So, I recently turned 30 and have had some time to reflect on the lessons I’ve learned over the years. I was inspired to write this post after reading lessons from another blogger who also recently turned 30. It seemed like not too long ago, I was just a young college student starting off life on my own. Although many of these lessons may not be financial or career in nature, I feel that they ultimately will help people in those areas. Here are my lessons in no particular order. These are the same lessons I wish I could teach my 20-year-old self.
Learn to accept and let go
There are way too many things in this world that we cannot control, from the way someone views us to whether or not we get a new promotion. We also cannot control the way we feel about certain things which may lead us to react in a negative way. Therefore, I think we should acknowledge and accept everything that occurs, every emotion that arises (positive and negative), and every thought that pops up before we do anything about it. By first accepting the way things are, it allows us to act and respond more clearly, appropriately, and freely. We are less likely to respond with pure anger, hatred, and frustration, which will just send everything spiraling downwards. In addition, by accepting everything as it is, it makes our lives flow much easier and with much less anxiety. It took me many years to learn to accept things as they are. Given how driven and goal-oriented I am, I always want to plan things out in a certain way and aim to accomplish them in a certain way. When things don’t go as planned, it would drive me crazy. When I feel nervous or frustrated over certain things, it would drive me crazy. I’ve finally learned to let a lot of that go. If I have an important meeting or interview coming up and feel nervous, I just accept that I am feeling nervous and that is who I am. As a result, a lot of that nervousness dissipates and transforms into calmness.
Life happens in the present
Everything that happens to you happens in the present. Your brain may be reminiscing about the past or daydreaming about the future, but you ultimately do all that in the present. Therefore, you should practice focusing your attention on the present and what you are experiencing right now as much as possible. The more that your mind is in the present, the more of life you will experience, the more opportunities you will see, and the more relationships you will develop. However, that is not to say that you shouldn’t plan for the future or ignore the past. You should plan for the future and accept the past, but keep your attention in the present. Meditation helps with learning to focus in the present and allow the pain of what happened in the past and anxiety from what may happen in future to wash away.
Be open to different opportunities
Growing up, I was only aware of a linear path to career and financial success. It was to get a decent education, get a good job, then get promoted or start my own business. As a result, that was all I saw, a straight path to success. I quickly learned that life doesn’t work like that. In most cases, there is not a linear path to success. People go through twists and turns, they discover what they love and what they hate, what they are good at and what they struggle with. Thankfully, during that journey, various opportunities open up. For me, various career opportunities opened unexpectedly at random moments. These were opportunities that were more in line with my talents and interests. My message here is to be aware and open at all times to those opportunities since you never know when they may come. You may have a picture of where you want to go with your career or business, but an opportunity may come along and help you realize that there is a better path for you.
Work hard but in a smart way
Always be thinking strategically and tactically about how you do things. You don’t want to just brute force everything since that will wear you out. You want to apply your energy efficiently and appropriately. If you watch any sports, the top players and teams will always apply tactics that are designed to defeat the other players. In addition, successful athletes know exactly how to expend their energy. They know when to conserve their energy and when to go hard.
Similarly, working hard but in a smart way can be applied anywhere. If you’re doing a large project, you want to prioritize your tasks, evaluate what needs to be done and what doesn’t, and figure out ways to save time without sacrificing quality. You don’t want to go 100% all the time since you’ll wear yourself out, then the quality of your work will suffer.
Find the most meaningful experiences
The longer I am alive, the more I appreciate different things that this world has to offer and realize that experiences bring me much more joy than wealth and money. However, I do realize that I need a certain amount of money to unlock experiences. Thankfully, there are ways to obtain experiences without spending too much money if you think ahead and question what exactly about an experience you are looking for. For example, you can spend $300 on a steak or $30 on a steak. Most people won’t be willing to spend $300 on a steak, however they can still unlock the experience of enjoying a steak dinner with $30 if they can prepare it themselves. My point is, find the underlying experience you are looking for and figure out ways to unlock it.
Save and invest money now
Even though I recommend living in the present as much as possible, that in no way suggests you should ignore your future. In fact, the only way to plan for the future is to do it in the present. Therefore, I recommend that you cultivate an appreciation for saving, investing, and watching your money compound. The earlier you start saving and the more you do it, the more years you allow your money to compound. Think of your portfolio as a plant that you feed and nurture. One day, it will pay you back with its fruit and allow you to live financially independent. However, don’t forget to enjoy watering and nurturing the plant in the present.
Take care of your body
If you are lucky, you have approximately 80 years on this planet. Don’t forget that. You are only given one physical body to nurture for that time period. If you take care of your body, you’ll be able to participate in a lot more activities and feel better every day. You’ll have more energy to spend with your friends and family. Be sure to exercise regularly, eat healthy, and manage your stress levels.
Take care of your mind
Similar to your body, you want to nurture your mind as well. Be sure to pay attention to your stress levels. Do things to alleviate stress when you need to. If your mind deteriorates, you won’t be able to experience all that life has to offer.
Invest in yourself
I know that I talk a lot about investing your money to let it compound. Perhaps even more important is to invest in yourself. Learn as much as you can and explore topics that you are interested in. Don’t let anyone tell you that learning something is a waste of time since you never know when it may become useful. The late Steve Jobs took calligraphy classes after he dropped out of college since he was fascinated with the topic. Imagine how many people told him he was wasting his time. He later credits the beautiful, innovative design and typography of the original Macintosh to his time studying calligraphy.
Learn to listen
In my experience, most people know how to talk and like to talk about themselves. However, it is the ones that truly know how to listen that I am most impressed with. The ones that can just listen and not use their time of silence as just an interruption for their next sentence are the people that truly have it down. I once heard that we have 2 ears and 1 mouth, we should use them proportionately.
Learn to empathize and see from another’s perspective
Do you know how many conflicts we could avoid if we took the time to see an issue from another’s perspective? I’m sure that I am guilty of not emphasizing with people from time to time. Regardless, I think that it is an extremely important practice. It will help you accomplish things professionally, strengthen relationships, and build overall trust and respect with people.
Wealth comes in different ways
The man with a lot of money and possessions may be poorer than the man with very little belongings. Some people may have all the money in the world, but their relationships suffer, their health suffer, and they have no passion for what they do. On the other hand, some people may not have a lot of money in the bank account, but they live life with energy and passion and have cultivated amazing relationships around them. They truly contribute positively to those around them without spending much money. Keep in mind that wealth may come through the passion that you experience by practicing a hobby, the love that you experience from your relationships, or the joy that you feel from helping others. If you measure wealth and success in that way, you’ll live in a much more meaningful way and not need to compare yourself to others.
Surround yourself with supportive people
Last, I want to emphasize the importance of surrounding yourself with supportive people. If you are constantly around people who will bring you down, bring your mood down, and tell you that you can’t do something, how do you expect to do anything? On the other hand, if most of the people that you spend time with lift you up, encourage you, and support you when you fall, it will be much easier to take bold risks and work hard for what you want. It will also be much easier to pop right back up when you fail.
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