10 Things I Wish I Knew When I Was 20

When I meet an experienced and successful individual, especially one that is older than I am, I always respect their accomplishments and open myself to learn lessons from their journey of life. One of my favorite quotes is:

Mistakes Quote

If you were to hang out with me, here are a few things I would share with you from my experience in the past decade:

1. Live Intentionally – Design your life.

A great life isn’t about how busy or popular you are, how successful people think you are, or how much money you make, it’s about designing your lifestyle on your terms, in a way that allows you to do fulfilling work, to creating magical moments, and memorable experiences. You don’t need to plan the next 10 years – a lot can happen you can’t plan for, but have an idea in mind of how you would like things to look like, set some goals for the near future, and get busy. Live every day with intention because although 10 years seems like a long time – it’s not!…

2. Run your own race and don’t compare yourself to others.

No matter what challenges you are dealing with, would you trade your life with someone else with all of their circumstances and challenges – as bad or as good as they may be? Chances are you wouldn’t. At least you know your challenges intimately. So why compare yourself to others when you have no idea what their life is REALLY like? Just because they have something going for them, it doesn’t mean you want their life. Everyone has ups and downs. Everyone. Run Your Own Race – there’s no one else competing. It’s the you that you are today vs. the best version of yourself you can be tomorrow.

3. Focus on improving your strengths not your weaknesses.

From a young age we are encouraged to work on our weaknesses – to get better at sports, or better grades in math or science. We often feel peer pressure from parents, teachers and friends, to improve weak skills or area of study. But life isn’t exactly like school. To win in life, focus on improving and mastering your God given skills and talents and surround yourself with others who can take care of what you lack.

4. Take every opportunity you have to help others (but you can’t help everyone).

You are on this planet to maximize your potential and impact the world around you. Though it’s not always easy, the key to living up to your potential and success is to help as many people as possible. As Zig Ziglar famously said:

Like most people, I’ve been on both ends at different times – the receiver and the giver, and from my experience, there’s nothing more profound and rewarding than truly helping someone get ahead with their life – even if it’s just some words of encouragement. If you want to succeed and get some divine assistance, earn it.

5. Study what you love.

This is where I believe I made a mistake. Unless you’re studying medicine, or set doing something very specific, your choice of study will likely have little to do with your actual career path. You will probably get your degree and proceed into whatever attractive opportunity presents itself. So study something you love anyway. I majored in Business/ Finance Track, but what I do now as a sales professional has nothing to do with finance – finance wasn’t something I loved, it just seemed practical at the time. Don’t study something you care little about – if you’re going to invest years of your life and a lot of effort in education, make the journey it’s own reward by choosing something you care to learn about regardless of your future occupation.

6. The quality of your relationships will determine the quality of your life.

No matter who you are, you are influenced by those you are surrounded by – so choose your friends wisely and value the close relationships that influence you for the better.
Always make new friends and build new relationships. Opportunities and great experiences don’t fall from the sky, they come through people. Sometimes you won’t know why, but years later, you’ll see why they were put in your path in life.

7. Experience is more important than a college degree.

Education is important, but self-education is the only requirement to succeed in life. The proof is that many business professors are simply not good in business. You can learn more outside the classroom – in the real world, by combining your education with self-education and real experience. Reality is usually very different than what the textbooks say… If you want to be smart, get street-smart.

8. Avoid debt.

Debt has its purpose, but the kind of debt I’m speaking about is the “live for now” type to “keep up with everyone else”… it’s when you buy stuff you can live without only because you have the option to buy it on a credit card. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you need to “build credit”, there are much better ways to do it and you don’t need that credit card debt to “build credit”… So before buying something ask yourself 3 questions: Do I really need this? Do I really like it? Can I really afford it? – if all answers are “Yes”, go for it. Otherwise, you should probably wait and practice some “Delayed Gratification”.


9. Take responsibility for your own life.

No one cares about your life as much as you do. Your life is no one else’s business but yours. Problem is, most life skills aren’t being taught in class rooms. It’s up to you to invest in yourself and take action. The skills you will need to live well and live successfully – such as managing your time, personal finances, taking initiative, and taking care of your health are your responsibility – whether you learn it in class or not. Your ability to recognize and respond to those needs will determine how far you’ll go.

10. Sign up for LinkedIn and use it strategically and consistently!

Had I known how valuable LinkedIn is for personal branding, building professional relationships, and making an impact on business and the world – with people’s products, skills, and services, I would have signed up immediately. But in 2002 it wasn’t what it was today, so if you are in your 20’s today, and have the ability and desire to kick-start your career early – go for it! Start with this, and contact me if you want to learn more about LinkedIn benefits and strategies.

LinkedIn logo

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