the sake of studying something taught me how to learn.
You never know when something is going to come in handy. Look for the crossover.
Everything can be a lesson. Even a waste of time can turn out to be valuable (see 3).
22. Less but better
The default is more. More money. More things. More people. More more more.
More is easy.
Less requires you to think. Requires you to get better instead of bigger.
Whatever you’re making, don’t overthink it. First thought best thought. Let it flow. Give it style. Your style.
23. Loving yourself is a superpower
This one will always be here. Loving myself is always a work in progress.
Every single problem every single issue. They arise when I forget. When I forget to love myself.
I’m getting better. Every so often. Looking in the mirror. Eye contact. I utter the words. I love you. It feels good. A few more times.
I love you. I love you. I love you.
Try it. You’re worth it.
I love you.
23.5 Laughing at yourself is a superpower
The chicken shop is booming. Two men approach. One with blue dreadlocks and a microphone the other with purple dreadlocks and a camera. The man with blue dreadlocks speaks into the microphone.
Tell us something your mum doesn’t know.
He leans the microphone towards me. The man with the purple dreadlocks moves the camera closer. I speak.
I’ve had a threesome with three of my mates and they were all at the 21st tonight.
He pulls the microphone away. Starts laughing. Says thank you. Then moves onto the next group.
The next morning my friend sends me a video. I’m in it. Saying what I said.
I laugh. Shake my head. Laugh again. Send it to my other friend. He laughs. Says I’m an idiot. I agree with him.
I get in the car. Tell my mum what happened. She laughs. Says I’m an idiot. I agree with her.
Two months later, a friend sends me a message.
Are you ready?
I’m always ready.
He sends through a screenshot of me in the video. I tell him what happened. He laughs. Says my secret is safe with him. I tell him it’s no secret, the video has 657,000 views. He says yeah but if I tell someone, they’ll know I was watching this trash. I laugh.
Moral of the story?
Don’t get drunk and talk to men with colourful dreadlocks and video equipment.
I’m happier with no alarms. No commutes. No schedule. No meetings.
25. Don’t save more, earn more
There’s a limit to what you can save. There’s no limit to what you can earn. This year I started to stop trading time for money and instead earn around the clock.
How do I do it?
Creating things online. I make videos and write articles. People read the articles and I get paid through Medium and people watch the videos and I get paid through sign-ups via affiliate links.
My next step is to sell a product I’ve made. It’s going to be digital to keep overheads low.
26. One good friend is worth 1000 loose friends
Breakfast. Two dinosaur bars, almond butter, coffee. The board says it’ll take 5-hours. We start.
Don tells me about his plans to go to Africa, spend 6-months, a year working as a volunteer doctor. He tells me about a big plan he has at the end of the year, says to keep it secret, I say that’s exciting and of course.
I ask him about his perfect day. He speaks.
I’d wake up, do some morning exercise, yoga or walk or swim, then have coffee and make a nice breakfast, then I’d do some study. I’ve really been liking studying lately, getting into a textbook and trying to figure things out. Then I’d make lunch and in the afternoon work on something by hand. The board I’m making for Locky and Harriet is turning out really good. In the evening I’d cook dinner, eat it with Lulu, make love, read a good book before going to sleep.
I tell him mine.
We both realise how close we are. How often we already have perfect days. We say we’re lucky.
We keep walking. The hike isn’t easy isn’t hard. Enough to get the heart rate up. Don recites a poem he’s been learning for Locky and Harriet’s wedding. I think it’s about to stop four or five times but it keeps going. It goes for 3-minutes and 20-seconds.
When he stops I tell him I’m impressed. He asks how should I deliver it? I speak.
Get up, don’t say anything, look the crowd over, pause for longer than you think. Make the crowd wonder what you’re about to do. And then dive into it.
He agrees. Likes the idea.
We get to the top of the mountain in 1-hour and 27-minutes. The view is covered by clouds. A man walks past and says the view is great boys, it’s covered by a lovely cloud. Another man says the same thing. Four or five more people say the same thing.
We sit, eat more almond butter and dinosaur bars, look at the cloud, watch the sun try to pierce through. It doesn’t.
The climb down takes an hour. We did the hike in half the time the board says. We high-five do stretches and get in the van.
Don shows me his favourite beach. We sleep in the van and watch the last sunrise of Winter. Don has never run 10km so we decide to run 10km on the beach. After the run we high-five do stretches get in the water dry off get in the van drive to breakfast then drive home.
Don is one of my best friends. More than a best friend. A brother.
27. Thank you thank you thank you
365 posts in a row. A year worth of blog posts. Number 13 ticked off.
Committing to something every day is a great challenge. You should try it.
I wrote posts from night club toilets. I wrote posts on aeroplanes. I wrote posts in cars. I wrote posts whilst commuting. I wrote posts at 11:45 pm at 6:30 am. I wrote posts from the local cafe and from cafes in other countries. Most average, a handful good and 1 or 2 really good ones.
If you’ve read them, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Here’s to 27. It’s going to be a big year on tour.