25 Years of Havoc Making and 25 Revelations or Things I Wish I Did Differently – A Quarter Life Crisis in Review

by Alexander Heyne · 17 comments

Yesterday I turned 25. 

Nope, It doesn’t feel any different.

Yep I got tons of jokes about being a stoner or about sharing the same birthday as Hitler.

A lot of people write about things they learned. There’s some of that here. But a lot of it is about things I wish I started sooner, because they would have exponentially affected my success.

So, here are some things I wish I did differently in the past 25 years: 

#1 I wish I got into entrepreneurship sooner.

I wish that when I was 16 someone started slipping me books on entrepreneurship, lifestyle design, or escaping the rat race. That way, by the time I turned 25 I’d already have something going (even just experience) that would prevent me from ever needing to work for someone else again.

The sooner you start, the more time you give yourself to fail, learn and succeed. Although jumping into entrepreneurship at 24 isn’t bad, I’m still going to have to work for others for probably a few years before I can survive on my own.

#2 I wish I pissed more people off.

Every noticed raving fan bases? Think about a lot of music celebrities – nicky minaj, lady gaga, justin bieber.  The amount of people that love them is insane, and the amount of people that hate them is also insane.

People who are massively successful, massively strange, or massively challenging the way the world goes usually develop fanatical fan bases. People will hate you. Be ready for it.

What’s your message you’re changing the world with?

#3 I should not have encouraged friends to go to graduate school if they didn’t know what else to do.

This is probably the most seriously retarded piece of advice I’ve given to friends when I was still in college. We all thought it was a good, smart financial decision to go back to school and keep investing in oneself.

Yeah… not anymore. Like the girl who graduated from Northeastern with a degree in sociology and $200,000 of debt (She will be paying it until the day she dies – Literally. Guaranteed.), most of us won’t be enjoying a good job market for what we do.

The power of a college degree is fading and more and more people are turning to creative, entrepreneurial venues to earn their income.

#4 I regret only making one extremely ballsy decision.

Extremely ballsy decision – Definition: Doing something where there is no guaranteed return, high risk, high potential for failure / resulting depression, high degree of novel situations.

I moved to China in 2011, and in 2 months I’m moving back to China (Peace ‘Murrica).  Extremely ballsy decisions do two things: A. push you out of your comfort zone and into the optimal learning zone (read this awesomesauce post talking about successful people and their balls) and B. open you up to novel experiences and more adventure, making your life awesome.

The lack or presence of plentiful ballsy decisions in your life probably says a lot about how exciting it is.

#5 I regret not surrounding myself with likeminded people.

Over the years (my entire life) I’ve learned to be a loner because I’ve never been close friends with people that dreamed as big as me or were interested in completely challenging the way things were done.

Now that I’m getting into the entrepreneurial space and am testing (and failing) my life away, things would be a lot easier if I had experienced people that were also a support network.

There’s the saying that “you’re the product of your 5 closets friends” and the more I think about it, the more I agree with it.

Unhealthy people I know hang out with other unhealthy people (usually from work), smokers hang out with smokers, hard workers hang out with hard workers, video game players hang out with video game players.

One of the big goals I’ve set for 2012 is to make friends with entrepreneurs that have their shit straight, are crazy fun and adventurous, and are looking share some of their hard earned knowledge and want a guinea pig.

#6 Never be too afraid to start.

A while back on my Facebook page I talked about an investment I was too afraid to make:

“Funny thing about Intuition: In 2009 I had saved up 10,000 cash in my savings. I was looking to invest it.
I started looking to the stock market, read all the books on investing, etc. and went with Warren Buffet’s piece of advice:

Don’t check your stocks day to day or week to week, just pick good companies with good management and let the money sit there. Having never done any business or investing in my life, I was too afraid. I ended up using 100% of the money on traveling, education, and partying.

Apple was at $195/share in 2009 when I was looking at it. Had I invested then, my $10,000 would’ve been $30,700 , in UNDER 2 years. Trust your intuition, it’s more accurate than you might think…”

I learned that the majority of us don’t make decisions because overcoming inertia and fear is bloody hard. It’s easier to stick in a predictable comfortable environment than to break out of routine for a day and take the first step.

It’s easier just to read that business book than take the first step and start your blog, throw an offer at some physical space, or order your first batch of inventory.

Overcoming inertia is hard. Most of us will stall and procrastinate.  But if I could do a lot of things differently I would do this – just start. Just take one small step.

#7 Yes it’s worth it.

