This is the post that I wish I had read when I graduated from college at the age of 23.

I graduated from Ohio State 7 years ago with a degree in Sports & Leisure studies.

My junior year of college I started making web sites to see if I could make some extra money (mostly to pay for a rough season I had betting on football games).  I never hit a homerun with those websites, but I made enough to make a few hundred dollars a month my senior year.  This kept me from having to get a side job while I was in school.

When I graduated from college, I had an offer to work at Rivals.com doing marketing for them.  I was an intern there for 4 months during the summer of my junior year.  I liked the company and the people there, but deep down I knew I wasn’t gonna be happy working for someone else.

Everyone I talked to thought I should take the job.

It paid well.  I’d have health insurance.  My parents definitely didn’t like the thought of their recent college graduate not having a “real job”.  Although I don’t blame them for feeling like that.  I’m sure most parents want “security” for their kids above all else.

After debating what to do for a month or so, I decided to do my own thing.

At the time I was making around $500 a month with my websites, and I figured I could take that to $2000 a month if I just put more time and focus into it.

I figured if everything went south, I could just grab a job bar tending in order to pay the bills.

From there, I was able to ramp things up pretty quickly.  I went from making a few hundred dollars a month to making $2,500 a month, to making $5,000 a month, to making $10,000 a month.

However, there was a big problem.

I didn’t have a real business.  I was making money exposing a loophole in Google’s search algorithm.  At the time I thought it would last forever (it didn’t).  Later when it all came crashing down, I was lucky enough to have saved a big portion of the money that I made in those first 6-12 months.

After that, I hit a rough patch for nearly two years where I couldn’t really get anything going.  I was living off the money I made previously, and every new venture that I started didn’t do much except sputter out.  I kept chasing 10 different ideas at once, instead of just focusing on one good idea and killing it.

I had a lot of ups and downs in that time.  I had a rough break up that took me more time than I would have liked to get over.  I had a business partner quit on me after we just had a great year and had a ton of momentum going.

At one point I was incredibly depressed and staring at a bank account that was 2 months away from me being dead broke.  I even contemplated moving back in with my parents for a few months.

Thankfully since then, I’ve had more ups than downs.

I built two businesses from scratch and took them both to $1 million in sales in less than a year.

I’ve completely changed my health, how I eat and what I do to stay in shape.  My health has really become a passion of mine that I love to test and tinker with.

I’ve found that I have a major passion for working with dogs, and starting a dog rescue for Great Danes is in my plan in the next few years.

Most of all, I feel like I’ve learned a lot about myself in the last few years that I wish I had known when I graduated college.

That’s what I want to share with you today…

These are 29 things I wish I had known when I was graduating from college.

1.  The toughest “sale” of your life is convincing yourself that you’re worthy of doing the things you want to do

Everyone is insecure about something.  We don’t think we’re good enough.  We don’t think we deserve to be successful.  We don’t think we deserve that guy or that girl.

When you finally realize that everyone else has insecurities and imperfections just like you do, thats the day you’ll realize that you’re just as worthy of doing great things as anyone else on this earth.

2. Throwing away most of your stuff will make you happier than buying new things.

In 2012, I stumbled upon 2 guys from Ohio who called themselves “The Minimalists”.  I read like 20 blog posts on their site in one night.  I immediately connected with their idea of “get rid of the shit that doesn’t add value to your life”.

That day I filled up 32 garbage bags worth of junk that had been lying in my closets and in my house.  I hauled it all to a dumpster down the street and chucked it.

I literally did not need any of it.  I haven’t had to replace a single item that I threw away.

Tossing all that crap in the trash was the BIGGEST weight off of my shoulders.  I immediately felt lighter and more free.  I still continue to get rid of stuff every single month.  I’m always asking myself if something I have adds value to my life.  If it doesn’t, I get rid of it.

3. Changing what you eat and focusing on your health is the most important decision you can make

Nothing affects how you think and how you feel more than the food you put in your mouth.

I used to eat like shit.  Tons of processed foods each and everyday.  Not anymore.  I made healthy eating and working out a priority, and it’s been one of the best decisions Ive ever made.

4. Most of the “haters” that criticize you are complete losers.  Criticism from people you respect is the only criticism you should listen to.

