46 Reflections on a Life a Half Over

Srinivas Rao
26 min readApr 11, 2024


Ten years ago, I was going through a rough patch in my life. One day, I met an old man at a coffee shop. Whenever someone asked him how he was doing, he’d always say, “It’s the best day of my life.”

You might think he had won the lottery, sold a business, his child got married, or hit some big life goal. But it was none of these things.

When I asked him why he said it was the best day of his life, he told me, “At some point, I realized I had fewer days left than I’ve lived. So, every new day is the best day of my life.”

When you turn 46, you can’t help but think about how more than half of your life is possibly over. It makes you think about how your life didn’t turn out the way you imagined, for better and worse, what mattered before and doesn’t now, and how to make the most of the time you have left.

Every year on my birthday, I like to think about what I’ve learned. If you’ve been reading these for the last 10 years, sorry if I’m repeating myself. More than anything, I write these as reminders for myself.

Curiosity and Growth

1. Everybody Has Something to Teach You

It’s easy to forget this when you’re engrossed in your phone, viewing the world around you — baristas, grocery clerks, flight attendants, bartenders — not as individuals but as mere hurdles to your ultra-customized latte, the complexity of which could even confuse an AI model. If you’re that person, the lesson you’re likely imparting on the rest of us is patience. Though, you could probably save us all some time and make your fancy latte at home. After all, it’s a coffee, not a custom-built Mercedes.

2. Aging Shouldn’t Make Us Lose Our Sense of Wonder

In the past year and a half, observing my nephew has been a revelation. His daily routine of exploring the world, waking up with a smile, finding joy in ordinary things, and his curiosity-driven fascination for bananas, onions, turtles, and whales is incredibly endearing.

His excitement on spotting every airplane in the sky and his habit of collecting all the remote controls at my parents’ house to place in his nursery, makes me think we are learning so much more from him than he is learning from us.

Unlike adults who kind of go through the world, oblivious to most of what’s happening around them, he notices, observes, and finds extraordinary joy in ordinary movements. We could all use a bit more of that in our lives.

3. Curiosity is a Good Filter for a Lot of Choices in Life

Curiosity is the spark that ignites the flames of passion. When you’re naturally curious about something, it won’t feel like work and you’re more likely to find it engaging. As Tina Seelig once told me, “passion follows engagement.” If you follow your curiosity regardless of where it leads, you might just discover your passion in the process.

Resilience and Determination

4. Take the Biggest Risks When You Have the Least to Lose.

Your capacity for risks decreases in proportion to your responsibilities. When you are young, you don’t necessarily have a family, mortgage, etc. You can take bigger risks because you don’t have much to lose. But with age and time, you take on more responsibility. If you have kids, you’re responsible for their well-being and yours.

When you don’t have much to lose, the costs of failure are lower. You’re also under a lot less pressure when taking a risk doesn’t determine whether you’ll be able to put food on the table or have a roof over your head. Take the biggest risks when you have the least to lose because it’s a luxury you won’t always have.

5. Regret is Inevitable.

Living without regrets makes for a nice bumper sticker, but it’s an unrealistic way to go through life. Regret allows us to learn from the past and make better decisions in the future. I’ve said and done plenty of things I regret, some of which cost me relationships with people who I thought would be friends for life. Without a bit of regret, we’d all be a bunch of emotionally illiterate psychopaths.

6. Words Carry Weight

When you’re growing up you hear the phrase “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” But we’ve all been hurt by someone’s words and hurt other people with ours. Words can do irreversible damage or destroy a career in 140 characters. So choose your words carefully, as they have the potential to inspire or hurt others deeply.

7. Resist the Temptation to Quit

At the end of 2014, things were going so bad I was tempted to shut down the Unmistakable Creative and quit. I told my parents to give me a year. If things didn’t turn around, I’d start looking for a job. I kept writing every day. About a month later, an editor at Penguin contacted me about writing a book.

In every journey worth taking, goal worth pursuing, and dream that matters, there are moments when you’ve lost hope, there seems to be no end in sight, and you are tempted to quit.

