35 Lessons From Being 35


Every year around my birthday, I look back and write lessons I learned (or re-learned) throughout the year. These are mainly for me, but I thought you might find them helpful too.

Thanks for being here.

1. Instead of looking for what’s best, look for what fits.

2. When working from home, designate a pair of shoes as your “work shoes.” Put them on as if you’re going to work. Take them off when you’re done with work. It’ll help you set clear lines of when you’re off and on.

3. Being attracted to something is the mind contracting. Being aware of something is the mind expanding. Awareness is more life-giving than attraction.

4. If something is hard, just remember that’s not all it is. That’s only the side of it you’re looking at right now.

5. Good lighting in your home is worth every penny.

6. When starting something new, give yourself deadlines that involve people you respect. Schedule recitals, presentations, blog posts, etc. You’ll be much more likely to reach your goal or at least get closer to it.

7. Before buying anything, ask yourself if you can make it — or at least, what would it take to make it. We’re all too used to the idea that everything can just be purchased and sent to us.

8. Balancing vulnerability and optimism is the most critical (and challenging) thing leaders must do.

9. If you want something badly, ask yourself why. The reason is far more important than the thing you want.

10. A good walk is magic.

11. Thoughts are only as heavy as you make them. You can focus on them, or let them pass like leaves in a stream. It’s up to you.

12. Sleep determines everything about your day.

13. Grace is a muscle. And the best place to build it is with yourself.

14. Ambition needs pruning. Otherwise, it can take over.

15. Good air quality is part of mental and physical health. Invest in an air purifier and/or get into nature as much as possible.

16. Nuance is beautiful. Nothing is just black and white, and that’s not bad. Look at things from different angles and you’ll end up offering the same to yourself.

17. Adapting to new situations is like good jazz. Whatever you’re doing isn’t about playing the right notes, it’s about bouncing off of the things around you and enjoying the music.

18. Catering meals around the holidays is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.

19. When vetting contractors, do as much due diligence as you possibly can. Ask for a reference. Review past work. And talk about your project in very specific detail. Go with the best contractor you can afford.

20. Every new project has three costs: financial, mental, and emotional. Calculate all three before starting.

21. Being kind and being bold aren’t separate. The world needs more people with conviction who can also honor one another’s humanity.

22. Always give other people credit.

23. When learning the piano, place it in your favorite room. You’ll practice a lot more if it’s where you spend the most time.

24. It’s ok to be quiet until you know what you want to say.

25. It’s not ok to be quiet when you know something needs to be said.

26. The job of most CEOs is to cast a vision, build teams, find work/money — and to do all of that with conviction and courage.

27. It takes a moment to fall down and a lot of time to fully get back up.

28. Find a friend who can sit with you in silence.

29. If you feel stuck in a rut, think of someone you greatly admire and imagine the first three things they would do if they woke up in your shoes tomorrow. Do those three things next.

30. Be surprisingly generous. It’ll always come back to you in the most unexpected ways. And most of the time, you won’t even make the connection.

31. It’s ok to get what you want. But a sign of real growth is wanting something and being ok with not getting it.

32. HR directors are becoming the new deans and companies are the new colleges. The faster we embrace that, the faster we can finally do away with massive financial debt for higher education (and lifelong learning)

33. You don’t need more accolades, connections, or resources. You need to start.

34. Valuable doesn’t mean expensive.

35. Every year, around your birthday, find a quiet spot and write out things you’ve learned from the prior year. It’s ok if you have some repeats. This is more for you than it is for anyone else.

Thanks for reading. And thanks to Nic, Zak, Katie N., Sara, and Katie C. for helping me edit.

– Victor

PS: Next week, I’m announcing a few changes around Experience Institute. If you’d like to be in the loop, add your name here.