42 for 42

I’m turning 42 today and yes, I am as surprised about that number as you are. If 42 really is the answer to life, the universe, and everything, then maybe it makes sense to look back on what the old lad actually learned in all those years. So, here is a list of 42 life lessons, similar to the one Chris wrote when he was still 40. Incomplete and mostly unstructured. For my younger self as much as for my children and anyone reading this.

  1. Don’t panic.
  2. Love yourself. Take care of yourself. You can only help others if you are strong yourself.
  3. Love your family.
  4. Love your friends.
  5. Respect is everything.
  6. Be patient with yourself and others.
  7. Be generous. It will make others and you happy.
  8. Time is precious. Spend it with the people you love the most.
  9. Children grow up incredibly fast. Enjoy every moment you have with them. Be there.
  10. It is true: You will regret the things you didn’t do more than the things you did do. And time flies so much faster than you think. Before you know it, you won’t be able to do many of the things you thought you had an endless amount of time for. So do the things you dream of now.
  11. Don’t think small. Seriously, don’t. You can do more and be more than others make you think. Or, to quote Rick Rubin: “However you frame yourself as an artist, the frame is too small.”
  12. Even if you don’t want to admit it to yourself, you are still full of fear. Fear of being judged and criticized, fear of what others may think, fear of failure. And everyone around you is full of fear, too. It is one of the primary forces behind human action – or rather inaction. The fear will never go away completely. But the more you do things despite of being afraid, the easier they will become. Fear also means that what you are up to is actually important. Framing it as “excitement” also helps.
  13. Every time you do something you are afraid of, you will grow. So step out of your comfort zone. You will be fine.
  14. If you are enthusiastic about something, go for it. Go all in. Go deep.
  15. If you have an idea, write it down immediately. Don’t try to remember it. You will forget it.
  16. Don’t let other people tell you what you are good at or who you are. You can do and learn almost anything. Follow your curiosity.
  17. The older you get, the more you’ll find out about who you are. This is fun (most of the time).
  18. There is a beast in all of us. Be aware of that. Controlling your emotions and your anger will make you a better person.
  19. We all make mistakes along the way. A lot of mistakes. That’s okay as long as we constantly try to learn from them. Remember: The first draft of anything is shit.
  20. You don’t have to be friends with everyone. Some people are just different than you, a very few are toxic. There is no need to pander to them or trying to please them.
  21. Do your taxes in time.
  22. You cannot know what works and what sticks. So play and try out everything. Never stop prototyping.
  23. Getting started is more important than finding the right productivity method or framework or tool. Start today and try to optimize along the way.
  24. Football is life. The rest is mere details.
  25. Write as much as you can. It clarifies your thinking, it makes you a better communicator, and it will open so many doors. Also: there is no such thing as writers block.
  26. Don’t be scared to write in a language that is not your first language. You’ll grow.
  27. Enjoy the process. It will not only lead to better outcomes, but it will also make you happier. The journey really is the reward.
  28. Don’t work for assholes.
  29. Be very careful in what you say yes to. In the beginning of your career, you’ll probably have to say yes more often, but you’ll actually also learn a lot from whatever you will do. Later, you should only say yes if you feel good about it. Learn to politely say no to everything else.
  30. Pay attention to your gut feeling. It is a good indicator and often there is some truth to it, especially with growing experience. If you don’t have a good feeling about something, take a second to investigate and identify why that is.
  31. Don’t spend your money on useless things. Be very careful about what to buy. If possible, don’t pick the cheapest option. If you can afford it, investing in better food, better furniture, or tools always pays off.
  32. All designers should learn how to code. Everyone should.
  33. Our brain is fascinating and highly malleable up into old age. But it is also fragile. So take good care of it.
  34. Your body will age. It really, actually will. You can’t start to take care of it soon enough.
  35. Exercise.
  36. Eat much, much, much more plants. This hasn’t anything to do with being a vegetarian, a vegan, or any other box you think people will put you into. No, it will actually make you healthier, happier, and stronger. There are billions of bacteria in your gut that influence what food you like, how well your immune system works, and how happy you are. They weigh about as much as your brain. Feeding them with good stuff will make you happy.
  37. Smoking is a really stupid idea.
  38. Alcohol is completely unnecessary. As much as your parents, your family, your friends, society, and, above all, advertising want to make you think it is something that everyone does and a beer here and there is totally fine, it will slowly creep into your daily habits and constantly occupy your liver, which then can’t take care of the other stuff. It will disrupt your sleep and destroy all positive effects of the little exercise or sports you have time for. Any amount of it also kills your cells. Everywhere in your body and in your brain. Just don’t buy it anymore. You will feel so much better.
  39. Coffee is great. Try not to drink it in the first 1.5 hours after getting up and four hours before bed time.
  40. Sleep is not the cousin of death. Sleep deprivation is. Sorry, Nas. Sleep at least 6.5 to 8 hours a night.
  41. Listen to as much music as you possibly can.
  42. RTJ! 👉🏻🤛🏿
  43. If you learn an instrument, try to play it at often as possible. Once it becomes second nature, you will be able to do magical things with it. Don’t do it like me and try to do only what’s necessary. Try to master it.
  44. Mastering something takes time and a lot of practice. Don’t believe you can do something only because you are “talented”. If you don’t put in the time and effort, you won’t become great at it.
  45. Farts are hilarious.
  46. Get a personal website.
  47. When in doubt, make a list. If it turns out to be longer than expected and you still feel like you can’t cut it down, great!