On the one hand, if you quit, all the suffering and pain end. On the other, you might spend the rest of your life wondering what if, another kind of suffering. There’s no right choice here. But sometimes, if you can resist the temptation to quit, you might just get everything you’ve ever wanted.

8. Knowing When to Walk Away Prevents Unnecessary Suffering

Sometimes quitting is the best decision you can make because you’ve reached a point of diminishing returns — a point when the same effort and energy lead to worse results. So why don’t we quit?

In her book Quit: The Power of Knowing When to Walk Away, Annie Duke says, “When your identity is what you do, then what you do becomes hard to abandon, because it means quitting who you are.”

Knowing when to walk away from relationships, careers, and creative endeavors that are going nowhere prevents unnecessary suffering.

9. The Grass on the Other Side of the Fence Only Looks Greener from a Distance

When we envy other people, we often focus on the aspects of their lives that we want, while conveniently ignoring the parts that we don’t. The grass always seems greener on the other side of the fence until you’re standing in someone else’s yard. If you were to trade places with them, you’d get the good parts of their life, but it might cost you the best parts of yours.

10. Consider What’s Possible and What’s Probable

My mentor Greg Hartle once told me, “If you’re looking at the difference between what is possible versus what is probable, the probability goes up, the higher your IQ and the more talented you are. So I just want to put that on the table because I hear conversation after conversation in book after book and interview after interview in this kind of new age world that we live in, where that is just merely off the table and in my mind, if it’s not on the table, we’re not being truthful with ourselves.”

Aspirational media (self-help books, podcasts, online courses) is ripe with survivor bias. You only hear about the success stories, and it doesn’t account for the fact that All prescriptive advice is context-dependent. Considering what’s probable prevents you from chasing pipe dreams and allows you to focus on your natural strengths.

Love and Relationships

11. Everybody Should… Anything That Follows is Bullshit

The most misguided advice often starts with “everyone should.” Since there’s no universal formula for success, there’s essentially NOTHING everyone should do. Proceed with caution whenever you encounter “everyone should.”.

Character Building Experiences Suck When They Happen.

The most challenging moments of our lives make us more resilient, increase our tolerance for adversity, and cause us to grow. But when they happen, breakups, setbacks, and failures all suck. We’re blind to how much better off we’ll become for having gone through them. You can’t build a tolerance for adversity without experiencing it. However, it doesn’t change the fact that these moments suck.

13. Little Kids Give you a Masterclass in Unconditional Love

I’m not a parent, but being an uncle has been like a masterclass in unconditional love. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for my nephew. I’d take a bullet for him and I’d lie down in traffic for him. And his is the one call I’m never too busy to answer, and I hope it stays that way for the rest of our lives.

14. Grandparents Are Much Nicer to Their Grandchildren Than Their Children

Every parent can attest to the fact that grandparents are much nicer to grandchildren than their own kids.

Take my mother for example. She often refers to my nephew as “the interest” and my sister and I as “the principle.” And the interest is greater than the principle.

During our school days, my sister and I worked on tons of school projects, from crafting solar systems out of styrofoam balls to building intricate dioramas. After earning our well-deserved A’s, these projects went into the trash.

One day, my sister called me and told me the funniest stories about a piece of art my nephew had created at daycare — a simple paper adorned with his handprints. My mother’s reaction was nothing short of dramatic. She insisted, “we need to get this framed, it’s beautiful.” Judging by her reaction, one would think my nephew was the next Picasso. In her eyes, her grandson can simply do no wrong.

It’s a funny truth that grandparents often treat their grandchildren with more indulgence and less strictness than they did their own children. But hey, who’s complaining? Not my nephew, that’s for sure.

15. Teenagers Are Idiots Because Being One Sucks

Around 6th or 7th grade, you start to notice where you fit in socially. In my case, I realized I didn’t really fit in anywhere. This realization makes you act in strange ways that would seem totally ridiculous if an adult did them.

  • Back in the 1990’s, when I was navigating the labyrinth of junior high, Michael Jordan was still ruling the NBA. Consequently, Air Jordans became the ultimate emblem of your perceived status. A few rich kids at my school even sported baby Jordans as key chains, a clear display of excess.
  • In the 1990s, Kriss Kross’s hit song ‘Jump’ sparked a peculiar fascination with crotches among teenagers. This odd trend was largely due to Marthois Francois Girbaud, a French designer who thought it wise to stamp his name on the crotch of pricey jeans worn by any American teen whose parents could afford the $120 tag.”

