My Life Advice (so Far): 30 Things I Learned by 30

life advice author samantha eklund

A couple months ago, I turned 30. Yay! I’m one year closer to my goal of living until 100 (some people think I’m cray-cray for wanting that, but I think it’ll be a super cool accomplishment).

So I got to thinking about what I’ve learned in these 30 years, and what wisdom or insight I could share with you. I came up with a list of 30 things, and although they won’t all resonate with you, I’m hoping that a few of them may give you an ah-ha moment, or will at the very least be amusing.

Without further ado, let’s check them out!

#1: God is love.

All he has ever wanted is a relationship with us, and for us to love one another in the way He loves us. <3

#2: Relationships take work.

My hubby and I got married at 18 and just celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary earlier this year. It hasn’t always been a smooth ride, but I’m so, so, so, so grateful that we’ve remained committed to one another through the good and the bad. My husband is my hero.

#3: Everyone around you is a human.

I know this seems obvious, but think about it. All the people you see on a daily basis that you don’t have the time or energy to pay attention to are human beings. They have fears and hopes, just like you. Any assortment of them have families that care about them, jobs that stress them out, things that bring them joy, and plans for the day. It can be really easy to get swept up in our own concerns and not think of everyone else as a being who’s just as complex as us, but they are—and they need your kindness.

#4: Pregnancy deserves waaay more credit than it gets.

Honestly I didn’t get it before I became pregnant. I’d heard you go through all these changes, both mentally and physically, and that it’s a weird time, but I never realized to what extent that happened. With my pregnancy, it felt like someone came into my personality and dumped it completely upside down and then shook it out. Everything I loved totally reversed—the foods I liked, my moods, my ambition (or lack thereof), the shows I wanted to watch, the music I enjoyed… to say I had a crisis of identity is an understatement. Never mind all the crazy physical changes going on, including gaining back the 20lbs I had just worked so hard to lose. On top of all that, I had to keep going to work and doing daily life as if nothing has changed and I was still at 100% mental capacity, when really I was at like 20%. I salute all mothers and pregnant women!

#5: It’s ok to fail.

Really, it is. To most of us, failure means our worst dreams coming true. It’s a scenario where we’re utterly humiliated, dehumanized, ridiculed, and maybe even ostracized. That’s not what failure really means though. Failure simply means you didn’t succeed at something… and that’s more than ok. In fact, it’s bloody brilliant. As we’ve all heard before, Edison failed 1,000 times before making his first successful light bulb. Some accounts even say it was 10,000 times, and that when asked about it he said, “I didn’t fail, I just found 10,000 ways not to make a light bulb.” That’s the attitude we should all have! Sadly, most of us give up when we fail once. Some of us make it to five attempts. Some ten. But a thousand? TEN thousand? If we could each have that kind of tenacity, we’d all reach our goals and dreams!

#6: Never cook bacon naked.

This advice was given to me by my aunt when I told her I was getting married. Although I thought it very strange at the time, I now know that truer words have never been spoken! Those sizzling little pops of grease hurt!

#7: Don’t be afraid to admit you were wrong.

This, unfortunately, is severely lacking in today’s world. The popular approach to being caught in a blunder is to simply double down on the mistake and scream louder than the person pointing it out. Other than this conduct being extremely childish, it doesn’t benefit anyone. People with high emotional intelligence can admit it when they’re wrong. They can even say the exact words, “I was wrong.” They don’t have to sidestep, pander, or fumble for excuses. They can simply deal with the heat and admit their error. If you are someone who can do this, you’re awesome. If it’s not something that’s in your comfort zone, simply take the opportunity to practice it next time it happens (if you’re married, it might happen sooner than you think, LOL).

#8: Love people.

Then love some more. Love is not to be mistaken for tolerance. This goes deeper than merely tolerating someone. Loving them helps you understand where they’re coming from and see life through their eyes. It also helps shine a light on your own life and see areas where you can be kinder to others.

#9: Never, EVER, give up. On anything.

Oftentimes the winners in life are simply the ones who refused to give up. The exception to this is if you sincerely feel like it was the wrong path to begin with and decide to step off of it.

#10: The biblical book of Proverbs is an incredible source of wisdom.

Even if you’re not a Christian, I invite you to give this book a whirl. It’s so good!

#11: The entire world consists of POVs that are different than yours.

Recognize that. Not everyone was raised like you, nor knows the customs and norms of your hometown. Or home state. Or home country. I was raised in a pretty small town and remember when I went off to college, my mind was blown by a class where we studied Japanese culture. That’s what made me realize I wanted to switch my major from BioChem to Religious Studies in order to learn more about people who lived outside of my own experiences. That degree allowed me to study the religions, cultures, languages, and more of the whole world. I absolutely love to understand other peoples’ backgrounds, experiences, viewpoints, and more.

