Read this article recently and had a bunch of comments that this was primarily geared towards men (well… probably because it is!). So after a couple requests, I’ve gone through and rewritten it to the best of my ability based on experiences and knowledge I’ve gained through the years.
I kept the tone primarily neutral, so hopefully both males and females will resonate with my points more than the original article. I hope y’all enjoy!
20. Don’t Be Easy On Yourself
(photo - credit to Louis D. Wiyono)
I have news for you guys. Being the “black sheep” is not easy. Those who stand against the crowd have the same fears and doubts that you do.
A better way to look at it? The only difference between a leader willing to make decisions and the ones who follow “the plan” is the willingness to step outside of one’s comfort zone. That’s it. Pretty empowering when you look at it that way isn’t it?
Sheryl Sandberg says it perfectly: If life is just a bunch of people sitting around a conference table and you walk in late, where do you sit? Guess what, no one is going to stop the conference (life) to offer you a place at the table - you have to establish your place yourself. Grab a chair and get your butt up to that table - because that’s exactly where you belong.
19. Don’t use self-doubt as a form of self-defense
(photo - credit to Sarah Quatrano)
This one rings primarily true for females, but we all tend to do this from time to time: in order to protect ourselves from being disliked, we assume a decision or something we said/did was the wrong one.
While I’m not saying we should walk around being an asshole without any empathy at all, I am saying we need to stop putting ourselves down before others can - this decreases any sort of self confidence we’re able to build for ourselves, and essentially does nothing but lower your expectations for what you can achieve. If you never expect anything more than “average” from yourself, what do you think you’re going to achieve? Compare that to those who have their sights set on the sun.
18. Don’t look at life and your career as a “ladder”- It’s a jungle gym.
(photo - credit to Sean Heisler)
Yes, it takes 10,000 hours to be great at something. Yes, you are going to be way behind your 10,000 hours compared to Mr. “been here for the last 30 years” in the cubicle next to you, but that doesn’t mean you should even CONSIDER remaining at a job that you do not enjoy and learn from!
Sure, money now right? But if you’re not a) enjoying yourself or b) learning valuable skills that will help you in the future, then what the crap are you doing?
I’ve seen people go into the corporate environment and love it. I’ve also seen brilliance stifled and suffocated in such an environment. A large corporation is built on process. A brilliant mind that thinks outside the box may not necessarily work with such a process. This is why you can’t look at life like a ladder - it’s a jungle gym.
17. Don’t think you can excel without a mentor
(photo - credit to zeptonn)
Ladies and gentleman please deflate your heads: we are not at a stage in the game where we can even begin to think we can excel in life without the help of others.
You remember school right? Remember taking tests? Do you remember the little tricks your teacher taught you to help make tests easier? You know the ones: if it’s multiple choice, cross off the ones you can for sure eliminate, make sure you answer every question, if there’s 3 “c’s” in a row make sure you double check your work, etc. Well guess what? Life has tricks too. Let the seasoned professions teach you what they wish they had learned when they were in your shoes! Learn the easy way rather than the hard way. Who knows, it might be what gets you that “A+” rather than that “B-“.
Most importantly, don’t forget to return the favor and take someone under your wing. Respect karma, and give back to the world what it has given you.
16. Thinking that communication isn’t something to keep working on
(photo - credit to Philipp Datz)
This is a huge one. Whether you are a professional speaker who communicates with individuals every day, or you’re a developer who only communicates with people when you come up for air, communication is a necessary tool that we need to continue to improve all. the. time.
Why? Well to give you some context, I work with one other designer besides myself on a daily basis. That designer lives in Osaka, Japan and up until this past August, I had been working with him for a year and had yet to ever shake his hand. Technology has made the world smaller - it’s possible to communicate with and do business with individuals on the opposite side of the world without ever meeting face to face. This means that getting your point across is crucial - and making sure the other person understands what you’re asking for is also crucial. So ask!
Another way communication can help you excel is when you use it to get feedback. Once again, while life may be a test with tricks and hints embedded inside, the only person grading you is yourself. If you use communication to learn where you can improve, you constantly raise your personal bar for success and can keep growing and improving as you move forward.
