Today’s my 33rd birthday, and I’ve decided to celebrate it.

I was terrified of my 30’s, dreading every birthday for months ahead. My Nana had breast cancer at 32, and my Mom collapsed at 35 with what was eventually diagnosed as Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia. I had let each of those creep inside my head. Then, a few months ago, a new realization hit me. They’re both doing fantastic today, so they’d both defeated whatever health curse I was fearing. Perhaps that strength was the legacy I should focus on.

This last year has been a lot like that, so I wanted to share 14 big things I’ve learned from my 33 years of life.

1. Whatever you feed, grows.

Feed your worries with fearful thoughts, tragic television dramas, and anxiety, and they’ll grow. Feed your hopes with positive focus, biblical truth, and daily progress, and they’ll overshadow all else. It’s your choice.

2. Your life is your habits.

Be careful what you do repeatedly. It sticks. It’s your superpower, and you can use your habits to create a cycle of brilliance or of waste. I’ve done both, and the former is much more enjoyable.

3. Embrace the suck.

Whatever you do, there will be a price to pay for becoming great. Pay it. Whether it’s 1,000 days or 10,000 hours, stick with it. After the initial dip, you’ll learn to enjoy the journey.

4. Face what you fear.

Nothing is ever as bad as you worry it to be, and avoiding it rarely makes the situation better. Living scared will cost you more in the long run. You may delay the consequence, but it comes back – with interest. It’s better to take your lumps before they’ve had time to grow.

5. Learn to pray.

I still haven’t mastered this one, and I wish I’d started practicing sooner.

6. Take responsibility for your own education (and that of your kids).

The magic escalator is broken. Following the herd will lead you to a crowded cliff. Most importantly, learn how to learn – and how to decide what to learn. Nobody can do a better job of educating you than you.

7. Don’t follow all the rules.

It’s exhausting, and it’s probably okay to have pink hair if that’s what you want. This almost always comes down to focusing on the function (which usually isn’t harmed) instead of the form (which is often rigid, yet rarely matters).

8. Get a standing desk.

Sitting all day will kill you. Plus, it will make you miserable in the meantime with weight gain, bad posture, and inflexible joints.

9. Stop watching television.

It’ll change your life instantly. Within just a couple days, you’ll realize that you had a whole ‘nother lifetime being spent inside the screen. You’ll have time for anything you want to do, and you’ll be happier because you’ll see less advertising and “reality” to subconsciously compare yourself to.

10. Recognize that “overnight success” is a myth.

All you got to see was the highlight reel, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Success comes from consistent action over time. That time is also preparing you to handle the success when it arrives. Otherwise, it’s likely to be more of a curse than a blessing. Just ask all the bankrupt lottery winners. Business is pushups.

11. Believing in and seeking your “big break” is dangerous.

This is the corollary to #10. Waiting on that “one thing” distracts you from taking the daily actions needed to create results. That way, when luck happens, you’ll be ready for it.

12. Focus on your Daily March.

Have both the discipline to stay the course when times are tough and to hold back and avoid burnout. It must be more than a philosophy. To stay on track, you need clear and concrete performance goals and mechanisms. I call mine the Daily March.

13. Surround yourself intentionally.

Take responsibility for who you spend time with. To achieve goals that make a difference, you need a small community of people that will jointly encourage you and hold you accountable.

14. Swap your breads and pasta for vegetables.

Walking away from the sugary drinks and processed foods should be obvious. This next layer isn’t yet, and I’ll admit the idea is ahead of its time, but I love you enough to say it anyway. Grains (even whole) are not good for you. Don’t eat them. If you want to hear it from people with MD behind their names, watch the two videos at the bottom of this article.

Why 14? When I wrote it all down, those captured everything I needed to share. Plus, it’s my daughter’s age.

If you want more, here are two of my favorite lists from JD Roth and Julien Smith.

As my birthday present, you can tell me the biggest life lesson you’ve learned, in the comments below.