Pretty bold statement in that headline, right? Well I think I can back it up.
Yesterday I turned 31.
I look at that number and while it’s a little bit scary, I can’t help feel good about everything I’ve accomplished over the last 7 years since leaving my job and setting out on my own.
As I was reflecting back on the years and thinking about what to write for this post, I came to a pretty humbling realization.
Up to this point in my life, I’ve pretty much gotten everything I’ve wanted in life – or at least the things I’d hoped to have up to this point.
I have an incredible wife, amazing family and friends, a fantastic house right outside downtown Portland, I travel all the time, and have the freedom to do the things that make me happy on a daily basis.
Sure, I still have a long ways to go and I have plenty of other things I want to accomplish – but for the ripe old age of 31, I’m feeling pretty good about where I’m at.
In those 31 years I’ve learned a lot about getting what you want in life – and the reality, I’ve found, is that it isn’t quite as complicated as it might seem.
Sure it takes hard work, but in the end getting what you want in life is pretty straight forward, and in this post I’m going to share with you the 31 things I’ve learned for how to make it happen.
This is one of my longer posts, so grab a cup of coffee or your favorite adult beverage, settle in, and let’s start making some magic happen.
Oh, and if you want to give me a birthday present? Just subscribe to my You Tube channel here. That’s all I want 🙂
Speaking of the vlog, here’s today’s video on the same topic:
1) Know What You Want. I Mean Really Know What You Want.
Do you know what the absolute number one, most important thing you must do to get everything you want in life?
It’s pretty simple.
You have to know what you want. Do you?
I mean do you really know what you want? And not just in a, oh, I want a Ferrari, kind of way.
To truly be able to pursue the goal of having everything you want in life, you need to have an incredibly vivid and detailed vision for what you want in all aspects of your life, including:
- Work and business – What type of work would make you happy and keep you fulfilled for the rest of your life?
- Relationships – What are your goals for a romantic relationship? With your friends and peers? With your family? What does all of that look like?
- Happiness – What activities makes you happy?
- Experiences – What experiences would you like to have on a daily, weekly, monthly, or annual basis that will provide fulfillment and happiness in your life?
- Physical items – Let’s be blunt about it, what kind of cool stuff do you want in your life? Maybe you’re a total minimalist and you just need a tiny house. Maybe you want that mansion in the hills? Know what it is, and more importantly, why you want it.
- Health and fitness – What does your body look like? Why do you want it to look that way? What will it help you to feel?
- Community – Where do you fit in? What kind of communities do you want to be a part of? Are they hobby based? Business focused? Spiritual?
Once you begin to have a clear vision for what you want in each of these categories, then you can truly start thinking about how to achieve everything you want in life.
In the words of cricket umpire Bill Copeland “The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.”
2) Understand You Can Have Anything You Want, But Not Everything You Want. At Least Not Right Away.
Do you want a big house? A fast sports car? To take a 5 star luxury vacation?
All of that is attainable. In fact, with some hard work, every single person reading this can have any of those things.
The problem is, we can’t necessarily have all of those things at the same time.
For instance, right this second if the only thing I cared about in life was owning a Ferrari, I could go out and buy one, and still not feel like I was making a completely irresponsible decision.
The problem is I still love golf, travel, having savings, etc. So, it isn’t the smart decision.
This guy is a great example. His biggest passion in life is cars, and he recently bought a Lamborghini. Is he incredibly wealthy? No, he just made that his priority.
So not only do you have to understand what it is you want, you need to prioritize what you want, and understand where things fall in the hierarchy.
3) Be Willing to Stair Step into Your Biggest Goals
Sticking on what I understand is an extremely materialistic theme of fancy cars, one day I’d love to own an Aston Martin convertible. Even after seeing what this guy has gone through.
Right now, it’s not a top priority – but I’ve always been a car guy and would love to have a fun car to drive.
That Aston Martin is at the top of the stairs.
Right now I drive a 2002 Pathfinder with more than it’s fair share of bumps and bruises from years of parking downtown.
The next step is a newer Lexus is350 F-Sport, which you can find used for around $35k. It’s far less expensive than the Aston, but for the next 5 years it would be an extremely fun (and more practical) car to own.
This also can be directly applied to business.
Everyone tends to want to be at the top step right away, with tons of passive income and a 4 Hour Work Week Lifestyle. The reality is, it’s next to impossible to leap up all of those stairs.
That’s why I’m such an advocate of the process of:
- Build the relevant skills
- Freelance those skills to build income and confidence
- Then begin working on the sexier businesses
So think about your ultimate goal in each of those categories listed in in #1, and then break them down into more manageable steps and just work on the one that is directly in front of you.
A bit more on my thoughts about this process:
4) Don’t Let Society Judge You
I feel like I should mention this before we go too much further. Society loves to judge. I guarantee right now, there are at least a few of you judging me for wanting to buy a fancy car.
