Your 20’s are an important age.
You’re done with school (for the most part). You must make plans for what will happen next now. More importantly than anything, It’s time to cast off the notions that you are a child and need to be provided for.
You need to accept that your previous life as a boy is over – utterly – and move forward with confidence into becoming a self reliant, self aware, hero of your own story.
I have no regrets.
I do wish my own family guided me better as a young man and believed in me a bit more to instill the confidence every boy needs to be successful.
If by some stroke of technological revolution would enabled me to give guidance to my younger self, these are the 19 things I would tell a 19 year old me:
Sidenote: for additional content, checkout the audio version of 12 Rules For Life. It’s the book I wish I had when I starting my 20’s (I’m in my 30’s now FYI)
1) You will have to forgive people in your life.
No one comes from a perfect family. As a grown man I know now that peace of mind above all else is the main, long term goal of every person. The greatest obstacle to peace of mind however is anger followed up by blame.
Learn to forgive in order to live fully in the present. The people you must forgive are:
- Your parents – Living or dead. They did their best. At the very least they gave you life. You are not a child nor are you a victim. Drill that into your head and forgive.
- Idiots who have cheated you, stolen from you, done bad to you. Pitty people like this. That’s what they deserve (not your anger) because they don’t have the skills to be successful.
- Your previous relationships that did not work out.
- Yourself – A past you is always more immature and less developed. Don’t beat yourself up to much on the dumb, cruel or bad things you did. Make amends by being in top form in all aspects of your life.
2) You have to be really, REALLY good at what you do. No exceptions.
Your ability to work and deliver results is the basis of how valuable you will be in a market economy. That means, you have to be really good at what you do in order to command a high income for your services.
That means, your dumb ass doesn’t go to school for accounting just because you want to get a job where you can get a high salary or attempt to become something you perceive as cool like a graphic designer if you’re not 100% sure that you can be world class in that career field.
If you fail to heed this advice what will happen is pretty simple. You will be fired from your accounting or finance job because you’re not good at it and are competing with people really have a nack for that sort of work.
You will be a mediocre graphic designer with no clients, struggling to find work because you did not take into account that NO ONE CARES about your GPA or your degree once you’re done with school. It’s all about results. End of fucking story.
3) You’re always self employed.
Begin to think of yourself as a sell employed because you are. You always work for yourself and even if you have a job, that job is simply a reflection on your skills and what the market is willing to pay for the service you offer.
In another way, you’re the CEO of your own personal services corporation, and you’re out in the market offering your services to the highest bidder which in turn is your current employer.
Your goal should be to do something wonderful with your talents, skills and abilities. Develop your strengths and minimize your weaknesses.
4) College is good if you’re a top performer and will attend an elite college OR if you know what career you want to do.
Outside of these reasons, college is too much of a financial gamble if you’re young, penniless and clueless. Best to take a year and just figure your future out a bit (a gap year, hey like those smart Europeans). One thing is for sure, you will have a massive amount of debt to pay back and if you’re a fool of an accountant or a mediocre graphic designer then good luck!
Skip college until you have a specific goal.
Now I speak as an American from an American perspective. Education is so valuable just from the fact that you’re enriching your mind… but until it becomes less of a business where you graduate with a small mortgage, you need to be very careful as to not make a huge financial mistake.
You could always look at attending school in Europe too.
5) College does not guarantee money
Don’t be fooled into thinking that if you “become” a lawyer or a doctor or whatever you will be set for life. Go back to point 2. You have to be good at what you do. If you can’t be world class at it for whatever reason. You’re not willing to put in the time and effort or perhaps you don’t have the IQ, talent or skills then give up and do something else.
College does not guarantee money. It puts you in debt first and foremost, it may give you the right connections if you go to a good school and it’s required for certain professions. But money is not something you get by going to school automatically.
The real truth is that making money is 100% up to you and your abilities and your ability to market yourself. You don’t need a degree to do this. In fact, would’t it be better to learn the skills needed to make money without a job instead of learning how to make money only at a specific career field?
An alternative to this is to also simply learn a trade. Why are trades so bad? My brother is an electrician. He does not have a 4 year degree, but is happy, finds purpose in his work, makes 65k+ a year and can have a life while being useful to society.
6) Travel (or die without living).
You are an utter fool, 100% certified idiot if you never travel anywhere in the world. It may seem expensive, it may seem unrealistic. But it’s only that way because travel is not a priority in your life (and it should be). If your priority is work, saving for a house, kids, getting married then you will always find an excuse not to go anywhere. Make travel a priority. Visiting a truly foreign country like China or India will change your life for the better in so many ways. Just take a look at my numerous travel videos like this one of the full moon part in Koh Phangan:
I’m in my 30’s. This sort of thing you should be doing as a 19 year old!
