30 Things I Wish I Would Have Known About Life Before I Turned 30
Workout, nutrition, and life advice from world-renowned coach Martin Rooney.
Note from Nate: This is a guest post from Martin Rooney, the creator of the Training For Warriors system and a pioneer of strength and conditioning for the martial arts.
My life changed the day before my 30th birthday
It was August 2001. As I stepped onto a boat in the afternoon to cruise around Manhattan, I was a single man in my 20’s. I knew that after I stepped off that same boat the next day, I would be a married man in my 30’s.
It was scary. But also liberating.
A few weeks later, the Twin Towers in New York City became a terrorist target and thousands of people were killed. That, of course, was September 11, 2001.
That night, I flipped through my wedding photos and stared at the two buildings in the background. Here today. Gone tomorrow. I was reminded of how precious and fragile life really is.
I often reflect on those couple of weeks surrounding my 30th birthday. I think about who I was before and who I am now. I don’t know why, but 30 years old seems to be a transformative time in a man’s life.
I thought I had it all figured out back then. As I look back, I realize I was just getting started in my studies of the way the world works.
Now that over a decade has passed, I’ve learned so much more about life.
I’ve had four children, built businesses, traveled to over 25 countries, written 8 books, and trained alongside some of the best athletes on the planet.
With all of those amazing things now in my 40’s, I can look back and laugh at the things I messed up and what I wish I knew then.
Guys in their 20’s and early 30’s have all this potential…but often, they don’t know what to do with it. I sure as hell didn’t.
That’s why I wrote this list of 30 things I wish I would have known before I turned 30.
Maybe you’ll find something here that causes you to change your life in some small way.
30 Things I Wish I Would Have Known Before I Turned 30
1. I wish I spent more time deciding what I really wanted from life.
Figure out your passion and purpose. Don’t wait until 30 to find that out. Chances are the guys that figured it out earlier already have the dream house, the dream job, and the dream girl.
2. I wish I would have known protein was essential for post workout nutrition.
I went from just water and no eating, to carb-only “sports” drinks. I know I would have had way better results if current science had been available. A Gatorade just doesn’t cut it.
3. I wish I would have been more excited for other people’s success.
This will get you ahead faster than only being excited for your own success. Take time to hear what people think. You won’t ever get called a jerk for listening too much.
4. I wish I would have had a full length mirror in my house.
Then I would have known I had to train my legs, too. To think of all the times I did biceps curls instead of squats…
5. I wish I had paid attention to the effect food had on me.
Some foods made me drowsy and others gave me a throat full of phlegm. I thought it was “normal.” Now I replaced that word with “allergy.” Start figuring how foods you eat are affecting you.
6. I wish I would have known girls are more attracted to guys who have fun.
Guys who try to look big and tough miss out.
7. I wish I would have learned to keep my house and car neat.
Someday a girl is going to come to one of them and care about chewed fingernails and the stain on your pillow case. Protein bottles in the back? They smell worse than you think they do.
8. I wish I got rid of things faster.
Once your favorite t-shirt has more holes than a Tiger Woods alibi, it’s time to let it go. Same goes for the old sneakers you’ll never wear again. Same thing with resentment and ill-will.
9. I wish I would have saved more money.
Get a financial planner, an IRA going, and invest. Don’t wait until you’re married and someone else is counting on you. And regardless if you have much money or not, put some away now. Learn the Law of 7 and the idea of compounding interest.
10. I wish I would have learned that driving 20-30 miles doesn’t make a bar any better.
Odds are the bar in your town will be just as fun. And your chances of trouble (DUI, etc.) go way down.
11. I wish I would have known what kinds of food weren’t good for me.
Most labels with “Light,” “Healthy,” or “part of a nutritious diet” are really just trying to cover up how crappy the food actually is.
12. I wish I followed my instincts more.
Listen to that knot in your gut. If you think she might not be the right girl, she probably isn’t. Same goes for your job. Of all the voices you hear, your own may be the wisest and hardest to listen to.
13. I wish I had been more coachable.
Welcome feedback and understand that criticism is positive. Just like rubbing alcohol on a scrape, it will be painful at first. But you’ll be better off cleaning strategic areas of your life.
14. I wish I would have written down exactly what I wanted.
Spend more time planning where you’re going in life than planning where you are going on Friday night.
15. I wish I started my “private” university earlier.
Build your personal library and read. 20 pages a night 5 days a week turns into 100 books in 5 years. 100 books in 5 years can turn you into an expert…in anything.
16. I wish I would have know there was a rotator cuff, feet muscles, neck muscles, hip adductors and abductors.
I would have worked on those more.
17. I wish I had learned the true power of a thank you.
Since I’ve adopted an authentic “attitude of gratitude,” my life has been much smoother. Hint: send a card or gift to someone that deserves it today.
18. I wish I had not been “too busy” for my parents.
When you get older, get a real job, and get married, you only have less time for your parents. Realize that they’re people, just like you. And that they’re actually pretty smart and fun to be around.
19. I wish I used my “down time” better.
Speaking of “too busy,” never say that you are. 24 hours is enough time to get stuff done and still have fun.
20. I wish I was less concerned with what everyone else thought about me.
I now know a thick skin isn’t just important for your hands and working out. It’s important for life and not caring about other people’s opinions of you. The fastest way to be unhappy is to worry about making everybody else happy and not staying true to yourself.
21. I wish I would have laughed more.
Make sure to laugh everyday. Learn to speak the language of “serious fun.” As it implies, get the serious stuff done…but make sure you have your share of fun and play, too.
22. I wish I would have quit some things faster.
Know when to quit things. Although it may seem counterintuitive, there are people, situations, and places where you are spending your time that aren’t serving you. Quit them.
23. I wish I would have defined my values earlier.
Decide what you stand for. If you don’t stand for much, you’ll fall for anything.
My first jobs, workouts, and girlfriends were because other people said they would be good for me. Make that choice for yourself and you won’t develop a weak set of knees when the time comes to stand up for yourself.
24. I wish I didn’t let other people’s expectations hold me back.
Eight words to remove from your vocabulary: “What will people say? What will people think?”
25. I wish I had gossiped less.
Build people up to their face and don’t talk to people behind their back. It only leads to trouble.
26. I wish I had trained around injury better.
Your body has incredible recuperative powers. Don’t let injuries or time off hold you back. And remember, even if you took time off, it’s never too late to start again toward fitness.
27. I wish I would have treated my body like my car.
In other words, don’t just pay attention to your body when there’s a problem. Also, make sure you are putting the right things in the gas tank. Just because it looks good on the outside doesn’t mean everything is good on the inside.
28. I wish I had “kept in touch” better.
Don’t let more than three months go by without staying in touch with the important people in your network.
29. I wish I had built my network even faster.
Surround yourself with people more fit, successful, and wealthy than you are. Just like the tide, you will rise or fall according to the influential bodies around you.
30. I wish I would have realized that the world is “service” oriented.
Serve others. You’ll learn as you get older that it’s not about what you get, but what you give back that really counts.
Build The Warrior Within
More than a decade has passed since my 30th birthday, and I know I’ll always be learning from my mistakes and trying to pay it forward. That’s the way of the Warrior. And it’s what I hope for you too.
Quick Note: I’m passionate about education and helping others develop their own skills, not only in the fields of sports performance and strength training but also personal development.
In fact, I’ve put together a free video course for guys who want to become more motivated, using fitness and training as the pathway to bringing out their inner Warrior.
If you’re interested in learning more, just go here to check it out: Training For Warriors.
Thanks for reading.