Motivation Monday – Stuff to Do In Your 30s, Merrell Preview, and Monday Mixtape

Danny Chris1

I can’t believe how exhausting this weekend was – or how fast it went by! Everything went better than we could have expected – and the cold weather and snow even pushed off a day so the kids had mid-40s and sun for the prom pictures! The image at top is both boys at the hair salon – each got a pretty radical cut, and I just love this picture! This week promises to be every bit as much of a blur as last week, so it will be interesting to see how that impacts my blogging schedule!

This past week I was reading ’10 Life Lessons to Excel in Your 30s’, which is a result of a survey conducted by the author was just turning 30 who asked his subscribers aged 37 and older to give advice to their 30-year-old selves. The results – well, to me anyway – are not particularly surprising – ‘save more money now’ is the mantra no matter where you look.

In my estimation you would largely get the same answers if you asked 50 year olds to advise their 40-year old selves, and so on. But that doesn’t make things any less true or interesting. Here are five pieces of advice, with my thoughts:

2. Start Taking Care of Your Health Now, Not Later

“Your mind’s acceptance of age is 10 to 15 years behind your body’s aging. Your health will go faster than you think but it will be very hard to notice, not the least because you don’t want it to happen.” (Tom, 55)

While it is true that it is never too late to get in shape, eat right, start exercising and so on – the longer you wait the more of an impact it will have on your day to day life. There are people in my life who never did that – and you can see the difference between them and their healthier siblings who struggled with the same risk factors but came through their 30s in much better shape.

By making choices to take care of yourself, you are investing in your own future – saving money is great, but if you are unable to enjoy it there is little point. None of us can guarantee our future, but why not set ourselves up for the best possible chance of being able to do the things you want when you finally have the time to do them?

3. Don’t Spend Time with People Who Don’t Treat You Well

OK, I have written about this more than once at this point, but it is such an important point I will continue to drum away.

As Sartre said, ‘hell is … other people’. At the same time, I also think heaven is other people – and one of the key things in life is discovering the difference.

One thing worth noting in the comments for my ‘healthy boundary’ post? That older commenters (sorry!) had great confidence in their ability to do this. In your 30s you are in between the point when you are still attached to your parents and siblings from your childhood roots, and then when you seek to appreciate whatever time is left as parents and relatives age and die. So your 30s and 40s are the time to make the most of these relationships – or eliminate them if they are toxic.

4. Be Good to the People You Care About

This is the flip-side of the last one – surround yourself with people who are good to you and build up your strengths. That isn’t to say you should be surrounded by ‘yes men’ – something I see too often in the blogging world where 99% of comments are affirmations rather than critical questions.

Too often I see people become fixated on the one person who doesn’t like them rather than the 9 who do. This is the time to realize that those other 9 people also have other friends, are developing their own lives and interests, and that when you realize you have been wasting your time chasing the one who doesn’t like you … the other 9 are gone.

Realize that friendship is a two way street, that all relationships ebb and flow, and that no matter what you might think, many of the friends from your 20s won’t be there in your 40s … so just enjoy all of your friends and celebrate life.

5. You can’t have everything; Focus On Doing a Few Things Really Well

“Everything in life is a trade-off. You give up one thing to get another and you can’t have it all. Accept that.” (Eldri, 60)

I love this quote. And while it might sound cynical, I eye-roll when I see those ‘you can be anything’ motivational posters.

Sorry to burst your bubble with a truth bomb … but you really do need to make some choices, and once you do it becomes harder – but not impossible – to un-make the choices. It is like the fork in the road – sometimes there are ways to cross between forks, but often you have to go all the way back and then start down the other path.

Oh – and by its very nature you cannot simultaneously be on BOTH forks simultaneously.

But rather than get stressed or down, instead use this time to focus on your passion and skill-set and make the most of things. If you are in a very specialized area it will take more effort. But I have friends who have gone from engineering to health and fitness instructors, real estate, and so on.

