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10 Things I Learned in My 20's

I used to beat myself up about not accomplishing more in my 20's. However, as I've continued to approach the start of my next 10 years, I've started appreciating the beautiful things I've learned.

When you take a peek at your life, it's easy to pick apart the things you wish were different. However, way too rarely do we appreciate the time spent learning tough lessons. Obviously, we should. Those lessons are the reason we're living our current lives.

The irony in this perspective is that even if you're in a season of life you're not incredibly proud of, it's an opportunity for you to take inventory of current wins and losses and use them to your advantage in the future.

Personally, when I take a look at my blessings, here's a few:

  • I wanted to marry an incredible woman. I did.

  • I wanted to become a dad. I did.

  • I wanted to restore my relationship with God. I have.

  • I wanted to become an accomplished leader. I did.

  • I wanted to be a millionaire. I am.

  • I wanted to fund my vision with my businesses and real estate. I am.

  • I wanted to build a business that I was truly passionate about. I have.

  • I wanted to own land. I do.

  • I wanted to learn strategies to build incredible success. I have.

  • I wanted to prove that balance and obsession can go hand-in-hand. I currently am.

  • I wanted to be sober for a full year. I did.

However, just as important are the things I didn't want to happen:

  • I didn't want to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars. I did.

  • I didn't want to get my heartbroken. I did.

  • I didn't want to leave my friends. I did.

  • I didn't want to have a business that failed. I did.

  • I didn't want to lose my dad. I did.

  • I didn't want to have to pick between people that both are important. I did.

  • I didn't want to yell at my loved ones. I did.

  • I didn't want to get fat. I did.

  • I didn't want to be sober for a full year. I did.

  • I didn't want to have put a dog down. I did.

  • I didn't want to drain my savings. I did.

  • I didn't want to lose huge on an investment. I did.

Obviously, these lists could go on forever, but there's a lot of which to be proud and even more from which to learn. Whether it's led to success or failure, though, here are my top 10 things I learned in my 20's, starting with number 10.

10. Stop justifying things to others.

Before my dad died, he and I hadn't spoken for close to ten years. We had a falling out when I was sixteen that led us down different paths in our lives. From experience, most kids who go through something like I did choose to be resentful, blaming others for a lack of empathy. However, despite our differences, my father was a massive influence on my life.

I remember him repeating to me throughout my childhood, "Cody, if you have to explain why you make a decision, you didn't set clear enough expectations." It's an interesting thought, and it's had a definite impact on my mentality.

Successful people implement habits that are generally much different than the average human being, and those actions, often, don't align with normal emotions. Therefore, while many want explanations, it's likely that they already have one, and it just doesn't satisfy their insecurities.

To hear the full story, listen to my podcast with the late Sam Bahktiar.

9. Stop justifying things to yourself.

If you've ever wondered why most people struggle to go where they want in life, let me clear it up for you. They justify why they shouldn't.

While this seems so frustratingly simple, there is no other explanation for not getting the results you want.

We are incredibly intelligent and creative human beings, and our minds are powerful beyond anything we can truly comprehend. However, it's main job is not to make us happy or provide us with things we want. Instead, it's primary role is to ensure we survive, and in the modern-day world, survival doesn't account for fighting bears filtering the bacteria out of our water (for most of us). To our brains, today, "survival" is comfort.

Whatever we tend to do most often, and our brains have associated with a normal way of life is what it is going to crave. Therefore, we must overcome the justifications to perform in the ways we normally do and consciously choose to adopt a new norm.

When we do that, we can re-write our futures.

8. Talk and be vulnerable.

Growing up, there are very few kids who have people in their lives wise enough to empower their emotions. Instead, most of us are told that crying is weak, getting mad is wrong and being sad is unnecessary. However, the truth is that emotion runs our lives — good or bad. If we can relate the appropriate emotion to specific situations, there is incredible power. Although, if we are constantly suppressing those things to please others or feed our egos, the road ahead is going to be a tough one.

The number one reason for divorce (and really separation of any type of relationship) -- by far — is communication, or a lack thereof. Speaking to one another allows us to connect and empathize when we disagree. It encourages us to get aligned and work toward the next steps of solving problems.

On the flip side, when things are going well, communication and vulnerability empowers us to celebrate each other, cheer people on and have fun!

7. Support people beyond their comfort.

Supporting people is often misunderstood. Most people think support is about hugs, kisses and telling people things they want to hear, and while all those things have a place, they are powerless without the next part.

There are going to be times where you have to step up and be a leader. When people are looking to give up or be victimized by their beliefs, you're going to have to get a little gritty with them. In these times, you have to be committed to helping them win, and it's going to have to be non-negotiable.

Now, here's where we can get mistaken. Some people will use the old adage, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make them drink."

I agree... sometimes.

Other times, you have to make it so uncomfortable not to drink, they finally stick their nose down in that stream and get to realize the incredible source of nutrition right in front of them.

Their comfort level has to become anew. It must be renovated for their own benefit, and you have to be willing to stick it out.

PRO TIP: You must have permission from someone for them to listen to you. If they don't see you as a credible source, this likely won't work. It's why many families struggle in this area, but they'll listen to a third party.

