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.
#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.
#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.
#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.