Especially in this community of location independence, there’s a huge contingent of people whose main goals involve nothing more than a backpack or a tiny house. Stuff is bad! Consumerism is the devil!
While sure, I don’t think luxury items are necessarily making the world a better place – I also think that if you work hard, and they make you happy, then go for it.
This is about what you want, not what about what society wants you to have.
The opposite is true as well, if you fall into the minimalism camp – that’s great! Just understand everyone will have different goals and dreams – and one is certainly no better than the other.
5) Create Dozens of Small Milestones
One of the biggest reasons I see people give up on getting everything they want is because they’re focused on the end game. They’re focused on the top of the stairs like we talked about earlier.
If your goal is to make $10k of passive income a month and quit your job in the next 6 months – then good luck!
It’s not realistic for most people who are just starting out.
And if that’s your only goal, there’s a good chance you’re going to get frustrated really quickly and give up – because even if you’re making progress, it will be tough for you to feel like you are because you don’t have enough milestones.
So instead of having a few big lofty goals for each area of your life, create dozens of little milestones so that 3 months from now instead of just seeing one big unchecked box, you’re seeing 20 checked ones, and another 20 still to go.
At least then you can visually see you’re making progress, which will keep you going when things get tough.
6) Learn How to be Happy With Less
So now that I’ve stepped down from my high horse talking about how you shouldn’t let society chastise you if you want more – I’m going to drop this on you.
You need to learn to be happy with less.
A few years ago I had nothing more than a daypack full of clothes, a laptop, and a crappy $200/month apartment in Bangkok.
And you know what? I was just as happy then as I am now.
Having more can have the potential to enrich your life, but if you aren’t happy in the first place – new toys or extravagances won’t help you be happy over the long run.
7) Put a Photo of the Thing You Want Most Some Place Where You’ll See it Often
When I was at my day job I had a photo of a beautiful bungalow in Thailand that I learned only cost $30 a night. I made it my desktop background, and was forced to look at it everyday.
Figure out what imagery will help you to take action on a daily basis and make it your desktop, put a photo of it in the bathroom, as the wallpaper on your phone – anywhere you’ll see it regularly.
It will serve as a consistent reminder to do the work.
8) Embrace Uncertainty
Most people are terrified of uncertainty. And the ones that remain terrified of uncertainty will probably live a perfectly ok life – but they won’t have everything they want.
It’s those that move past the fear and overcome the uncertainty that will truly start to thrive.
And a smaller percentage than that will actually embrace uncertainty, treat it as an asset, and truly do something special with their lives.
Think about it this way, when no one knows what’s going to happen in the future – you can make anything you want happen.
This mindset goes a long way.
9) Do Things That Make You Happy Every Day
And I knew that if I were going to be useful to anyone else in my life, whether it be with my own business or a new job, I would need to solve that problem.
These days I golf multiple times a week. I go out to eat and cook good meals. I spend quality time with my wife, friends, and family.
Continuing to do this on a regular basis makes the journey to getting everything you want much more enjoyable. And once you’ve figured this part out, you’ve probably got most of what you want as it is.
10) Don’t Convince Yourself Making a Big Change is More Risky Than it Really Is
Leaving my job and moving to Thailand was terrifying for me – for a lot of reasons. But the hardest part was thinking my life would be over if it didn’t work out. The absolute worst case scenario is that the business didn’t work out, I had to get a job at McDonalds, and I had a hell of an adventure in the process.
Truly think about the worst case scenario if you want to make a major change in your life that will get you closer to something you really want.
I bet it isn’t as bad as you think.
11) Work Smarter, Not Harder
As much as I wish I were, throughout the entirety of my life, I’ve never been the hardest worker. Call it ADD, a short attention span, laziness – whatever you want, I’ve never worked as hard at anything as I know I could have.
But despite that, I’ve still been successful.
Because I work smart.
I prioritize the things that are absolutely the most valuable to the business at the time – even if I feel like that’s spending half the day answering reader emails. You don’t need to put in more hours, you just need to be deliberate with the ones you are putting in.
12) Cultivate Discipline
Playing off that last one, discipline has been 100% my absolute biggest struggle in life. Sports, studying, business – you name it, I’ve lacked the discipline to truly excel.
I’ve dubbed 2016 the year of discipline and I’ve been struggling to cultivate it in every aspect of my life. Yet when I see moments of success, I see how much is truly possible simply by being disciplined.
This will make up for just about every other inefficiency in your quest to get everything you want in life.
Make it a priority.
13) Create a Morning Routine
One of the best ways to get started with this is to create your morning routine. What are the non-negotiable things you must do every morning to get your day started on the right path? Nailing these will allow you to work smarter, cultivate discipline and foster happiness.