Once, when I was at an outlet mall far from home with my dad, a random kid looked at my Payless shoes and said, “I wish I had cool shoes like that.” My dad, standing right next to me, asked, “Do you know that kid?” I didn’t have a clue who he was. Imagine an adult walking up to another and poking fun at their shoes? Absurd, right? That just goes to show, teenagers are idiots because being one is hellish.

16.Every Family Is Dysfunctional to a Degree

I’m not a parent, but I’ve been raised by two, seen my sister become one, and interviewed several hundred of them. That being said, take what I say here with a grain of salt.

Parenting is a Shit Show

Sarah Peck once eloquently painted parenting as a colossal shit show. Imagine this: you’re just trying your best, all while explaining to your mini-me that you’re probably going to screw them up, and their adulthood will be a never-ending therapy session to sort it all out.

Now, let’s dive into this job spec: you have this adorable yet utterly helpless creature. Your tasks include feeding, clothing, changing diapers, providing shelter, and on top of all that, you have to mold this tiny human into a responsible adult who isn’t a total idiot.

Quite the tall order, right? Most of us could probably stuff a jumbo jet’s overhead compartment with our emotional baggage from parental trauma. But hey, given the job spec, it’s pretty much a given that any parent will make a few mistakes.

Why Mothers Have a Love Affair with the Bun Hairstyle

My buddy Matt was hanging out one night while I was FaceTiming my nephew. My sister has this really nice, silky hair that my nephew finds irresistible — to pull, that is. Matt, in his infinite wisdom, said, “Ah, so that’s why mothers usually twist their hair up into a bun.” Of course, I can’t back this up with any scientific evidence, but it’s logically sound, right?

Welcome to the Dysfunction Junction, We’ve All Been There

Britt Frank, in her book The Science of Stuck, says “We all hail from dysfunctional families. dysfunctional family’ is not a category — it’s a continuum.” So, depending on your spot on this merry continuum, you might have a fantastic, or fantastically terrible, relationship with your folks.

Kids: The Ultimate Karma Chameleons

Last year, my nephew decided bedtime was overrated and staged a silent standoff with my sister. The best part? He didn’t cry or make a sound, just stood in his crib like a tiny rebel. Every half hour, my sister would text us an update, and we’d have a good chuckle because she used to pull the same stunt with our parents. My dad would tell her to go back to her room, only to find her defiantly standing there, arms crossed, until he would eventually cave and let her sleep in their bed. As for my nephew, good luck winning a standoff with him — he’s definitely his mother’s son.

Career and Creative Pursuits

17. Creative Careers are Emotional Roller Coasters

Starting a business or creative endeavor is an emotional roller coaster because you sign up for a life where Nothing is guaranteed and anything is possible. People in your life will question your sanity and at times you’ll question your own. You have to believe in yourself when nobody else does, even the people who are closest to you. It’s a perpetual battle with Fear of Public Opinion, Fear of Creative Judgement, and the demons of doubt and despair. In other words, it’s a cocktail for mental health issues.

There are only two reasons to go down this path:

  1. You can’t imagine doing anything else
  2. You’re professionally unemployable.

You have to be a little bit out of your mind to do this by choice.

18. One Thing Should Not Define your Career

Sam Altman says what you do next should make what you did previously look like a footnote in your career. After writing multiple books and hosting a podcast for more than 15 years, I’ve been contemplating what will make those things seem like footnotes in my career.

19. Immediate Payoffs Often Come at The Cost of Long Term Potential

This is easier said than done when you need the money or whatever it is an opportunity provides. Every choice in life is a tradeoff between freedom and security. The immediate payoff often gives you short-term security at the cost of long-term freedom. But the rewards of patience are exponentially bigger.

