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11 Things That Took Me
42 Years (GAH!) To Learn ...

Note: The author is marketing consultant to Voice Over Virtual, the giant 3-day online conference in September, where he will host Tom's Tiki Room - a live networking hangout lounge where you can visit, chat, unwind and learn.

By Tom Dheere
Voice Talent and Coach

One of my favorite websites is Boing Boing. Itís an online magazine that has a staff of amazing writers, and has an incredible pool of contributing fans, as well.

It offers a plethora of "geek contentĒ - articles and pictures relating to movies, music, comic books, video games, etc., but also some moving and thought-provoking pieces, usually relating to human rights, civil rights, privacy rights, etc.

I read it almost every day and itís a whole heap oí fun.

One article was lauding a recent blog entry by Shane Nickerson. Itís called 11 Things That Took Me 42 Years To Learn. This touched a chord with me for several reasons, one being that I am turning 42 this year (GAH!!).

Quite a few of the 11 things hit home; particularly numbers 2, 3, 4, and 5. See which ones (if any) resonate with you. Oh, and thank you Shane, for such an insightful and thought-provoking blog!


Now as I round the corner toward the still youngish age of 42, Iíve had some time to reflect on whatís worked and what hasnít in my life.

Periodically, I feel the need to share some of this wisdom. Usually this happens when I havenít been drinking much and my brain wants to dump information.

So here we are with some advice. I know you didnít ask for it, you probably wonder why I think Iím qualified to give it, and thereís a good chance youíre going to ignore it. Iím okay with that.

1. Play like you practice.

If youíve heard it from a coach, you know what it means.

It means donít save yourself for the big game. Donít imagine a time when everything is real and youíll finally be able to give it 100%.

This is it. Itís real right now: your writing, your acting, your creating, your parenting, your working, your choices in life.

There may never be a big game, or at least, not the one you imagine from the comfort of your couch while youíre playing Minecraft instead of rewriting your sketch.

Time slips quickly, and the impression you make on people now will have lasting repercussions as your peers rise through the ranks and eventually have the power to hire you, or not.

So play like you practice. Youíll have no idea how to actually execute when opportunity arrives if you havenít been giving it everything until that day comes.  

2. Trust your instinct.

If youíre miserable in your job, quit. If youíve chosen the wrong career, make a plan to switch. If something feels wrong, youíre right. Fix it, and donít look back.

This applies to work, relationships, friendships and life choices. Wake up in the morning as the person you want to be instead of the person youíre constantly trying to change.

Sometimes itís hard work to stay true to the person you know you are. Itís always worth it.  

3. Let your dreams change.

You thought you were going to be a famous actor, but have you slowly begun to resent everything about the career except the end goal you imagine to be the answer to your happiness?

It isnít. This goes back to #1. Life slips by quickly when you sacrifice your current happiness for imagined future happiness for an extended amount of time.

People tell you to do what you love. Thatís not an expression, itís a philosophy. Switch your dreams to something that makes you happy right now, not hopefully happy later.  

4. Open your eyes to the right person.

The right person is so rarely the one youíve imagined since you were young. The right person is someone you love to be around; someone who makes you laugh, makes you happy, makes you feel strong.

Lots of times, theyíre so obviously in front of you that you look right past them.

If you find someone like that, latch on and never look back. If your current person doesnít do those things for you, move on. Seriously, today.  

5. Stop comparing your life to others.

Your life has nothing to do with their's. You imagine their world to be perfect, but it never is.

Find your own happiness, be happy for other's successes, and fight that envy. It will tear you up and make you hard to be around.

Dump your cynicism, while youíre at it. Itís cheap and simple.  

6. Go where life blows you.

So to speak. Let that gentle pushing and pulling that you feel each day guide you towards where you belong.

Say yes to new things. Be open to exciting experience. Try new foods. Travel.

Donít just hate stuff because itís easier. Maybe youíd love eel. Or urchin. Or the Insane Clown Posse. You donít know.  

7. Measure your failures as cautiously as you measure your successes.

So you failed. Okay. In the same way you are modest about your successes, be modest about your failures. Donít linger in them.

Think of all the hard learning you did while you worked so hard on something that sucked. Valuable knowledge. Thatís how it goes sometimes. On to the next one.  

8. Stop expecting stuff.

Your friends donít owe you a job. Your parents donít want to support you anymore. No one wants to hear you complain.

You donít deserve anything any more than anyone else. You arenít the center of the world.

You are responsible for your own happiness. Stop blaming everyone and everything else if you arenít there yet. Fix it.  

9. Be direct with people.

Fight the urge to say "yes" to everyone all the time. Itís okay to say "no" in a nice way.

Youíll lose friends if you agree to do something and then just hope it fades away or they forget. Just be honest now and avoid the guilt later.  

10. If you find the sweet spot, everything falls into place.

Get yourself to where youíre happiest in work, relationship, hobbies, social activities Ö and the world will open up to you.

If youíre happy, people will want to be around you. If youíre miserable, you become a chore.

11. Be nice to the people who like you.

Donít ignore their invitations. Donít blow off their emails.

Donít take friendships for granted. If you do, youíll eventually find yourself a fringe friend who everyone only kind of likes.  


Okay, thatís enough. Iím sure some people will skewer this. Itís filled with cliches and some preachy horsecrap, but these are some real things Iíve learned. Most of this stuff is probably in self-help books or group therapy sessions, but since Iíve managed to avoid both thus far, itís taken me almost 42 years to learn.

Of course, older folks will shake their heads and chuckle at the notion of an almost 42-year-old popinjay spouting any sort of wisdom. So be it.

Perhaps you 20- or 30-something youngsters will find a nugget or two in here that you can scoff at, file away, and then one day spout as your own after a hard lesson or two toughens you up.

Or maybe you already figured this stuff out and Iím just slow. Whatever. Showoffs.

Brain dump: complete. 
Tom Dheere is a full-time voice over talent as well as a freelance actor, writer, and popular speaker and trainer on voice over marketing. He voices in many genres, and audiobook credits include the Daniele Steel audiobook Amazing Grace. He is also moderator of The Good Karma Network - an online entertainment industry support group.

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Comments (1)
David Compton
8/1/2013 at 11:21 AM
You are wiser than you probably realize. (And a fine writer!) Even as one who has lived three more decades than you have, I found nuggets of wisdom in your article which struck a responsive chord.

No need to apologize for what you might have considered statements of the obvious. If their content is not part of one's everyday consciousness, the response is likely to be something like, "Of course. That's true. Why didn't I think of that?"

Thanks for a fine article.
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