Life is a series of contradictions. Most of us are wired to aspire to things that we deep down know don’t really make us happy.
As we get older, we start to realise that much of our career positioning and aspirations is based on an artificial construct of success. So many people never pursue things they really want to do because they are locked in a maze and can’t find the exit.
Sometimes this is due to fear. Sometimes we live our lives based on the expectations of others. Often we just get caught in a rut, living the same day thousands of times rather than a new day every day.
With this in mind, here are a few things I wish I had known at 25.
- You will spend a lot of time worrying what other people think. After a while you realise that if you are true to your values and happy with who you are, it really doesn’t matter what other people think. In fact it is probably none of your business.
2. If you are worried about something, fix it quickly if you control it and stop worrying about it if you don’t. There is no useful value in worrying about things that you can’t control.
3. Choose to be an optimist. As Winston Churchill observed, none of the other options make much sense.
4. Always try to be flexible in every situation. Nature has a way of breaking things that don’t bend.
5. There is really no rush to do anything when you are young. Take some risks, try some stuff and have some fun before you acquire too much baggage and too many responsibilities.
6. There is no such thing as a normal anything. Everyone’s life is different, there is no universal definition of success and failure, and none of us have any idea what really goes on inside the heads of others. Live a life that works for you. But do it with dignity and respect for how others might be feeling.
7. Every day you have the power to make someone else’s day great or terrible. Always choose great. It is your best and simplest contribution to a better world.
8. Be grateful for what you have, not regretful about thing you don’t.
9. If you let it happen, life’s default position is spending most of your time doing things you don’t want to do. This is not a great use of your life. If you find yourself in this situation, change it.
10. Bad relationships just fill your life with toxin. Have the courage to recognise this and do something about it. Life is too short to be dragged down by toxic people.
11. You only regret the things you don’t do and there will not be opportunities to do all the things you dream of doing. Plan things now. Then plan more. Don’t wait for life to happen. Make it happen.
12. Get into good fitness and eating habits in your 20s and keep those habits for the rest of your life. You only have one body and your older self will pay for what you do earlier in life.
13. Invest real time in family and friendships. When it really matters, they will be the people with you in the bunker.
14. No matter how bad a day you are having, plenty of people around you are having a worse one. Most people have hidden fears and insecurities that they work hard to mask.No matter how bad a day you are having, plenty of people around you are having a worse one. Most people have hidden fears and insecurities that they work hard to mask.
15. You can achieve more if you stop worrying about who gets the credit.
16. Be grateful for every day of healthy living. Try not to sweat first world problems. If you are alive, well fed, in work and you have close friends and a loving family you are in much better shape than the vast majority of people in history.
17. Don’t get obsessed with material possessions. Chasing more expensive cars and bigger houses is more likely to make you stressed than make you happy.
18. Always give an honest, respectful opinion. Do that and you can achieve more than you can imagine.
Shane Rodgers is a business executive, writer and marketer with a keen interest in social change and what makes people tick. He is the author of Tall People Don’t Jump – the curious behaviour of human beings.