9 Lessons I Never Thought I’d Learn by 26

I was recently inspired by a friend and mentor who writes a blog post every birthday. It inspired me. So here’s what I’m carrying with me into this next year.

  1. Cherish yourself. Cherish the living hell out of yourself. Focusing on your weaknesses and blindspots will grow you like a motherf*****. But it can also leave you washed up on the shore of yourself empty. You are what you focus on. Focus on your failures, and you’ll create more of them. Focus on your gifts — you’ll find out unique ways to give more of them to the world.
  2. Surround yourself with people who champion and challenge you. I’ve had the blessing of being part of a rigorous accountability group for the past two years. These guys see me, love me, and push me. Find people who care enough about you to be honest with you, who inspire you to go for your dreams, and who love you so much that you bloom in their presence.
  3. Take your mask off. I’ve found men’s retreats, deep conversations with friends and lovers, plant medicine, and time spent in raw solitude — time spent plumbing the depths of your beings — to be the highest ROI activities I’ve ever done. Facing the parts of myself that I don’t like is still something I’m still terrified of, and want nothing to do with at times. Yet nothing is more freeing than breaking through the constraints of your own unspeakables. Few things can physically hurt us in modern society — what hurts the most is the damage we do to ourselves when we suppress and hold ourselves back. It takes looking at what you’re trying to protect
  4. Set boundaries that are more ambitious than your goals. Or do both — I routinely block out “untouchable” time on my calendar to not do anything or see anyone. You’ll get to know parts of yourself that don’t get so much light or water. And your relationships — the whole world, really — will be better for it.
  5. Buy a red bicycle. And a great lock. And a helmet. Give it a name. Hit the streets at night. Trust me. Few things will change your life as much.
  6. Commit to a weekly call with someone — anyone. Last fall, my cousin called me out of the blue seeking to get his yoga practice off the ground. No mind that my yoga practice was as dysfunctional as his, we started chatting, and he invited me to check in every week. We’re very different, yet we’ve kept it up. And what’s transpired has been a beautiful friendship — I experienced what felt like first hand as his wife went through pregnancy, and the joys and trials of becoming a father. He supported me through various transitions (aka “let’s just how many quarter life crises you can have in your twenties, shall we?”). Our family also has a weekly call and check in. Things change fast these days. This type of commitment helps you keep a pulse on life’s long-form stories— and help you understand yours better as well.
  7. Buy houseplants. Or buy them for your friends. I did a 10 day silent meditation retreat this winter. Upon return, I could barely walk into my room because of the a jungle of plants I found there. Tears flooded my eyes — my buddies!! My girlfriend at the time bought them as a gift, knowing it would mean the world to me. It’s continued to do so — every time someone enters my room, they comment on the “great vibes.” There’s something playful and serene about plants. Also, caring for and nurturing is a supremely life-giving act. Plants are a great place to start doing that if you’re irresponsible af and 26.
  8. Ask for support. Reaching out brings us closer. And all that’s really at stake is your self-image. Few things have been as humbling as recognizing when I need help, and simply asking for it. I’ve noticed other people started coming to me more when I started doing this — and the circle of life continues.
  9. Don’t wait for other people to ask you the questions that will change your life — ask yourself. Questions to ask yourself: How is this helping me? → shifts me into a trust and abundance mindset, and keeps meet hunting for the lessons I can learn, not the blame I can levy. Who would I be if I didn’t believe the thoughts I’m reacting to right now? → This was a game-changer for me, which I got from Byron Katie. One of the biggest things I struggle with is a scarcity mentality — it’s never enough (I’m never enough). I use this tool to helped me shift easily out of reaction, and into a more open, loving, compassionate state. Use every day. What part of you is your shame trying to protect? Sit with this one in silence for a while. I still am.

Love ya kid,

Kev