If you’re wondering whether or not you should do something, and you feel fear, yes you should do it.  Yes it’ll be worth it.

No it’s not a sign from God to avoid the activity and no, you’re not having a heart attack.

It’s biological and it’s called fear. Weird, right?  Anything that makes you nervous or scares the shit out of you is worth doing. You’ll grow immensely — whether that’s bungee jumping, investing a lot of money, or asking out the pretty girl at the bar.

#8 If it looks like a rose and smells like a rose.. it’s still probably a dude.  Yes, that means it has balls.

Yeah…

#9 Setting hugely overachieving goals is better than setting tiny easily achievable ones.

Just yesterday I was at Skillshare’s Penny conference  and the CEO of Pencils of Promise said something that really jumped out as his closing words:

“If your dreams don’t scare the shit out of you, you’re not dreaming big enough.”

The problem with setting realistic goals is #1 they’re boring and they don’t stretch you and #2 they keep your mind in “realistic” mode where you only accept “realistic” solutions to “realistic” problems and deal with “realistic” people.

Saying you’re “realistic” limits just about everything you’re capable of doing.

Be unrealistic.

#10 Timing always sucks.

There is never a perfect time. The stars will rarely align in your favor and make the decision easier. Luck doesn’t exist. Stop hoping the gods will send you a sign to make the decision easier. Make it.

There is never a perfect time to take a hiatus from your job to travel the world, there is never a perfect time to get married, there is never a perfect time to have kids, there is never a perfect time to stop or start something, there is never a perfect time to make a big change.

If you constantly are waiting for the perfect time to start, you’ll never start.

#11 It’s okay to be lost (we all are)   

We’re all lost 20 somethings. We’re all trying to figure out our place in the world, do work that matters, and feel like our short days were spent doing something worthwhile.

People in their 40s and 50s are also lost 20 somethings – it’s just their busy schedules that cover up and give the illusion of “having your shit together.”

#12 Defending your mediocre existence is proof you’re not living the life you want to be

If someone asks why you’re not doing what you want to be, and you get defensive, you just proved to yourself that you’re unhappy with your current life.

Take the first tiny step to fix it.

#13 Stop consuming. Start creating.

The wealthy, the happy, the innovators, and the successful are often creators.

One of the pieces of advice that struck me as uncannily true was something MJ Demarco said in his book The Millionaire Fastlane.

It was something along the lines of this: most people are consumers. We buy stuff, we get in debt, then we’re forced to work to pay that off for years. That’s how much of our economy is fueled – consumer spending.

But the very wealthy ones are the people producing – adding a product, adding a service, giving first. Not only is it a great path to wealth, it’s also a great path to a meaningful existence where you leave something behind – your dent in the world.

Want to flip your world upside down?

Whenever you feel like passively consuming, actively create.

Stop consuming. Start creating.

#14 If you don’t abide by #5 , the older you get, the more cynical you’ll get. And you’ll pass that legacy on.

It’s funny how non-serious people are about their role in the world.

They don’t realize that the mindset you have, your view of the world, whether or not you hate your work – these will all be passed on to your kids.

You’ll pass on a legacy of dreams-are-impossible mediocrity to your kids, and their kids, and their kids.

#15 Behind every incredible character and his/her story is incredible effort.

People with extraordinary lives invest extraordinary effort.

So turn off the TV and stop playing Mario Kart.

#16 If your life feels totally meaningless, help someone else find meaning.

Sometimes the fastest route to finding meaning in your own life is by helping someone else find it in theirs.

#17 People who are successful in general seem to have their shit together in general.

I’ve noticed that a lot of the people I admire and respect seem to magically have their shit together. They workout, they eat right, they stay positive, they invest a lot into their relationships with friends and families, they spend time outside.

They seem to magically do everything right.

Finally I realized there’s nothing coincidental or magical about it. They successfully structured their lives to be awesome examples of the power of directed effort.

#18 If you’re not learning most days on the job and the circumstances are permitting – quit it and find a new one.

Especially if you’re young and can live with your parents. Which brings me to 19 ==>

#19 It’s okay to move back in with your parents.

In fact, it kind of seems contradictory if you are working on some global epic instagram and you don’t live with your parents.. right? :)

In all seriousness, people like me (read: with too much pride) have a hard time temporarily admitting defeat and doing things they don’t want to, even if they need to.

If you’re getting screwed financially, with a low paying job, an unpaid internship, or straight unemployment — do what it takes and move back in with your parents.

