Tomorrow, I turn thirty years old. Today, I’m reflecting on the past 946,598,373 seconds I’ve been alive with lessons learned and wisdom attained. A few grey hairs, a lot of gratitude, and plenty of memories…here goes nothing.
- Get started. // There are others that have come before you, and others that will follow in your footsteps. Never compare your beginning to someone else’s middle. Now’s the best time to start.
- Learn how to say “no”. // It’s hard. Really hard. But saying “no” makes room for saying “yes” to what really matters. Allow yourself to be selfish with your time. It’ll keep you focused (and keep you sane).
- Believe in momentum. // I am a huge believer that good things happen when good things are happening. Put yourself in situations that allow you to build positive momentum. Stay busy and keep chipping away. Good leads to good.
- Do something you think is impossible. // Four years ago I couldn’t run a block without hating life. Since then I’ve run 7 full marathons, around a dozen half marathons, and thousands of miles. I never (ever) thought I could run a 5k, 10k, half marathon, and absolutely not a full marathon. It’s pretty amazing what you can do when you just go do it.
- Keep showing up. // Successful people aren’t smarter or better or luckier than you. They show up and they keep showing up. Follow-up and follow-through is the most important asset of any strong leader.
- Don’t be a dick. // It’s easy to be a dick. Go out of your way not to be one. People will like you way more, you’ll find more success, and live a happier life if “nice” is part of your DNA.
- Travel. // Get out and see the world. It doesn’t have to be far. It could be a part of town you’ve never been to only 30 minutes away. Just find ways to get out of your normal space and explore. Home is where the heart is, but our hearts also demand that we discover and wander.
- Work hard. // The value of hard work can’t be understated. Be the first person in the office and the last person to leave. Shoulder the burden of your colleagues when you can. Don’t let work run your life, but when you’re at work, invest your full self into whatever it is you do.
- Go with your gut. // Your instinct rarely steers you wrong. And, even when it does, wouldn’t you rather have owned a decision fully than second-guess how you should’ve/would’ve/could’ve? Go all-in on your gut decisions.
- Make time. // You don’t have time to write. You don’t have time to finish that project. You don’t have time to cook dinner. You don’t have time to get coffee. All of these are lies. You have time if you make time. Just make sure you’re making time for what matters.
- Remember, it’ll all be okay. // Today, you feel like an unstoppable badass. Tomorrow, you’ll second-guess and convince yourself that you don’t have a clue. You are a badass and you don’t have a clue — and that’s okay, the person next to you feels the exact same way. Roll with the punches, ride the invariable roller-coaster of life, and remember that it’ll all be okay.
- Give the world what comes naturally to you. // A few weeks ago I was in Santa Cruz working with a client. She made us breakfast: Avocado toast on garlic brioche’ with cilantro creme fraiche, over-easy egg, and a side of bacon. What was one of those most delicious things I ever ate was an “easy” breakfast for her to “throw together”. The point? Be generous with what comes naturally to you. You have gifts that others don’t, and the world needs you to share them. Also, more avocado toast, please.
- Stop wishing. // I wished I could start a company. I wished I could run a marathon. I wished I could win a Saved by the Bell trivia contest. All of those wishes came true because I stopped wishing and starting doing.
- Surround yourself with good people. // Surrounding yourself with good people makes you better — smarter — and more creative. Together, we’re capable of doing truly incredible things. Grab someone in the office and ask their opinion. Go to happy hours. Pick up the phone more often. Talk to someone, anyone, who will listen to your “crazy” ideas. Only in the company of community will you discover your true self.
- Be generous not out of obligation, but because you can. // There is joy in shouldering the burden you can manage. Be generous with yourself — not because you’re supposed to, but because you can.
- Clear out the clutter. // I’ve gone through many “purges” that involve taking my possessions and giving them to Goodwill. Get rid of what you don’t need and cherish what you have. This applies to mental clutter, and those old jeans that you absolutely cannot fit into (and haven’t since 8th grade).
- Organize your inbox. // This one is more specific, but of the love of God, delete, file, and filter. #inboxzero is a real thing that you can achieve. You haven’t cleared out the clutter (see above) until you’ve cleared out your inbox. You’ll be happier, and you’ll find comfort in knowing that you secretly made Matt Cheuvront happy, too.