20. Everything You Learn and Do Leads to Transferrable Skills

After my books didn’t sell enough copies to warrant a contract for a third, there were times when I felt like it was all for nothing. When something doesn’t live up to our expectations, it’s easy to forget all the useful things that came from it. Becoming a published author didn’t just teach me how to write a book. It taught me how to see a vague idea through to completion, how to organize my thoughts, and how to share them with the world in a cohesive way that others can understand. And that is a skill I’ll be able to use for the rest of my life.

21. When You Love the Spotlight More Than the Music, Reconsider

After playing the tuba for close to a decade, I won the concerto competition at Berkeley. But when there were only 25 people in the audience for my concert, I realized that I loved the spotlight more than the music. Moments in the spotlight are always fleeting. When you love the spotlight more than the music, reconsider.

22. The Extraordinary Power of Being Consistently Average

90% of everything I write sucks 10% of it is what I risk sharing 1% might resonate with people who read what I write. I’m an average writer who writes a lot. So if you want to know how someone like me gets a book deal, it’s pretty simple.

Do something average, but do it often. The more you do something, the more likely you are to get better at it. The better you get at it, the more likely you are to produce something great. Rinse, wash, repeat.

23. You Will Never Feel Like You’ve Made It

Every creator or artist has a milestone or artistic goal they think will make them feel like they’ve “made it”:

  • A book deal with a publisher
  • Being signed up by a record label
  • Being cast on a hit TV show or in a movie

If and when any of the above happens, they all realize that regardless of how rich, famous, or successful they are, they never feel like they’ve “made it.”

The creative life is a combination of the joy of getting paid to do something you love with the perpetual dread that it could all be over at any moment. It’s what keeps writers, musicians, actors, and anybody who does creative work for a living working their asses off for their entire lives. And also what drives a handful to drown their sorrows in vodka.

24. Short Term Sacrifice Gives You Long Term Leverage

Your advantage in almost every situation increases in proportion to your leverage. This is especially true when it comes to creative industries.

Let’s say you have two options:

  1. Get a book deal within a month of starting a blog when you have a small audience
  2. Get a book deal 5 years after you start the blog when you have a much larger audience

A lot of people would jump at the first option, but in doing so they give up their leverage because they don’t understand that Immediate Payoffs Often Come at The Cost of Long Term Potential.

The second option gives you a lot more leverage over the publisher for multiple reasons:

  • You’ve spent enough time honing your craft to become a much better writer
  • A bigger audience means you can command a bigger advance.

Over the past 14 years, I’ve seen this exact scenario play out with many authors. But the ones who waited were rewarded for their patience.

25. Small Consistent Efforts Compound Into Big Results

Small, consistent efforts yield significant results over time due to their compounding effect. Yet, the delay in outcomes often leads us to undervalue small actions and overvalue large ones.

In the spring of 2013, I developed the habit of writing 1000 words each day.

  • By Month 3: I self-published “The Small Arm Strategy.” The acclaimed author and marketer, Chris Brogan, mentioned it in his newsletter, aiding me in reaching my goal of selling 1000 copies.
  • By Month 6: I self-published a second book, “The Art of Being Unmistakable,” which exceeded my expectations.
  • For the Next 18 Months: I continued to write 1000 words daily, despite the absence of significant breakthroughs.
  • By Month 26: My consistent efforts led to a two-book deal with a publisher.

Even though writing 1000 words a day changed my life, the most life-changing results happened after 26 months. This is also true for bad habits. Not that anyone could smoke 1000 cigarettes a day, but if I had, I probably wouldn’t have even made it to month 26.

Life Observations and Philosophies

26. Your Body is Not Bulletproof

For the first time in my life, I’m starting to see the impact of how I eat and exercise. Like most people, I gained weight during the pandemic. But for the first time in my entire life, I’m having to work to lose it. So if you’re 20, enjoy eating like a 20-year-old while you can. That’s not going to last forever.

27. The Opportunity Cost of the Trivial is Time for the Extraordinary

In The Bullet Journal Method, Ryder Caroll offers a simple three-question filter to determine how we spend our time:

  • Is this vital?
  • Does this matter?
  • What would happen if I didn’t do this?

Your answer to the last question reveals trivial activities that have no impact. And it makes your to-do list much smaller. The opportunity costs of the trivial are the time and energy that could have been devoted to achieving something extraordinary.

