3️⃣4️⃣ Lessons In 34 Years

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I turned 35 just recently. And as usual, I did a balance of my last year. But, this time I’ve decided to go a little deeper and go back a few more years…34 more precisely.
Here’s a life retrospective with 34 lessons that I (believe) I’ve learned so far.

Disclaimer:
1) There’s a high probability of finding a lot of cliches.
2) There’s a high probability of not learning anything (or maybe finding it ridiculous) after you reading this. So read at your own risk. 🤷‍♂️
3) There’s no proper order or level of importance. It’s just sorted by the same order that they came to my mind.
4) I might be updating this along the time.

Here it goes…

#1 Experiences vs materialism

Looking back now this is easier to tell than to before. There was a time that I confess that I liked fancy things (ok, I still like a particular few things...who doesn’t?!). However, nowadays I’m willing to spend money gifting or buying experiences than a fancy material gift just because. Experiences bring you memories and give your opportunities for the future (to try new things, meet new people, learn new skills, try new food, etc.). If I have never bought my ticket to Singapore (super expensive for me back on time), I’d never had a chance to do solo backpacking in Asia, know a lot of places, and meet a lot of people. Those memories still live today, while the iPhone I had at that time is already dead.

#2 Sooner the better

The sooner you try something, the sooner you’ll know if you like it or not. The same applies to (almost) everything in life. If (for some reason) you fail sooner, you’ll learn sooner. Hence, you’ll have a competitive advantage over your peers in the same age group. One of the main lessons that I took from my first business venture, although it wasn’t successful was that I should have started much earlier!

#3 When in doubt, go for it

Life starts at the end of your comfort zone. The same happens with growth. All the decisions I took, looking back I was afraid of them. But the ones I was most afraid off were the ones that made me learn more. So next time you have any doubt, do your analysis. After that, if you still have doubts, go where your fear points you.

#4 Dream big…and even bigger!

Don’t be shy about your dreams. Ambition never killed anyone, especially when it comes to dreams. If you dream and can visualize it in your mind, you can do it. (e.g. right now I’m writing this from a paradisiac place, with a dream and wishful thinking that one day I will be doing the same, in a similar place but being paid for that with millions of followers 🤑 Right now I’m having…precisely zero, niente, nem um! 🤣).
So dream high, and big!! Dreams keep our hope and energy alive. (If it doesn’t happen to you, pls don’t kill my vibe, let me believe in this BS).

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Don’t hate me. I’m just trying to enjoy life (and UAE national holidays) the best way I can 😎

#5 Never settle, keep trying

I always wanted to live abroad. I’ve tried dozens, hundreds of times applying to abroad experiences. A few weeks back I’ve realized I had my profile created in one of those job marketplaces, targeting international jobs since 2013. Fast forward to 2018, when I less expected, someone contacted me for an opportunity in UAE. Here I am. So if it’s something that you really want, don’t give up, keep trying.

#6 Form (new) habits & (healthy) routines

Since I’ve always played competition sports, I never had concerns with my food habits, because I was doing a lot of (hard) exercise, very often. However, we get old, and things change. When I turned 34 I’ve decided to change completely my lifestyle 180o, since it was already affecting my health. I was extremely overweight and losing time (since my sleeping habits were a disaster). I’ve decided to change that, small steps at a time. 365 after, thanks to my wife’s support and help, together with my personal trainer, I can admit that I feel like a much younger man. I wake up at 5:30 am to exercise. And feel that I’ve gained energy and time during the day. Maybe this might be a whole new post.
So, change your habits, create new routines, and challenge yourself. There’s no better investment than you investing in yourself.

#7 Be (and think) different

I remember when I was a kid that I was kind of “ashamed” that other kids my age were playing with friends or going to cinemas, while I was in my room dissembling computers and trying to make websites. I felt a bit different. Fast forward, these skills and knowledge gave a super competitive edge, not only in my university (while other colleagues were studying stuff that I already knew), as well as in my professional career. however, other skills must be worked, such as the so famous now social skills. Don’t be afraid if you prefer blue when everyone in the room is asking for the green. Try to see things differently, that’s our uniqueness. Our watermark. It’s not always to see this clearly (I can only do now), but if we keep loyal to our beliefs, deep desires, and gut feelings, one day that will be your unique competitive advantage.

