36 Lessons on 36 Years

So this month I turned 36 years old and got a bit closer to my retirement goals.  For some reason this particular birthday got me thinking about what I’ve learned so far in life.  So I wrote down what I’ve learned on life, money, happiness and other useful bits.  Enjoy.

  1. Spend less than you earn.
  2. Save the rest, but learn to invest.
  3. Investing with index funds can be easy.
  4. A GIC is not investing, it is parking lot for money while you make a decision.
  5. When in doubt, start saving, you can figure out the rest while you go.
  6. Your retirement is like a bill due in 10, 20, or whatever years.  Start paying.
  7. Your % of after tax savings is more important than your rate of return on your investments.
  8. You can spend far less than you think and still be happy.
  9. Keep your regular monthly expenses low and spend money instead on one off items.
  10. Savings shouldn’t stop you from having a life, it should help you have one.
  11. Paying off debt isn’t always the obvious logical investment, but it does have a huge pay off in the sleep at night department.
  12. A bit of cash and a line of credit can be an emergency fund.  Screw six months of salary.
  13. Read lots of books.  The more ideas you come across the more you learn.
  14. Most of your happiness exists only in your head.
  15. You can’t control the external stuff, just your reaction to it.
  16. Don’t worry what others think, be yourself and you will be happier.
  17. Stuff never makes people really happy, try people instead.
  18. You likely own more than you should, toss the just in case stuff.
  19. Accept the world in front of you, wishing won’t change it.
  20. Wishing won’t change things, but actions can.
  21. Even if you don’t think you can do it, try.
  22. Even when you fail, you still learn something.
  23. Live in the now when you can.  Embrace the moment.
  24. Remember to tell others you love them.
  25. More importantly, show them you love them.
  26. If it is worth doing, it likely isn’t easy.
  27. You will overestimate what you can do in a year.
  28. You will grossly underestimate on what you can do in five years.
  29. You need 10,000 hour of practice to be great at something.  So start now.
  30. Most people are good or try to be.  Remember that.
  31. The secret to writing is to do it daily.
  32. First drafts are always crap.
  33. You always need to like one part of your job, if not find a new job.
  34. Know your limits.
  35. Occasionally push past your limits anyway.
  36. Life really doesn’t have any meaning.  Zero, nothing.  Except for what you choose it to be. I chose to focus on learning and love.

10 thoughts on “36 Lessons on 36 Years”

  1. Happy birthday, Tim! Great list. I like numbers 5, 6, and 7. Get into the habit of saving and you can figure out the rest as you go.

  2. Tim,
    Happy Birthday! This is an amazing post that I am forwarding to our 24 year old son. Wise, brilliant, lessons learned, thank you for posting your thoughts.
    I am selfishly employed Emergency Room Nurse in Southwest Ontario. Your blog and book are great. Please keep up the excellent writing! I did retire at 45, last year, and am financially independent, married to an Engineer who like me, works by choice. We we’re blessed with frugal parents and friends that have shared their life lessons on success with us. I work sparingly by choice living a life rich in many way. I love what I do in nursing and it never feels like work. Keep exploring your options for life and work and when you do what you love, they money will follow.

  3. Happy Birthday!
    #7 – true on the savings rate vs. the investment returns in the early stages. I’m finding it to be the reverse in the latter stage as I see my income from investing occasionally surpass my working income (never thought I’d see that day).
    #29 – deliberate practice I would say of pushing past boundaries. Too many people just practice the same thing for thousands of hours and wonder why they don’t improve or get anywhere.
    Good list!

  4. Happy Birthday! Great post. Wise words…I’m conquering #33 using # 20 at the moment. And #13 is super important, I’m a fiend for books, you must never stop learning in life.

  5. @Mike – I agree most list post are very routine…which is why I tend to avoid writing them most of the time.

    Thanks for all the birthday wishes. I’m glad you are all enjoying the list.


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