35 Lessons on the Way to 35 Years Old

Ryan Holiday
10 min readJun 16, 2022

Today, I turn 35 years old. This feels incredibly weird to me because I vividly remember writing a version of this article on my 25th birthday, on the eve of the release of what would be my first book. But that is the nature of life, as you get older, long periods of time — like the famous Hemingway line — slowly and then all at once, feel like short periods of time. And so here I am, entering the second half of my thirties, reflecting on what I’ve learned.

In those ten years, I wrote more than 10 books. I got married. I had two kids. Bought a house. Then a farm. Then a 140-year old building to open a bookstore in. I’ve traveled all over the world. I’ve read a lot. I’ve made a lot of mistakes (as I wrote about last year). I’ve seen some shit (a pandemic?!?). I’ve learned some stuff, although not nearly enough.

As always, that is what I wanted to talk about in this annual article (you can check out my pieces from 33, 32, 31, 30, 29, 28, 27, and 26). Rules, lessons, insights, trivia that I’ve learned in the last year…as well as the last thirty five years. You may agree with some and find others to be incomprehensible or outright wrong (but that’s why it’s my article).


–Don’t compare yourself to other people. You never know who is taking steroids. You never know who is drowning in debt. You never know who is a liar.

–There’s a sign by the track I run at in Austin, put there by Hollywood Henderson (who paid for the track). It says, “Leave This Place Better Than You Found It.” To me, that’s the meaning of life, in things big and small (but mostly small).

–I’m continually surprised at how much even very famous, very rich, very powerful people appreciate a kind word about their latest TV appearance, accomplishment or project. The point of this isn’t that “celebrities are people too,” it’s that if praise from a friend/acquaintance still registers even at that level, what do you think it means to your kids or to your co-worker/employees or to your siblings and friends?

–You don’t have to explain yourself. I read one of Sandra Day O’Connor’s clerks say that what she most admired about the Supreme Court Justice was that she never said “sorry” before she said no. She just said “no” if she couldn’t or didn’t…



Ryan Holiday

Bestselling author of ‘Conspiracy,’ ‘Ego is the Enemy’ & ‘The Obstacle Is The Way’ http://amzn.to/24qKRWR