Here are some ideas for things you can inject into your morning routine to improve it, and if you want to read a whole book on the topic I’d suggest The Miracle Morning.
14) Write More
These next few are all based around a common theme…
I’ve learned that my success is almost completely correlated to how much writing I’m doing.
Think about it, the vast majority of what we consume online is written content – or it at least has a written element.
Blog posts, sales pages, premium info products, emails, video scripts, etc.
When I stop creating and stop writing is when I find myself stagnating.
The more I write the more success I have. Even if you’re in a business or job where writing isn’t necessarily one of your primary tasks – do it anyway. Developing that skills is crucial.
15) Study Copywriting
Copywriting is the art of being persuasive with your writing. If you can accurately convey your thoughts, ideas, and reasoning with your words you’ll be able to get all you want out of life.
Studying copywriting is the best way I know how to achieve these skills. If you’re to become a good copywriter, you’ll have to learn how to think clearly, logically, and persuasively – and that will translate to personal interactions as well.
- Copyhour – The best copywriting course on the planet as far as I’m concerned, and one of the primary tools I used to increase my own skills. And the dude behind it is pretty cool too.
- Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion – While Cialdini’s book isn’t a copywriting book per say, it will help you to understand the psychology behind it all, and help you to not only become better at persuading people to see your point of view, but more importantly it will help you to understand both when and how you’re being persuaded.
16) Start a Blog
Aside from marrying my wife, starting a blog is the best decision I’ve ever made. The door it has opened up and the path it has led me down is truly something I never could have imagined just a few years back.
A few years after creating this site, I created Breaking Eighty to see if building a blog around my love of golf might have the same effect.
I’ve now traveled all over the country and the world playing golf courses that I never in a million years would have had access to had I not started the site. It’s bringing in a nice income, allowing me to meet tons of likeminded people every month, and has built my authority within the industry.
- 56 Reasons to Start a Blog – I wrote this years ago, but pretty much everything still holds true…and then some.
- Improve Your Life in Just One Simple Step – The accompanying blog post to the above video.
17) Experiment Often
If I were to go back and give my younger self one piece of advice from what I’ve learned starting this business, it would be to experiment as much as possible.
For most of my business life, I haven’t been very good at this.
I’ve just stayed the path, slowly grown the site, and let things happen.
However, during the few times where I’ve really embraced testing and experimentation some incredible things have happened.
- I experimented with a webinar and made $10,000 from a single 90 minute call.
- I installed a “welcome mat” on this page and doubled my email signups over night.
- I did a guest post with a new strategy that led to nearly 2k new email signups in 48 hours.
Experiment with marketing, with businesses, with routines, with everything.
The faster you figure out what works and what doesn’t, the sooner you’ll be able to reach your goal of having everything you want in life.
18) Play the Money Game
On day 1 you get $100. You aren’t allowed to invest the money, save the money, or give it to charity. You have to spend it.
What would you buy with it? Write everything down.
The next day you get $1,000. You can’t buy anything you’ve bought previously. What things would you buy? Write them down.
The next day you get $10,000. Then $100,000. Then $1,000,000.
What you’ll find is sooner than you think, you’ll have a tough time spending all the money. And this helps to keep things in perspective about what you really need and what you really want in life.
19) Find an Accountability Partner
After we got back from our life changing trip to Brazil for Carnival, my friend Ryan and I each took different paths.
He quit his job 3 weeks later and moved to Hawaii. I stayed in my day job and struggled to find a way out.
Every day I talked to him on my lunch break, and everyday he was stoked with life and I was miserable.
It was those conversations that kept me accountable for making decisions that would lead to the life I really wanted.
Find someone who has similar goals to you. It can be a close friend, family member, or even someone you meet online (I know of a great community, wink wink).
Having that person to help you stay accountable for what you really want is so beneficial, and I see few people succeed with out some version of this.
20) Surround Yourself with People Who Want the Same Things as You
To that same point, make sure the people you spend the most time with have similar goals and mindsets as you.
Most of my friends in real life (Ryan being the exception) didn’t have huge desires to travel or start their own business.
So that’s one of the reasons I created Location 180 – to connect with people who did have similar goals as me. That’s why I hosted meet-ups in Portland, and traveled to meet people once I left my job.
It’s why I used to commute 90 minutes to a co-working space in Bangkok. I wanted to be around that desire, energy, and drive to make things happen.
Honestly look at where you’re at and who you spend most of your time with, and ask yourself if those people are helping you get closer to what you want – or driving you away from it.
21) Don’t Try and Do Everything All at Once
So often I’ll get an email from a reader who is really gung ho about getting going, and they’ll tell me something like:
“I’m starting 10 niche sites, a personal blog, a You Tube channel, a freelance business, aaaaaand a membership site.”
Now, all of those things are great but it’s much better to make 100% progress on one thing than 10% progress on 10 different things.