15. Limiting Your Life Because Of Something That MIGHT Happen
(photo - credit to Craig Henry)
This is referring to shortcutting yourself or making decisions in life because you’re preparing for something that MAY happen. Sheryl had the perfect example of this:
Sheryl tells a story of a woman turning down a huge promotion because “she was thinking about what that promotion would do to her time with her kids” But here’s the kicker: she wasn’t pregnant. She wasn’t married. She didn’t even have a boyfriend!! Talk about selling yourself short for something you WANT but don’t have. The worst part is that this happens more than you would think. Family decisions can definitely affect your career choice, but don’t limit yourself before you have to. Why do that to yourself? Imagine if you’d spend your time on your career (because that’s what’s right in front of you at the time) and then later when you have to make a family decision, you’ll be more established with a career and might have more choices than you would have previously.
To introduce another metaphor - if you’ve identified your final destination and plugged it into your GPS, you can’t just stare at the GPS the entire trip - there’s cars driving around doing crazy stuff! It’s good to have your goal defined and to use it as a reference that you check every now and then, but life is happening all around you - and if you’re not paying attention you might end up stuck in a traffic jam, getting into an accident, having you car break down, or any other situation that might actually hinder progress towards your goal. Who knows, if you’re paying attention, maybe you’ll actually get to your destination quicker than you would have otherwise :).
14. Thinking Now’s The Time To Settle
(photo - credit to Jerrod Maruyama)
The original article says you shouldn’t even think about falling in love. I don’t think this is wrong, but I don’t think this is right either. Hear me out:
When you’re in a relationship with someone, (let’s assume best case) you’re introduced to a completely different individual - perhaps submerged is a better word - and therefore a completely different way to view the world. You get to know someone else’s soul, someone else’s heart, someone else’s mind. You learn what drives them forward, and what the tip of their jungle gym is (or if they’ve defined that goal at all).
Just know that your 20s are the biggest time for growing/learning, so if a relationship doesn’t help you do that, perhaps it’s not the best one to be in.
Use this time of your life to meet and connect with people that you get along with and resonate with, but if you happen to fall in love with one of them, go for it!
13. Not Thinking “Long Term”
(photo - credit to George Otsubo)
So what do you want to do with your life? No, Seriously. If you don’t know, then why are you continuing to plow forward? If you don’t double check the horizon for your marker, how can you be sure you’re running the right race? How can you be sure you’re even heading in the right direction?
12. Not Re-evaluating What Makes A True Friendship
(photo - credit to Gilad Fried)
In life, the one thing we will always fight is time. When there’s only so much of it you can give to people around you, it’s time to go through the list of people you want to spend time with and make sure they count. Evaluating “friendships” is super important moving forward - who pushes you to accomplish your dreams? Who understands your time is precious and you may not have a ton of it to share? Who keeps you honest and on the right path? Who do you feel no obligations with? Who do you legitimately enjoy spending time with? Who inspires you?
11. Making your wants, needs
(photo - credit to Artua Design Agency)
Yes, you’re making some money right now! That’s awesome! But there are lots of things we’re not yet paying for…. things like new cars, health insurance, phone bills, house payments, retirement plans, etc. In other words, perhaps now is the time to save and budget. Don’t get it in your head that the money you’re making now will always be the case - save for that rainy day and be patient - as nothing happens as fast as you want it to.
10. Forgetting How You Got Here
(photo - credit to Daniel Waldron)
Take a second to think about how you got here today. For most people they did not get there completely alone. For example perhaps the city you were born in allowed you the opportunity for the college you went to? Perhaps you even had people help you pay for those college tuition payments? Either way, it’s time to take a second and realize who bet on you early on, and you need to remember to pay your thanks to those people (remember a thing called karma?).
9. Blaming Anyone But Yourself for Anything in Life
(photo - credit to Jessie Sima)
Is your boss making you upset? Does life hate you? Wrong. There is but one thing we can control in life - and that is your own attitude/own perception of life around you. Happiness is not a destination but a way of life. So what does that mean? That means if you’re unhappy with something going on in life, it’s time to put on a different pair of goggles through which to look at life.
Turn that frown upside down and get over it ;).