Why are you not here?
I know this sort of travel only ever remains a fantasy for most people, but it does not have to be. I’m American and I know how we think (can’t speak for other countries ). High school, then college, then get a job, then get a house then live for the weekends and and live your quite life of desperation.
Posting pictures of you on a beach from your 1 week vacation from your J.O.B. – thinking about how great it would be to magically live on an island someday.
I’ve done it. It’s not hard and you can do it too if you can manage to make a few thousand dollars a month online which brings me to my next point for 19 year olds…
7) You really can make money on the internet.
You can sell products, build websites, write Kindle ebooks, make online courses learn pay per click advertising, provide a service on Fiverr or you can make YouTube videos.
It’s hard to make money from the internet because of point 2. You have to be really good at what you do. If it was easy, then everyone would do it.
If I could do it over again, once I got to a point where I was making $2,000 a month reliably and saved up a couple thousand dollars I would have quite my job and headed over to South East Asia years earlier. In cities like Chaing Mai Thailand there is a large expat area…and we are not talking about the stereotypical older fat white dudes with some young girl from the farm.
I’m talking about the thriving co-working spaces where successful entreprenures go to network, work, hangout and have fun.
These are the kinds of people you need to get around to be successful. Not office monkeys. Not your loser friends doing nothing with their life.
8) Nobody wants you to succeed (at least outside of their expectations for you).
Your family and friends care about you, they want you to succeed… but on their terms, not yours. You see, in reality, NO ONE BELIEVES IN YOU. Not for any other reason that they fear your ambition. Fear that you may grow broke and damage yourself and your future. That you may be unable to live a happy and fulfilling life, or worse…you may actually pull it off
Allowing you to live a life that shines a spotlight on the timid way they have chosen to live their life. Upsetting the dynamic of the relationship that they have become accustomed to.
9) Lift weights, run, eat right while you’re young.
Don’t be fat. There is no need for you to be. You will suffer from fat prejudice. People will think you’re weak, stupid, lazy and unmotivated even if that’s not the case. Fat people know how much it sucks to be fat. The stares, the comments. You know what though? The reverse is true to. When you’re in really good shape you also get stares and comments; but not out of scorn. Out of admiration and respect.
When you look strong, you look like you’re in control of your life. When you are physically strong, you feel better about yourself mentally. So lift weights, eat right and become the best version of yourself.
When you’re young you have everything going for you in order to build an awesome body. Take advantage of it NOW.
Always remember, without your health you will be unable to enjoy your success in other areas of your life.
10) Don’t make women a priority in your life at 19. That’s just stupid.
You’re not in love, it’s just infatuation and even that feeling goes away in a relationship after about 3-4 years. Love is simply dedication and commitment to someone else. Love is something you should worry about AFTER you have take care of priority number 1:
Until you get your life in order, until you’re making the kind of income you want to be making, are in the shape you want to be in, are doing what you want to do OR are on the way to doing what you want to do – YOU have no business being in a relationship and wasting some girls time with your immature self
That does not mean you need to be alone, it just means don’t make women a priority. You build a life for yourself and invite a woman into the world you’ve created, not build your life around a woman – because that’s going to come crashing down if she ever decides to leave you.
11) Work ethic.
We’re all lazy. This is why we have technology to begin with. Because we’re lazy and want to find a better, faster cheaper solution. It makes sense from a historical perspective. I accept that I am lazy at times. But be lazy in a way where you find better ways to do things. Not the kind of lazy where day in and day out you do little of what anyone would call work.
Doing hard work is a habit. Some people are more geared this way than others, but there is no escaping the need for a solid work ethic if you ever want to get more out of yourself.
You can either train yourself to work when you don’t feel like it, or to sulk away timidly from the your responsibilities.
Just remember, your results are your own. Don’t complain about the results you did not get from the work you did not do.
12) Your Life Can Improve Drastically
If you want to improve your life then change the way you dress, the places you go and the people you talk to. When you do find the courage to leave, LEAVE. Lock the door, throw away the key and never look back. It’s all just a bad memory from this point on.
13) It’s OK to disappoint people. Say NO and stop worrying
It’s our most basic fundamental control we have. Say NO to some things so we can say yes to others. It comes down to priorities and if you can say yes to everything anyone asks you, your dreams are too small.
14) Avoid debt like the plague.
Look, you need to develop your credit history so use credit cards as a tool to get cash back, frequent flyer miles and to build your credit by paying off the balance in full at the end of every month. Don’t put anything on your credit card that you will be unable to pay off at the end of the month. It’s that simple.
