Reflecting on your past can help you plan for your future. Here are the things I wish someone had told me when I was eighteen.
1) Jobs and job leads can come from anyone anywhere anytime.
You should always be on your best behavior & make a great lasting impression. You’d be amazed where some of my best contacts have come from over the years — a gardener who also happened to work for someone who was in a position to help, a hair stylist who had well heeled (and coiffed) clients, standing in line for the bathroom at a conference I struck up a conversation with a top recruiter.
Seriously be nice to everyone & make friends before you need them, you never know who is in or will be in a position to help!
2) Life is a marathon not a sprint.
Don’t be in such a rush to conquer the world. Learn the basics really well, do your homework and pay your dues now while you are young, it will pay off in spades down the road when you really understand how the pieces fit together and will be able to spot opportunities.
Do not set arbitrary goals like being named 30 under 30 or 40 under 40 because it may take you longer than Mark Zuckerberg to hit your stride and that’s ok. Most people take many detours on their career path before finding their true calling. Don’t be disappointed if you get to 40 and are still exploring because the journey really is a great adventure so enjoy it!
3) Marry the right person for the right reasons!
I believe that much of your happiness and sadness in life comes from that single decision of choosing the right life partner.
4) Never burn a bridge.
You just never know when your paths will cross again with old colleagues, former bosses, etc. I got an introduction to one of my best clients ever from a college friend who basically stole my idea. I wanted to bust the friend for plagiarism but ended up taking the high road instead and years later was remembered a someone who has great ideas which lead to the introduction to my client.
Another time my boss’ boss used to make my life miserable and after I left the company and got a much bigger job my former senior management tracked me to down to help get him into my new company when I was in a position to help which I did and now that we have both moved on from that firm he has become one of my biggest champions and references and now remembers me as a strong team player he discovered with loads of potential (versus the junior person who used to threaten him).
Recently I pitched a new client who did not hire us and instead of being nasty about it I took the high road and she thought I handled defeat in such a classy way she has steered other business our way and wants to hire us for the next project. Kill them with kindness and don’t ever burn that bridge, trust me it pays off!
5) Treat yourself.
You are not good to anyone else if you are not at your best so take good care, eat well, sleep, exercise, etc.
6) Change how you spend time with people.
Instead of always meeting up with your local friends at a coffee shop, a bar, over a meal or chatting with them on the phone, meet them for a bike ride or a walk so you can catch up while you are getting some exercise too.
You’ll feel great after, the time will fly & it will be a fun activity to share. It works professionally too, I have clients who play golf so sometimes we meet at a driving range instead of the office to discuss things especially when you are trying to think outside the box.
A change in venue is always nice and you feel so much better when you are moving and not trapped behind your desk. Find creative ways to multi task that incorporates exercise & you’ll be amazed how much more energy and time you have!
Make time for friends, exercise, hanging out, etc. It will never be as easy as it was in school to round up a group of buddies to play but do not let that stop you. Baking down time into your life is really important so make it a priority.
7) Be kind.
Whenever you have the chance to say or do something kind choose that route. Being snarky or a bully may seem like fun at the time but it really is not worth it in the end.
Especially now when things live forever online & on social media it is so much better to prevent the digital dirt from ever even getting out there. Silly pranks and behaviors can be hurtful so always choose kindness and take the high road. You will never regret it. Let stuff go that doesn’t matter.
8) Work with the best.
Work with and for really smart people, you will learn so much and it will set you up for a great career path.
9) Failure leads to success.
Every successful person you know has failed along the way, that is how they became a success. It is part of the process in fact.
If you asked every single one of them to take their resume and create a mirror that shows the “side B” of how they failed in each of those jobs I bet they could do it & they would probably tell you that they learned the most in those jobs when the “failed.”
Everyone has a side B (can you tell I am old enough to remember records). I believe when you learn it is not really a failure at all.
10) Entrepreneurship is a way of life.
You can learn a lot working for others but if you decide to start your own thing just know that entrepreneurship is not just a career, it is an attitude & a way of life. It is not for everyone but if it is for you it will be a great adventure.
11) Honor the education outside of school.
Finishing school is not the end of your education, you will be a student for the rest of your life so never stop learning new things. Your education is just starting to get really interesting and the grades don’t matter anymore. Be a sponge for knowledge & enjoy the learning process.
12) Do not take your good health for granted.
Take good care of yourself. Everything in moderation. Your body is not as forgiving as you age.
13) Happiness is a choice.
Wake up every day and embrace the day ahead with joy and a positive attitude. It is up to you. Make it a great day.
14) There is no manual for success and happiness.
There are no shortcuts in life. You have to go out there & just do it. Make things happen. Keep moving forward. When you get knocked down you have to get up and try again only smarter. There is no dress rehearsal, this is it. Enjoy the ride.
15) Have fun every day.
Do not postpone happiness. Incorporate fun into your life. It can be 5 minutes but don’t forget to enjoy the journey.
16) If you are not passionate about your life why should anyone else be?
Show you care in everything you do or go do something else.
17) Be grateful
Think of at least one thing you are grateful for every single day before you go to sleep. It will make you appreciate even the simplest things in your life.
18) Find a reason to laugh at least once every day.
Do not take everything so seriously that you cannot see the humor in life. When humans plan God laughs so we should too!