68 Webmentions

Photo of @matthiasott
@matthiasott Thanks for this! I'm certainly far from being your age at this point, but I will definitely be bookmarking this for later!
Photo of @matthiasott
@matthiasott Alles Gute zum Geburtstag!🎂🎉❤️
Photo of @mwichary
@mwichary Thank you, Marcin! 🤗
Photo of @mia
@mia Thank you, Miriam! 🤗
Photo of @matuzo
@matuzo Vielen Dank! Einen wunderschönen Tag Dir und der Family! 🤗🎉
Photo of @nilsbinder
@nilsbinder Vielen lieben Dank, Nils! 🤗 Hoffe Du hast ebenfalls einen wunderbaren Tag und bist gut ins neue Jahr gekommen!
Photo of @matthiasott
@matthiasott alles Gute! Hoffe du hast einen wunderbaren Tag. Willkommen im 42er Club!
Photo of @matthiasott
@matthiasott happy birthday Matthias. Awesome list!
Photo of @matthiasott
@matthiasott Happy birthday, Matthias 🤗 Look at you, I was 15 when you were born, and now you’re teaching me about personal websites and lots of other things. Wish you a great day 🥳
Photo of @fernandomateus
@fernandomateus 😁 Thank you, Fernando! Have a great day as well!
Photo of @matthiasott
@matthiasott While reading, this suddenly appeared in my mind: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-YsGdjkIgw (only people our age will remember this song 🙃) Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)
Photo of @helhum
@helhum Freut mich, dass er Dir gefallen hat! 😊
Photo of @shadeed9
@shadeed9 Thank you, Ahmad! 🙏 Hope you’re well!
Photo of @matthiasott
@matthiasott Happy birthday, Matthias!🎉🎉
Photo of @jeremy
@jeremy Thanks, Jeremy! 😊
Photo of @noleli
@noleli Thank you, Noah! 😊
Photo of @matthiasott
@matthiasott Great list and a very happy birthday to you! 🥳
Photo of @sarajw
@sarajw Sänk Juh! 🙏😁
Photo of @matthiasott
@matthiasott is this available on medium? (kidding) happy belated birthday!
Photo of @matthiasott
@matthiasott Alles Gute! 🎉 So viele gute Ideen in der Liste. Kann ich alles unterschreiben.