28. Time: The One Bank Balance We Can’t Replenish

There are 8760 hours in every year. And unlike money, you can never get it back. Time is like a bank balance that declines with every passing minute, hour, day, week, month, and year of your life. Or to put it in the blunt words of my friend AJ Leon:

You’re going to die and when the subtlety, profundity, and reality of that statement seeps into your fucking bones. And when it ceases to be esoteric, poetic, hippy bullshit, when the pragmatism and the practicality of the fact that you are going to fucking die, you are going to die. This is what you have. This is it. This is what we have right now, right now

Given how precious this resource is, spend it with people you care about and on things you love doing, while accounting for the necessary evil time-wasting things we all have to do.

29.Things That Take Time and Lead to Very Little That’s Worthwhile

With the success of books like Deep Work and exponential growth of Facebook, Twitter, Tiktok, and others, it’s no secret that we have somewhat of a digital distraction epidemic on our hands.

What the last 13 years have taught me is that nothing I’ve accomplished is the result of how quickly I respond to email or how much time I spend on social media. And I’m willing to bet everything I haven’t accomplished is. If World War Three starts, you’ll know because of the bombs going off outside your window, not because someone tweeted about it.

30 Age Gaps Become Smaller with Age

Because my sister and I are 5 years apart, we weren’t that close when we were younger. When she started junior high, I was applying to college. When she started college, I was looking for my first job. We were experiencing different pivotal life experiences at different times. But with age, we’ve become a lot closer and that age gap feels a lot smaller. Besides, she’s wiser, smarter, and annoyingly always right but with the best of intentions.

31.Years Go by in the Blink of an Eye

In the movie Meet Joe Black, Anthony Hopkins stands on stage and says, “65 years, don’t they go by in a blink?”

Time accelerates with age. When you’re young, the summers feel like they last forever, while winters seem as if they’ll never end. But when you get older, you realize you were dreaming about someday, 20 years fly by and that day is today. And I wonder if my parents, who have now become grandparents, feel the same way given that 46 years has gone by since they had their first child.

And it turns out there’s a mathematical reason for this, derived by an Indian guy who sucks at math. Remember fractions? Yeah, I don’t either really, but if you’re reading this, you probably remember enough to get the lesson.

When you’re 5 years old, the 3-month summer feels a lot longer because it’s a much larger fraction of your life. It’s 3 out of 60 months. But when you’re over 40 years old, the summer is 3 out of 480 months. Because it’s a much smaller fraction of your life, it feels like it’s going by faster.

32. Weird is Cool

I have the pop culture tastes of a teenage girl. The OC is one of my favorite TV Shows of all time and sometimes listen to MMBPop when I snowboard. All that might seem “weird” for a 46 year old straight male. When you’re young, you care so much about what others think you might pretend not to like something. Fear of judgment turns you into someone you’re not. But as you get older, something beautiful happens: you stop giving a shit. Or as my friend Linda Sivertsen once said to me in an interview. Fly your freak flag.

33.Non Negotiables

Having non-negotiables in life is just as crucial as being flexible, adaptive, and open-minded. These are the standards that you refuse to compromise, no matter the situation. Interviews on The Unmistakable Creative Podcast have always been one hour long. This is a standard I’ve set and stuck to, regardless of who the guest is.

A few years back, an assistant of a famous author insisted that he could provide more value in 30 minutes than any other guest could in an hour. After some negotiation, she agreed to a 45-minute slot. However, the author didn’t live up to the hype. I’ve never comprised on this standard since.

It’s tempting to compromise when you’re dazzled by someone’s perceived status. You might think that bending your rules could lead to more downloads or new listeners. But this is a slippery slope that can lead to regrettable choices. Whether the potential guest is Oprah or the Dalai Lama, my one-hour standard remains non-negotiable. Sometimes, upholding this standard comes at the cost of increased popularity, but it’s a price worth paying.

34.What Matters Most Changes Throughout Your Life.

From the day I caught my first wave on a beach in Brazil in 2008, and the 10 years that followed, surfing was the most important thing in my life. It determined how I spent my time, where I went on vacation, and even where I was willing to live. My life centered around surfing.

