Last week I turned 30! I literally can’t believe that my 20s are over! I guess you could say i’m a full on grown up now (although i’m sure some people would disagree! lol)
During the last decade i’ve started and finished university, drank too much, smoked too much (40 a day at one point!), and spent too much (thanks student loan company!)
I’ve also started a business, bought a house, gotten married and now have a lovely little family of my own, with a handsome 1 year old boy called Noah!
Where have the last 10 years gone? crazehhh!
There have been plenty of ups and downs during my 20s. In fact, I experienced some of the most difficult times in my life. At times I suffered with depression, lost personal confidence and struggled to get by both mentally and financially! But on the flip side they have also been some of the best years of my life.
Feeling a little reflective on my 30th birthday I thought it would be good to share 8 Of The Most Valuable Lessons I Learned In My 20s…
#1 Enjoy each stage of life
Sometimes I look back and miss my college days in Brighton. I also miss my uni days in Sheffield. They were so much fun, and went by in a flash!
Now these chapters are over I look back and miss them. There are lots of people (friends, and friends of friends) that are no longer in my life. But I still think about the good times and those people, and I am grateful to have had so many fun experiences with them.
Lesson 1: Enjoy each stage of life, whether that’s high school, college, uni, etc – it will go by in a flash and you’ll miss them when they are gone.
#2 It’s Okay To Not Be Ok…
I’ve lost count of the times i’ve had self doubts about myself and my own abilities. On reflection most of my 20s have been filled with insecurity – trying to prove a point to myself that I am good enough.
I’ve done this by spending hours in the gym, sculpting a fit body, and by spending hours on self development – reading books, etc. For years I believed that if I am fit, smart and successful then that would mean I am good enough!
The truth is that i’m good enough without those things. But for years I based my identity and worth as a human on externals rather than looking deep within my own psyche.
I’ve battled with bouts of depression (especially in my early 20s) and suffered with low confidence. My insecurities have driven me to look deep within and find out why I felt this way and made me look for answers to help me lead a more balanced life.
Lesson 2: It’s okay to struggle with life – you are not alone. I’ve yet to meet somebody who has totally cracked life. It’s okay to feel down, it’s ok to feel lost, it’s okay to have doubts, it’s ok to feel vulnerable. Accept your imperfections and realise that you are trying your best with what you know. If you knew how to do things better you would.
Keep reflecting, and learning about yourself and you will continue to grow as a person. When I reflect on the difficult periods of my life they have also been the most valuable because I have learned from them they have made me a better person.
#3 Learn From Mentors and Books…
Back in high school I was a total doofus! I was in the bottom set for pretty much every subject. I would mess about, act like a class clown and be sent into isolation or detention more days than I was in class! lol!
Back then I had the belief that I was stupid, the teachers thought I was stupid and my behaviour reinforced that…so it became a self-fulfilling prophecy! I therefore went through most of my child/teenage life (from ages of 8-20) feeling like a total dumbass!
It wasn’t really until University that I started reading books. I started on fiction, but then slowly found books on psychology and self development. Books by Tony Robbins and Deepak Chopra – which instilled new beliefs and made me realise that ANYBODY can grow as a person and improve their life if they are willing to invest time and effort learning.
These books totally captivated me and changed my outlook on things. They made me question my limiting beliefs and gave me hope of a prosperous future.
Over the last couple of years I’ve actually hired coaches (personal trainers, life/business/performance coaches) to help me progress. In fact over the last 10 years I’ve figured out i’ve spent close to £70,000 on books, courses and private coaching!
The two coaches who have helped me the most are Michael Nicholas and Adrain Taffinder! Both of these people have helped me enormously and I am extremely grateful for their help.
Lesson 3: Hiring somebody to help you improve your life is the some of the best money you can spend.
#4 Choose Experiences over materialistic things…
One of my goals when I started LEP Fitness 6 years ago was to buy a Porsche 911 by the time I was 30. I created this goal at 24 years old because to me it signified success. If I got a Porsche I made it! I was good enough!
Sounds absurd now looking back, but back then that was a goal that drove me to wake up at 5am every morning and do whatever it took to build up a successful business.
For probably over three quarters of my life I believed that to be a valued member of society you have to be successful. My definition of success during my early 20s: money, fame, popularity, good body, fancy cars, a big house, and all that superficial gangsta rapper bollocks (pardon the French! lol).
Thankfully I soon realised (at around 26/27 years old) that my illusion of success was totally misleading. I decided on a new definition of success: to grow as a person, to be the best husband I could be, the best father, to invest time into self improvement and to achieve financial freedom (not to buy flashy cars and watches! but to support my family and give them a good life).