Self explanatory.

5. Most of us have a “shadow life” that prevents us from living the life we truly want

Steven Pressfield talks about this in his book “Turning Pro”.  Most of us have a shadow life that keeps us occupied and prevents us from living the life we truly want.

Your shadow life could be your job, drinking or even a shitty relationship.  We all have one.

6.  Allow yourself to be vulnerable

Power comes from being vulnerable.

When you let yourself be vulnerable, you’re more connected to yourself and the people around you.

That might sound like some psycho-babble, but it’s the truth.

7.  Nobody in this world owes you anything.  Entitlement is like a bad disease.

Pretty simple, but very powerful.

When you realize that everything is up to you and that no one owes you anything, you start to truly control how your life will play out.

If you feel like the world owes you something, or that you “deserve” better – you’re living with a victim mindset.

Living like a victim will never get you anywhere.

8. If you’re waiting for a new job, a new house or a new spouse to make you happy, then you’ll never be happy.  Being happy is a choice.

When I first started making decent money, I leased a $60,000 Jeep Commander.  It was a pretty sweet car, and I certainly loved driving it.

But it wasn’t just a car to me.

It was something that I thought would make me happier.  It was something that I thought I should buy now that I was “successful”.

We get sold this idea everyday by advertisers and the rest of society.  But the truth is, it’s a bunch of bullshit.

No car, house, or even relationship is going to make you happy if you’re not already happy.

You have to choose to be happy.

9. The older you get, the less you care what others think.

10. When you think of the material things in your life as “part of who you are”, something is wrong.

11.  Find 1 high value skill and become an expert at it

Being a jack-of-all-trades is overrated.  Being the best in the world at 1 thing is where the real money is at.

Being a specialist is even better.

A good heart surgeon is always going to be more in demand than a general family doctor.

12. When you lead and live your truth, you inspire the people around you to do the same

A few months ago, one of my friends mentioned that a lot of what I do inspires her to do better.  This caught me off guard when she said it, because Ive never thought of myself in that way.

But Ive heard it from a few other people as well – and now I understand it.  I have friends that inspire me, and I’ve probably never mentioned it to them.

When you live your truth, you can’t help but to inspire the people around you.

13. Discipline is the least “sexy” attribute to have – but its the most important aspect of success

Getting up at 7 AM, and putting in the work day after day is what makes someone successful.  It’s really fucking hard to do, but it’s the most essential thing to being successful.

Discipline is more important than talent.

14.  Taking the first step is always the hardest.

We always face resistance when we take the first step toward something that matters to us.  The more something matters to you, the more resistance you’re going to feel.

But when you take the first step, you realize that it was never as bad as you made it out to be in your head.

15.  Everyone sucks at new things when they first try them.

When we’re out on my boat wakeboarding, there’s always 1 or 2 people who don’t want to try wakeboarding because they’re scared they’re gonna suck.

Well, no shit.  Of course you’re gonna suck.

That’s how everything is in life.

You suck really bad when you start out and then you slowly get “less sucky” each time you do it.

If you were an expert the first time you tried something, that would throw off the whole equation.

16.  Live below your means

Spend less money than you make.  Put money in your bank account before you pay your bills.

This is the most simple advice, yet 90% of people will never do it.

17.  The people closest to you are usually the most negative when it comes to you doing something that could change your life

Your family and friends know you the best, and for this reason they can never imagine you as someone different than who you are right now.

If you’re looking to make a major life change, these are the people that will usually be against it the most.

18. Money doesn’t have a conscience

This is a valuable lesson I learned from Dan Kennedy.  Money doesn’t care if you’re a priest or a pornographer.

There’s people doing great things and making a lot of money, and there’s also people doing incredibly shady, unethical things and making a lot of money.

Being more “moral” doesn’t entitle you to more money.

19. Read a lot of books

I try to read (and re-read) around 1 book a week.  A lot of times I’ll re-read books that I love.  I’ll read 3-4 pages in the morning before I start the day to get me in the right “mindset”.

I used to hate reading books.

Fight Club was the first book that I ever truly enjoyed – and that pushed me into reading hundreds of books that I would have never read before.

20. Every 3 years you’ll realize how dumb you were 3 years ago…

Im not sure if other people think like this, but every couple years I realize how dumb I was just a few years earlier.