You can continue to work on different goals or things you want in time, but as you’re getting going, focus on the one thing that is most pressing or will add the most value to your life.
Otherwise it’s way to easy to spread your attention and focus, get distracted, not see the results you want, and give up altogether.
22) Help Other People Get What they Want
The only, and I mean only reason I’m able to live the lifestyle I have is because its centered around helping other people get what they want in life.
This blog, Location Rebel – the whole reason they still exist is because they’re helping others. Sure it started out as a personal thing, and I’ll still talk about some of my personal experiences – but the reason after nearly 7 years they are still growing is because they have helped thousands of people get what they want.
23) Don’t Neglect Your Body
The more success you have in life and the more money you make, the harder it becomes to take care of yourself.
Let’s be blunt: I like the finer things in life. Good food, good drink, and good times with friends.
6 years ago I was buying “sale meat” at the grocery store and looking up recipes on some site called “5 dollar dinners.”
Now I pretty much go out whenever I want.
But when you do that, and you don’t also up your time in the gym and healthy eating during meals where you aren’t going out – your body will start to hate you for it…and it will show.
I told my fitness coach Mike awhile back, that the reason I want to get in better shape and create more healthy habits is because I know with 100% certainty, that mastering that part of my life is the very best thing I can do to grow my business.
That discipline and well being will directly translate into business success and getting the things I want in life.
Not much more to it than that. It’s been said that you are the sum of all of the books you’ve read, and I believe there’s a lot of truth in that.
However, I think it’s more than just books. These days the world is changing quickly, and a book takes a long time to write and publish.
While it’s great for things like personal development or general education, it’s often blogs or information products that can have the most timely and directly relevant information to your goals.
So think about what you’re needing to learn and seek out that information, in whatever medium it comes in.
25) Don’t Take Anything Personally
This is much easier said than done. But if you can train yourself to not take anything personally, you’ll be way ahead of the game.
Develop a thick skin, and understand that whatever someone may say about you or do to you is out of your control. You have no idea what’s going on in their life, and if you want to get everything you want in your life, you don’t have the time or energy to waste on things like that.
26) Get to Know as Many People as Possible
People are who make things happen in your life.
Sure to get everything you want, you have to put in the work, but really there’s only so much you, yourself can do.
The more people you know, the more doors open up for you – especially people in whatever industry you work in.
So if you blog? Go to conferences and meet other bloggers.
If you’re a writer? Go to writing workshops and meet-ups.
If you’re in tech? Go to events like CES.
If you’re in golf? Go to the PGA show.
And on a much more fundamental level, find the people you want to meet in your city and reach out to them.
While you’re the one who has to walk through them, generally it’s other people who are the ones opening doors for you.
27) Live Like Your Future Self
No, I don’t mean go blow a bunch of money on the assumption you’re future self will be a baller.
But if in 10 years you see yourself owning a million dollar business, going to the gym at 6am every morning, and traveling a lot – start doing that now.
So much of success is believing in yourself and having confidence. If you start doing the things now that you think you can only do in the future, you’ll trick your brain into thinking you already are that more successful, future version of yourself.
28) Be Flexible
This goes for everything in life. If someone has to reschedule a meeting that screws up your schedule – just roll with it.
If in 2 years you realize all of the goals you’ve set for yourself today don’t really apply anymore, re-evaluate.
Being flexible in the short term will make you a better person to be around.
Being flexible over the long term is essential, because you have no idea what you’re future self will be like – so you have to be willing to adapt and change as you adapt and change.
29) Once a Month, Treat Yourself
One of the absolute best ways I’ve pushed myself forward in life is by constantly giving myself little hits of the things I want over the long term – once you have a taste, you want more and more.
Quite literally, I might go out and get a really nice scotch, savor every second of it, and recognize that if I want that on a regular basis – I better get to work.
We took a trip to the Maldives which was absolutely incredible. While I was there I shot a video (that I never intended to make public) to remind myself that this is what I wanted in the future. Fast forward to around 5:45 to see it.
So splurge every so often and give yourself a taste of those things you want, as they will motivate you to work that much harder to get them.
30) Stay One Step Ahead, Rather Than One Step Behind
Most people spend their lives trying to emulate things someone else is always doing.
Then there are a handful of people who are innovating, changing, educating themselves, and doing things before the masses.
You want to be the latter.
You want to be an innovator, and be on the forefront of trends and ideas. The ones who usually end up getting everything they want, are the ones who push themselves and their abilities a little bit farther than the average person.
31) Start Today
You can’t get what you want if you don’t start working for it.
There’s no better day than today to start doing that.
So get after it.
A big reason I’ve decided to pursue this daily vlog is to force myself to be more disciplined about doing the work and managing my time. It’s terrifying, but I figured I’d better just start.
We’ll see where it goes.