At the time of this writing, I have just recently turned 25 years of age.
It was a weird realization when I took the time to think that I was quarter of a century old. It caused me to do some massive reflecting on life, as you can imagine.
By my own standards (when I was 8), I should be an astronaut or a policeman by now.
But I’m neither of those.
I’m actually nothing that I thought I was going to be as a younger me (#rhyme). I’ve landed somewhere vaguely between what I’ve always wanted to be and what I’ve been.
On a side note, now insurance companies think I’m a responsible driver and I can finally rent a car! Yes!
The conclusion I came to after reflecting on how quickly 25 years passed me by, is that I need to get my shit together without growing up so fast!
I did, however, manage to write out a few nuggets of valuable life lessons that I’ve acquired over the 25 years of life in this world. There were so many more of these lessons I had in mind, but the following 25 are the ones I deemed most impactful.
1. You can’t actually be whatever you want.
Now, before you all attack me for this one, hear me out.
As children, we’re told that we can be whatever we want when we grow up. The sky is the limit for us youngsters and we know no boundaries to our abilities. Until we grow up.
As we get older, we realize our limitations and restraints. We start to understand that there are things that are totally possible for us and others that, well, we better just pass on.
For instance, growing up I dreamed of being an NFL football player. I was a great player in high school and I even played college ball.
Here’s the thing: I’m 5′ 9″ and not the fastest sprinter.
Now, I’m not saying that’s necessarily a dream crusher. There are some current players in the pro leagues with that height or shorter with tremendous talent!
However, even though I was a great player on my high school and college teams, I wasn’t NFL quality. No matter how long and hard I trained, I just couldn’t develop the speed or strength to be considered for the pros.
I’m not using this as a negative. I’m simply expressing that when you get older, you realize there are things that are possible for you and others that are not.
You should play on your strengths and use your talents to develop yourself into whatever career best supports your drive and abilities.
2. You have more talents than you give yourself credit for
I’m frequently guilty of selling myself short. I used to do it almost daily.
Sometimes, we truly are our own worst-critics. When we negate the talents and skills we possess, we lose confidence in ourselves. Only, we have many more talents than we ever even consider as talents.
Take an inventory of everything you’re good at. Examples of “talents” you didn’t consider to be talents could be talking to people, cleaning, sports, writing, exercising, etc.
Write down everything you’re good at and try to stay objective. You’ll begin to see that you have a lot of marketable skills that you’ve been underplaying for far too long.
3. Life is only as stressful as you make it
Stress consumes the nation at an alarming rate. Usually, you are not hard-pressed to find someone experiencing a significant level of stress in their life.
Here’s the rub: almost all stress is self-inflicted.
We love to punish ourselves with unnecessary stressors all day long until we’re so stressed we can’t function, THEN we decide to do something about it.
Learn to live just a bit slower and don’t put so much pressure on yourself. Stress can kill you, remember that.
4. You will become your environment
If you live with people who are not ambitious, but you are, you will quickly find yourself losing that ambition. This scenario can be applied to many other areas of life as well.
In short, you are your environment. That which you surround yourself with becomes a part of you.
Choose a supportive, encouraging environment, and life will assist you without much effort on your part. If you decide to stay in a non-empowering environment, you better start charging up your motivation tanks. You’ll need them.
5. You should be different
In other words, you should be yourself. I spent a good majority of my life thinking I had to be a certain way to fit in with my surrounding world. As I got older, I found I was only really truly happy when I was being myself.
Coincidentally, being myself made me different than almost everyone around me. I grew to love being different, and now it sets me apart in ways that enable me to help thousands of people live out their true callings.
Step fully into who you really are and broadcast yourself proudly. The world deserves people who dare to be different. Too many people are the same.
Which brings us to our next point…
6. Comparing yourself to other people is pointless
We live in a world based in comparison. If you’re not up to date with the latest fashion/news/politics/celebrity gossip/technology/etc. then you’re the odd one. Plus, other people are more successful and accomplished than you are at your age, so you should be more like them, right?
You’re exactly where you’re supposed to be at this point in time. The more you focus on yourself, the more you’ll be able to create a life you can look back on and be proud of. When you spend your energy focused on other people, you don’t allow yourself to expand upon your own talents and aspirations.
7. You don’t have as much money as you think
Stop spending money on pointless purchases!
Most people spend far too much money on things that don’t really need to be purchased in the first place.