In a million years, I thought I’d never leave California, give up surfing, or live far from the ocean. And after growing up in Edmonton Alberta, I always thought there was no way in hell I would ever live in a place where it snowed. But by the beginning of 2019, I was starting to realize that the joy I got from surfing could never compensate for the lack of social connection in my life. And I move to Colorado with my friend Matt Cooke whose become like a brother and whose parents have become like surrogate parents

I will always love surfing. I hate the snow, but I love snowboarding. But after 10 years surfing is no longer the thing that matters most.

35.The Magic of Seeing The World Through the Eyes of an Infant

At 46, the best part of my day and my life is my one year old nephew. It’s been said that when you see it through the eyes of a baby, it’s like experiencing everything for the first time- sounds, sights, people and so much more. And my nephew has taught us all a few invaluable lessons.

  • There’s magic in the mundane. Take your washing machine, which to you is nothing but a chore. But when you think about what has to happen for it to work, it’s pretty extraordinary.
  • There’s rhythm in nearly every sound if you listen: Vacuum cleaners, coffee machines, and running water all have a beat given that any of these sounds make my nephew dance
  • Wake up with 1000 Watt Smile every day. My nephew wakes up with an ear to ear smile on his face every day while the rest of the world is busy pressing the snooze button. He might be on to something

If there’s anything he’s taught me and my family it’s to slow down and notice the magic of the world a bit more. The more you notice, the more you discover, and the more expansive your life becomes. Or to put in the immortal words of Ferriss Bueller “life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while you might miss it.

36.Life is Not a Vending Machine

When we’re young, we all have an idea in our heads of how our lives will unfold: married by 30, kids by 35, wealthy by 40. For better and worse, life doesn’t turn out we thought it would.

On the bright side, I never thought I’d spend a decade surfing, get paid for giving speeches, have conversations with over 1000 people, and author 2 books. On the flip side, the unexpected possibility of not having children was a harder reality to face than I imagined.

In her Memoir, Talking as Fast as I Can, Lauren Graham wrote that “Life doesn’t often spell things out for you or give you what you want exactly when you want it, otherwise it wouldn’t be called life, it would be called vending machine. It’s hard to say exactly when it will happen, and it’s true that whatever you’re after may not drop down the moment you spend all your quarters, but someday soon a train is coming. In fact, it may already be on the way. You just don’t know it yet.”

Life doesn’t often spell things out for you or give you what you want exactly when you want it, otherwise it wouldn’t be called life, it would be called vending machine. It’s hard to say exactly when it will happen, and it’s true that whatever you’re after may not drop down the moment you spend all your quarters, but someday soon a train is coming. In fact, it may already be on the way. You just don’t know it yet. — Lauren Graham, Talking as Fast as I Can

When I look back on the way things that have turned out for better and worse, I try to remember that our future is always unwrittten.

37.Spend an Extended Period of Time in Another Country.

I was born in India, lived in Australia until I was 4, Canada until I was 9, Texas until the end of 9th grade, and moved to California after my freshman year in high school. I’m not a military brat, but the son of a college professor who was establishing his career while I was growing up.

For a long time, I thought my parents had robbed of something they were able to give my sister- the kinds of friends you’ve known since 6th grade and up being in your wedding. My sister, being the wise woman that she is said “you need to get over this.”

And she was right. My parents didn’t rob me, they gave me an incredible gift and made me a citizen of the world, planting the seed for a life long wanderlust and insatiable curiosity about other countries, people, and cultures. They turned me into a third culture kid.

Spending an extended period of time in another country, ideally one where people don’t speak your language expands your horizons in multiple ways.

  • You become a traveler instead of a tourist, and you discover things you wouldn’t otherwise.
  • You see the difference between being on vacation somewhere and living there.
  • You’re forced to learn the language and get out of your comfort zone.
  • There’s also no itinerary- just a series of potential adventures waiting to unfold, and stories waiting to be told

But more than anything, spending an extended period of time in another country makes you see that your own is not the center of the universe. There’s a whole world of opportunities, people and experiences beyond the borders and boundaries of where you live.

38.Accepting Reality Even When It’s Not What You Want

There comes a time in every person’s life where they must accept the reality of things they wish were not true. I wanted to write another book with a publisher.

