A friend who recently turned 25, asked me for some life advice. I thought for a moment and didn’t know what to tell him… There were so many things to say but I had no idea where to start. After a while I started looking at the question differently.
What do you wish someone had told you about life when you were 20?
Well there are enough Quora questions like that… So instead I decided to write about some of the crazy lessons my 20s taught me (they probably answer the other question too). So here are the painfully learned life lessons from my 20s:
Get better everyday
When people say, “The real competition is against yourself”, trust me they mean it! If you cant be better than who you were yesterday, you can pretty much forget getting better than anyone else. I wish someone had said this to me when I was young. I was so focused in trying to beat the next guy that I would subconsciously give up way before going head to head.
When you are totally focused on getting a little better everyday, it makes it easy to do some real progress in the long run.
Humility will get you things, that you can probably never get in other ways
I have worked with humble people and authoritative people. While they both have their ways to get work done, the former has some huge advantages. I have almost always seen people bend over backwards to help the humble lot, even if they haven’t been in touch for a long time. On the flip side, authority will get the work done today but will almost always push people away in the long run.
Take care of your health
Someone wise once told me “Your body is like a tool. The more you take care of it and keep it in shape, the more work it will help you do in the long run.” Take care of your body, dedicate time to getting in shape. It is and will be the greatest instrument you ever use.
Ideas are worthless unless you work at it.
As a young boy I valued ideas a lot. I always thought that once you get a good idea the world owed you something… well it doesnt. The world was built on the graves of unrealized ideas. Your idea is only as good as what action it inspires. Almost every great success story you hear will ‘start’ at an idea.
Failure is important
All my life I was afraid of failure. So afraid that sometimes I never did anything I wasn’t totally sure of succeeding at. A perfect recipe for regret. I realized a little too late that failing is the easiest way to know that you are pushing the limit. If you are not failing often enough, then you are probably not trying that hard. Once you embrace the inevitability of failure you will realize that its almost always exactly like success.
You wont get everything you want…
More often than not, having something like a relationship or job or skill will not depend on how badly you want it. Somethings are just not meant to happen, understand that and move on. The longer you dwell on ‘why’ the more pain it will cause you and probably wont help you in the long run.
Sometimes life will throw you a freebie…
On the flip side of the last point, life will sometimes throw you a freebie. You will think that you have done nothing to earn it and wonder if you deserve it… Don’t beat yourself about it, life is a bit unpredictable like that. I suggest you take it, chances are you might want that exact same thing some time in the future.
Nobody knows what they are doing… in life
This realization came to me really late but it has been nothing short of a revelation. In my 20s I believed that everyone other than me knew exactly what they were doing. Let it be choosing what job to do or where to go or whom to have a relationship with… Basically the answer to the question, ‘What to do next?’.
Life doesn’t come with a manual, the truth is almost everyone out there is doing what they believe is the best “guess” of what to do. Their ‘guess’ is based on general history, past experiences, gut instincts and often pure dumb luck.
If you dont know what you are doing in life, dont beat yourself about it. Life is not the exact same for everyone. Spend a little time discovering yourself. The more you know who you are the more it will be clear what you have to do or at least what makes you happy. Life happens a day at a time, for a reason…
There is so much to life that we can never stop discovering something new… Climb a mountain, run a marathon, do adventure sports, watch a play, cook a meal, write Haiku, dance in the rain, this list can go on and on… Find what you think is beautiful and cherish it in whatever way you can. There are so many ways to do things… Don’t ever be afraid of trying something new.