99 Uncensored Ways to Live Life

Aaron McHugh

The Path of Life by Joram68 (Creative Commons)
The Path of Life by Joram68 (Creative Commons)

I was struck recently reading a new book realizing that really I am asking the same question every time I pick up a new title

“How do I have better or more…

  • Health
  • Sex
  • Finances
  • Success
  • Relationships
  • Career

The truth is that the answers are relatively the same from book-to-book.

The problem is that they are so damn hard to live by.

Check ’em out and see which one’s you’d take and which one’s you’d leave.  I’m not claiming this is a complete list.

These 99 fell out of me into my journal on an airplane ride.

  1. Show up consistently and do the work.
  2. Work on what you love.
  3. Don’t do it to pursue fame.
  4. Don’t neglect your relationships.
  5. Don’t be an asshole.
  6. Duck tape fixes almost anything.
  7. Be generous.
  8. Don’t give up, but be ready to revise at any moment.
  9. Don’t hire someone that you wouldn’t want to be stuck with for a twelve-hour car ride through a snowstorm.

10. Don’t dip your quill in company ink.

11. Rest one day a week.

12. Don’t self promote.

13. Help others achieve their goals.

14. Spend less money than you make.

15. Be willing to do with less sleep in order to pursue your dreams.

16. If you want to feel good at 80, you better start doing something about it at age 40.

17. Enjoy the wife of your youth. Don’t upgrade her after she cranks out three kids and gains three dress sizes.

18. Write down your goals and stare at them everyday.

19. Don’t check your email 200 times a day.

20. Listen attentively to others.

21. Risk doing more work than is required or asked.

22. Professionalism is a choice, not a personality trait.

23. Self-respect and dignity are easy to ignore, but difficult to regain.

24. Don’t pursue a career in hopes of your family waiting for you to “succeed”.  Your victory party may be pretty lonely.

25. Say what you mean and mean what you say.

26. Practice, practice, practice.

27. Ask advice of other’s who have done it before.

28. Surround yourself with people smarter than you.

29. Don’t take no for an answer, but know when to back off.

30. Don’t keep saying, “I don’t have time to do that.” Just do it.

31. Your checkbook and your calendar accurately reflect your priorities.

32. Don’t do crappy work and expect showmanship to make up for it.

33. The words that come out of your mouth reveal what you believe.

34. Assume the best in everyone until they prove you wrong.

35. Forgive and forget.

36. Don’t be a passive boss, husband, father, or friend.

37. Better is a patient man than a warrior who takes a city.

38. The best things in life are the hardest to grow and cultivate. Weeds creep in overnight.

39. Pursue adventure more than comfort.

40. Avoid negative people.

41. Ask for help, but don’t be needy.

42. Offer second chances to others.

43. Don’t eat fried food.

44. Pray daily.

45. Don’t assume that someone with a lot of money has fewer problems than you.

46. Courage is not the absence of fear, but action in spite of fear.

47. Don’t take credit for someone else’s work.

48. Do something that scares you.

49. There is a difference between persistence and annoyance. Figure it out.

50. Respect people’s personal space.

51. When you loose, congratulate the winner.

52. Don’t tattoo your face even if you are the former champion of the world.

53. Don’t name your children after a long night of partying.

54. Don’t worry about other people’s problems. Worry about your own.

55. Don’t use credit cards. Don’t live in debt.

56. Auto-draft your savings every month.

57. Watch less TV.

58. Don’t treat your life like a game.

59. Do work that matters.

60. Deal with your past so it does not consume your future.

61. Automate repeatable tasks and focus on producing value instead.

62. Don’t write an email when you are mad.

63. Don’t send bad news over email. Call instead.

64. We teach people how to treat us by what we invite and permit.

65. Pursue adventures and memories instead of buying more stuff.

66. Most of what we believe is impossible is only in our head.

67. Having your ass handed to you will teach you more than ten years of prosperity.

68. Humility is a choice.

69. Do what you’re good at and stop focusing on fixing your weaknesses.

70. Don’t watch the news if you want to remain an optimist.

71. Less is more.

72. Tell the truth the first time.

73. Your kids want your attention not another vacation.

74. Drive used cars.

75. Ask questions.

76. Stay curious.

77. Ask yourself, “What is my motive?”

78. Exercise for 20 minutes every day.

79. Floss.

80. Drink water.

81. Don’t tell someone who just lost his or her job, his or her marriage, his or her child, his or her house, his or her health, or his or her company that you know how they feel. You don’t.