#12: Perfectionism is often an excuse.

People who say they’re perfectionists often use that goal of perfection as a way to stall. If they want their report to be perfect, sure they want a good grade, but they’re also delaying turning it in because that means it’s going to be judged. Entrepreneurs who delay launching their business before everything is perfectly in place (hint: it never will be) are just avoiding the possible outcome of failure. It’s ok! When things don’t turn out exactly as you intended, simply adjust and carry on. One rejection or failure is not going to break you. If you think it will, see #5 of this list again.

#13: It’s ok to relax.

I’m so bad at this; we only have ONE life on this planet and I’m desperate for every minute to count. Thus, I have a hard time relaxing. I’m a gamer at heart and love a good RPG. However, at times I’ve gotten so caught up in my endeavors that I have a hard time setting aside any time to enjoy gaming. I’ve gotten better at this, and hope that if you’re the same way, I can help you see that it’s ok. We need relaxation to recharge, which in turn help us produce our best work. (There’s a whole blog episode coming soon about this, yay!)

#14: It’s ok to laugh at yourself.

Nobody likes a sore loser or someone who turns into a raging mess when they make a mistake. What we all love is someone who’s gracious about their mistakes and blunders. If you embarrass yourself in front of others, the best way to emerge unscathed from it is to simply laugh it off. Friends will appreciate it, and even better, you’ll totally take away anything haters could have said about it. If you’re already having fun with it, they’ve got no ammo.

#15: Learn to see life through other people’s eyes.

This relates to a couple points from above, but goes a little deeper. When I realize I’m writing someone off, I try to see life through their eyes. For example, the bag boy at the store who just put canned tomatoes on top of your bread (maybe he’s not paying attention because he’s a high schooler whose dad’s in jail and just got news that his mom has cancer and earlier this week his girlfriend—the one person he thought he could count on—dumped him). The person on the corner begging for money who doesn’t even look homeless (maybe he is homeless but a super kind and generous soul just gifted him with those brand new Jordans). The rude Scottsdale snob who just cut you off in traffic while she was on the phone (maybe she just got a call that her soul mate just had a heart attack and she’s trying to get to hospital before he dies).

Is every rude, discourteous, or inconsiderate person you encounter going through a crisis? No. But what harm does it do to give them the benefit of the doubt? None. In fact, if they are going through something, your kindness and compassion could end up being the difference in their day that helps them keep going. We have no idea what people are dealing with, so the best policy is always to display love and kindness.

#16: Assume the best of people.

This is similar to the above point, but doesn’t have to go as deep. When someone seems to slight you, take a shortcut, or otherwise offend you, try not to immediately assume they intended you harm. This goes a long way in so many relationships: with your spouse, other family, friends, colleagues, business partners, and people you meet throughout your day. Like #15, the best policy is to give them the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise. It usually turns out to be a misunderstanding that’s easily rectified.

#17: Things will not always turn out as you intended.

This one isn’t so much about failure, but rather life simply happening. The less you’re attached to or deadest on a specific outcome, the happier you’ll be in life. Maybe you envisioned your wedding taking place at the most beautiful golf course in your state, but instead it takes place a smaller and less grand venue. Isn’t marrying your soul mate what truly matters? Don’t let the details bring you down. Maybe you’re an aspiring author and you thought you’d have your book written by now. No worries! Just reset your timeline and keep working on it. I thought I’d have a lot more books written by now, but I don’t. Guess what? I’m cool with that. As long as I’m still actively working on them and am not giving up, I’m happy.

#18: Pets are awesome.

’Nough said on this one. :-)

#19: The best friendships are the ones where you’ve only known the person for two minutes and already know they’ll be in your life forever.

I have a few friends like this, and they are among my favorite friendships. They also happen to be my lowest-maintenance friendships. We go months without talking, but when we do, it’s like no time has passed and we can pick up exactly where we left off.

#20: The love and wisdom of parents is completely undervalued.

As kids, we think we know it all. As teens, that’s amplified by 10,000%. In college, we finally start to learn. By the time we’re well into adulthood, I think we finally start to realize our parents’ wisdom. When we have kids, we truly begin to understand the love they have for us. Unfortunately I think this is something that has to come to us with time, but too bad it can’t come sooner because our parents deserve WAY more credit!

#21: Your past hurts can really blind you in future situations.

If you’ve ever been betrayed, it can be really hard to trust people. Thankfully, not everyone is alike, which means we’re not all like the person who hurt you. Not everyone is going to manipulate you, lie to you, turn away when you need them the most, or use you. Even if you’ve been hurt, try to love with an open heart and see the good in others!

