36 life lessons to make you better at work, relationships, and adulting

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I still remember 8-year old Justin. He thought being in your thirties was old. Like really old.

He imagined that he’d be married with kids, working a high-paid job (where he was totally in charge), and living in a penthouse apartment in some fancy city.

While I didn’t quite live up to all his aspirations, the path to 36 has been a beautiful learning experience. Like most, there have been ups and downs, things I’ll never forget, and my fair share of scars (some physical, most emotional).

But above all, I’m happy to say I’m thankful. I have meaningful relationships, a career I enjoy, and personal projects that sustain me. Definitely not perfect, but overall, I designed a life that I genuinely appreciate.

So to celebrate my 36th birthday, I’m sharing 36 life lessons.

And just to be clear, many of these things I’m still learning.

General Thoughts on Life

1. This is your life and you are empowered to make changes as frequently as you see fit.

2. It’s okay to say how you’re really feeling. If someone asks “How are you doing?” take a beat to consider your answer.

3. Books are the gateway to new worlds. Try to read every single day. You will become a better writer and more likely to impress people with interesting tidbits.

4. Conflict is healthy. But remember, conflict does not equal having a screaming match. You should be able to confidently say your opinion on things, but also be flexible enough to hear other people.

5. Time is your most precious gift. Use it wisely.

6. You have to exercise a few times a week. This has nothing to do with losing weight. Just do it cause it will make you happier and healthier.

7. You have to eat vegetables every single day.

8. Always be impeccable with your word. If you say you’re going to do something you have to follow through.

9. If being perfect stops you from completing projects, stop trying to be perfect.

10. Some days you will need a nap, a cry, or a vent session to reboot.

11. Sometimes you’re going to have to take the risk. There will never be a perfect time or perfect circumstance.

12. Everything that tastes good is basically bad for you. Try to change your palette to think about the way food makes you feel after you’ve eaten it.

13. Write in a journal regularly. Try to reread those journals at least once a year to see how far you’ve come.


14. Being vulnerable is hard, but it’s also a necessity to have good relationships.

15. Never be afraid to love the other person more. (This is the most liberating thing I’ve learned in the past few months.)

16. Cultivating real friendships takes consistent work.

17. You can’t stop working on your friendships because you find a romantic partner.

18. Building a romantic relationship also takes constant work.

19. There’s no time limit on how long you grieve a relationship.

20. Some friends will fade away. And that’s okay.

21. You have to learn to be okay with being single.

22. Your 5 closest friends are a direct reflection of who you are or who you will become.

23. Your family is who you decide it is. It does not have to exclusively be your flesh and blood.

24. Friends can also be soulmates. Related: you don’t have to have sex with your soulmate.

Career and Money

25. Success can have so many different meanings. You get to define what success means to you.

26. Eat the frog every day. Do the one task you’re dreading first so you can get out of the way.

27. No one will advocate for you if you aren’t willing to advocate for yourself.

28. You have to have an emergency savings fund… ideally in a high yield account.

29. No one can actually multitask – they lying.

30. Work hard enough to get the job done well, but not so hard that it directly affects your health or your relationships.

31. Always ask for $5-10,000 more than what they offered.

32. Hold yourself accountable to doing the best possible work given the timeframe. Sometimes you can only give 80% and that’s okay.

33. If you’re sick and you have a job that allows it, stay at home. Don’t bring those germs into the office.

34. Everyone in leadership is making it up as they go. Even with years of experience, they’re just trying to figure things out too.

35. If no one will hire you to do the work that you want to do, you have to make it your side hustle. Sometimes that’s the only way you can actually build experience.

36. And finally, money matters, but it does not make you happy long term. Your relationships will always be more important than your revenue.

Photo by Kaique Rocha from Pexels

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