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  • Writer's pictureKelly Adams

26 Lessons Learned from 26 Years


Yesterday was my 26th birthday. Instead of writing my usual post focused on things I've learned. I wanted to write a different article. A shorter article with 26 lessons I've learned over the last 26 years. It's based on other posts by Ryan Holiday with his annual posts with lessons learned (like 27, 28, 29) and Avery Smith's post with his 27 lessons he's learned through life.


Please note some of these lessons talk about mental health and physical health. I'm not a doctor, psychiatrist or other mental health professional. All of these lessons are based on my own life and experience. In no particular order here are the 26 lessons:

  1. It's cliché but spend time with the ones you love. I read the article the tail end which said "despite not being at the end of your life, you may very well be nearing the end of your time with some of the most important people in your life". A reminder to spend as much time with those you care about. You never know what's going to happen.

  2. Getting a pet was one of the best decisions I've made for my mental health. My dog has provided three things: companionship, exercise (walking her), and getting outside.

  3. Get enough sleep, the idea of "we will sleep when we're dead" is unhealthy. A lack of sleep once in a while is okay but you should have an average 7-9 hours of good sleep. Getting adequate sleep will make everything else easier.

  4. When people say "I don't have enough time". It's not because they don't have enough time, it's because it's not a priority. This isn't a jab at anyone. But a reality check. We only have 24 hours in a day and other things may take precedent, like taking care of your family or just surviving. That's okay

  5. Walking daily has tremendously improved my mental and physical health.

  6. To achieve my goals I not only I track my data (consistently) and but also review it, I focus on the meta-habits.

  7. Building a relationship with someone starts with listening, it's one of the most powerful skill you can master.

  8. Having a goal of being busy for the sake of busy isn't sustainable. I'm all about productivity and self-development but I also believe in taking time for yourself and taking breaks. As we all know too much of a good thing is bad thing.

  9. Regularly volunteering has taught me skills I can use in my personal life like communication, teamwork and leadership.

  10. Luck plays a vital role in someone's success, it's not always because of variables they can control. Remember the power of luck.

  11. Simple > Complex. More complicated doesn't always mean better. Just because you can complete something in a complex manner doesn't mean it's the best way.

  12. There's value to seeking knowledge for the sake it, not everything you learn needs to be useful, there's a novelty to the human experience

  13. Being physically fit, specifically strength training (e.g. weight training) is the best habit I've developed. It makes everything in my life easier. And it's boosted my confidence.

  14. Using hacks to curb my social media use don't help. Instead I adopted a set of rules for establishing my social media use, it's been the best thing to help me detach from my phone.

  15. Once you've mastered your time, energy and attention you can do almost anything, it's the three pillars you need to master in productivity

  16. Learning how to learn will shorten the time it takes to learn new skills and tremendously increase your ability to learn anything.

  17. Passion is not everything in a career, you can find a career you enjoy without it being an innate passion.

  18. You don't need to become a specialist in order to be successful. Generalists are necessary and can be just as successful or even more so than specialists.

  19. Double check everything, mistakes happen. When in doubt check everything.

  20. It's easy to become isolated and not spend time with friends, work, hobbies and other obligations get in the way. As we get older it seems like we spend less and less time socializing. I try to make it a habit to see a friend or do a volunteering event once a week.

  21. Learn something new every week. it helps your mind grow

  22. Master your habits. Habits are the compound interest of self improvement. As James Clear said in Atomic Habits if you focus on getting 1% better everyday after a year you can be 34x better.

  23. Every evening I tidy up my room and every morning I make my bed. It establish my morning and next day fresh.

  24. There's no room in life for toxic people, if possible, drop them. It will make your life much better

  25. Be like water. Be flexible in your beliefs, if you find something better adapt it. Have an open mind.

  26. Take more naps. Naps make everything better.


These what I learned in "__" years of my life posts are becoming more popular. I wanted to try my hand at it. Do something new and fun. I'm thinking for next year, I will do something similar but with a different spin on it. Like how Ryan Holiday did a 34 Mistakes on the Way to 34 Years. Or something similar. It's a fun way of exploring things I've learned over my life and in the most recent year.


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