I’m going to start you off with a fact that somehow surprises a lot of people.
Maybe it’s the way I look, maybe it’s the way I act, or maybe it’s just this beard that I’ve been rocking since I was 13…
I’m currently 23 years old.
So with that being said, I started this decade off at a mear 13 years old.
And now what you’re thinking through this is, “Great, he’s going to go over all the standard stuff that we all learn during the “growing up” process and that everyone grows from 13 to 23. Duh, Evan.”
And you’re absolutely correct!
Those years are incredibly formative as you end up going through high school, some may head to college, and most all start their young professional lives.
But what you’re missing is what’s happened in those ten years that stands out.
Over the past ten years of 13 to 23, I’ve:
- Lost over 70 pounds and went from an overweight alcoholic to a fitness model
- Went from almost failing out of college to graduating in 3 years with a 3.8 GPA
- Moved across the country twice by myself to work at some of the world’s largest tech companies
- Started eight different business, five never made a single dollar, and only one is still alive today
- Hit over $8k/month revenue (six-figure a year) as a solo man business
- Traveled around the world to 3 continents, 14 countries, and over 45,000 miles of flights
Those are just the highlights.
Through the past ten years, I’ve also been cheated on, arrested, and have gone absolutely broke.
I still remember nights calling my Ma crying not too long ago after going through hand surgery and trying to run a failing startup while going broke paying my medical bills.
I’ve been picked on, laughed at, told I’ll never make it, or always be a slacker. Shit, I still remember everyone that called me fat in those ten years.
And now that I think about it, I want to say thank you to all those people sincerely. You were the best motivation.
What These 10 Lessons Are Based On
With everything that this decade has given and taken from me, I’m not going to be giving you the standard stuff we all learn through those early years of our lives.
I’ll be giving you the top 10 lessons I’ve learned in the past ten years through the struggle and grind to go from fat to fit, from broke to at least wealthy enough, from Wisconsin boy to world traveler, and from hating my life to loving every single fucking second of it.
In the order that I learned these life lessons.
1. Do You and Be Unapologetically You
This one was discovered early on in the decade. Coming off of last year as being the leading scorer but an unfortunate injury and being out of shape leads me to be benched coming into my final senor season in basketball.
Coming into our final game, a mentor and assistant coach took me aside. The gist of our conversation was this – Just be you. Go out there and give it everything you got, and don’t listen to the coach or anyone else. Just do you and make it memorable.
Quickly, I took a F*** you to the coach approach, which I wouldn’t suggest always, but hey, it was the last game.
Overall in the game, we got murdered. We faced the best team in the state three years running. But guess who was the leading scorer that game?! Guess who has the memory of leaving his short-lived basketball career firing with the crowd chanting for him?!
When I finally freed myself to not worry about what my coach and spectators thought and just to be who I was on the court, that’s when I was able to step into my own greatness.
Although I cried, leaving the court, I also left with one of the greatest memories and life lessons that now can give me tears of joy.
Be You Conclusion:
Be 100% yourself, embrace your strengths and your flaws, and find confidence in who you are enough to be unapologetically you. Never let outside people, factors, or situations move you off course of who you are inside and who you want to be in the future.
2. Health is Wealth
“When you have health, you have millions of wishes. When you don’t have your health, you only have one wish…” – Unknown
And that’s obviously to have your health.
Physical fitness and health are what initially brought about my entire life transformation and was the stepping stone to who I am today. But it’s more than just physical.
Yes, the looks are great. The six-pack or flat tummy is fantastic! But the mental effects of having your health is where it becomes wealth.
When you tune in, start eating healthier, and exercising your body can do miraculous things. You have more energy and mentally clear. Your hormones and chemicals in your brain change and make you happier. You learn discipline and hard work, which overflows into your career, relationships, business, and more. You become more confident, and being your true authentic self becomes more comfortable and easier every waking day.
Heath and fitness are what saved my life. As mentioned, I went from 270 lb. overweight alcoholic to a 200 lb. entrepreneur and fitness model.
If it wasn’t for the mental shift, I would NEVER have graduated college, started my own business, travel the world, and certainly NEVER take my shirt off in front of a camera!
