When you’re young, the world is your oyster and you can “do anything you put your mind to.”
Then you enter the real world outside of classes and reality strikes. You don’t know it all and life is hard.
This week I was on a personal finance panel and after the panel someone asked me, “What advice would you give to your 22-year-old self?”
My mind was on money, but now I’ve reflected on lessons learned in life.
Here’s the advice that I’d give to my 22-year-old, younger-self.
1. Stop with the comparisons
A recipe for a miserable existence is constantly comparing yourself to other’s accomplishments. With social media on any given day you’ll see a friend announcing their promotion, on an exotic trip, giving birth, or who knows what else. There is always going to be someone who is the next step ahead of you in life and that doesn’t invalidate your personal accomplishments and where you are now.
When stuck in comparison land, you’ll always feel behind in life.
Life isn’t a race to having the perfect career, perfect home, and perfect life. Here’s how to stop comparing yourself to your friends.
Material possessions and a high social status don’t give you internal peace. Just stop with the comparisons and be content with what you have now in your life.
- The Best Way to be Content in Life (and What Kills Contentment)
- How to Get Rid of Financial Guilt and Shame
2. Don’t care what other people think
It’s natural to want your ideas and opinions to matter and be accepted. Worrying about what people think of you or doing things to please others at your expense is a waste of time and energy. There are a million different ways to view this world and to live your life. You have to do what is right for you, and what is right for you won’t be what is right for someone else.
Living a life to please someone else is not genuine and a sure way to live a life full of regrets.
“Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.” – Lao Tzu
Be true to yourself and make your decisions based on what you think and not what others think.
3. Eat problems for breakfast
As a youngin’ I viewed goal setting as, “If I set my mind to something, I can achieve it.” Which is true, but in life as you’re trying to achieve something you’ll encounter problem after problem after problem. Instead of being blind-sided by a problem, eat problems for breakfast. Expect problems to exist in every area of your life: with your career, relationships, health, and money.
“Life is difficult… once we truly know that life is difficult—once we truly understand and accept it—then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.” Scott Peck from The Road Less Traveled.
4. Take the next best step
When life gives you a lemon, take the next step and start making lemonade. You don’t have to solve the entire crisis of something sour in your life like a job loss or health issue. You can’t solve everything at once, but when there is a challenge think of what your next best step is. What is something simple you can do now?
Focus on doing one little thing that is right in front of you. As you age you can look back and know that you did the best that you could with the circumstances that you are given.
That is the advice I’d give to my 22-year-old self!