#8 If you’re scared, that’s a good sign

We have a Portuguese saying “if you don’t have them shaking, it’s because it’s not happening” 🤣 (In Portuguese sounds better since it rhymes 🤣). But, as I said in the #3 life starts at the end of your comfort zone, so if you’re scared it’s just your gut feeling telling you that those are unknown waters. And from 99% of the time, those waters are the ones which bring you the best learnings and growth opportunities.

#9 Choose your circles wisely

My father always said, choose your friends for life they are just a few, but if you choose your circles and environments wisely, your life will be a reflection of it.

#10 Play sports as much (and as earlier) as possible

I’ve played sports all my life (played soccer at the competition level since my 9 to 25yrs). It had a huge impact on my life, not only on the health side but also on learning the importance of soft skills, leadership, and a team player. And the most important thing, it gave me friends for life.

#11 It’s a Small World, and a smaller country

The world nowadays it’s connected more and more, What you do (and post on) the internet get known on the other side of the globe in the same minute. Think twice. Offline you might meet someone from your country on the other side of the World (it happened to me so many times!).

#12 Never stop learning

When I was a kid I’ve never liked to read. On the opposite, my sister ate books. Nowadays (ok since my twenties) books are one of my first sources of inspiration. I’ve started with technical books. Find what works for you.

#13 Be a geek, be an intellectual, just be you(rself)!

Just embrace it. I’ve always refused to accept that I was a geek, but the truth is that, in my adolescence, while my friends were socializing and dating, I was assembling computers in my room or trying to build websites. While I still try to deny (that I’m a geek), maybe that says everything…(or no? 🙄)

#15 Don’t overthink. Just do it.

Your mind, as less creative as you have, can lead you to very fruitful ideas, wonderful projects, and non-stop imagination. But, sometimes perfectionism is a bitch. It works as the enemy of action (at least with me). Just act and do it. Doesn’t matter if it’s not perfect.

#17 K.I.S.S.

KISS a lot. KISS as much as possible. KISS anytime. KISS always in mind. Keep It Simple and Stupid. (what you guys were thinking hein?! 😜) That’s the best approach to follow when a new idea pops your mind. In between, give some kiss(es), it’s healthy and helps you get more creative.

#18 Let it flow

Sometimes it’s important to know to allow ourselves to drop somethings, have patience, give time, and let it flow. Stressless and live (the present) more! (#notetomyself)

#19 Be thankful and accept the reality

Although I’m a fan of being a big dreamer and ambitious person, sometimes it’s necessary to keep the feet on earth, look around, and realize what we have achieved, be thankful for it. Sometimes we keep the head always looking up, with a goal achiever mood, and forget to enjoy the simple and most meaningful things of life (#notetomyself). Thankfully, sometimes I get a reminder from my other half, by bringing me down to earth.

#20 Set your vision, goals, and action steps

Be bold, have your own vision of “perfect life” and set your own vision. Then detailed in goals, steps to achieve it. Make it goals and break it into action steps. Since my twenties, I have a ritual that every year, on the 31st of December I get myself alone for a few hours and write in a little notebook a few notes. What I have done/achieved in that year, and what’s my vision for the coming year. Currently, I still do this. But now, I’m coating as age, not the civil year. Why?! Just because this last year (the 34th) worked very well for me (more about that maybe later) and I’ve decided to continue like this. I’ve been always told “the team who wins, shouldn’t be touched” (or something like this).

#21 Be realistic and (try to) look (always) to the bright side of things

Since young my mother always said, “think positive, Tiago” maybe because when I was a kid I did too many tantrums. But the truth is that she was/is right. We don’t gain anything to be negative and being upset (#notetomyself!). Ofc, it’s always easier to say than doing it actually, but I think it’s a question of practice and mindset. If we really believe it and deeply embrace it, it will flow naturally.

#22 Try multiple dishes. As much as you can until you find “that one”.

Like in food, this applies to multiple things in life. Especially in what comes to ❤️ topics as well as career. I’ve never known what I wanted to do when I grew up (except for one thing: not living to work but work to have a living). I wanted too many things and was always changing ideas. So I’ve decided to try multiple hats. That was the only way that I could put myself in different shoes and check what would be. From web designer, to business development, front end developer, graphic designer, project manager, digital strategist, digital marketeer, and more lately a product manager. Today I still don’t know if this is “the one”. But while I keep trying, one thing I know for sure: I still want to be (financially) free, and have the freedom to live, and choose who, how, and when I want to work.