Health is Wealth Conclusion:
When you have your health, you can focus on other things and spend your time making those better (your business, relationships, career, spiritually, etc.). But if you don’t have your health, you’re only focused on one thing… Getting it back.
Think about it this way, if you had a million-dollar racehorse, would you feed it junk food and allow it to sit around all day?
Of course, not!
So why do you allow yourself to do the same?
3. It’s Okay To Want More
I feel as if Christians and people from the Midwest have a general consensus that everyone should be average, live the normal life, and never strive for more. I mean, that would be selfish and worldly, right?
Everyone should jump into their 2013 Toyota Corrolla, drive to their 9-5 where they make an average salary, then come back to their average duplex and watch below average reality TV until they fall asleep and do it over again, right?
WRONG… DEAD ASS WRONG.
I got a lot of shit and probably still do from individuals that think I’m just after fame, money, power, and other materialistic things that are of this world. And while I don’t mind those, that’s not the end goal (but I do know some of those things will come along the way).
It’s not selfish to want more out of life. It’s not selfish to want to experience this beautiful world that God created.
What is selfish is holding someone back from achieving what they want out of life.
God even states in the Bible that he wants us to live in abundance and enjoy all that life has to offer!
“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” – 2 Corinthians 9:8
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” – Matthew 6:33
It’s Okay To Want More Conclusion:
God created this whole beautiful world and everything in it (including you 😉 ). It’s not wrong to want to experience and enjoy it as much as possible. So write down your wildest goals and dreams and chase after them with a pure heart and the right mindset.
4. Let Them Go
One of the cheesiest self-improvement quotes of all time but one of my favorites is as follows:
“You become the five people you surround yourself with the most. Choose wisely.”
And it couldn’t be further from the truth.
I can progressively see the changes in my personality and who I identify as with who I was around during that time. From jock to party guy to student entrepreneur to digital nomad, it perfectly fits with who I was around.
And the most significant thing I learned was how to let go of the people in the past.
You have to be intentional about who those five people are. Run an audit of who you want to be and where you want to be in a year, five years, and at the end of your life.
Now, look around.
Are those five people going to help you get there?
If not, you know it’s time to find a new crowd.
Not only will a new crowd motivate you more to get there, but when you’re on the same journey as others, it creates a sense of community, togetherness and increases your bond and likelihood of success for everyone involved.
This is what I did walking into my first entrepreneurship meeting in college. I looked at the two smartest guys in the room and told myself, “I want to start a business with those guys.”
Low and behold, a few years later, these two guys are my best friends. I’ve started multiple businesses with them, and shit, I’m traveling with one of them around the world! Cheers to my best friend, Sam Lepak, on that one.
If fitness didn’t save my life, Sam and Brandon did.
Let Them Go Conclusion:
You are the five people you are surrounded by the most. Choose those people intentionally based off of who you want to be and where you want to go in life. Let go of others that don’t support or won’t help you towards that goal.
5. Test, Test, Test
The best way to figure out what you want to do in life or find your purpose???
Test, Test, Test.
I’m a man of many quotes and here’s another that I swear by:
“You’ll never know what you want to do in life until you try everything.”
Remember when your mom used to trick you into eating veggies?
She would con you but saying something like, how do you know you don’t like it until you try it?
And then you try it and spit it out no matter what it tastes like just to be a little shit.
But anyways, find your purpose, passion, or career path is the same way. Just try it!
Test out as many avenues as possible as you never know what will pique your interest. Yes, it might take you a little off-plan or spin things around, but maybe that’s just what you want.
The worst-case scenario is that you don’t like it, and then you leave and try something else or go back to what you were doing before.
But there’s no such thing as a loss if you test ideas, passions, projects, or careers on a small scale.
For me, I was over eight different majors before I graduated from college. I was every major in the business school besides supply chain management at one point, I swear!
But I loved this.
It taught me how to follow and test out my passions. So I would dive a little deeper into something that would interest me, and I’d be okay doing for the next 5-10 years of my life. With this strategy, I was able to weed out accounting, finance, economics, general management, business law, and others quickly.
Then I finally landed on tech and marketing, and I ended up graduating in 3 years with a degree in IT and a marketing agency side project. Which is now the only business that’s still running that makes me 90% of my income.
I use this testing method with clients, different business ideas, and traveling to different countries to this day!
