3 Things I Learned in My 20's

Canadian Winter

A friend of mine asked me what advice I would give to people entering into their twenties. After some consideration, I came up with the following guidance:

1) Stay Hungry, Naive, and Open

When trying to get ahead in your twenties, it feels as though the naive optimism drains out of most of us as we near the end of that particular decade in our lives. To many, it seems like an inevitability that we will be worn down by the daily grind. In many cases, that's true - but it doesn't have to be.
To stay hungry, I always remind myself of the quote:
"Security robs ambition"
Once we start to accumulate the "trappings" of life, we tend to want to defend them, afraid that we might lose them. The more security and stability we have, the less open we become to risky, outlandish behaviours. Put another way, We become less open to adventure or enterprise. As you accumulate your securities, always keep this in mind.

For Naivete, George Bernard Shaw puts it close to the mark:
"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man."
While being unreasonable is a good start, the naivete that I'm mentioning is believing that you have the power to change the world. People tend see the possibility of change become less and less possible as they age. To go far, you need to be willing to try what might seem improbable - even impossible - to many.

And, finally, Openness:

"Be Stubborn about your Goals and Flexible about your Methods."
Picture what you want and pursue it relentlessly, but be sure that you're not clinging on to romantic notions of how you'll get there. If you see a better venue than the one you're trying, be prepared to make adjustments. Too often, people cling to their pride and refuse to try an alternative approach.

2) Focus on the Next Step

Sometimes goals may seem too big or too far away. We often won't even bother to start taking steps toward them because we think that it's all too much work or unlikely to happen. I get that.

The thing is, if you just focus on the next step by breaking down your tasks into bite-sized chunks, it's much more manageable.

Within the next week, I plan to fly from Toronto to Beijing and stay for a year. I've never been to China before and speak only a limited amount of Mandarin. The idea of being surrounded by Chinese people staring at me, speaking another language, while I choke on smog is rather intimidating. Sometimes I come close to hyperventilating when thinking about the reality of the choice I've made. And that's ignoring all the preparation I've had to do just to get to this point.

But breaking it down makes it a lot easier. In this case, I'm going to put my blinders on. Do everything one step at a time. For my case, it would be like this: buy flight tickets, buy insurance, pack, get in the car, collect my boarding pass, wait until boarding, find my seat on the plane, wait many hours, collect my luggage, catch a cab, then freak out once I finally reach my destination. That last step is optional.

3) Do Something - Anything - and Kill It

Seriously, just pick something. No matter how ridiculous it might be, it'll be better than doing nothing. Maybe a business could pop up from it, maybe it'll give you skills that will make you more marketable, or maybe it'll just make you a more interesting person. Any of the above will help you get ahead in life in some respect.

Something I keep in mind whenever I want to slack off:
"Everything is Practice for the Big Show"
We are creatures of habit. If we cut corners whenever we see the opportunity, and we shirk our duties at a dead-end job, we're more likely to do the same in areas when it actually matters. We're all guilty of slipping now and again, myself included.

What's important is investing in yourself and continually doing so. Install this habit in your early twenties and you'll be leaps and bounds ahead of the competition.

More to Come

Given this topic, I could probably talk for hours on what I would what's worked for me, what hasn't, and what's been suggested by others. I will revisit this topic again in the future. Until then, I hope these pieces of advice treat you well!

Editing Music: The Trouble With Us - Marcus Marr & Chet Faker

1 comment:

  1. I didn't know you had this Blog =O - Now I gotta read your posts for the past year :D