I had a long phone conversation with my uncle a couple of months ago who is in his 50s and I asked him if he had any advice for someone who was about to turn 30 (me). He told me something that made a lot of sense to me that is actually occurring in my life. He said that after each decade of your life, you try to correct the things you didn’t do or should have done in your previous decade.
With that being said, I present to you the lessons I’ve learned and things I wish I would have done in my 20s.
Define what success means to you
Otherwise, you will end up chasing something that means nothing to you. When defining success, I ask myself “how do I want to live?” and “how do I see myself in the future?” and the answers change from time to time which is ok. Just make sure you reevaluate your goals and adjust as necessary when your answers to those questions change. Otherwise you end up on a divergent path, that you didn’t mean to go down.
Name your price for that success
What are you willing to give up to reach your goals? This is the part that is often overlooked when creating goals. Life is a huge balancing act. For each success that you strive for, something will have to be neglected. Example, in my teens, I was advised to do all of my hard work while I was young so I wouldn’t have to work hard when I was older. I took it a little too seriously. I was both working and going to school full-time and was making decent money while I was in college. By the time I was 22, I had a house in Texas. To this day, I have only seen pictures of the inside of this house and driven by the outside a couple of times. Then, when I turned 23, I got a condo. It took a lot of work to pull that off while I was in school, but at the same time, I gave up my social life for the most part. I had a serious girlfriend at that time of about 4 years and even that relationship suffered because of how hard I was working.
This period of my life mentioned above also should have been the time to build relationships and network with my peers and individuals I admired which I also didn’t do… partly because I am introverted which is a whole ‘nother deal. So while I had some successes in terms of career and owning stuff, there were some things I had to give up to make that happen at an early age, and now I’m making up for the things I didn’t do in my early to mid 20s. When networking, don’t just stick to the people that are similar to you either. Increase your social diversity and learn about and exchange ideas with people who are very different from you. Why do you need to network…?
You can’t make all of your humongous dreams and goals come true by yourself
My dad was in the air force. For those of you that don’t know what it’s like growing up with a military parent, that means I was raised to be very independent… fiercely so I might add. I was washing my own clothes and cooking at 7. And although it wasn’t a written rule, the word “can’t” was not allowed to leave my mouth, nor either of its synonyms. So I grew up with an “I can do it all by myself” attitude. No amount of group work at school could convince me otherwise. I’m still fiercely independent and possess that attitude, but at this point in my life, I’m building something much larger than me and to do that, I’m realizing it takes much more than me to make it happen. Until the day when we are allowed to clone ourselves, I’m going to have to rely on you all and vice versa so we can help each other build our dreams and reach our goals.
Another thing I wish I had done. My independent nature led me to believe I didn’t need any. In order to go where you want to go in this life, you need people who have been there already. Ideally, a mentor should be someone you respect and admire who has excelled in an aspect of your life where you are lacking. I wouldn’t dare take advice from anyone who hasn’t been where I’d like to go. Mentors are like extra parents for other areas of your life. They are good guides. Having a mentor doesn’t mean you have to take all of their advice, but they’re there to help you along your way.
Don’t work for people or organizations that you don’t respect
Not only is the work you do for these people unfulfilling, but it ends up being a waste of your time on this earth because it didn’t mean a damned thing to you. Sometimes you will respect the new people you start working for and over time, it fades for whatever reasons. It’s important that you recognize when it does. There was a point in time where work was just work so people could take care of their families which provided meaning. For whatever reason that is not this generation’s case any longer. Our sense of work has evolved to something that requires meaning and purpose. Why? I don’t know. Hasn’t our work as always had meaning? I think it has something to do with that fact that we don’t have to worry as much about meeting our most basic needs anymore. We no longer have to hunt. Hunting was work and it had meaning. It was your means of survival and there were rituals that took place before and after hunting. Now that our food for the most part is massed produced for us, we now strive for other ways to provide meaning to our lives. That’s just my take, but it’s in our nature to have meaning for our existence and what we do. Otherwise we get stuck with the dreaded question “why am I here?” It’s no longer necessary to go down that rabbit hole when you do meaningful things in your life. It gives your life a purpose.
Always poop BEFORE you shower instead of right after
Otherwise, you just negate your shower. There have been a few times where I actually ended up taking showers back-to-back. So try to drop that deuce before, even if it feels like you don’t have to.
