dad My Dad was unconventional well before it was cool.

He was a “lifehacker” long before the blog was popular.

He shrugged off society’s institutions a generation before the rest of us realized how broken and unreliable they really were.

Dad intentionally carved his own path, willingly sacrificing to remain true to the life he envisioned.

Decades before I’d heard the words “lifestyle design,” I was learning its principles firsthand. Unfortunately, I was too distracted and naive to realize the power of what I’d seen. It’s funny how life cycles that way. I remember vividly rejecting lessons from my parents, only to search for them now. Perhaps one has to realize that chasing “normal” is a miserable path before being willing to cut an alternative one.

For this Father’s Day, I thought I’d share the three main principles of intentional living that my Dad taught me. Maybe (like me) you’re ready to hear them now, or maybe they’ll give you the courage to share your own unconventional lessons with your kids.

1. You are responsible.

No matter what, Dad never made excuses. In good times and bad, Dad taught me that the outcomes were the result of his choices.

When I wanted to earn money, he taught me the importance of learning a skill. Beyond that, he taught me to be responsible for my own education – whether that meant in school, from the books stacked everywhere, or by finding someone to show me.

He taught me to use words and mantras to change my mindset and motivate myself. He taught me that my happiness was my responsibility.

2. Money is just a tool.

As a child, I remember when Dad had lots of money – and when he had little. And while his car or house may have varied, his personality didn’t. Whether at our favorite dim sum restaurant or making peanut butter sandwiches, Dad’s passion for life and adventure never wavered.

I didn’t appreciate this very much while I was in middle school, but I sure do now. The commercialized American Dream may tell us that our salaries and possessions define us, but Dad showed me that he didn’t derive his self worth from his bank account. Years later, I’m navigating those same waters and appreciate his lighting the way.

3. It’s never too late to change.

A few years ago, Dad’s health spun out of control.  I was particularly terrified because he’d always been my Superman. He seemed to still have his Golden Gloves shape well into middle age. But a lifetime of unhealthy eating had triggered diabetes and a host of related problems.

He was sick and weak, and he could have stayed in bed. Instead, he read stacks of books and interviewed dozens of medical experts. Within months, he’d crafted a daily routine to get his health back: exercise in the morning to force his muscles to use up the extra glucose, a revamped diet of fresh meats and vegetables, plenty of sleep, and consistent monitoring.

What once scared me was now inspiring. His research also provided critical insights into my own health journey. We both transformed from fast food junkies to having refrigerators full of paleo foods.

In fact, I really enjoy trading gifts with him on the holidays. We’ve recently swapped YouBar recipes, and his shipment of Caveman Cookies should arrive today.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad! With every passing year, I appreciate you more than ever. Your unconventional life is an incredible inspiration to me, and I hope to pass it to our next generation.