But as I’ve said before, just because the product they make is art, it doesn’t make publishers, record labels, and movie studios immune to the rules of capitalism. It might be all about the art for the ones who create it, but for those who fund it, it’s always about the money.

Most authors don’t sell more than 1000 books or pay off their advance. And if you don’t become one of them, you’ve served your purpose and are disposable. If that sounds harsh, that’s because it is.

At some point in your life, you have to accept the reality of dreams that won’t come true. If you accept whatever it is you don’t want, but can’t change, it loses its power over you. Paradoxically, you might end up getting what you want.

39.Happiness Declines In Proportion to Your Expectations

The more you expect from life, the more it disappoints you. The less you expect, the more it delights you. Whenever I’ve expected nothing from creative endeavors, dates, and almost every other situation in my life, I’m always pleasantly surprised. It’s better to be pleasantly surprised than unpleasantly blind sided . And one way to avoid the latter is by lowering your expectations.

40.Control, Certainty, and Security Are Illusions

Control, certainty, and security are illusions. But we spend so much of our lives chasing all there.

  • Control: The outcomes of almost everything are out of our control. All we can control is our effort and the way we respond to the outcomes of those efforts.
  • Certainty: Uncertainty is a Part of Every Day Life . You can’t be certain that your flight won’t be delayed, there won’t be any traffic on the road. If you could be 100% certain about everything, life wouldn’t be that interesting.
  • Security: Everything we have could be taken away from us at any moment. And yet we cling to it as if our possessions define us. The truth is that true security comes from within, not from external factors. It’s about accepting the impermanence of life and finding peace within that acceptance.

Nothing is guaranteed anything is possible.

41.What You Want to Hear Feels Good. What you Need to Hear Is Good

There are people who will tell you what you want to hear. Their words might life you up and inspire you in the short run, but lead you astray in the long run. When people tell you what you need to hear, it won’t feel good. But it’s a lot more valuable than what you want to hear.

42.Without a Personal Definition of Enough, You’ll Never Stop Chasing More

In our society, it’s so easy to get caught up in the relentless pursuit of more — more money, more success, more possessions. Yet, without a personal definition of what ‘enough’ truly means to you, you’ll continue to chase after more, never feeling fully satisfied or content.

43.Consider the Possibility that Everything I’ve Written is BS

Whenever I’m interviewed and the host asks for me for advice, I preface it by telling them consider the possibility that everything I’m saying is BS. Why? Because it very well could be in the context of someone else’s life.

44.Learn from Whatever Happens

Just like everyone we ever meet can teach us something, every experience in life, can teach us something. My first job in high school was working at McDonald’s and it sucked. But it taught some useful lessons

  • Sometimes people are batshit crazy: Once somebody in the drive through asked for nothing more than patties for a burger and told us they were for her dog. I’m not a veterinarian, but if Mcdonald’s is considered unhealthy for humans, then it can’t possibly be great for a dog.
  • People have it worse than you do: For me, working at Mcdonald’s was a pit stop on before I went off to college. But for some people who worked there it was there daily life. It’s only in looking back I realized that I won the birth lottery and was born into a relatively priveleged circumstances

Look for the lessons in every experience, even the ones that completely suck, and you’ll appreciate them more when you’re old.

45.Sometimes The Worst Leads to the Best

The most anticlimactic day of my life was the day I graduated from business school at Pepperdine. The economy was in tailspin, I didn’t have a job lined up, and nobody was hiring. What at the time felt like the worst thing that ever happened to me turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me.

If there had been a job waiting for me, it’s possible that I would never started a blog, become an avid surfer, or started the Unmistakable Creative. But as I said earlier, character building experience usually suck. You only recognize their value in retrospect.

46.The Future is Always An Unwritten Story Waiting to be Told

Unlike in the movies, human stories don’t always have happy endings — sell the company, meet the love of your life, fill in the blank with your version of the happy ending. That being said, the best thing about whatever time you have left is that it’s a story waiting to be told, one that still has the potential to turn out better than you ever imagined possible.

Originally Published on The Unmistakable Creative



Srinivas Rao

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