July 30, 2013 by Jay Kim
I turned 34 yesterday. The number doesn’t look right to me as I stare at it on my laptop screen. But it’s true. I was born July 29, 1979. At least that’s what my mother tells me. So, in memoriam of my first 34 years, which I’ll never get back, here are 34 thoughts & reminders to myself from the first (let’s hope little less than) half of my life:
You’ll never achieve perfection. Nothing you do or say or make will ever be perfect. So stop trying. Perfection is boring anyways. There’s nothing to think about or tweak or question. Perfection brings an end to the conversation. Make stuff that keeps the conversation going.
Give yourself completely to something worthwhile most of the time. But on occasion, remember to give yourself to something completely worthless that makes you laugh at its stupidity and fills you with a bit of childish irreverence. Then, full of joy and endorphins, get back to the worthwhile thing.
God wants a dialogue with you but you so often try to engage in monologue with God. Learn the rhythms of having a conversation with God. Listen well, speak slowly, and learn when to do one or the other.
You don’t have to ever choose between Jesus and truth. They are always one and the same. When they seem to contradict each other, it’s because “for now, we see in a mirror dimly.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)
Prayer as a last option usually means it’s too late.
Prayer as a first priority usually means God’s going to show up in unexpected ways.
Read more. The world is full of great ideas and books are their preferred homes.
Learn more. The world is full of great ideas and learning is the exclusive way to get them from “out there” to “in here.”
Listen more. The world is full of great ideas and they won’t get from “out there” to “in here” until you quiet down and hear them in all of their nuanced beauty and complicated wonder.
Question more. The world is full of great ideas and you make them better by poking and prodding and asking the right questions.
“Quiet time” is just as effective with beer in hand and meat on the grill in the cool of the early evening as it is in the early morning hours with a Bible and journal.
Lay off the fried foods. The price to be paid isn’t worth the temporary pleasure. This is actually true of lots of things.
Every morning we awake to the potential of making a positive or negative difference in the world. Work hard to make a positive difference. A lifetime built on this daily choice will lead to a meaningful life.
The pursuit of popularity and the pursuit of significance are diametrically opposed.
Making noise isn’t the same as making a difference.
There are jobs and then there are passions. Be creative and find ways to pursue both simultaneously.
You can’t control when moments of inspiration will arrive. But working hard is something you can do all the time. Working hard is a quicker way to moments of inspiration than simply waiting.
What you envy about others is a facade. You already have everything you need to make the difference you’re on the planet to make.
The world doesn’t revolve around you and it never will. Stop trying to make it so. Lean into the way the world is spinning, hang on for dear life, learn and enjoy as much as you can.
Saying “I’m sorry” makes you more human and frees you from the lies that shackle you and keep you from being a contributing player in the story unfolding all around us.
Admitting that you’re wrong sometimes is one of the most right things you can do.
There’s no efficient way to create something beautiful. Slow down, take your time, and let it come to you. Don’t force the issue.
Stay humble. Remember what Chesterton wrote: “For towers are not tall unless we look up at them; and giants are not giants unless they are larger than we.” Embrace your small stature, enjoy the view, and live with curiosity.
All you have is this moment, here and now. Learn from the past. Lean into the future. But embrace the present.
Credit cards can ruin your life.
Motivation dies quickly. Inspiration can last a lifetime.
Compete less and cooperate more.
Genius is usually found in solitude but most effectively put into action via collaboration. Share your best ideas and get to work on them along with others who share the same vision.
Kindness and niceness are different things. Choose to be kind.
The best stuff you’ll ever make will come up out of the rubble of the really crappy stuff you make.
Writing is more like wrestling than dancing.