6 In 26 (Six Things I've Learned in 26 Years)

Last week I turned 26. It’s just now dawning on me that I’m now actually closer to 30 than I am to 20. But that’s ok. I’ve learned a ton in those 26 years and I’m excited to see what the future holds. I could probably write 1,000 words about each of these six things, but for those like me who skim more than they read, I’ll break them down into a few short points. Who doesn’t like a good listicle?

1. Be Grateful
Be thankful what you have and don’t dwell on what you perceive you need. Chances are, if you wrote a list of five things you’re thankful for, you’d probably forget about the few things you think you’re lacking.

2. Make Things Not Excuses
How we spend our time is the best way to see where are priorities lie. It’s easy to say that we don’t have time for things. I did that for a long time. I would wonder why I wasn’t in the physical shape I wanted to be in or why my portfolio wasn’t stronger. Then I would sit on the couch and binge on Breaking Bad for an entire weekend and say “I just don’t have time to get everything done.” The problem wasn’t the amount of time (we all have 24 hours per day) it was that my priorities were screwed up. It wasn’t until I made a commitment to change those priorities that I started to see a real change in my life.

3. Seek Community
I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a community of like minded people. There’s a saying that you are the average of your five closet friends. So, if your friends are all lazy and complain about their jobs and relationships, chances are your going to fall into the same pattern. That why it’s so important to not only find a group of people, but one that shares your same passion and drive. You want to surround yourself with people that will build you up, not tear you down.

4. Keep Learning
You should never reach a point where you aren’t learning something. Whether it’s a new skill or new information, we are designed to learn and grow.

5. Debt Free = Freedom
I was very fortunate to learn this at an early age and have been able to stick with it as I grew older. My wife and have both graduated college with zero student loan debt and the feeling is incredible. It certainly wasn’t easy, but you can’t put a price on the feeling of not being in debt and I really can’t express the freedom it has given us to pursue the life we want. You’re either the master or the slave. You own your life or you owe your life.

6. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
This one may be the biggest one of them all. There are always going to be people who are better, faster, stronger. We tend to look at these people and think if we only had their skills, their body, their life, then we’d truly be happy. But in reality we should only be comparing ourselves to one person, ourselves. If you’re continuing to learn and grow, you’re improving. You’re going to be better than you were last year or even last month. I can look back at the last year and see how I’ve continued to grow as both a designer and person. Use that self comparison to push you and motivate you to continue to improve yourself and your abilities.

There’s so much more I could go into but will leave it at that for now. I plan to dive deeper into these topics in the future, but in the mean time, if you have any thoughts or would like to connect I’m always available on Twitter and Instagram.

Matt Simon