Life at 31

Each year on my birthday I write a post about what I am learning at that point in my life. Today, I’d like to share with you how I am viewing life at 31 years old. You can read posts from earlier birthdays here:

 An overview of my life at 31:

  • I’ve been married to Laura for almost 4 years
  • We just had our first child, Olivia Catherine Smith!
  • I’ve been on staff at Light of Life for over 5 years
  • Our company, L3 Leadership, is almost 1 year old

At 31, Pursuing God is Still the Most Important Pursuit in My Life – I can’t imagine not living for God. I truly believe that you could live a thousand lifetimes on your own and it would never compare to the one life that God has planned for you. Going all in with God is the best decision I’ve ever made.

At 31, I recognize How Easy it can be to Start Depending on Yourself – I’ve noticed that when God starts to put his Hand on someone’s life, it’s easy to forget that it’s all from God and it’s all for God. As a result, it’s easy to start to think that we’re the reason good things are happening in our life. The more we believe that, the easier it is to distance ourselves from God and ultimately find ourselves in a very scary place outside of depending on God.

In Deuteronomy 8:12-14, it says, “For when you have become full and prosperous and have built fine homes to live in, and when your flocks and herds have become very large and your silver and gold have multiplied along with everything else, be careful! Do not become proud at that time and forget the Lord your God, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt. I pray that I never become foolish enough to believe that I am something in and of myself. Without Him, I am nothing.


At 31, I am Redefining Success – John Maxwell often says that, “Success is when those closest to me, love and respect me the most.” This has always been a value to me, but now that we have a baby and a growing family, I know that this value will be put to the test.

I’m determined to make it to my finish line while keeping my family and making sure that they are the ones who love and respect me the most. My prayer is that when I write, “Life at 60” that I can say Laura and I are celebrating 30+ years of marriage, our kids love and are serving God, and our family is as close as we’ve ever been.

[shareable cite=”John Maxwell” text=”Tweet This >>”]Success is when those closest to me, love and respect me the most.[/shareable]


At 31, I believe Self-Awareness is Absolutely Critical  – Benjamin Franklin once said, “There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.” I believe that if we’re going to be as effective as possible, then we must become self-aware. Do everything you can to learn about yourself. Learn your strengths and weaknesses, learn what energizes you and what zaps your energy, take personality tests, ask people to speak into your life, reflect on why you do what you do, journal, and anything else you can think of to help you learn about yourself. Self-awareness will help you in every area of your life.

At 31, I’m Starting to Step into My Gifting – One thing I’ve enjoyed about getting older and more self-aware is seeing the gifts God put inside of me starting to emerge. I’m getting more and more opportunities to step into my gifting. It’s a wonderful thing. That’s why I believe it’s so important to discover what your gifts are and to start using them as soon as you can.

At 31, I still Find Myself Trying to Find Value in Performance – It’s tough to not find value in your performance, especially when you are in your twenties and thirties and are trying to prove yourself to your employer and to the world that you have what it takes to succeed, provide for your family, etc. I’ve been spending a lot of my personal growth time focused on finding my identity in Christ alone. As Keith Moore says, “If your identity is in anything you can lose, you’re in danger of having an identity crisis.

13246423_1593873137570059_31877171573729225_oAt 31, I’m more Passionate about Adding Value to People than I’ve ever Been – Every day that I wake up, I say, “Today, I want to make a difference, doing something that makes a difference, with people that make a difference, at a time that makes a difference.” Then I look over my calendar and ask myself, “Who can I add value to today?” Few things in life are as fulfilling as helping others get better. It’s something I want to spend the rest of my life doing.

At 31, I’m More Convinced than Ever that We Should Not do Life Alone – One of my favorite parts of life right now is our L3 Leadership Mastermind groups. We’ve been doing life with the people in our Masterminds for almost 2 years. The older I get, the more I realize how important it is to have a consistent group of people to go through life with. Who do you have in your life that can encourage you, challenge you, pray for you, celebrate with you, and be there for you when life isn’t great? If you don’t have people like that in your life, do everything you can to find it!


At 31, I’m Grateful We Learned to Manage Money – One of the best investments of my time in my twenties was going through Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey. It gave us a vision of what our financial life could look like. That has paid off immensely. I wrote about some of the things we learned about money in this post here. We’ve been debt free for a few years now, we bought a house, and we are doing well financially. Learning to have a proper prospective on money is one of the greatest things you can do to set your future up for success.

At 31, I’m Gaining the Confidence to Dream Big – In my twenties, I let fear and insecurities hold me back from going after the dreams in my heart. While I still have fear and insecurities, I’m gaining more and more confidence to push through them and go all in with what is in my heart. I think part of the reason I can do this is as you get older you start to care less and less about what other people think. It’s a wonderful thing! I wrote about this the other day here.

At 31, I’m Recognizing the Importance Others Play in the Fulfillment of  a Dream – John Maxwell often says, “Few people are successful unless a lot of people want them to be.” As we build L3 Leadership, we are extremely grateful for the people that God has surrounded us with to help build our dream. It’s humbled me and cause me to recognize that we can never make a significant difference by ourselves. I love seeing all the gifts and talents God put in others and watching how He uses them to do great things in the world.

At 31, I’ve Decided that Health and Fitness will Always be a Priority in my Life – I’ve always struggled with my weight. However, in 2011 I made the decision that I’ll do everything I can to stay prioritize health and fitness.I want to live a long life and be able to see my grandkids grow-up! If I’m going to make it for the long-haul, I need to make this area of life a priority. I recorded a podcast on things I’ve learned about getting into great shape here.

At 31, Life is Speeding-up therefore I must Be Present for It – Life is going faster than it’s ever gone! My prayer is that I’ll be present every day and in everything I do. I don’t ever want to take one day or one experience for granted.

At 31, I’m Recognizing that I MUST Take time to Celebrate, Rest, and to Have Fun – This is one of the most challenging things for me right now. I am not good at celebrating, resting, and having fun. Jeff Leake recently taught on this at our L3 Leadership breakfast. One of my goals in the next year is to do these three things well.

What are you learning in this season of your life? 

Thoughts? Comment below! 

If this post helped you and you believe it could help others, please recommend it on Facebook, Twitter, Stumble Upon, and the other social media sites listed below. Also, I would love to hear your thoughts on this post. Leave a comment below! Thank you!


2 Responses

  1. Thanks Doug! Your post helps give me a vision of some things I want in my life at 31. Please know that you are an inspiration to me at 26!

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