Test, Test, Test Conclusion:
Test all your assumptions, interests, and passions to see what sticks. Even if you don’t know what your passionate about or love, continue to test different things so you can find out what you don’t like. Then it’s just a process of elimination to figure out what you do like.
6. Motivation Fades, Discipline Stays
Coming from a guy that’s a massive fan of #MotivationMonday this seems like a weird thing to say…
But it’s true!
Motivation, if coming from the outside, fades after a certain amount of time.
This is why New Years Resolutions usually last for a few weeks. But at least by the time, Valentine’s day rolls around, 95% of resolutions are given up on, unfortunately.
And that’s sole because the motivation faded. That motivation came from the outside, the new year, and everyone else trying to do it. But there was no true internal why behind you were doing it.
Without having a deep internal “Why” or discipline, it’s impossible for the motivation to stick and to keep the excellent habit once the motivation wears off.
Discipline comes in when you don’t want to do it, but you do it anyway.
You do things for the future, you not the present you because you know deep down you’ll be rewarded for it later. You also understand it’s what’s best for you.
I get texts all the time asking me this question, “How do you stay motivated to go to the gym or eat healthily?”
And it’s a super tough question because the real answer is, I don’t!
I’m not motivated to go to the gym or eat healthily.
It’s discipline. It’s my routine. And it’s my habit.
If you want that New Years Resolution (or New Decade Resolution) to stick, the key is NOT MOTIVATION.
It’s creating habits and routines so you can slowly build the discipline to the point where that good habit becomes subconscious and a usual way of life.
Motivation Fads, Discipline Stays Conclusion:
If you want the New Years Resolution or any other goal to stay with you, don’t search for outside motivation that fades. Create habits, routines, and ultimately discipline, so it becomes more natural and second nature to work towards those goals.
7. People Do Things Out of Emotion and Justify with Logic
One fundamental framework to understand in marketing, sales, business, or anything that requires persuasion in life (which is almost everything) is that it’s all about emotions.
When someone makes a purchase or does a specific action, they first do it off of emotion.
They then try to back it up and justify it with logic.
Don’t believe me? Think you’re super logical? Here are just some everyday examples:
A guy buys a nice car; we’ll say it’s a new Tesla. And tells everyone he bought it because of the features: self-driving, all-electric, and beautiful interior. Which all might be true.
But they real deep reason he bought that car is because of status. He bought that car for the feeling it would give him, knowing he has that high valued car.
The moment I realized this is when starting our peanut butter company.
Yes, our peanut butter was delicious and super healthy. I mean, I ate over two jars a week for a year, so it had to be pretty damn good, right?!
But what Sam and I realized is that people didn’t buy it for the peanut butter.
They first bought it because of us and their emotions towards us.
Our first supporters bought the peanut butter because we were two crazy kids starting a peanut butter company. They loved us and our passion and wanted to be apart of it more than they wanted the peanut butter.
And this is why people would be willing to pay $15-20 for a jar of peanut butter!
Their emotions, not the peanut butter itself.
Side Note: We did have an insane re-order rate. So we brought customers in with our passion and emotion and then kept them coming back with a great product. This is one of the only things we did right with our now dissolved Pintful Peanut Butter. 🙁 #RIP
People Do Things Out Of Emotion And Justify With Logic Conclusion:
To understand anyone’s behavior, you need to look at the underlying emotions that pulled them. Every decision (especially purchasing decisions) was triggered and made by emotions, and then people back it up with logic that justifies that decision in their mind. So you want to persuade someone? Go after the emotions first, not the features, benefits, or what you usually see.
8. It’s Time To Get Uncomfortable… I Mean REALLY Uncomfortable
Want to learn more about yourself in a year that you have in your entire life?
There’s nothing that will challenge you more and come into your own than being by yourself in a foreign place.
You begin to realize that there’s more to life than the same few people, situations, jobs, restaurants, etc. that are in your current place or position.
Secondly, when you are in a state of comfort like the place you’ve been living for the past 20+ years, you don’t notice how much others affect you.
Because you see these people every day and every week, they influence your passions, decision making, and goals.
Remember, you become the five people you’re around the most.
And what moving away gives you is this: The ability to find out what YOU want to do with your life, who YOU want to surround yourself with, and what makes YOU happy.
