By Matt Hearnden
1) Shut up and listen.
Do you ever find yourself arguing or debating or even just talking about something you know nothing about? Yeah. Me too. Am I that precious about being right? About winning? Would it be better to spew about things I have no idea about, or just listen and learn? What would happen if I started remembering that everybody I meet will know something I don’t?
2) Enjoy it when good things happen and take a moment to flood into the moment.
Do you ever get what you want and completely ignore it and move onto the next thing? I do. Even when I self-published 42 I took almost no time to enjoy it. I put so much of myself into writing it and almost nothing of me into celebrating it. I remember when my school football team won The Maynard Cup. I’d wanted to win it for years. Ever since my hero won it. And we did it. I remember screaming and shouting and diving into the mud where our goal was. I remember it because nothing else mattered but the moment.
3) You don’t owe anybody anything.
Not your parents. Not your friends. Not even ME! If you do think you owe someone something, what will it take for you to realise that you’re the only one who has to deal with the results of your choices? What would you say to a person who thought they owed something to you?
4) Don’t give advice unless it’s sought out.
Is this ironic? My advice is who I am, not who you are. Someone else’s life is not your responsibility.
5) Stop pretending that you aren’t important.
You are just as important as anybody else. If you don’t believe that, what’s stopping you? Do you feel that other people are more deserving of things than you? How’s that working out for you?
6) Read books about things you love, and are fascinated by, and want to learn more about.
I don’t enjoy trying to read about things I don’t care about. It’s frustrating and boring. I’d rather read Harry Potter again. Which I did recently. I wrote a post about it. What could you read 100 books about without getting bored?
7) The more you learn, the less you know.
If you value being smart over being curious then this paradox is going to hurt. The more I learn about writing, the more I know there is to learn about writing. So, ultimately, I know less. I suppose this paradox could be evidence that we are indeed limitless.
8) Pursue mastery.
Pursuing mastery of writing might be the most challenging thing I’ve done. For example, is it mastery OF writing or mastery IN writing? BUT. Pursuing mastery is worth it. I’ve learned how to commit to something, how to be patient, how I’m more than my thoughts and feelings. And, pursuing mastery of… or in… writing has helped me become more of a master of myself. That’s the most worthwhile mastery there is.
9) Move forward every day.
Not every other day, not every weekday, not every day that you feel like it. Every day. Don’t you just feel better when you move forward? Of course you do. Even though the easiest thing is to do nothing. But, then, when I do nothing, I feel bad. And feeling bad isn’t easy.
10) Write down everything that’s important to you.
Do this. Write it all down. Even the things you didn’t expect to be writing down. Even the things you maybe don’t want to write down. Do this and then put it in order. Circle the 1 or 2 or 3 most important things to you. Please do this because you’ll know who you are and you’ll know why you’re not happy. What will your excuse be for not doing this?
11) Talk to her.
Every time I’ve talked to her, every time I’ve chosen to do what I want to do despite being scared, I’ve felt happy. Even when I’ve been rejected I’ve felt happy because it’s not been about her. It’s been about me. It’s about me knowing that my fear is trying to protect me but, in reality, there’s nothing to be protected from.
12) You’re entitled to nothing.
I have no right to get paid to do what I love. It’s taken me so long to realise that but I’m glad I have. It’s not like I was necessarily thinking “I deserve to get paid to do what I love.” It was more that I was jealous of people who had the kind of success I wanted because I didn’t have it and I wanted it and why couldn’t I have it NOW. See? Entitled. What I can do is I can EARN the PRIVELEGE of getting paid to do what I love.
13) Working hard is a habit and choices become habits.
When I was but a young boy one of my football coaches said I never gave up until the final whistle, even when everybody else had. I remember that match and yes, we were losing, yes, it looked hopeless… but I decided that was no excuse to stop trying. I chose to keep trying. Did we end up winning? No. But I ended up being proud of myself. I wonder what would happen if I remembered that more often.
14) You don’t have to listen to fear.
How do you feel when you obey your fear? When the only reason you don’t do something is because you’re scared to do it? How do you feel when you obey yourself? When you know you’re scared but you do the thing anyway because doing it is more important than being scared of it?
15) You’re allowed to do what you want to do.
Seems obvious, right? Well… how often do you do exactly what you want to do? How many times do you talk yourself out of it? What’s that thing you want to do that you don’t think you’re allowed to do because it’s “stupid,” or “it won’t work,” or “people won’t approve?” What would happen if you did it?
16) Stop doing things that your parents, or your friends, or random people you don’t know, want you to do.
Or, keep doing it. But please blame yourself when you don’t get what you want.
I love to sleep. Sleep is good for my health. I probably shouldn’t even give any more of an explanation of that. But I will. Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, and Bill Clinton, are two of the most successful people of all time. Jimmy Wales said sleep deprivation makes you stupid. Bill Clinton said that every big mistake he’s ever made is due to a lack of sleep.
18) Your health is too important not to be important.
This one’s a reminder for me. What’s my excuse for not sleeping 8 hours a night? What’s my excuse for not eating healthy food? What’s my excuse for not drinking lots of water? If I’m not prioritizing my health then what am I prioritizing?
19) It’s scientific fact that there is not, and never has been, and never will be, another you.
Stop ignoring facts. Indulge your uniqueness.
20) Be kind to people.
What happens when someone is unexpectedly kind to you? What’s your excuse for not being kind to everybody you meet? Selfishly, being kind to people makes me feel good. So if you don’t do it for them then do it for you. Maybe that’s not real kindness. I don’t know. Also, when I say “people,” you’re included in that. You can be kind to yourself. Can’t you?
21) Be the you that you’re most proud of.
When I’m the me that I’m most proud is when I feel good. It’s when I do my best work. It’s when I’m happy to be vulnerable. It’s when I’m kind. It’s when I listen. BUT. How do you be the you that you’re most proud of? You give up. You give up judging yourself. You give up thinking that you’re not allowed. You give up thinking that you deserve any less than being the you that you’re most proud of.
22) When you think “I can’t keep going,” keep going.
When you think “I can’t keep going,” you’re only right if you don’t. When I think “I don’t want to do any more work,” that’s when having a choice matters. It matters because it would be easy to give in and do nothing. It matters because when I’m motivated and inspired and determined then it’s easy to make the right choice. It matters because I want to be someone who keeps going when I could easily stop, who keeps going when everybody else stops, and there’s only one way to do that. That’s why there’s 22 points on this list.