7. You Must Continue to Grow and Develop Yourself

When most people are coming to the end of undergraduate school, a division happens – some go on to graduate school, others head for jobs. Those heading to jobs are often ‘done’ with school and are not looking for more classes. By the time they are ready to start seeking more training they might be married, maybe own a house, some pets and possibly kids on the way … it gets hard to find the time and focus.

The same is true with exercise and healthy eating – jobs, family, limited time … all of these end up making it increasingly difficult for you to focus on maintaining and improving yourself. There is always the thought – when I have more time.

Guess what? It doesn’t happen. You will always have things in the way, but need to make continuous education and focus on health a priority or it just won’t happen.

10. Be kind to yourself, respect yourself

Here is the thing – if you don’t look out for yourself, no one else really will. It isn’t that others won’t do nice things for you, but ultimately you need to make sure that not only your needs are met, but that you ensure that you connect with yourself at a very deep level.

For me, running and music and technology provide that connection, and my family makes sure I have the space to explore those things.

So What is the Motivation?

The great thing about this article is that it is both an inspiration and a ‘warning shot’. It is too easy to lose track of time and priorities, especially in your 20s when you feel invincible and immortal.

By the time you are in your 40s chances are you know more than a couple of people who have died of ‘old people diseases’.

The challenge is to look into the future and see the person you want to be 10 or 20 years from now, and start being that person NOW.

I didn’t realize that was exactly what I was doing in my 20s … but it was. I lost more than 175lbs, focused on positive relationships, sought education to broaden my technical focus to include statistics as well we engineering and optical physics, and chose a path that would mean less money but more time with family and closer connection to things I enjoyed working on.

And as I have entered my ‘second running chapter’, I can see the results from that – I look and feel younger than I have in years.

Merrell AllOut Rush Preview

I have been checking out the Merrell AllOut Rush, which are 6mm drop trail running shoes with 5mm lugs that protect you without picking up rocks. This shoe is intended as a protective, dedicated trail running shoe with a very solid feeling rock plate. I recorded a quick preview after taking a 15 mile run in them, and will do a full review when I get more time on the trails. For more info head to Merrell:

Monday MixTape!

This past week as I was changing up my iPod contents I came across a recording I had bought on an Amazon sale last year but really hadn’t listened to – ‘Liquid Spirit’ by Gregory Porter. This is a highly acclaimed recording that won the Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album this year, and upon giving it a solid listen, I can see it deserves all of the accolades. I am a huge jazz fan, but not so much into vocal jazz. But I wanted to highlight a few great jazz vocalists whose stuff I love:

1. Gregory Porter – Liquid Spirit – this is a fantastic recording that mixes soul and jazz and funk and standards. The silky smooth vocals nuance through the lyrics and offer a compelling listen.

2. Esperanza Spalding – Black Gold – the wunderkind who beat Justin Bieber for best new artist took a more commercial turn with her most recent recording, and although I preferred her previous album, solid offerings like Black Gold show off the depth and breadth of her skills.

3. Billie Holiday – Strange Fruit – You really can’t get through the history of female vocalists without Billie Holiday. I chose this one because it is very late in her life, as years of drugs and alcohol and ‘hard living’ have taken their toll but she remains an incredibly gifted interpreter of song.

4. Joni Mitchell – The Dry Cleaner from Des Moines – While Joni isn’t really a jazz singer, her work with jazz composer/bassist Charles Mingus at the end of his life in the mid-70s remains some of her greatest work. She had alreday been exploring innovative harmonic spaces and intervallic leaps, and bringing together a group of young jazz talents produced an incredible set of recordings.

5. Ella Fitzgerald – One note Samba – there are few vocalists who possess the skills of Ella, and this recording of her working her instrument is just incredible to behold. Even much later in her life when I saw her live she was just amazing.

6. Johnny Hartman and John Coltrane – Lush Life – I have had this CD for ages, and it is one of those things like ‘Kind of Blue’ or ‘Time Out’ you can put on and everyone will love it, it can sit in the background or hold up to intensive study. The contrast of Hartman and Coltrane shouldn’t work … but instead it is stunning.

What advice would you give to your younger self? Or, if you are 37 or older, what advice would you give 30-year old you? Also, what is spinning on your iPod today>