8. Following the crowd instead of forging against it
(photo - credit to Jacqui Oakley)
You can be aware of the trends, but never follow them. If all your time is spent trying to adjust to your surroundings, you’ll get lost in the crowd all the more easily.
At the same time, it’s great to see what exists in this world, so take your neutral palette and meet as many people as you can. Meet people who make the world turn in ways you never realized! By seeing all these different angles, you’re more able to judge what you like and what you want to change (both about the world and about yourself/your own goals).
In other words, it’s OK to walk through the crowd and be empathetic to everyone in it. But don’t be afraid to speak your own voice when you see something you don’t agree with.
7. Failing to energize those around you
(photo - credit to VISU)
Although you may sometimes think there is a lack of talent in your networks — this is never the case. It is your sole responsibility to inspire, encourage and drive those around you to succeed.
Failing to do so only confirms that you fall victim to that which you accuse others of. Change and greatness can be sparked everywhere, but bring it upon yourself to trigger it.
I recently saw a TED talk that better puts this into perspective - it takes one person to stand against the crowd, but the first FOLLOWER is the first person who actively selects the trendsetter as a leader. Therefore it’s essential to treat your followers with respect and love, because without them and without their energy, you are just a weirdo standing alone.
6. Being Careless with your Health and Lifestyle
(photo - credit to Glenn Jones)
As mentioned previously, there are lots of costs we don’t have yet. To think they won’t come is ridiculous. Kids. Marriage. New cars. Houses. Moving. Vacations. Poor investments. Losing your job. Getting divorced. None of these are things we have to worry about just yet (if we’re lucky and smart) but pretending the cash flow we have now is something we can afford to blow every penny of - you’re a fool.
Even more relevant - if you treat your body like it’ll just heal like it did when you were 13, you have another thing coming. Keeping your mental and physical health in mind as you grow teaches your brain that your health matters. Your future self will thank you if you start thinking about this now.
5. Investing in Relationships That Have the Wrong Values
(photo - credit to Josh Hemsley)
Your love life is an investment — and the smarter the deals you execute, the savvier of an investor you become. Instead of navigating through an ambiguous investment in which you shower your lover with cash and prizes for existing, make sure he or she will demonstrate positive returns. Your love life should have a solid ROI.
4. Forgetting about the piggy bank and spending every penny you have
(photo - credit to Bram Zwinnen)
If our check is for $9, then we’re most likely spending $30. Between credit cards, school loans and every other avenue for attaining a quick dollar, our need for immediate gratification is worse than ever.
The truth is it’s about making more money, not saving it. But at the same time, if you have no means for expanding your revenue channels, then you must be able to save a few dollars here and there. No one likes to have to walk to work because he blew every dollar at LAVO.
3. Starting A Family By Accident
(photo - credit to Melanie Matthews)
If you don’t want to have a child then you better limit your excuses. Remember what I said above? That you can never blame anyone but yourself for things that happen in life? Welp this is one of those situations.
The road to success is not paved with having responsibilities of children and your future wife to be. This is a somewhat lonely journey that you must take by yourself and those you love will be able to celebrate with you after.
2. Not Maintaining Your Innocence
(photo - credit to Justin Evans)
We’ve all heard the “nature” vs “nurture” debate right? Well what we don’t realize is that as we grow older, we’re submerged in cultural expectations and norms that we end up accepting as true. How do you know when this has happened? Well that’s why it’s so important to maintain a neutral palette as you go through life - otherwise how can you honestly make the best moral decisions for your life and those around you?
This can mean having friends from other countries who call you out on your culture’s bullshit, or surrounding yourself with kids who aren’t afraid to ask questions. It’s that simple.
1. Not Marking your Progress and Re-evaluating Constantly
It’s so difficult to keep on track for long term goals. Obviously your entire life path falls into that category as well.
So what’s the trick to keeping up with it and making sure you stay on track as you go through the years? Constant vigilance. And constant re-evaluation.
Long term goals are hard to keep up with. So it’s best to break them down into shorter goals/shorter milestones to reach. Once a year I like to go through what I’ve done thus far and keep a mental note of whether or not my accomplishments put me closer to my goal. I then take the time to make some goals for the following year. Then check out your list the following year to make sure you stayed on track.