I regularly listen to the Tim Ferriss Podcast. In fact, it’s the only podcast I listen to.
A question he asks nearly every guest is:
What advice would you give to your 25-year-old self (or whatever age is about half your current age)?
For me, that was late-1992. I’d been married for four years. We had a two-year-old daughter, and our newest daughter had just arrived. We’d purchased our first home in 1990 (at the high-point in the market before a 5-year down cycle). I was about two years into my first management job, working in the healthcare industry.
Here are 10 things I’d like my 25-year-old self to know (in no particular order):
- Don’t change a thing! You’re about to be blessed with 25 years of awesomeness. You may not realize it while it’s happening, but trust me, it’s going to be amazing! You will face triumph and tragedy, hardship and happiness. Take lots of photos and videos so you can remember just how small your kids were and the things they used to say. You’ll get a kick out of the photos of yourself when you actually had hair and it wasn’t all gray.
- Take time to write about the things you’re experiencing, what you’re thinking about, and what’s motivating you. These things will probably change as you get older and you might appreciate seeing where your thinking started compared to where it is in 25 years.
- Be sure that you include the words, “Have Fun” in as many of your mission statements and plans as possible. These words are easy to forget while focusing on the day-to-day dramas that you will inevitably let drive your life.
- Seek out mentors, and be a mentor to others. Find ways to serve others while never thinking of how you’ll be “paid back.” You’ll do a pretty good job at this, but it’ll take you many years to get started, and those are years you’ll never get back.
- It’s okay to ask for help or admit that you don’t know everything. “Knowing everything” and getting the highest score in all your classes may have brought you straight A’s, but trust me when I tell you that you don’t know nearly as much as you think you do. You never will. Here’s a corollary: when you think you’ve thought about every angle of a problem, or come up with every contingency in considering a new strategy or idea, you haven’t. The only way you’ll ever approach a full understanding of a new strategy or idea is to get lots of other people involved. Have the patience and humility to do this on a regular basis.
- You are surrounded by the love of God. You need to take the time I didn’t take at your age to realize it. The signs of His love are all around you. Stop and listen. Stop and look. Just stop. What are you running from? It’s going to take you another 20-plus years to realize this unless you follow my advice today.
- When you look at starting that new home automation business (it’s a long story), remember that the most important question in any business, especially small businesses, is who is your customer and how will they find you? The next most important question is why should this elusive customer come to you for your service or product? Until you can answer these questions, you’re wasting time (and money) on everything else.
- Realize that just about everything takes longer than planned. As you make progress in your career, initiatives that you think should take 3-6 months to complete will actually take years to fully bear fruit. Practice looking at things on a longer horizon.
- Read more fiction, especially science fiction. It’s a great way to declutter your mind. Of course, books come on paper in your time and we have these new devices that make reading so convenient. Don’t let that deter you.
- I recently heard this, and it’s something you should consider…you can always go back to the museum. What do I mean? Most people go to places like museums, theme parks, other states, or other countries only once. At least, that’s their plan. With that in mind, they try to cram everything into their “one and only” visit. Their visit becomes a long checklist of things to do and things to see. Instead, approach your visits with a plan to return again someday. Focus on the few and leave the rest for your next visit. Be present and let go of the checklist.
Bonus advice: You’ll have trouble with that patience and humility thing, but embracing these will be your key to happiness. There is no checklist. Life isn’t a race. Life isn’t a destination. It’s a journey and an infinite opportunity for experience.
Realize that you aren’t the one holding the compass and you’ll find more joy than you ever thought possible.
Photo Credit: Unsplash.com, Justin Tietsworth