Today is my 28th birthday. I have always found writing to be a great way to leave a snapshot of my thoughts at any point in time. Given that a birthday is a great reflection point I thought I could leave a snapshot of 28 year old Tanaka’s mindset.
Here is what I think I have figured out about life. I am hoping to come back in the future, look at this snapshot and see what my mindset was like at 28.
1) If there is one gift you can give your close family and friends it is the gift of your time. If there is any opportunity to spend some quality time with close family and friends always use it. Never underestimate the value of this or prioritise it lower than other things. The happiest moments in my life have been memories shared with friends and family. Time flies and you never know when things will change and you don’t get these opportunities anymore.
2) Always have the hunger to learn. Stay curious. The world is changing at a very fast pace. The people with the hunger and ability to learn new things will survive this fast paced change. Don’t get stuck in old ways. Be a life-long learner.
3) While we are on the topic of learning. Take every opportunity to learn something from everyone you interact with. There is always something someone else is better than you at. You will never be the best at everything. If you have an open mind and are observant enough there is always something to learn from others. Some people and some environments will teach you what not to do. If a friend or relative goes through a bad patch try and understand the root cause of the problem, so you can avoid ever making the same mistakes in the future.
4) When in doubt – ask. Never be afraid to admit that you do not know. That is the way you learn. Throw away any false pride.
5) Have some integrity. If you say you will do something, give all your effort to get it done.
6) Accept and learn when you are wrong. Nobody is perfect. You will make big mistakes at some point in your life. The important part is to acknowledge the mistakes and take active steps to ensure you learn from them and you do not repeat them.
7) Give people a chance. Do not be so quick to judge people for their actions and what they are not good at. You probably do not have full details on the environment they grew up in or how they were raised. Given the right support people can surprise you with how quickly they can change, grow and master things. I’ve been given chances in my life by people who believed in me when others would have not. Read this point again before moving on to the next one.
8) Have a fulfilling job. If you have a 9-5 job it means you spend a large part of your life at work. If you are going to spend so much time at a place you should at the very least enjoy your time there. This means the work you do should be engaging, you should support your company’s purpose, you should be constantly learning from your peers, and you should be good friends with most of your work colleagues. I have had many conversations with friends who hate their jobs or hate their managers. You need to get out of that environment. Only you can make the change. Don’t delay it. It probably shortens your life through stress.
9) Be bold! There is an African proverb that goes “A man who hangs around a beautiful girl without speaking his intentions ends up fetching water for guests at her wedding.” Most things are not as risky as they seem. All you need is to believe in yourself and go for it. Even if you fail at your ambitious thing, it’s very difficult to fail completely. That’s the thing that people don’t get.
10) Be active! Take part in a physical activity regularly. It could be hiking, running, cycling or just taking walks often. It could be taking part in a team sport such as soccer, action netball or action cricket. Find whichever physical activity suits you, one which you enjoy. There are many benefits to being active, listing them is worthy of an article in itself. However the most important benefits in my opinion are the health benefits. Too many young people are letting themselves go after they start working. Don’t let yourself be one of these people. It is never too late to start. My preferred physical activity is running, last year I wrote a post about why I run.
11) Get enough sleep on most days, that is around 8 hours for most people. Sleep deprivation is not a badge of honour. Listen to your body and take relaxing breaks when you need them. I know the irony in this is that I am the founder of a lifestyle brand called NoDaysOff. Even with that I suggest you take NoDaysOff in resting to take care of yourself. Avoid junk food and eat healthy food often. You will be amazed how much of a difference these things can make to your life.
12) Think ahead. Things don’t just happen. You make them happen! What are you going to do this week to get you closer to achieving your goals? Write it down and make it happen. Have clear goals for yourself every day, every year, and every decade.
13) The only constant in life is change. The world changes. People change. Your friends will change. You will change the places you live. You will change jobs. You should not always try to fight this change. Sometimes trying to hold on leaves you stuck. Move forward. You’ve got to keep moving.