#22: Know what you stand for and why.

No matter what you believe, at some point those beliefs will be tested. Know what you believe in and why as young as possible, otherwise when they get challenged in the real world you might find yourself in a crisis. There’s a big difference in changing your point of view on something merely because you’ve never heard that opinion before VS thoughtfully deciding someone has a valid argument against it.

#23: Loyalty is SO underrated.

Unfortunately I didn’t truly understand loyalty until my husband demonstrated it to me with such unceasing faithfulness that I couldn’t help but fathom it. My life experiences had taught me that at some point everyone will betray you, so may as well always be on the offensive before you get hurt. I certainly didn’t appreciate or practice loyalty. Now though, I fully understand what an indescribably beautiful and profound thing it is to stand by someone, something, or a belief, through thick and thin.

#24: It’s more than ok to ask for help.

This is something I also didn’t understand until my husband helped me learn it. I thought I had to do everything on my own, either because others couldn’t be trusted to do it or because it would make me weak to ask for help. This is sooo not true, and I’m so incredibly grateful to my husband for helping me see this. If you have trouble asking for help, I invite you to take it for a spin and see how much relief and freedom there is in knowing others can and want to help you.

#25: Not everyone loves Christmas as much as I do (LOL).

Wah wah. This was sad to learn, but we’re all allowed to have our own opinions. Thankfully some of the people in my inner circle DO love it as much as me, so yay!

#26: Some people will always be turds… be nice to them anyway.

Being nice doesn’t mean you allow them to disrespect you, nor does it mean being nice to their face and then turning around and talking about them. As you know, I’m a big fan of giving people the benefit of the doubt and trying to imagine what they might be going through. Maybe they were simply raised with different values or don’t have the level of emotional intelligence as you do. Treat them with respect and kindness anyway. Who knows, one day it might help them change.

#27: Everyone is insecure.

Even the people who are rocking and rolling and seem to have everything going for them have their own worries. I think deep down, every single one of us is afraid of being called out for being a fraud or not good enough. Sometimes the people who are the most obnoxious with their supposed “confidence” are the most insecure. Treat everyone—the arrogant, the confident, the annoyingly perfect, the blatantly insecure—as kindly as you want to be treated.

#28: Belief in an absolute truth terrifies people.

If there’s an absolute truth, then there’s absolute right and wrong. Most people bristle at this and dislike it, but I actually think it’s rather soothing. The most brilliant business and coaching minds constantly tell us that you can’t please everyone—yet that’s exactly what our culture tries to do by saying there’s no absolute truth. I don’t aim to offend or upset anyone, but I definitely believe in an absolute truth and am sticking to that one.

#29: Delegating is for champs.

This one is like #24, but takes it a step further (especially if you’re an entrepreneur or have dreams to one day own a business!). Not only is it ok to ask for help, but it’s a common practice for business magnates to outsource or delegate things. Not just some items either; no, many advisors recommend that business owners delegate anything and everything that isn’t the owner’s irreplaceable purpose in the business.

For example, I’m an author. My irreplaceable purpose in my business is to craft stories. Everything else in my business should be outsourced to professionals who can do these others items more efficiently and professionally than I can. Book cover design, copy editing, scheduling events, etc., should be outsourced. Although I’m still working on getting all of these delegated, I’ve certainly gotten the hang of a few of them… and it is glorious! If you’re running a business or working on your dreams, I highly recommend trying it!

#30: Balance doesn’t mean what people think it does.

People tend to think of balance as being a win-win scenario for everything you have going in your life. However, it’s not as pretty as that. When you balance one thing with another, what you’re really doing is missing out on one thing for the other. For example, say you have a full-time job. When you’re at that job, you’re giving up time with your family. When you’re at home with your family, you’re sacrificing all the urgent things that need to be done at work.

If you’re ok with having a full-time job, then you’re ok with missing that much time with your family each day. If you go to your kid’s school soccer game, you might be giving up alone time with your spouse. If you’re working on a business, you might be giving up the little time you have each day to relax and recharge. Balance just means figuring out how much time you’re ok with missing out on with certain things.

In summary:

Obviously life is a whirlwind of knowledge, wisdom, insights, experiences, and lessons learned, so I’m sure I’ve learned more than these 30 things, but they’re a good start! I think I’d summarize them by saying that I’ve learned God is love, we should unceasingly love family and strangers alike, and that sometimes you just have to adapt to the curve-balls life throws at you!

Action item:

Did any of these points resonate with you especially, or give you an ah-ha moment? If so, which ones? Let us us know in the comments below!