When I reflect on what i’ve spent money on the last 10 years the things that have given me the most pleasure are: holidays with Sally (Lake Como, Sorrento, Cornwall, Wales), meals out celebrating our anniversary, trips away with friends (Paris, Edinburgh), and on experiences which have altered my life for the better (training courses, coaches, etc). They have all been experiences and nothing materialistic!
Lesson 4: Materialist things do not make you happy, they provide short term pleasure but that feeling is short lived and never lasts. On your deathbed you wont think about the fancy sports car, instead you’ll remember the holidays with your kids, the laughter and the good times that didn’t cost a penny! Therefore focus on creating amazing experiences.
#5 Don’t Judge A Book By It’s Cover…
We were all once small innocent babies totally vulnerable to our surroundings. Most of you reading this are extremely lucky. You can read, write, walk, talk, you’ve probably had a roof over your head and access to food and water all of your life.
Not everybody is this lucky. Rather than be quick to judge and criticise others try and see behind the facade.
Somebody may be very angry towards you or do something that upsets you, but behind that anger could lay a tormented childhood or previous personal trauma.
People’s behaviour is never a reflection of you, it’s a reflection of them and what’s going on within them. Try to see past this and look for the best in people. Realise that we are all looking for the same things in life: to be loved, to be accepted (by ourself and others) and to be appreciated for the awesome human we are.
Instead of reacting to negative people, be kind towards them, treat them with the love and kindness that they so desperately need. When you are kind and have good intentions towards people their negativity slowly fades away.
#6 Embrace Change…
I remember feeling really scared going to high school, my family moved to a new area and I didn’t know anybody! I was paralysed with crippling fear on my very first day at secondary school, I totally crapped myself lol! But before I knew it I was settled into the high school bubble. I had friends and life was largely good.
Then the same nerves kicked in at college and then at uni, and then when I started my first business, etc, etc. Every new situation in life can be scary as hell!
Change is always happening all around us. One minute we feel confident and are certain about the path we are on in life, but then out of the blue comes a curveball – where life’s never the same again and we are forced out of our comfort zone.
Learn to embrace change and not to be afraid of it. We can’t avoid it. People come and go. Situations and life circumstance change. Our goals, and mood change, etc, etc. Life is constantly changing.
Don’t resit life and try to control every aspect of it. Go with the flow of life and trust that everything will work out in the end.
From my experience it always does and everything happens for a reason – even those situations which cause us to have negative emotions/experience: pain, grief, frustration, etc. You can learn from them and grow stronger as a person. You can use negative situation to motivate you and to prevent others from making the same mistakes.
#7 Life can always be better but it can also be worse…
Sometimes I go on my instagram and just think “holy sh*t my life sucks compared to x”. I see celebs driving fast cars, and chilling in some trendy bar, drinking champers… and just think to myself… “what the heck am I doing wrong?!?!” lol.
It’s so easy to compare yourself to others, and to look at what you don’t have instead of what you do!
For example instead of focusing on…
- how cra*p your body looks
- how poor you are
- how tired you feel
- how life is a struggle
Focus on all of the good things in your life…
- food in the cupboards
- a roof over your head
- an awesome family
- the fact that you got to wake up and see another day
- freshly washed clothes
- a car to travel in
- your children
- your pet (dog, cat, rabbit!)
There are literally hundreds if not thousands of positive things going on in your life. Don’t take them for granted, notice them and every day try to reenforce how lucky you are.
With the areas of your life that you are unhappy with, write them down, make a note of why you are unhappy about them, and how you want your life to be instead, then set some tangible goals and make those improvements.
#8 It’s Down To You
You have the power to change your life. Don’t let anybody tell you different. Don’t blame anybody, don’t blame your circumstances – understand that it’s YOU and ONLY YOU who has the ability to change your life.
I’ve already mentioned a bit about my lack of academic success at high school. In fact I only left with 5 G.C.S.E’s (maths, english, science, history and PE!) – everything else I got D or worse… an F in French (Damn you Mrs Rothwell!)
Based on my poor high school grades you’d never have thought i’d have made it through college, where I achieved two A’s and a B. I also completed university, achieving a decent… 2:1.
If i’d have listened to my teachers, and peers i’d be in some dead end job, totalling hating life!
Don’t let anybody tell you what you can and can’t do. You can do anything you set your mind on.
It means jack sh*t what people think about you, it’s about how you view yourself. Some of the most powerful people i’ve ever met are that way because they ‘believe in themselves’ – and that’s all that you need.
Stop blaming your child hood, or how unlucky you are all of the time. Stop blaming your circumstance, your teacher, boss, job, friends, etc and take RESPONSIBILITY… IT’S DOWN TO YOU TO BUILD THE LIFE YOU WANT.
Thanks so much for reading, what are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned so far in life? I’d love to hear your opinions and stories…