Yes you won’t quite have the freedom you want.

And yes you may be living in a childhood town where none of your friends live anymore.

But you’ll be doing what it takes to get yourself back on your feet, and it’s almost becoming an expected phenomenon to move back in even if it’s just for a little while.

Do what it takes.

#20 “Eh, it works” is not the same as “fuck yeah, this rocks.”  

It amazes me time and time again that people settle for a mediocre life when they themselves know that they don’t have to.

It’s just easier, or more comfortable, or more convenient.

In my mind, there is no point in working a job forever that is just “okay” or marrying a girl (ideally forever) and thinking “she’s pretty cool” or describing your life to someone as “it’s aight.”

This is your life.

Chronic dissatisfaction is sometimes a good motivator to keep you going and find out exactly what you want.

Never settle.

#21 We’re all lost 20 somethings.

20 Somethings that appear to have their shit together only appear to have their shit together.

And most 50 year olds are just as lost as 20 somethings, they are just busy enough that they don’t have time to think about it or act like it.

There’s nothing wrong with being lost, and you definitely aren’t alone.

#22 Quality is always more important than quantity.

I can’t even count how many times my life goes back to this principle.

Whether it’s with the women I date, the re-tweeters on twitter or the jobs I work – 1 of quality is almost always worth more than 100 of shitty quality.

Search, search, search & be patient. The wait is worth it.

#23 If you want to start a business for almost no initial financial investment, now is the best time in history.

With the current state of the world: More people than ever before, more knowledge than ever before, and more connectivity than ever before, there is no excuse why you can’t find something people need and make it.

The quest today isn’t to learn but to apply – knowledge has become a commodity. And the internet gives you the power to leverage your ideas way further, quicker.

#24 Not all failures are created equal

Some of us lie to ourselves and say we tried our hardest. In reality we haven’t even started trying yet. Going to the gym for a week in an effort to lose 50 pounds, and then quitting, does not constitute trying.

If you don’t put in the work for a long enough time to see results for whatever you’re doing, you didn’t try.

And it’s time to stop thinking of all failures as something you can learn from.

Some failures come as a result of naive, misinformed moves.

Some failures come as a result of constant struggle, refinement and effort.

Just make sure that if you do fail, your failure was worth it.

#25 When things are right, you’ll know.

You’ll know when the right job comes or the right opportunity presents itself or you have created a business you love.

You’ll know when you find the right person you want to be with for a long time.

You’ll know when it’s time for a change.

I’m not regurgitating bullshit advice from teenage love diaries. It’s true.  Some things just work out perfect and you don’t know why.

Keep em.

 

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura Kimball April 21, 2012 at 3:54 pm

Anyone can write a post about 25 things they want to do by the time they’re 25, or 30-by-30, but it’s rare to see someone list off what they’ve learned in a candid way as you did.

Happy birthday, Alexander the Great. Now go be unreasonable.

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afheyne April 21, 2012 at 5:36 pm

Haha thanks homegirl :) I wish I were coming to WDS so I could come meet the Kimball crew! Alas, on my re-entry from China maybe. Or if you guys visit…

I’m still really chewing on that seminar. Something really struck a chord, I think that last guy from Pencils of Promise, and I need to do some meditating.

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Laura Kimball April 22, 2012 at 2:49 pm

The chances of us heading to China in the next year is slim, though you never know what the future holds :)

Let me know your plans once you have them, would love to meet you IRL!

Brasilicana April 21, 2012 at 4:10 pm

It’s great that you’re reflecting on these things, because so many young adults just drift through on autopilot, never questioning their habits or the status quo.

# 4 – I’m not sure ballsy decisions should be “plentiful,” exactly… I think they have to be carefully selected. I’ve made maybe 4 – abandoning a full ride to grad school b/c I was no longer interested in the area, leaving full-time work to have freedom to travel solo, marrying a guy my parents only met a week before the wedding, and now starting this new site. Seeing as the first 3 have worked out nicely, that actually gives me hope for the 4th and present one!

# 12 – I’ve definitely used this as a barometer – I’ve noticed that my truest feelings about a situation come out when someone I don’t know well asks me about it. I always reply diplomatically, but whether I give things a positive or negative spin reveals what I’m really thinking, all rationalizations and overanalysis aside.