- Be selfish with your empire. // There’s a Seth Godin quote that I love: “The problem isn’t that it’s impossible to pick yourself. The problem is that it’s frightening to pick yourself. It’s far easier to put your future into someone else’s hands than it is to slog your way forward, owning the results as you go.” — Be selfish in building an empire that you love.
- Celebrate the really, really little things. // When I order Sake at a bar, I ask for those little “clinky” glasses to go with it. Sometimes places don’t give you those. Can you believe that?! Sake isn’t sake without those little ceramic glasses to cheers with and sip from. Sometimes, it really is the little things. Take them in. Life’s too short not to enjoy Sake from its proper drinking vessel.
- Nerd out. // I’m borderline obsessed with Saved by the Bell. I love 90’s R&B music. I find solace in playing video games and yelling at the TV like I’m 14. Whatever you nerd out, keep doing it. Life is pretty serious. Finding joy in Ginuwine’s “Pony” and that episode of Saved by the Bell where they make the fake IDs is absolutely acceptable.
- Welcome the butterflies. // People are afraid of butterflies. No, not the beautiful things you find fluttering around your garden — the fluttering you feel when you’re scared, afraid, and overwhelmed. Embrace and welcome the butterflies. It’s scary, but the fluttering is there to remind you that you’re doing something right. Much of life is wake up, go to work, do what you’re supposed to. When your heart starts to race and butterflies begin to flutter — these are the moments to cherish. These re the moments you feel most alive.
- Learn. Everyday. // You don’t know it all. And, spoiler alert, you never will. Read books. Read blogs. Write. Listen to music. Surround yourself with people who are (way) smarter than you. Don’t ever shut yourself out to learning more and getting better.
- Let other people speak before you do. // I’m the kind of “Type A” personality that likes to be the first one to jump into a conversation. I’m the guy who’s already thinking about the next question to ask before you’ve answered this one. It’s not easy and it doesn’t come natural for me — and for many of us, but let other people speak first. Practice the art of “active listening”. Don’t focus on being a good talker. Be a good listener.
- Give yourself five minutes. // Think back to yesterday. Was there a moment that you felt frustrated? Tired? Overwhelmed? Stressed? (I can see all of your heads nodding). Give yourself five (5) minutes for a “mindset reset” each day. Usually for me this takes place in my car before I walk into the office. Sometimes paired with music, sometimes in complete silence. Five minutes is all you need to shift your perspective.
- Pick a theme song. // River by Leon Bridges. I Against I by Massive Attack. The Boss by Rick Ross. Careless Whisper by George Michael. All of these I would consider to be “theme songs” — songs that can always get me out of a funk, shift my perspective, or hype me up. Pick your own theme song(s). No one has to know if you choose Nickelback’s Rockstar.
- Write. // It doesn’t have to be good. It just has to be. Write more often. Get your thoughts down on paper. It’s not only a way to process the present, it’s a way to reflect on the past and plan for the future.
- Check yourself. // Before your wreck yourself. Before you say that one thing, before you make that one move, before you take that next step, check yourself. This doesn’t mean second guess. This just means, pause for a moment, make sure what you’re doing is right (and feels right).
- Love. // I love my wife, Lierin. I love my dogs, Cowboy and Kelly. I love my family. I love my company, good coffee, great beer, hikes through the mountains, the ocean, Seinfeld reruns, making playlists, walking through the streets of downtown Chicago while listening to Hans Zimmer’s Inception score, and, apparently, getting really specific with my loves. More love. Less hate. I’ll cheers to that.
- Be dangerous. // One of my favorite quotes ever was written by T.E. Lawrence: “Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.” — Don’t reserve dreams for something that’s done with your head on the pillow, carry out your dreams with open eyes, wide awake, every day.
- Enjoy the ride. // Tomorrow I turn 30. A new decade of life. But that’s something for me to think about then. Today, I’ll just focus on being present in the moment(s) and enjoying the ride.
Have fun. Work hard. See opportunity where others see obstacles. Be irrational, ridiculous, and nonsensical. Keep learning. Keep moving. Win, even when no one gives you a chance.
Cheers. ~ Matt