Writing Super Human over the last few years made me realize how many anti-aging technologies are available to us. In fact, there are so many that it’s your job to choose the ones with the highest ROI because otherwise, you would spend all of your time not getting old. You wouldn’t have time for anything else.
The same is true for New Year’s resolutions. Don’t just make one that sounds good. Make the one that will matter the most. And make it one where you can succeed.
New Year’s resolutions almost always fail for the same reason most diets fail: they rely on willpower. As you’ve read in my books and on the blog, willpower is a function of how well your mitochondria work and how good your cognitive programming is.
If you take someone with hungry mitochondria, and put a cookie in front of them, the cookie is going to whisper at first, “Eat me”. Then you rely on resolve to say no, and double down on your will to not eat the cookie. The whisper gets louder and more urgent. By the time it is an insistent roar, you have run out of the energy that powers our will, and we eat the cookie. Or at least half of it.
The same thing will happen to you this when you make a New Year’s resolution to lose 20 pounds without Considering whether you have a strategy to keep it off, or do something insane like going “plant based,” without considering what plants actually could support your biology for decades. Or, you’re going vegan “for the environment” without considering that the soil that nourishes us all requires poop from healthy animals.
So here is the resolution that requires less willpower and provides the highest possible return, no matter who you are:
Build a friendship this year with someone more than one generation apart from you. This means someone at least 25 years apart from you. Even more is better.
If you are 25, find someone who is at least 70. If you are 50, befriend someone in their late 70s or someone in their early 20s, or both. If you are over 60, find someone in their 20s or early 30s.
I’ve been reflecting on some of the most powerful friendships I’ve built over the past few years. Several of them are with people who have decades more experience than I do. They are not just my friends, they are elders. They have built the wisdom that I am seeking to build in my own life. They’ve made the mistakes I have yet to make, and are more than willing to share their wisdom with me. And, it is fun for them to do it.
This year, Dr. Barry Morguelan came and spent Christmas with my family. His podcast episode was the most listened to in 2018. He has decades of experience as a UCLA surgeon, not to mention years spent in remote mountains in China becoming a real-life “Doctor Strange.” All of this allowed him to build a meditation program that my 12-year-old loves and that I use.
I would dearly love to spend a decade in a monastery learning the ancient secrets of Lao Tzu, but that is not my path in this life because I have kids and I am helping people in my own way. So I get to live vicariously through my friendship with Barry, and learn those secrets from him.
Likewise, I’ve built a friendship with Jay Abraham, one of the most prolific and knowledgeable business marketing consultants in the world with nearly 40 years Of experience with thousands of companies, and an amazing gift for words. He’s also been on the show and in my books and shared his wisdom of success and failure and showed me the ways of thinking. I can call either of these guys when I’m dealing with something that I don’t know how to handle, and they draw on their deep wisdom and provide advice that someone my age is unlikely to be able to provide.
I ask them, and another friend in his 70s, Dan Sullivan, who is also been on the show and coached entrepreneurs for 40 years on how to not screw things up, why they maintain friendships with people decades younger. They say that they are energized by seeing and experiencing what I am seeing, or others even younger, because it reminds them of their experiences and refreshes their memory. It keeps you young to have young friends, and it keeps you wise to have old friends.
This resolution is actually fun if you do it, but it takes commitment, especially at the beginning. If you are decades older than your new friend, you’ll have to suppress your desire to roll your eyes with your young friend expresses this strong ego they are unaware of, or makes a terrible choice in a business partner or a relationship — one that you know they shouldn’t make, perhaps even one that you gently remind them is not a good call. But he will remind you of the times you did the same thing and what you learned by doing it.
At the same time, if you are decades younger than your new friend, you will have to suppress your own desire to roll your eyes if your older friend doesn’t understand how important it feels for you to have digital connections to your friends, and you will have to set aside your automatic defensiveness when your elder friend tells you something you really don’t want to hear that doesn’t make sense. It probably will make sense once you have achieved another level of knowledge and understanding.
You’ll also have to take an occasional pause from your urgent need to build relationships and grow your career so that you can have a cup of coffee with someone who will provide much higher returns than having lunch with someone your own age, or yet another business lunch.
How do you do this without looking weird? One simple idea is to print out this post and hand it to someone you want to get to know. Introduce yourself. Say that you made a New Year’s resolution to get to know someone who has a profoundly different life experience than you so that you can learn from it. That line will work whether your new friend target is much younger or much older.
Schedule a time to sit down for coffee. Bonus points if it’s Bulletproof! Then do what you always do to make friends: ask a question and then listen without judging. You never know what you will learn. If you are at a busy time in life with kids and a pressing career, schedule coffee or even a call every couple weeks, and explain to your new friend that sometimes life intervenes and you may have to move it. Trust me, they’ve already been there, and they will understand.
The idea of mentorship and intergenerational wisdom and respect for our elders was built into most societies going back even 50 or 60 years, but it’s become lost today.
So this is the most powerful New Year’s resolution you can make: either make yourself younger by having a friend much younger than you, or make yourself wiser my having a friend much older than you.
I only wish someone had told me this when I was 20! And that I would’ve believed them. 🙂