# 17 – It seems like successful people have mastered the power of discipline, which makes any area it’s applied to awesome! You know, one thing that struck me on my last trip to the U.S. was how EASY everything is. Well, not everything. But most things. Buy something online and it’s delivered to you tomorrow. Everything you could ever possibly want to eat is available in your local supermarket. Internet access everywhere. When most things are “easy,” it kind of trains people not to have to work and overcome a bit of difficulty to get something they want. So they don’t try, and just coast along on the easy.

# 19 – Funny because this is so totally a cultural thing. In Brazil it’s COMPLETELY normal to live with your parents until you’re married – even for men – and nobody blinks an eye or thinks that’s “weird” or a sign of dependency. Some of my students are very successful engineers, accountants, etc. (heck, one bought an imported yacht from the U.S., so it’s not like he couldn’t afford his own place) – and live with their parents.

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afheyne April 21, 2012 at 5:39 pm

Shayna,

Re, #4 I should’ve been more specific. Bold decisions overall should be plentiful. Extremely random change-of-life bold decisions should not be regular things haha. They shouldn’t be needed anyway.

#17 Yeah, hahaha I wrote a paragraph and you summed it up in 1 word that I forgot to mention. You’re right, it is all about discipline :)

#19 Yeah I’ve got Italian friends that say the same. You live home till the day you’re married. You know us Americans though, all proud and individualistic, the fire starters that ditched the motherland ;)

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Shanna Mann April 21, 2012 at 4:12 pm

Awesome list. Not to worry; you have plenty of ballsy decisions ahead of you :)

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afheyne April 21, 2012 at 5:40 pm

Haha I hope so, sometimes they worry me though. I mean, by definition there’s a lot to lose. Some of my big decisions for change have left me totally shellshocked and depressed. Seeing as i’m one of those guys that “just doesn’t get in a bad mood, ever” it caught me by surprise.

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Steve Rice April 21, 2012 at 5:04 pm

Love ur list! I just turned 35, and only wish that I had read your “25” list when I was 25!

The next 10 years will freakin’ FLY by…hold on tight.

Ur right…all of the insane, balsy things that I’ve done have also been the most memorable and impactful!

Here’s to a life of crazy and unexpected failure and successes/starts and restarts and enough adventure to make it well-lived!

Cheers!

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afheyne April 21, 2012 at 5:44 pm

I hear that Steve, I hope I can make sure I enjoy life big time in the next 10 years.

My girlfriend knows that working so much that I forget about my life is a big flaw of mine, so she’s a good wing woman to smack me in line :).

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Meghan April 25, 2012 at 10:07 pm

As a current 25 year old, it’s interesting to read what your thoughts are on this current space we are occupying right now on the timeline of life. I do have to request that you think twice about the language you choose to use. You might be using “retarded” to mean slow or backwards, or you might be using it to mean stupid. Either way, it seems “retarded” is on it’s way out in polite conversation after years of offensive misuse in middle schools and grocery stores across the country.

Happy (belated) birthday, and good luck on your next adventure!

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afheyne April 26, 2012 at 11:46 am

Meghan,

Thanks for the birthday wishes, sorry if I offended you in any way. My writing style is definitely not for everyone. Thanks for stopping by !

Alex

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Dani April 27, 2012 at 8:09 pm

#10 on never being the perfect time ….this is so true & continues to ring true throughout life. I commend you on #16..this would change our world if everyone could think this way….even if they only completed one selfless act. Your list has inspired me. I just created my first product under my own label after designing for other companies 15 years! This time, it was my turn. Something worth mentioning is that my previous gigs helped fund my new venture & I learned a ton about what I never want my business to be! I wish you good luck & thank you for writing this blog!

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afheyne April 30, 2012 at 2:07 pm

Dani,

Yeah, there never being a perfect time is a really bitter pill to swallow. I can say that as someone who has moved across the world (literally to a different continent) more than once, leaving everything and everyone behind. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done but if I didn’t feel like I’d grow immensely from it, I wouldn’t do it.

Best of luck with your new product! That’s awesome news that you’re out on your own now, it’s always exciting being an entrepreneur and having freedom.

Alex

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Aled July 6, 2012 at 9:26 am

Great read; and your writing style is great, ignore Meghan.

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Mellissa April 4, 2015 at 8:08 am

Thanks for some other fantastic article. Where else
may just anybody get that type of information in such a perfect way of
writing? I’ve a presentation next week, and I’m at the search for such info.

Reply

afheyne April 22, 2012 at 8:17 pm

Hahaha I’ll keep you guys posted for sure! I’ll be there for a few years though, so incase you want to fly over to Asia to get some radiated seaweed you guys can stop by.

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