Yesterday was my birthday.
I’ve learned a lot in 18 years. Here are some of the most important lessons I would have told my younger self.
1. Be curious. As you study great thinkers you may notice that they often asked a lot of questions. However, I have grown to believe that the key is not to primarily ask questions but rather to be curious. Question asking can often be an easy alternative to finding the answer yourself which can be more rewarding and prevent wasting the time of whoever you were asking. Grow your sense of curiosity about EVERYTHING, nothing is below you.
2. Rule of romance. There’s a quote from ” The Last Lecture” by Jeffrey Zaslow that provides a great principle for romantic relationships. “When it comes to people who are romantically interested in you it’s really simple. Just ignore everything they say and only pay attention to what they do.” With that being said I have a general rule against teenage relationships. They are usually driven by insecurities, and the desire to be paid attention to. Out of the many teenage romances I’ve seen only a handful have yielded even slightly profitable outcomes. I’ve found that your teenage years would be much better spent developing into the person you want to be rather than seeking out someone to answer the question for you. With that being said I do see value in going on casual dates. Just be aware to not lead anyone on and make your intention clear.
3. Stop asking for permission. You won’t receive a promotion or benefits from being the most obedient person in the room. Do you love to design? Don’t wait for a class assignment spend an hour a day for a week developing that skill. Want to start a business? Find a problem and solve it. Stop looking for excuses and start doing.
4. Read. If you take any of my advice take this piece. Reading has been the single most beneficial thing I’ve ever done academically. The ideas and person I’ve grown to be is largely influenced by what I read. If you don’t like to read at least listen to audio books. However, don’t just read any book. Read books that are on topics you love. To get you started here are a few of my favorites: Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, The Last Safe Investment by Michael Ellsberg, The Law by Fredric Bastiat.
5. Better to have quality friends than none. Your income and IQ are the averages of your 5 closest friends. Take that to heart. Know your worth. You are worth hanging around quality people, you are worth being surrounded by people who love you and appriciate you, don’t settle for less.
6. Your health matters. You get one body treat it well. Protect your neck, as we continue our journey in technology be conciouse of the effects. Your neck and spine can be severely damaged by the constant strain that is felt when we are looking down at our phones constantly. Drink water, not soda. I get it, the carbonated goodness can be appealing, however, the mass amount of sugar is seriously offputting. Carbonated water or lemonade is a much better alternative. Stay away from processed food when possible, eat fresh fruits and keep an exercise schedule of some kind.
7. Extracurriculars. Be involved in speech and debate. Can’t recommend it enough. Helped me to become comfortable speaking and sharing my ideas, built my analytical thinking, taught me to discuss. I’ve been involved in a lot of extracurricular programs outside of speech and debate, here are the ones I found most worthwhile. Youth Court, TARs (Teen Aged Republicans), American Legion. Ones I found to be a waste of time 4-H, FBLA (depends on your club), Key Club. I also love love loved going to summer camps and highly recommend them. A few of my favorites are: FEE, Girls State or Boys State, Utah Business Week.
8. Creat opportunity. Don’t wait for an opportuinity to come knocking at your door because there isn’t one. Here’s a reality check, ten out of ten times that perspective results in inaction. There is no ‘perfect opportunity’ waiting around the corner to come running when you whistle. And while you just waiting for this elusive opportunity to come along, time slips away and you don’t get anything done. An alternative route to waiting for an opportunity, create it.
9. Be purposeful. When you hear someone say, I would love to have a Tesla one day, they are stating a preference, not a decision. The difference between preference and decision is commitment. You must decide what results you are committed to, if you don’t you’ll slip below your standards. Decisions, not conditions determine your destiny. And right now, in this moment the most influential and powerful force to create opportunity is one you already possess, the power to make a decision. I’m a firm believer that successful careers are not discovered, but are created by people who are proactively and deliberately dedicated to their goals. If you are committed to creating opportunity, you will.
10. Define success for yourself. There are a lot of perspectives on what success is. The media tries to capitalize on flashy lifestyles or products that define success. Don’t listen to the lies. Find what makes you fulfilled and has an inherent truth. Define your success.
11. Cherish your childhood. You only have one childhood. Think with the end in mind. That drama between you and x isn’t worth throwing away the rest of your life worth of friendship. Live freely without abiding by the constraints of others views. This is a unique time in your life where you are sheltered from so much risk and provided for. Your food, housing, and clothing are provided, it’s the perfect time to take the risk, study hard while you don’t have to worry about much else. Oh, and if you have siblings, get along with them.
12. Be honest. Honesty is the best policy. There won’t be many other attributes that define your character than your propensity towards honesty. If anyone thinks less of you for being honest they don’t deserve your time.
13. Be friendly. When a stranger approaches and introduces themselves you may feel happily surprised. That’s the same response others have when you approach them. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself and make friends. It’s one of the easiest and most beneficial things you will ever do.
14.Happiness is a choice. This is not a quick fix solution. Choosing to be happy with your circumstance is all about your mindset. Appreciating the little things and seeking to dwell on the end positive result while still acknowledging the undeniable facts of your reality.
15. The one about people. People are not the most valuable resource. The RIGHT people are. Know that some people aren’t worth your time and that that is OK. It’s one of the worst feelings to invest in and try to change people who are resistant and continue to drain you. Drop, cut, kickbox and a karate punch those people out of your life. They are like ravenous leeches.
16. Learn always. School is one thing, education is another The two don’t always overlap. Whether you’re in school or not, it’s always your job to get an education.
17. Get stuff done. There are few things you have control over. You don’t have control over your siblings, over what time the sun rises, over the opinions of others. However, you do have complete control over your ability to get stuff done. Do not, ever blame that on anyone else and realize that committing and finishing a project is much better than working on it half-heartedly.
18. Love yourself. Speaking into the mirror and saying “I am beautiful” on average has the lasting positive impact equivalent to cotton candy. It feels good in the moment but shortly after you feel like nothing much happened. Instead, stop making self-deprecating comments and jokes. Doing so gives others permission to view you that way and even follow along in that similar language.