You’ll never really keep track of all those coffees and snack bars you pick up at the gas station on your way to work unless you do a monthly finance rundown. Track all your spending for a month and see how much those little purchases add up to in the end.
On top of bills and all other expenses, you’ll see that you don’t really have as much money as you may perceive.
8. If you want it, work for it
This is a tried and true lesson that will apply at all ages. Nothing good has ever come from a lack of effort. Can you be successful by chance? Sure, but you won’t have the invaluable life skills that come with the grind of years of hard work and dedication.
If you want anything worth having in this life, you must put in the work to get it. And you must devote everything you have to attaining it. You can’t be half in. Go all the way or not at all.
9. You can overcome depression
I know I’m going to get a lot of disagreements with this one. I accept that.
Let me be clear: I am in no way, shape, or form trivializing depression and the battle people go through when experiencing it. The following is my own reflection on a personal experience. The goal is to help those in need. Disclaimer over.
Depression is an emotional state that you generate. It is not a part of you and it does not define you.
I’ve struggled through two significant bouts of depression in the past five years, and the only thing that got me through was my unwillingness to give up.
I knew I was down. I knew I was in a bad place. But I never let it define me and I fought like hell for months to get out. And I did.
Too many people wear depression as a badge of shame. They let it become a part of their identity and they tend to defend their depression with all their might, as a means of explaining why they do what they do. Unfortunately, this creates a false identity that most people take on as their own. I experienced this quite often in my time with depression.
So my best takeaway is this: fight like hell and you will overcome depression, and all else that comes your way and pulls you from your true self.
10. You don’t have to know what you want to be
We have this giant misconception that we have to know what we want to do with the rest of our lives by the time we reach a certain age. That’s unnecessary pressure. You shouldn’t know what you want to do. At least, not entirely.
Keep your mind open to new possibilities and opportunities. Don’t live so closed off in the mindset that you’re stuck with only one life path. You may find that what you want to do with your life changes every three years. Guess what? If you’re happy, then it doesn’t really matter whether or not you know what you want to do, does it?
11. You are your best resource
It’s easy to get caught up in looking externally for help. Many times this can lead to overwhelm and misinformation.
Become your best ally and utilize your intelligence to solve your problems.
The more critical thinking you do, the more capable you will become at finding answers and resolutions to your struggles. When you rely too much on outside influences, you set yourself up for stress in the times where you must fend for yourself.
12. Stop trying to be perfect
Perfection is not real. You can never be perfect at anything because that would mean there is no room for improvement. If you can’t improve, life is going to be very dull for you.
For the longest time, I strived for perfection in everything I did. I was an all-or-nothing guy. This lead to nothing but unrealistic expectations of myself and self-loathing whenever I failed.
Be perfect at not being perfect. You’ll find much more satisfaction in trying your best and seeing small improvements over trying your best, feeling like you aren’t good enough, and punishing yourself for not being better.
13. Ditch the fad diets
It seems like every day there is a new diet out that makes ridiculous promises and claims aimed at coercing you to buy a product.
Practice eating mindfully and setting up nutritional habits that will last you the rest of your life. When you’re in your 50’s and 60’s, you won’t care about fad diets; you’ll have much more important focuses in your life.
Make smart nutrition decisions and eat foods that support your health. Stop with the cleanses.
14. Trust yourself
As cliche as it sounds, you have to trust yourself more.
There will be times in your life where you feel lost, stuck, confused, etc. and you will experience an overwhelming sense of fear at making a certain decision. The more you focus on the fear, the less likely you are to take action and resolve your struggle.
You have to jump. Trust your ability to overcome any situation that comes your way. You’ll land on your feet in the end, I promise.
15. People suck sometimes. That’s ok.
I used to get so caught up on negative people. I would let them dictate my happiness for the day and I would be miserable if someone said something negative to me.
Now, I just let people be people and me be me. Some people will drive you mad, insult you, talk behind your back, offer no support, and a whole bunch of other non-serving actions. Let them.
The less you care what other people think or do, the more you can focus on yourself and the things that really matter in your life.
16. Get rid of your old clothes
Seriously, just do it. You’re not wearing them anymore and they’re eating your drawers and closets alive. You’ll feel better with a little extra space to cram the rest of your clothing into.
17. Listen to your heart over other people
Ever notice that we somehow always know what’s best for us, even when other people say otherwise? That’s called intuition. Use it.