82. Don’t borrow money.

83. Don’t flirt with your married former high school girlfriend over Facebook.

84. Seek first to understand.

85. Don’t put up with bullshit.

86. When you’re the boss, don’t underestimate your influence over your employees. They miss nothing.

87. Bless those who curse you.

88. No one will care about your idea as much as you do.

89. Invest regularly in friendships.

90. Get outside every day.

91. Ask “Why?”

92. Accept correction.

93. Apprentice for as long as possible. Once you’re in charge, you can’t ever go back.

94. Feed the hungry, shelter the cold, and care for single mothers.

95. Create space in your life for quiet.

96. Don’t believe everyone on Facebook is having more fun than you, skinnier than you, funnier than you, has more beautiful houses, children, cars, and vacations than you. It’s only some of the story.

97. Everyone’s lives make more sense in the rear view mirror than as it is happening.

98. Tell your wife, your children, your parents, and your friends that you love them. Don’t assume they know. It needs to be said. They need to hear it.

99. A fulfilling purpose is longer lasting than any amount of sex, fame, fortune, success, vacation, or adventure.

Download the PDF full list here:

99 Uncensored Ways to Live Life by Aaron McHugh

42 thoughts on “99 Uncensored Ways to Live Life

  1. Interesting timing…I keep getting hit with the thought of doing a list of ‘life wisdom’ for my kids. Not that I have it all figured out…but I’ve learned a few things. Just as I see in your list here…the ’99’ things you’ve put down all have a story behind them, eh? Thanks for the inspiration Aaron.

      1. Happiness and self improvement are central pursuits in my life. Teo helpful additions 🙂 :
        1. Admit when you are wrong. People will respect your integrity more.
        2. Learn from the mistakes other have made -Read old and new literature

    1. Paul-Thank you bro. Yeah it even does me well to re-read it every couple weeks. I try and gauge how I’m doing with these principles. I uploaded a PDF copy for download in case that makes it easier for you. Check it out at the end of the post.

  2. A great list, Aaron! Wisdom pearls, many of which could be titles in my book, Sailing to Ithaca! It feels good to see that you and I are on the same wave length. Maybe I could replace a title or two of mine with your own…if you gave me permission. 🙂 All best throughout the coming year and always!

  3. I’m so glad you linked to this post with today’s post (Pick One From My Library). I missed this the first time around. This is a great list. I emailed myself the PDF both for my personal use and to share with my students. I recently started teaching at a therapeutic boarding school for boys. Because of the nature of the program, culture of the school, and flexibility with curriculum, I have such a great opportunity to not just teach the core subjects, but also to infuse a healthy dose of real world wisdom into the lives of these teenagers. I’ll certainly be referencing your list and building character-building lessons around your ideas.

    Personally, I’m going to focus on “most of what we believe is impossible is only in our heads” followed very closely by nearly all the others (except the face tattoo one… not a struggle for me. :))

    Thanks for sharing this great list, Aaron!

    1. Jody-I’m stoked that you’ll get to use this for teaching. Congrats on the new gig. I need the reminder of this list including most of what I believe is impossible is in my head. Keep going.

  4. What a fantastic post. I’ve come back to this one several times, never quite having the “courage” to download the PDF list…maybe because it would help me be accountable to the changes I know I should make. But your offer of taking one of your books, associated with this post…I’m not a big believer in coincidence, so I take this as a sign to pull on the big boy pants and get my butt in gear. There are actually so many of the 99 above I could list, but I’ll start with one and only one…after that, the next and once I’m good there, the next. Some of these might take a day, and some might take a lifetime…I suppose we’ll see. For a good start at 2014, I’ll be working on #16…I want to feel good at 80, so I better do something about it at 45 and along with that, as part of that, #1…show up consistently and do the work. Thanks Aaron.

    1. Greg-good choice. A friend of mine and I did a podcast episode last year on lifestyle fitness. He tells a great story of how he got back into shape. Worth a listen. I’m also a big fan of the http://www.fitbit.com to help serve as a nudge each day to get us moving.