6. True love is intentional and doesn't always feel good.

Love must be intentional if it really is "love". However, for it to be intentional, it must first be understood. Love is not just a feeling. In fact, studies show that there is a point in every relationship when the hormone levels in your brain actually change, inducing a different type of love. We naturally go from a passionate, butterfly type of love to a companion-type one.

That transition is difficult on some couples because it doesn’t necessarily change at the same time for both people. However, it’s important to truly understand that that initial love was never meant to last forever.

The love that celebrates fifty-year anniversaries is the one that is centered on a much deeper concept. It’s the one that is based on smiling together more than sleeping together. It’s the one that knows how to console even when the rest of you is pissed off beyond belief. It’s the type of love that doesn’t go away just because of a little separation. It’s the type that even after several years, you are willing to do anything to keep it alive.

P.S. While I'm referring to intimate relationships, here. This also applies to friendships, parenting and really any other type of relationship where love is present.

5. Money is important.

I'll keep this one short. Money is important, and if you don't think it is, you probably have very little of it.

It does the following and more:

  • It creates authority and credibility.

  • It allows you entrance into places you otherwise couldn't go.

  • It allows you to trade dollars for assets and income.

  • It helps you develop a legacy and future for your family.

  • It gives you the chance to experience a different life.

  • It challenges your mindset when pursuing it.

  • It allows you to make a bigger impact.

Money is important.

4. Internal drive creates fulfillment.

The world around you is constantly competing for your attention and loyalty. They're marketing to you, non-stop. They are doing whatever they can to try to influence you and drive your decisions and beliefs. However, you don't want to go down that road.

Yes, there is a time and a place to be externally-driven. In other words, there are certain circumstances where you want to be motivated by the outside world. But, you want to make sure it's permission-based and not because you crave approval. For example, in business, there are times when you must be influenced by your customers, so you can give them what they need.

It's important to be able to distinguish between internal drive and external drive. Do you have to be pushed to get out of bed on time, or are you self-motivated? Do you need to be enticed by reward to learn a new skill, or do you take initiative to bolster your capabilities and then seek out higher compensation?

When you're externally-driven, you are influenced by everything around you, and that is a dangerous path to be on. It means your foundation is weak and anyone can enroll you in anything. However, when you're internally-driven, you are the source of your choices and much harder to manipulate.

It's easy to be at peace with decisions when you know you can create anything you want.

3. Results speak the loudest.

When I opened my second business in 2017, I spread myself incredibly thin. One part of the day, I was operating Gapital Mortgage as one of the top producing companies in the country, and the other part, I was building a fitness franchise.

While there are tons of people that run multiple businesses, I was using this as my learning experience to build the necessary teams and develop the infrastructure to run them effectively... and I was doing it self-funded.

The first year when I was building both was hectic, to say the least.

However, what I learned was incredible. At first, I was stressed beyond anything I had ever experienced. I had drained my savings, my other business was feeling the effects of me being gone more often, and I didn't have the money to hire anyone to help me.

Luckily, I had an incredible group of people around me, and we put all our hands in and worked our asses off. The result was incredible. After that first year, I had both businesses operating day-to-day without me, and I was back to focusing on how to grow them both.

What the experience taught me was more than I could have ever paid for: fail fast, and do whatever it takes to get the results you're looking for. No one cares if you're tired or emotional. No one cares if you don't have the money or the support.

All people care about are results, and you should too.

2. Habits create your vision.

We all have some vision of our future. Whether it's really clear or not is another story. It can be difficult to look out ten or twenty years from now and see a clear picture.

However, whether you're taking the time to do it or not, you are creating it.

When you come to terms with that, suddenly, what you do today starts to matter more. It adds urgency and makes you realize that the life you want isn't going just to create itself.

The fact is: we all have habits that we perform in different moments of our lives, and those habits determine our identities. Whether you're making conscious decisions to create routines that support your vision or not, a life is being created, and it's 100% dependent on those habits. So, if you want to create the one you desire, you must focus on your habits — big and small.

1. Live for something greater.

Sometimes, I sit back with a glass of whiskey and a cigar and just think about life.

  • Why are we here?

  • What happens when we die?

  • Do we really know anything?

I'm not unique in that way. I'd imagine you have times when you do this as well -- although, you may not be smoking a cigar.

In Episode 16 of X Squared, I talk about our need our brain's need for purpose. It needs meaning behind what we're looking to accomplish. I like to use the acronym GPA, which stands for Goals, Purpose and Actions. In other words, our brain needs a vision (or goals), it needs a mission (or purpose), and it needs your habits and actions to align with those two things. When you get these three things aligned, life just becomes different. Everything is easier and more fulfilling.

Often, I talk to people who know this, but they don't feel like they have anything to offer the world that is great enough to deserve their ultimate life. Let me just say, that's bullshit; it's a cop-out, and while I empathize, you're too important and too incredible to believe that about yourself.

We are all capable of anything, and you are one-of-a-kind. There will never be another version of you, so be willing to travel your own path, set your own rules and create the life you truly crave. Regardless of your age, gender, circumstances or any other factor, know that you are just getting started.

You're the reason.

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