When you’re in the same situation your entire life, you become blind to what YOU truly want in order to fit that society’s norms. You end up going through each day the way you feel society wants you to, not the way you genuinely want to go.
There’s nothing like being alone for some time in a new place. No one knows you. No one can influence your decision making. No one is telling you what they think you should or shouldn’t do.
Life becomes in your control.
It’s scary, yes. It can be boring and lonely at times. But don’t the pros of possibly finding your passion, purpose, and life goals worth it?!
You even have a backup plan, so there’s nothing to lose.
I always tell my Ma, “I can always come back; I can’t always leave.”
If worst comes to worst if I fail harder than I ever have, if I can’t stand it, if I don’t find what I’m looking for, I can always come back.
You can always go back to the same life you had before, but you can’t always leave. You can’t always leap.
Take it from a man that’s moved across the country twice by himself and now travels the world in uncomfortable situations every day, it’s scary… but it’s freeing.
Get REALLY Uncomfortable Conclusion:
Leave! It may only be for a short time but move away for a bit if you want to truly find out what you want to do with your life, who you want to be around, and what your purpose is. When you leave for a bit, there’s no one telling you what you can and can’t do, and society isn’t weighing on your decision-making process. It’s the scariest thing you can do in life, and it’s the most freeing.
9. Ask For Help… It’s Not a Weakness. It’s a Strength
Imagine being willingly kidnapped, blindfolded, and thrown into the center of a dormant volcano in a foreign country with no smartphone and no money. You don’t know the local language, you have no idea where you are, and you’re told you somehow have to make it home.
(P.S. This is a true story I went through that legally I can’t share more than I already have, but hopefully one day I can share the whole experience!)
The only thing that can you get you out of this situation is others. And for that, you have to vulnerable.
You have to look at yourself and admit you don’t have it all together. And you don’t have all the answers!
Shit, I know in this situation I didn’t know all the answers, and I was a hot mess.
And that’s the same with life.
We’re all hot messes running around with not everything figured out, but yet we all pretend we do.
But if I wanted to make it home, I couldn’t pretend anymore.
I had to make myself vulnerable. Admit, I don’t have everything together and admit I need help.
Without being completely willing to look like an idiot and ask questions that bewildered individuals such as “What country am I in?” or “Where the hell am I?”, I wouldn’t be writing this story today. I wouldn’t have made it home.
I’d still be stuck in the volcano telling myself I have it all figured out.
And that’s the same with life.
Too many people are stuck in the volcano thinking they have it all figured out because they are too scared to be vulnerable, to look a little silly, and ask others for help.
And the crazy thing is, people want to help you!
What I’ve realized through traveling to 15 countries in the past few months is that 99.9% of people, no matter their race, language, religion, culture, or anything, are good people. And all of those people will go above and beyond to help you!
From the people that find a translator for you to the individuals that personally take you through the subway system and wait with you to ensure you get on the right train, when you open yourself up, people are willing and wanting to help.
Then you can realize that asking questions isn’t a vulnerability; it’s a superpower that will allow you to get farther than everyone else!
Ask For Help Conclusion:
Don’t be stuck running in circles, pretending you have all the answers and everything figured out. Nobody is a self-made man, and when you open yourself up and ask for help, 99.9% of people will go out of your way to ensure you a better off. Asking questions and being vulnerable doesn’t make you weak; it makes you stronger and smarter.
10. Have Faith
I’ll preface this section that it isn’t just faith in God, although that’s the main point.
It’s also critical to have faith in yourself. In your abilities, and faith that you no matter what struggle or situation you’re going through, you can and will make it out.
I like to tell my friends this and anyone that’s made it this far into this post is or surely can be a good friend of mine:
Sometimes you just have to jump and test out your wings! How do you know you won’t fly if you’re too scared to leave the ground?!
Through the past decade, crazy leaps of faith have become somewhat the norm for me. And somehow, someway, God has caught me and brought me to new heights every single time.
Not only did I trust God, but I trusted myself that no matter I would be okay. That worst-case scenario I could go back to what I used to do.
So when I quit my secure and easy corporate job at a growing real estate firm without having another offer, that was a leap of faith.
