4 Things I Learnt As I Turned 29

Stealing this idea from Ryan Holiday – who does a yearly blog like this.

I’ve learnt a lot in the void between 28 and 29, here are the 4 things that stick out the most:

1. Selective Approval

When you’re a kid adults tell you to ‘not care what other people think’. I think it’s true… to an extent.

There are times in life where you should care  – e.g. job interviews, first dates, sales pitches, etc.

But there are other times when you shouldn’t.

I was in the supermarket and I was having a nightmare with the self service machine. There were all sorts of unexpected items in the bagging area and a queue was gradually beginning to form behind me. An impatient one, at that.

(Note: Isn’t it about time they started making psychic self service machines that don’t have a meltdown every time the unexpected happens?)

My card wouldn’t work – so I had to fish around in my wallet for another. Tuts rang out from behind me. Sweat mopped my brow. Then a satsuma fell out of my hand and rolled across the floor.

I could feel dozens of hateful eyes burning down on me.

Luckily I persevered, managed to fit it all in my bag and hurried out.

Do you know how many of those people in that queue I’ve seen since that incident? 0.

And do you know how many times they’ve thought about it since then? 0.

I didn’t need their approval, their opinions didn’t matter. Yet I made myself uncomfortable by seeking it. After this realisation I’ve started to live freely.

Look for the people whose approval does matter. Ignore anyone else. Plus, according to social studies, it’s noted that those who don’t look for approval are often seen as more influential.

2. Fitter body. Fitter mind.

I was never in good shape at school. I was never anywhere near fit until I was in my early 20s and playing football several times a week. A habit that ended due to a snapped ankle.

The weight didn’t pile on right, though. Not until I was 25. It got to a point where I didn’t like my photo being taken and couldn’t bring myself to wear a t-shirt in public. When I look back now it makes me sad as I have very few photos to look back on from that period of my life – my body image was terrible, every mirror told me a different story. I didn’t know what to believe.

But that’s a story for another day, a whole blog in itself.

In November last year a gym opened nearly opposite my flat and I signed up. I trained hard. With the help of my friend I stuck to it and now, nearly a year later, I’m still going. Stronger and happier.

It’s helped with creativity too – positive endorphins from a morning workout set me up for a better day at work. Mind and body in tune.

3. Buy Expensive Jeans

Seriously. If you’re anything like me and you wear jeans a lot, it’s worth paying more for a good brand (if you can).

Very contrary I know, as everyone out there tells you not to be materialistic.

But they fit better, feel better and usually last longer – which helps in the long run, as we know the fast fashion industry isn’t good for the planet.

Also, nice clothes make you feel more confident. There I’ve said it. But, deep down, you know it’s true.

4. Phil Collins is a very good musician

I can’t believe it took me 29 years to realise. Great dry sense of humour, too.



How can you make time to do all the things you want to do?

Have you ever had so many things to do on your day off that you just didn’t know where to start?

…and, how often have you not got as much done as you’d like?

Can you relate to this quick clip from Channel 4’s ‘Peep Show’?

I know I do – particularly when it comes to writing. For those of us who aren’t yet making it as full-time writers we need to snatch time whenever we can to pursue it.

It’s also the same if you’re trying to become a sportsperson, a designer, a singer…etc.

But, when little problems and constant life admin get in the way, it’s hard isn’t it?

I guess that’s one of the reasons why ‘time management’ is such a buzzword, and has been for a long time now.

But…let me blow your illusion of time management out of the window by delivering the following news:

There’s no such thing as time management.

It’s all about how you manage yourself around time.

Because, let’s face it, there are no plans to extend the day any time soon so the playing field is going to stay the same.

You can use this to your advantage. After all, when you know what’s going to happen it’s easier to plan around it or for it.

Here are a few things that will help you maximise your creative potential:


When I first started full-time work I worked out the exact time that it took me to wake-up, shower, dry-off, get dressed, eat breakfast and start my morning commute.

On the off-chance that you care, all of the above took me thirty-five minutes.

My bus left at 7.45. So, allowing time to get to the stop, I’d wake up at 7.

It worked well, but the slightest complication could slow me down.

It also meant that I had no time in the morning to do anything apart from get ready.

So…I set my alarm for 6.00. And kept doing it. After the initial ‘gah, this is early’ it soon became a habit. I found that I was less rushed in the mornings, got into work feeling more awake…and, most importantly, I found I had an extra 40 minutes to write.

Try it.

There’s this great book you should read. It’s by a successful guy called Greg McKeown and it’s called ‘Essentialism: The Discipline of Less‘.

Like Mark, the character in the Peepshow video at the start of this article, when we do have spare time it can almost be over-whelming as we have so many things we want to do. And, let’s face it, the more things you spread yourself over the less of an impact you tend to have.

So, take a look at what’s truly essential to your day. If you’ve got a day off, would you rather look back at something you’ve created or would you rather reflect on the endless games of FIFA you played?

Here’s a cool technique you can use to maximise your creativity in a short amount of time.


Not so long ago, I had a day off and I had several writing projects that I wanted to do. I’d also recently bought an XBOX One game that I wanted to play.

So, once I got up and got sorted I thought I’d invest an hour into the game. An hour became another hour, which became half the day. By the time I’d stopped it was mid-afternoon and nearly all that writing time had slipped away. I was annoyed at myself.

So, here’s what I do now. I still do things such as watch shows and play games to unwind or procrastinate, but I set myself a limit. After half an hour of procrastinating, my alarm goes off and I move onto the next thing.

It’s so simple I know, but it works. You just need to remember that the alarm is sacred, and that the ‘just one more…’ mental argument needs to be overridden.

So, there we go – just a few things I practice myself when I need to make time to write. I often use them to make time to do this blog.

There’s plenty of reading available on time management – so it’s worth a Google. Plus, the Essentialism book is a must-read.

A year or so ago I did a Dale Carnegie course on ‘Time Management’ – if you have the resources I recommend checking their courses out.

I do realise that my advice is all really obvious and there’s no amazing, super life-changing fix. But, as I always say, sometimes someone needs to point out the obvious as it can often be ignored for being too obvious.

It’s the same with weight loss really, for example – making small life changes will lead to success in the long-term.