#23 Get a job. Have a backup plan. Build a career.

I love one of the famous Jack Ma videos where he mentions his “life path”. Simplifying things, I also feel that he has that vision and opinion because he has deep pockets now. However, finding a job to get experience and learn (from others and from the market) is always the first thing that I believe we should do after university (if not even while we’re at). But, having a backup plan, such as building your own business (I’ve tried multiple times, but still chasing it), or parallel investment(s), I feel that’s more important than never. Because in the end what all of us are looking for is, freedom. And in order to get that, you might need to have an entire (corporate ladder) career, or multiple jobs, or even your own project (backup plan). But the goal is always the same. Freedom. I’m still chasing it.

#24 This was my number (when I played as a goalkeeper) for many seasons ⚽🧤

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Good old times (especially when I had a lot of hair)!! Find Wally 😂

#25 I’m running out of ideas

This is harder than I thought lol

#26 Find inspiring sources

Life sometimes gets too grey. Find what brings color to your life and gives you that source of inspiration. For me, I like those famous quotes, inspirational videos (not all of them, since most are BS), graphic and UX design, architecture, and decor.

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I took this picture from a menu restaurant for my birthday dinner. I particularly liked this quote it because reminds me of a few points that I’ve listed here.

#27 Study biographies. Hack yourself.

I believe in hacking. I always a fan of copy-paste and not reinventing things that were already been made. The same applies to learn new things. If you can learn from others, why don’t you?! I like to study/read/watch or hear biographies from famous (successful) people because it gives me (sometimes) new ways of hacking my life, and fast-track my knowledge (instead of spending time figuring out by myself).

#28 Optimize and automate things

Try to bundle things. Don’t multi-task (#notetomyself) unless it’s something that you can do in ‘auto-pilot’ mode. Such as cleaning your dishes (or any other chores) while you hear a podcast, or driving while hearing an audiobook — but don’t try to hear Waze at the same time, or your ETA will just triplicate (speak by experience!! 🙈)

#29 Glad that I didn’t turn 45

Once again, the sooner the better. I’m glad that I only have to think in 34 things, not 45. So If I have the same (shitty) idea once I turn 45, I can copy this 34 and just add another 11.

#30 Leave a legacy

Don’t just leave money in a bank account. I’m not saying that’s not important, ofc it is. But more than that, leave a legacy, something meaningful and that could take generations. I’m still figuring out this part. I like real estate because it ticks the multi-generation box, but still finding for the meaningful part.

#31 My last two seasons (as a goalkeeper) I’ve played with this number

I will try to find a picture of this one.

#32 Three things in life changed completely since the moment you born

There are three things in life that change and you cannot undo. 1. You born single (as marital status), and after you marry once, even if you a divorce on the second day you will never get back to that social status, you become “divorced”. 2 once have a child and become a father (/mother) your whole life priorities change, completely! As I said when my kid born “life starts now!”. 3 Yes, it’s the one you’re thinking, once you lose your virginity (done I said!) there’s no way back, no ‘kumbaya’. (maybe life starts at that moment as well 🤔🤣)

#33 If you go party, party hard(er)

I’ve always enjoyed going party. I have such great memories. Incredible nowadays, tastes are different, the same happens with parties. While crowded places were synonyms of fun and party, now is COVID 🤣 just kidding. But the reality is, regardless of how you party, just party harder. Those are the best moments and times we can keep.

#34 Whoop whoop! 🥳 I made it, 34. So this one is simple: just enjoy it!

Life is short. Nobody knows what happens “on the other side”. So let’s enjoy it while we are here. One day at a time. Be happy, keep dreaming (high), and never settle!

What about you, what are your lessons learned so far?

P.s. Please excuse any typo(s), meaningless or understandable sentences. I’m sure you’ll find those a lot here because I write as it comes to my mind, so sometimes what makes sense for me, might sound stupid for you.

Comment below, tweet me or email me. Whatever you prefer. See you around! Thanks for reading and stopping by 🙌

If you think this is ridiculous, laughable, or, by any chance you have enjoyed (pls you have to tell me how come?!), share with your FFN (family, friends, and network). They also deserve that.

Originally published at https://tiagovalente.pt on October 29, 2020.

Product Manager & apps lover! Enjoy (& write about) building products, personal finance & Self-dev. Subscribe here > Tiagovalente.pt/Newsletter

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