14) Time flies. One moment you are in primary school, wondering when you will ever become an adult. Next thing you are a fully grown adult with so many responsibilities and you are struggling to keep up. While there is a place for resting and relaxing, never waste time. If you get the sense that you are wasting time it means you probably are, trust your instincts and get out of that habit. Understand the value of time in everything you do.
15) Enjoy the special moments such as your graduation day, or the day you start a new relationship. Remember though that moments are just moments and what is important is to actually live by what the moments define. After you graduate you need to make use of the degree / diploma you receive in the real world. After you get into a relationship be committed to make it work in its entirety.
16) Travel and explore places outside your normal area. You can learn a lot from other people outside of your normal environment of comfort. Even if it means travelling across the country you live in. If you can, you must also travel to other countries across the world.
17) Be a self starter. Don’t wait for people tell you what to do all the time. There is self fulfilling value in seeing progress in something you thought about, took action on and completed.
18) Don’t regret things. Learn from them. Regret is past tense decision making.
19) If you are thinking about holding any leadership role in your life. The best way to lead is by your actions not what you say. Inspiration from words is often short-lived, however from your actions people can learn that many things are possible and they will be able to follow your lead. Leadership is also about growing people. Imagine you get to the end of your career and you say, “Here are all of the people I developed, I coached, I inspired, I built, I made stronger, faster.”
20) You are never too old or too young. I’ve seen very old people complete marathons and ultra-marathons. In the same way we’ve all seen very young people start and go on to lead global companies (Zuckerberg – Facebook. Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy, and Reggie Brown – Snapchat).
21) Great things take time. Don’t rush things. Be patient. Have a long term mindset. Think long term but make slight progress towards the end goal on a daily basis.
22) There are a few times when it is ok to give up and try new things. Most of the time don’t give up. Push on and things will come together. Deciding when to give up is a skill in itself.
23) Be happy. Your happiness in life is probably the right metric to use to measure success.
24) Understand how habits work. Most of your actions whether good or bad are performed via habits. If you can master how to learn and unlearn habits then you will have some control over your life. If you enjoy reading one of the best books I have read on this is The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. If you are not a fan of reading you can look for some of his videos.
25) Be positive. The world has so much negative word spreading. Just watch news for a few minutes to see how much negativity is reported. You would almost think there is nothing positive that occurs in this world. Yet in fact there is a lot positive progress that happens daily. Be one of the people that shares the positive side of things. You never know whose life you can have a positive influence on. Be optimistic and inspire others.
26) On money. Try and learn as much as you can about money. How you should manage your money. How to build financial discipline. How the economy works. The school system does not do justice on educating people about money. I’m still learning.
27) Still on the topic of money. While having a good sum of money is great, never let money be your primary motivator to do things. It can be crippling, often leading you to do things that are an anti-pattern. Such as staying in a bad work environment just because it pays you well. Yes you should be paid for your worth but more importantly you should rather optimise for your own happiness.
28) A side effect of being ambitious and doing well is that a lot opportunities will present themselves toward you. Choose wisely. Sometimes it is ok to say no to a great opportunity because you have others in the pipeline already. You can always come back to some opportunities later on in life. Avoid taking on too much. There is great value in being focussed and seeing things through.
29) Your attitude will take you far. I remember back in my school days I realised that if I put in some extra effort in everything I did, the teachers and coaches would notice. Even if I wasn’t the best in that class or sport I would leave a mark because of my hard working attitude. This is something I still believe in to this day. Going the extra mile will leave you in a good place.
30) You are going to go through some difficult times in your life. Everyone does. It is part of being human. Have a set of people who form part of your core support system. These people can be family or friends. These people will help carry you through your difficult moments in life. You can return the favour when they need you to carry them too one day.
31) Run your own race. This is your life. A lot of people spend significant portions of their lives trying to create an image other people will credit them for. This is achievable, however you may find after achieving this you are still not happy. Don’t chase prestige, go for what makes you genuinely happy. Be yourself!
That is it. Hopefully with each year that comes I will become much wiser. I will be able to refine some of these ideas and maybe add more as I grow. Never Settle! NoDaysOff!