      Get moving

      Hope these help Greg. Keep going.

  5. Great post Aaron. For me #1 hits home only I would shorten it to read simply ‘show up’ meaning be present in the activity. Rather unconsciously, I think I transacted purpose as a point of destination yet I’m learning it’s more important to be ‘purposeful’ in whatever you’re doing.

    This is becoming more important for someone like myself who has business interest in multiple countries (South Africa my home nation, Panama, and USA). I think this new paradigm of ‘showing up’ will help close the gap between the subjective perception of what could create value (in the moment) and the objective reality of what would create value.

    Also #73 is special…I received a t-shirt as gift recently that reads, “The best gift you can give a child, is your time.” Wow, I think that says it all in terms of the symbiotic relationship between account-ability and response-ability (spelled for emphasis). I must presume I have the ability to implement this new found wisdom…and then invest in the process of getting it done. It’s on!! Thanks for sharing this Aaron.


    1. wow Bryan. I had to get a half a cup of coffee in me to keep up with your deep insights. Showing up has taught me that most of the challenge is overcome by the initial act of being in the game.
      #73 -great t-shirt. This weekend I played Wii Fit with my daughter and she only wanted my presence. Unfortunately I don’t slow down enough to just be. Keep going Bryan.

      1. The need for the cup of coffee is not my fault…you started this trouble 🙂

        You said it well when you mention ‘being’ in the game. I think I’ve been more inclined almost exclusively with ‘doing’ which is probably why I was disconnected from any fulfillment of enjoying the moment. Now I’m busted and compelled to change. Back home in South Africa we have a quote for those who are stuck in life that says, “Never look at the new dawn through yesterday’s eyes.” 2014 for me is the new dawn that will require a new lens for being along with the doing. Thanks my friend.

  6. #4: Don’t neglect your relationships

    This is the one uncensored way to live that really speaks to me this year. For me, its always easy to focus on my goals, the things I want to do, and plan ahead for great adventures. It’s exciting and I love to live in my ideas. However, this very same thing often leaves me neglecting my relationships. Instead of keeping my eyes buried in the computer reading or planning my goals, I want to take the time to get down on the floor and play with my kids; enjoy the moment more. I already do this off and on, but I want to do it more because I can. Of all the neglected parties my wife suffers the most. Between work, school, kids, the everyday tasks that fill our lives, etc… its easy to forget about being their for your partner. I want to show my love for her everyday; to make sure that I’m checking in and being a major part of her life. Instead of waiting for her to tell I’m not paying attention, I want her to notice the amount of attention I’m giving her. This is how I will live my life uncensored in 2014.


    1. Patrick your a good man to hang it out there like this. I’m confident and that me and a 100 other guys could tell the same story. Thanks for sharing it in forum for others to benefit from the same candor.
      Keep going

  7. As a list-lover, I love this list. But, I would love it in a paragraph as well. Thanks for the heart food, Aaron.

    1. Danny-stoked that you stumbled on my list. I am actually working on a paragraph form of the list. Will provide as an opt-in email every few days with a few condensed into one inbox joy bomb. will let you know when i’m ready for launch.

  8. What a great list! #3 is a reminder to me to refocus on why I became a counselor in the first place. Doing what I do for fame isn’t the right motivation and will definitely not provide the impetus for the hard work that lies ahead- thanks Aaron!!

  9. #34 resounds with me. I am now transitioning out of middle age into the senior status and I can say that people have surprised me countless times if I gave them a chance. We tend to prejudge people based on looks, something someone else said about them, or just the way they come across on your first impression. Always, always five them the benefit of the doubt until they prove you wrong.

    1. Debbie-you’re right prejudging people is almost second nature. Guess we need to work on reprogramming our default views of the world and people 🙂 Thanks Debbie

  10. Great list.
    The items around relationship jump out at me. Perhaps this one is there, but I didn’t see “Be curious.” I find I’m so driven and often have such a packed “agenda” that I forget about being curious. When I make this subtle, but significant, mental shift to be curious, I find that I’m often surprised by what I learn and how much more fun life is. God nearly always shows up in a way I didn’t plan for.
    – Matthew

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