When I bought my plane ticket to Miami still without that offer in hand and just two 15 minutes skype calls with the founders, that was a leap of faith.
When I left that position nine months later to start my fitness business with no income coming in at all, that was a leap of faith.
Yet every single time, through the stress, heartbreak, and tears that ensued during these times, I look back and see the absolute beauty and joy of what God and I did there.
Each leap of faith, God set me up to spread my wings and fly.
He allowed me to open them wide, allowed me to show my true colors, and opened me up to new experiences and the new life I could never have imagined.
Have Faith Conclusion:
I don’t want anyone to be wreckless, but man, sometimes you just have to go for it and jump. What’s the worst that can happen? That you go back and your stuck in what you are today. There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain when you take that leap and trust in yourself and God. It’ll hurt. It’ll break you. It’ll change you. And it’ll put the pieces all back together in a beautiful sculpture you couldn’t even have imagined before.
(Bonus and Possibly The Biggest Lesson) 11. You Get Back What You Put Out In The World
It wouldn’t be right if I left this one out.
Referring back to lesson number 8 about being uncomfortable and moving away, this is the number 1 lesson I learned about life during my time in Miami.
The universe has a way of giving back to you what you put out in the world.
When I moved to Miami, there’s this stigma of sin, drugs, money, and total materialism.
And there 100% is a ton of that in Miami compared to the Midwest.
But you only get sucked into that if that’s what you put out.
Being alone in an almost foreign place, I decided who I want to be and put that out into the world.
And in what you could call the most materialistic and fake city in the United States, I found nothing but love and care. I found passionate, purposeful, and beautiful friends inside and out.
And that’s because that’s what I gave off, so that’s what attracted me. You end up being like a magnet in this world; you pull people and experiences closer that are like you.
So you say you want to meet interesting people? Be interesting yourself!
You want to meet Godly and kind people and do help driven activities? Do them yourself first, be that person, and those will then start to flood your life and surround you.
Nothing is a better example of this than when I’m at an EDM Festival.
People feel the energy and pure joy that Sam and I give off, and we become surrounded by people that are the same.
We dance endlessly, smile, and radiate good vibes no matter what you look like, where you’re from, what you’re wearing, etc.
And God has a way to give that back to us.
He does this by surrounding us with smiling people that feed off that energy and even enhance it. Like the girls that thought I was famous or the countless great friends, we meet through EDM music.
You Get Out What You Put Out Conclusion:
Be the person that you want to be surrounded by. I don’t believe in karma, but the universe has a way of giving back to you what you give to it, and you become a magnet for others and experiences that are like you. With all that together, I guess the main point is this:
Want to change what’s surrounding you? Look at yourself first and ask what can I change?
Top 10 Life Lessons Conclusion
It’s been a wild and crazy decade for us all. When you look back at yours, I’m sure you’ll see some similarities in lessons learned, or finally, when reading this, these lessons sparked what you learned but missed through everyday life.
The top ten lessons that I learned between 2010-2019 and you can take and use in your everyday life:
Be Unapologetically You: Love yourself and never be stopped by other’s opinions for just being yourself
Health is Wealth: You got one life to live and one body. Take care of it.
It’s Okay to Want More Out of Life: There’s nothing wrong with wanting a life of abundance.
Let Them Go: The people that aren’t on the same path or don’t support you.
Test Everything: Your job, major in college, your assumptions. Test everything to find what you enjoy.
Motivation Fades, Discipline Stays: Create good habits and discipline to see real change.
Actions are Made Out of Emotion: People do things out of emotion first and then back up with logic. So always go after emotions first.
Get Uncomfortable: Move away, take that new job; try something new. You’ll never really know yourself until you’re away from the society that tries to put you in a bucket.
Ask For Help: Asking for help isn’t a weakness, but it’s a superpower that can slingshot you to things more magnificent than you imagined.
Have Faith: Sometimes, you just have to jump when God tells you to. You’ll never know if you can fly if you never spread your wings.
Special Bonus – You Get Back What You Put Into The World: The world becomes a magnet and draws toward you whatever you put out. If you want something to change in your life, first look at yourself and see what you can change.
Comment down below your favorite lessons from this last decade! It could be on this list or not on the list, but I’d love to hear it, expand my life lessons from you, and hear how these impacted your life.