Monday Seven No. 027

Advice for a 35-year-old, interviewing parents, and living playfully

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No. 027 - Advice for a 35-year-old, interviewing parents, and living playfully

1 — I turned 35 last week. I wanted to find out what people much older than me wish they’d known. But I only know a handful of 50+ year olds. Luckily, I came across a tweet by Andrew Wilkinson (@awilkinson) who also turned 35 a few days ago. He asked 100k+ followers what they regret not doing more of and what they cherish.

I analyzed 533 replies so you won’t have to. Here's what people said:

Life: Get to know yourself and be radically honest. Learn to listen to your intuition. You will regret what you didn't do when you had the chance to. Realize what you have the chance to do today, and get after it before it passes. Play hard. Travel. Simplify and focus on the few activities and people that bring you the greatest returns.

Work: Be more intentional about the work you do. Take more professional risks. Starting a family changes your risk tolerance. Start something. If you are working at a job, protect your time. Be deliberate about the people you want to work with. Do not prioritize work at the cost of health and family.

Health: Make fitness a regular habit. Incorporate physical activity into your daily life. Do not take your good health for granted. Getting in shape takes longer. Metabolism slows and testosterone decreases. It becomes harder to get and stay fit. Stretch daily. Aim to go into your 40s at peak physical condition.

Family: Be present with your family. Keep in touch with important people, they will soon be gone. Appreciate how much free time you have without kids. Plan regular date nights with your partner. If you plan to have kids, do it soon. Kids are a gift. They teach you patience. Spend more time with your kids, they won't stay young forever. Don’t stay in a relationship or marriage out of fear.

Friendship: Build a vibrant network of friends sooner. Friendship, like investing, compounds. Your friends have an outsized influence on you. Be more intentional about the friendship you form and keep. Cultivate quality friendships.

Money: Start investing early, even if it's just a little. You’re in the wealth accumulation phase. Focus on earning and saving for your future. The purpose of money is freedom. If you are in a position to buy income producing assets, do it and hold for 10-20 years.

2 —  What does it mean to live playfully? I've written that life is more fun when it's a game. Recently, James P Carse's Finite and Infinite Games refined my thinking. Life is more fun when we engage playfully. We can approach life with seriousness or a sense of play. We can view each player as the person playing or the role being played. We are likely to be more serious with police, and be surprised when a cop cracks a joke. The script does not fit the character. To relate to each other as free persons leaves room to discover the wonders of others. From the book:

To be playful is not to be trivial or frivolous, or to act as though nothing of consequence will happen. On the contrary, when we are playful with each other we relate as free persons, and the relationship is open to surprise; everything that happens is of consequence. It is, in fact, seriousness that closes itself to consequence, for seriousness is a dread of the unpredictable outcome of open possibility. To be serious is to press for a specified conclusion. To be playful is to allow for possibility whatever the cost to oneself.

3 — The Life Interview: a list of questions to ask a parent. I’ve recorded over 17 hours of untold stories with my mom starting with when she was pregnant until I was 3. But there is still so much that I don't know. The interview questions cover childhood, adulthood and personal identity, present-day, and aging. Credit to Steve Shlafman (@schlaf) who shared the questions after interviewing his own dad.

4 — Planning a meditation retreat at home: I spent New Year's Day in a self-guided meditation retreat at home. I highly recommend it as a way to reset. Tara Brach is a meditation teacher and put together an incredible resource of free guided meditations, talks, and resources for a home retreat.

Here’s the schedule I followed, with 15 to 30 minutes of yoga in between each sit: Arriving in Embodied Presence (24 min), Coming Home with the Breath (20 min), The Power of Awake Awareness (93 min talk), Big Sky Meditation (39 min) by Jack Kornfield *highly recommend. From Tara Brach:

The purpose of a retreat is to follow a formal rhythm of practice that allows you to center yourself, tend your body, quiet your mind, see the present circumstances with clarity and freedom, and open your heart. It will take some dedication to do this, and we will show you how to set it up. By choosing to let go of the usual habits of distraction, online time, unnecessary busyness and tasks that can wait, you can make this a beneficial and healing time.

5 — An idea that I love: Better Place Forests. Every so often I come across an idea and wish I had thought of that. Better Place turns forests into a natural burying grounds. You tour a forest and pick a tree. When it's time, ashes are mixed with soil and returned to the base of your tree with a memorial marker. Your loved ones can visit your tree at any time. When their time comes, they will have the option to add themselves to your tree. What a beautiful way to go.

6 — What I’m listening to while writing this: Akbal Music Podcast featuring Nhii

7 — Quote: This is my favorite passage from The Wealthy Gardner, a book I recently picked up on wealth, prosperity, and purpose. Though I am only a quarter of the way through, I plan on gifting it to all the new fathers in my life.

“The Wealthiest Gardner”

It's the one who shapes life with hours, who is master of attitude regardless of conditions, who feels entitled to nothing except that which is earned, who knows the pride of effort regardless of outcome, and who, instead of settling for less, asks quietly, "Why not me?"

It is the visionary who is impractical, who is even at times ridiculed, but who thinks independently and listens to the still inner voice to avoid the regrets of those who wonder what might have been if only they'd followed the pull of their soul.

It's the one who lives with purpose and intention; who shows up each day and does the bard task; who seeks satisfaction over pleasure; who strives to make a difference, to make the world a better place; but who, when actions fail to produce impact, will know that failure was never due to partial efforts.

It is finally the one who lies spent, exhausted, certain that there's nothing more that could have been offered on the altar of life, who meets the end with a clear conscience of having passed the ultimate test of giving one's best.

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The next time you’ll hear from me is Thursday, January 28. I’ll be publishing an essay on the importance of taking time to think.

Until then,

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