And with regards to school, student loans are the only type of debt you can’t declare bankruptcy from from. So be very careful about going into debt for school.
15) Money is important so be concerned about obtaining enough of it to where you don’t think about it anymore.
“Money does not buy happiness” is eloquent bullshit. Yes I get the deeper meaning that happiness come from your relationships with other people bla bla bla.
You ever been broke?
I have and it’s terrible.
Money buys the things you want and need.
Money makes problems go away.
Having money and financial security is critical towards your peace of mind. Earn as much money as you can, make yourself well off. Don’t limit yourself. Obtain your freedom fully in every way and start investing as soon as you can. Even if it’s just $30 from your minimum wage paycheck.
Do it! Make it a habit. 40 year old you will love you for it.
16) Real life is like high school all over again.
People are idiots. People like to view themselves through a social group and thus become unwilling or unable to put their own thinking cap on. I’m a “feminist” or “liberal” or “Christian” or THIS political party or THAT political party. It’s all stupid. I argue all the time about politics with my brother. A self identified republican who told me “well I hate Mitt Romney but he’s our guy so I’ll vote for him”. It’s the future of our country you idiot, not a football game *facepalm*. You don’t have to vote for this person just because you’re both on team “republican”.
Just accept people will behave like this and let it go. Argue and debate ideas. It might be pointless, but it may have a slight chance of changing minds, but don’t lose your cool and get stressed over it.
17) The right way is the wrong way.
You know, I struggled for years and years to make any sort of money online. It really got to me after awhile because I could see other people building big websites, selling products on Amazon, quitting their job and i’m just over here thinking, WTF. I’m doing everything right! Why is this not working god damn it!!!
The right way is the wrong way.
Back when I worked at PwC almost a decade ago, I was miserable with the life I had built and was ready to smash it down despite outwardly appearances of success.
I had way more money than I needed, I had a nice apartment with my girlfriend and I had a job where I worked all day (12+ hours) doing high level work. It was the sort of position others envied because I had the trappings of success and I was on a fast track to a high level position in my 30’s. I had done everything I was supposed to do to be happy and successful according to the media, society and the expectations of my family.
So why was I living a life of quite desperation as a 23 year old?
The right way is the wrong way.
The right way is always the wrong way when you’re looking to achieve success on your terms. If the “right way” was in fact correct we would all be successful in the way we want it.
18) High school is not the best time of your life, neither is college. Unless you design it that way.
You don’t have to design your life to conform to the expectations of others. One where you’re just working a job, are getting a bit fat and not enjoying your life.
Look, you always have a future. Next time someone says to you as a 19 year old “this is the best time of your life” just ignore them. Life is what you make it, and that’s the secret. It takes effort and a clear plan to build a great life.
It’s like streering a ship. Sure the wind can just take you where ever if you let it – and that’s normally into a rock formation, but if you take control of your ship and start doing the steering yourself there’s not telling what adventure you may find.
19) Get married, have kids when you’re older, if you want.
Yes there are exceptions but for a 19 year old man don’t even worry about getting married and having kids. Look, it’s good to be married and it’s good to have kids. I see the joy and happiness it brings my 2 brothers.
It’s a wonderful way to live your life as you get older but don’t rush. If you’re a man, good news. You have plenty of time. You can still date very attractive 20 somethings when you’re in your 30’s if you take care of yourself. You should be a man at this point, in great shape, making good money. You’re in your prime in your 30’s.
Personally I’ve had way more access and attention from attractive 20 year old girls as a 30 something year old guy than I ever did in my 20’s.
BONUS: It does not matter where you’re coming from, all that matters is where you’re going.
You’re doing your best. You’re only human. Don’t beat yourself up too much. Life is pretty difficult for all of us at varying times. When things are going well, do more of what works. When things are in crisis mode survive and then thrive.
12 Rules For Life – I’m an avid reader, but Dr Jordan Peterson is a highly verbal person and the audio version of his book is simply outstanding.
If you’ve not listened to this book, get it. Worth every penny for a young man.
The Rational Male – Understand women, sexual dynamics and how to stop being an idiot towards the opposite sex. This is a cult classic. You’ll love it, it’s such a fun and interesting read.
How To Get Rich – By billionaire Felix Dennis. 100x better than the name implies. It’s part biography and part revelation of the risk, stress and difficulty with getting rich. I read this book for 3 hours straight. It was that good.
I Will Teach You To Be Rich – By Ramit Sethi. The best personal finance book for those just getting started with making money.