I’m coming up on 32 years old and have certainly made my fair share of mistakes in life. And while I’m not a big believer in regrets (I have learned tremendously from every single mistake) there are a few things I know now that wish I had known when I was younger:
1. Don’t Worry Too Much About What Other People Think Of You
For the most part, what other people think and say about you doesn’t matter, and yet we spend so much energy worrying about it. As Bill Cosby said, “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” Instead, choose a few people in your life whom you trust, who know you well, and who love you enough to tell you the truth (even when it hurts). Listen to them, and don’t bother too much about the rest.
2. Don’t Be So Sure of What You Know (or Think you Know)
I once saw a sign that read, “Hire teenagers now, while they still know everything” and I had to laugh. Because that’s exactly how I thought as a teenager – like I had all the answers and always knew better. But the more I seem to be learning these days, the more I realise how little I actually know, and how wrong I can often be. So stop trying to be right all the time and take the time to listen. You might learn a few new things.
3. Stop Trying To Get, and Give a Little
While it may seem paradoxical, I am absolutely convinced that the path to true contentment lies in the serving of others. That while our talents and abilities might reveal our purpose and our passion, it is our servant-hearts that reveal our maturity. It took me a long time to figure this one out.
4. Family First
Over the years I have spoken to many people who have cheated their families for the sake of their career goals, and have suffered the consequences. Work. Family. Church. Hobbies. Fitness. Housekeeping. Socialising. Sleep. With only 24 hours in each day, we simply can’t fit everything in. And what we choose to cheat is a clear announcement of our values. When you come home an hour earlier, miss a round of golf, or let the dishes sit while you play with your child, you make your family feel valued and secure. Simply put, you must choose to cheat at work rather than at home.
5. Friends Are Crucial
Long-term the people you make friends with are so much more important than your accomplishments or the things you buy. I’ve had a some achievements, I’ve bought a lot of things, and I’ve made a few friends over the years. Of those, the only thing that really matters – the only thing that will outlive me, is my relationships. And I wish I could have spent more time with friends (and family) than on the other things.
6. Pace Yourself
I am an extremely impatient person. I like to take action and get things done, so I often shoot out the starting blocks very quickly only to find myself exhausted early on in the race. So pace yourself. You do not have to do it all at once. In fact, if you try to do it all at once you will, at best not have time to enjoy it, and at worst burn out and damage your health and relationships. Life is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.
7. Grab Hold of Opportunities
Opportunities in life aren’t always easy to recognise. We usually expect them to come with beepers and billboards, but most often they are dressed in overalls and look like work. Sometimes we call opportunities problems and we try to avoid them, but the truth is nothing is so often irretrievably missed as a daily opportunity. So take some risks and be ready to seize the adventures when they present themselves.
8. Make Your Kisses Expensive
My mom used to tell me this when I was a young boy, but I never listened to her. Growing up I was far to flippant with my sexuality and have had to pay the price in later life. The truth is sex is not just physical, and to treat it that way is to hurt ourselves.