The more you listen to yourself over other peoples’ influence, the more likely you are to be comfortable with your own decisions. You will find that, by trusting your heart’s desires, you will develop unprecedented confidence in yourself in all situations when doubt is present. Other people want what’s best for you, but you will always know better.
18. Find your voice, then use it
This one kind of goes hand in hand with #17.
Too many of us shy away from expressing ourselves for fear of rejection or criticism. Unfortunately, we live in a world of internet trolls and social media now, so the risk of being attacked for what we say is high.
However, you need to have a voice. Your opinion matters just as much as the next person and you will feel more congruent with who you really are when you let yourself express your mind fully.
There will be people that like what you have to say, and those that don’t. Keep talking to the people that like what you say.
19. Love more
Stop being so afraid to express your true emotions.
Look, love is a risk. Probably the biggest risk you’ll ever take in your life. But there is something truly powerful in the emotion of love. That’s why it’s considered the strongest emotion we have.
Love has the power to create or destroy. But in order for you to fully love, you must allow yourself to be vulnerable. If you’ve been hurt before, this can be very challenging. But if the saying “time heals most wounds” is true, then love heals all.
Love often and outright. It will be reciprocated unto you.
20. Learn from people with more experience than you
I hate to bust your bubbles here but, chances are, you don’t know everything. Especially if you’re entering into an unknown territory of personal development or growth.
Put your ego aside and open your mind to the wisdom and skill-sets of others. You will learn more from those that have already accomplished what you’re striving for than you could ever learn in a classroom.
Find someone smarter than you and become a sponge. Soon, you’ll be the one people come to for knowledge.
21. School makes you better at taking tests. Education makes you better at life
Having gone the traditional Kindergarten through College route, I’ve discovered that school is great for two main skills: relationship formation and test taking.
Unfortunately, when you get into the real world, you no longer take tests.
I’m not slamming school completely here. If you have aspirations of being a lawyer or a doctor, I believe school is crucial to your success. However, if you’re like most of the population that graduates with a degree but can’t find a job, I’d suggest you ditch school for a proper education.
With the current amount of resources and educational materials available both online and off, you could become just as intelligent and marketable (probably even more so) as someone who went the traditional school route.
Never stop learning and developing your skill-sets. Educate yourself every day in subjects that will positively improve your life in the real world.
Find something you truly enjoy or are passionate about, study it vigorously, then make your own success using what you’ve learned.
I’ve learned more about how to be successful in this world in the three years post-graduation than I did in 17 years of my traditional education.
Exercise has so many benefits for your body it’s almost amazing. With the obesity rate in this country steadily climbing and the collective health of the nation declining, exercise has never been more important.
I know you don’t feel like it. I know you’re tired. I know you don’t know what to do.
I also know that every single one of them is an excuse.
Find your reason ‘why’ and develop an exercise habit that works for you. It doesn’t necessarily have to be weight-lifting or running. It can be anything that gets your heart rate pumping, makes you sweat, and helps improve your overall health and well-being.
Sex burns calories too. Just sayin…..
23. Practice positive self-talk. It works.
We are so hard on ourselves on a daily basis. We place so many demands and rules on our lives that it can take away from our state of living.
Do a quick exercise for me. I want you to describe yourself, as you see yourself, in 10 words.
Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Now, how many of those words were positive, and how many were negative?
Chances are, if you’re like most people, you were more on the negative side. It’s most likely become a habitual way of thinking over the years. You are now programmed to focus on the “negative” aspects of yourself, over the positive ones, because you don’t feel adequate.
The more you utilize positive self-talk, the more you’ll start to change your beliefs about yourself and your abilities. It will take time and effort, but it may be the single best mental shift you ever make in your life.
Most importantly, you deserve it.
24. You may have to let go
As you get older, you’ll realize that certain people, places, or things don’t actually benefit your life any longer. By holding onto them, you may notice a significant decrease in happiness or an increase in stress levels.
Letting go is never easy, as it may mean leaving behind portions of your live that have been with you for years. It’s leaving familiarity and comfort.
But if you truly want your life to progress, you must get rid of that which no longer adds value.
25. You’ll be ok
No matter what you go through, no matter how hard you struggle, no matter how hopeless and painful things may feel at times, in the end, you will be ok. And you will always be ok.
You’ve made it this far, you can make it a lot farther. Remember, always, that you are powerful beyond your wildest expectations and you have more potential than you’re giving yourself credit for.
Fail often, try everything, prioritize yourself, seek the good in life, and contribute to this world.