I think it’s a good thing, because it means that I’m getting better and I’m growing.

If that’s not happening to you, you’re probably doing something wrong.

21. Surround yourself with people who are better than you

There’s a saying that you’re the sum of the 5 people that you hang out with the most.

I think it’s pretty accurate.

Hang out with idiots and they’ll drag you down.

Hang out with superstars and you’ll be inspired to be better.

22. Unless you’re truly happy and in love with someone, don’t be in a relationship.

There’s a lot of people who would rather be “mildly happy” in a relationship than be single.

I’ve never understood this idea.

If you need to be with someone to be happy, there’s some deeper issues going on within you that you need to fix.

When you’re in a relationship with someone that you’re not madly in love with, you’re doing a disservice to BOTH people.

23. You’re either getting better, or you’re getting worse.  There’s no such thing as “maintaining”

This is a saying my buddy Dave Dellanave has said numerous times.

His application of it was to weight lifting, but I think it applies to every area of your life.

The idea of “staying the same” or “maintaining” isn’t real.

You’re either getting better or you’re getting worse.

24. Have REAL standards for the people that are in your life

You should have real standards for friends, girlfriends, business partners etc…

Successful people have standards and they let the people around them know it.

If someone doesn’t meet your standards, and you don’t see them changing anytime soon, then it’s time to cut them out of your life.

25. Don’t burn bridges when it comes to business

About 4 years ago I did some stupid stuff and copied another marketer’s ads to use on Facebook.

It was dumb and completely my fault.

I burnt a lot of bridges with that marketer and a lot of the people he did business with.

Since then, Ive apologized numerous times and we now work together on a few different promotions.

Even if you think you’ll never need someone again, don’t let your ego get in the way and burn a bridge that you might need down the road.

26. Set goals – 5 year, 1 year, monthly, weekly and daily

I have a full notebook with my goals in it.

Business, wealth, health and personal fulfillment are the main ones.

I have a long list of 5 year goals that dictate all of my yearly, monthly, weekly and daily goals.

If you’re not setting goals, you really have nothing to shoot for.

27. If you put your career/life in someone else’s hand, don’t be surprised when they screw you over

Even the nicest people you know, care more about themselves than they care about you.

When you let someone else dictate your career, you don’t have “security”

Security comes from knowing that you have the skills to always be able to make money no matter what situation you’re in.

28. Don’t feel obligated to follow the job/marriage/house/kids path that most people follow

Everyone has different goals for what they want in their life.

If yours doesn’t include kids or buying a house don’t feel like an outcast.

There’s a lot of pressure from friends and family to follow the traditional path of getting a good paying job, getting married, buying a house and having kids.  If that’s not YOUR path, then don’t feel pressured into following it.

29.  If you’re living for the weekend and vacations, you’re doing it wrong

If you hate Mondays and you’re always looking toward the weekend, you’re probably not doing something you love.

People who love what they do enjoy the weekdays just as much as the weekends.

I hope this post helps a few people…

- Justin

 

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A few weeks ago Derek Halpern posted this quote on Facebook and it really resonated with me…

“There comes a time when you need to step up and start playing a bigger game.”

This quote got right to the point of how I’ve been thinking.

I think we all have a tendency to sell ourselves short in every area of our life.  You can step up and start playing a bigger game in everything you do – your business, your health, your relationships…

For me, 2012 was not the year I hoped it would be.  I was pretty much just “coasting” and settling for what was easy when it came to my business.

It was a mediocre year for me.

This year is different.

My new business is showing monster potential, and I have no doubt that Brandon and I will turn this into a 7 figure business within the next 12 months.  This is where I’ve always believed my business should be.

I have the skills and the knowledge to get it there. Now it’s time to keep pushing forward and dedicating myself to playing a bigger game.

I don’t want my business to just be in competition with other internet marketers.  I want to compete with Boardroom.  I want to compete with BottomLine.  I want to compete with the best of the best.

Why do we settle for a good business when we could have a great one?   Why do we settle for dating someone who’s average, when we could be in love with someone who’s exceptional?  Why do we settle for helping a few people when we could help thousands?

It’s time to stop thinking small.

It’s time to step up and start playing a bigger game.

 

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