I don’t think there’s any bigger eye opener other than a(n) epiphany/near-death/out of body/transcendental experience. Learning how other people get down in life is good for you. It makes you a more tolerant, understanding, and loving person when you can appreciate and embrace how other people live instead of simply separating yourself from them because they are different. The more you get to know people, the more you see yourself in them. I know it sounds like cheesy, hippie “we are all one” bs, but it’s true. I had a lot of friends who graduated during the the financial crisis in 2008 and had a hard time finding jobs so they just went and traveled for a year. To be honest, I was envious. I was hoping to get laid off so I could do the same. This is also one of those things I’m making up for because I didn’t do it in my early 20s.
Be careful who you associate yourself with
I wish we lived in a world where reputation didn’t matter and we could see each other for who we really are upon first glance, but it takes time for us to get to know one another in order to establish trust which is a huge life lesson in itself. This is also why you need to network. So when you have “bad” associations, your reputation is already ruined and when you meet someone new who knows of this association, you already have a hole that you need to climb out of to make a decent impression.
Learn to laugh at your misfortunes
Definitely allow yourself to grieve when “bad” things happen, but do your best not to let it turn into a downward spiral. One thing that helps me to do this is when I look at all the events in my life (both good and bad) as learning lessons. When something “bad” happens, I say to the universe “haha, you got me.” Recently my laptop got stolen while visiting friends in the bay area. I could have looked up at the sky, cursed in a rage, and had a bad attitude about it, (It was in Oakland so whoever did it decided to live up to their NFL team name… Raiders) but instead I looked at it as the universe giving me a clean slate. I was in the process of rebranding my company. I had a lot of old stuff in the way, pictures of old girlfriends and other crap. I was going to replace that laptop anyways because it was pretty old. Here’s what I wrote on my Facebook wall right after it happened: “laptop got stolen from my rental car in Oakland, but it’s all good. They can’t stop my hustle nor steal my joy and love for life. #cantstopwontstop #takethattakethat #diddystyle #hashtagabuse” I hope that whoever stole it gets what they need in life so they no longer feel the need to commit these kinds of acts. I took this clean slate as a gift and moved on. There are much bigger things in life to worry about.
Stay fit and eat healthy
Another thing I didn’t do much of in my 20s that I’m doing now. I never worked out at all. I have good genes fortunately and stay in shape naturally. I didn’t develop the ethic of working out and that’s the hardest part now. In my early 20s, I didn’t eat well either. I was too busy hustlin’. Once I’m in the zone and ultra focused, sleep nor hunger can stop me from finishing what I’m working on. I’m still like that today except I force myself to take a break and eat which I still fail at sometimes. Whatever woman I end up with is going to need to make sure she has sandwiches ready. Horrible sexist joke, I know. Don’t get offended. Seriously, though, I only eat when I’m hungry and I work on computers A LOT so I’m sitting down and don’t burn a lot of energy so I don’t eat a lot. Working out has definitely increased my appetite and I make sure that when I do eat, it’s usually something healthy.
Connect with family
Growing up, I never lived close to my family. It wasn’t until I moved to Los Angeles when I was 20 that I actually lived close to them. And even then, I was too busy working to connect with them.That, coupled with an independent nature meant I barely saw them after I moved out of my aunt’s place within a few months of living there. Connecting with family is important because no matter how crazy your family dynamic is, they are usually the ones who have your back when things go wrong in your life. It makes it easier to do so when they actually KNOW you. Aside from family, they say the best way to tell who your real friends are is to look around and see who’s still there after you’ve fucked up really bad. The people you call your family are usually your main source of support even if they don’t understand you. So try to make yourself understood by them as much as possible by making the effort to connect with them.
Don’t become obsolete
Stay on top of your game. Whatever it is you love and love to do, keep doing it and keep learning about it and ways to improve your skills. I work with computer technology. Technology changes every morning when I put on my draws. The longer I sit at a company that’s not doing anything to stay up to date, the worse off I am. Even when that does happen, I have to make an effort to stay up to date with the latest trends and try out the latest technologies just so I don’t become obsolete myself because it can happen very quickly in my field.
That’s all I got for now. I hope this advice was of some help to someone out there who needed it, and if you are already in your 30s and have some wisdom to share, please do! I wish you well in your journeys. Peace!