I’ve been wanting to write a blog post like this for a long time. Those that know me well recognize me as a self-help junky.  As such, I genuinely attribute the largest portion of my professional development to the research, reading, and practicing of personal improvements I’ve done over the years. That, combined with years of professional experience, has taught me many lessons, some of which I’ve shared here. I assure you right beneath the surface of these life lessons is insight that will help you advance your career.

You’ll notice that while many items fall into categories of time, accountability, effort, and people, most are related to outlook and attitude—the two things that seem to transform everything.

Here are 34 Things Every 22-Year-Old Should Know

Let’s start with time, today, and the, uh, future you think you see…

1) Treat every day as if it’s the first day of the rest of your life or career.  I don’t care if it’s not Monday or January 1st.  The other six days of the week or 364 days of the year work too.  This means you get to box up all your so-called failures as if they never happened.  Unfortunately, this means you box up your successes too. The great news is that both of these actually cause strain which you can now let go.  Every day technically is a new beginning.

2) Time is NOT money. Time is time. Money is money. Lose one and you can earn it back. Lose the other and it’s gone forever. Does that sound like they’re equal?

3) “Five-year” plans have ruined more present moments than all other distractions combined.  You’ll be far better off with fifteen-minute plans.  Not only will you be more accurate a far greater percentage of the time, but you’ll also rarely be disappointed in the outcome because you’ll have far fewer variables go awry.  Stay present.  You can only live life to the fullest in the moment.  The past and future are mere distractions.  Enjoy the job you have today.  You’ll be happier and it’s a nice stepping stone for your future.

4) Learn how to say NO at the right times.  The faster you learn this, the more happy days you’ll live and the more productive your workdays will become.  Trust me.

Over time you’ll make lots of mistakes and “fail”… but, trust me, everything you want is on the other side of fear.

5) You’ll make a lot of mistakes in your life. You’re better off making those errors of commission rather than omission.  When you look back, you’ll be much sorrier for the things you didn’t do as opposed to those you did.  Along those same lines, it won’t matter much the choices you make as much as it will the conviction in which you make them. Be committed to everything you do.  Take the job you want even if it’s “risky.”

6) Technically, I don’t believe there is any such thing as failure.  Sure, the word itself is in the dictionary, but I’ve never noticed one in my life.  Perhaps it’s because I don’t believe in what I look at.  I believe in how I see it.  Even so, I’ll play along…the embarrassment of failure is way easier than the responsibility that comes with success.  If you think you can’t, you won’t.  If you think you can, you will. Even if they don’t succeed, winners still think they did.  It’s not delusional. It’s called mastering your psyche. Never be afraid to try to new things.  Everything you want is on the other side of fear.

7) There is no such thing as failure—part two.  The only exception to this rule is trying to please everyone.  You will certainly fail at that.  That rule is bulletproof.  No exceptions.

All I need to do is pay attention and work hard and I’ll find the success I’m looking for. Right?

8) Open your eyes and stretch your ears.  Something happens every moment.  When you’re talking it’s impossible to experience the moment.  It’s as if your brain shuts off when your mouth is moving.  The only exception is screaming on the downslide of a rollercoaster ride.

9) I tend to notice two types of people—those that are disciplined and everyone else.  100% of the people in the first group eventually become successful.  Some of the people in the second group do as well.  Remember, what you do everyday matters more than what you do once in a while.  Promotions don’t happen because of one big success.

10) Hard work doesn’t guarantee results.  Smart work increases the likelihood of good results.  Concentrate on what you do along the way and embrace the journey with no attachment to the outcome.  You’ll enjoy yourself more and likely have better results.  You’ll also avoid disappointments that could result from faulty expectations.  Technically speaking, any outcome that didn’t occur the way you thought it would means you had faulty expectations.  Faulty expectations arise for two reasons—you can’t see the future and you developed those expectations without all the necessary information. Don’t expect people to buy the best product.  Don’t expect your boss to be fair.  Don’t expect life to be fair.

11) Intelligence is overrated. Talent is really overrated. You only need three things to be successful—Passion, Vision, and Commitment. Contrary to what people think, you’re not born with passion.  It’s grown.  Vision isn’t seeing into the future.  It’s making the future happen the way you want it to.  Commitment is the most important item.  It makes up for any shortcomings of the other two.  Live every workday to the fullest.  When it’s over think about how it’s moving you toward where you want to be.  At any moment, don’t be afraid to change your career.

12) You can have endless dreams, but not endless priorities.  It’s a great lesson for life, love, and upward management of your boss.

13) School does not equal education. Going to school helps you earn a degree. You know you have one when you can ethically place the letters after your name such as Andy LaCivita B.S.er of Everything.  If you have to pay for someone to teach you something—anything—that’s not education. That’s paying for a degree or certification or whatever. Real education occurs when you do something you love for free or by the good graces of some employer and get paid for it. No one can teach you more than you. No one can teach you more than you. It was worth saying twice.

14) Own your stuff. Take accountability. The world would be an easier place to live if everyone did so. The word “fault” could be eliminated from the dictionary. That’d make me smile because then no one would be trying to assign it when they should first look in the mirror.

People make the world go ‘round. Sometimes you need them and sometimes you don’t. But, all the time, watch who you befriend…

15) You don’t need a mentor.  No one cares about your life or your career more that you do.  You can outsource a lot of things, but living your life isn’t one of them.  Managing your career isn’t one either.

16) Leaders build more leaders, not more followers.  “A” players hire and develop “A” players.  “B” players hire and don’t develop “C” players.  Protecting your turf might last for a while, but when your reign is over you’ll be far less developed for surrounding yourself with less talent.  If you’re the smartest person in the room, go find another room.

17) Keep everyone’s phone number—even the people you dislike.  They might be helpful someday. If given the choice between knowing the right person or having your MBA, remember that friends hire friends before they hire credentials.

18) Never treat your subordinates poorly. I assure you someday they will be working at company you’re trying to get into. It’s also possible that someday you’ll be reporting to one of them.

19) Here’s an average for you. You become the average of the five people you spend the most time with—especially at work. Think about that.

Even if you did nothing I previously mentioned, staying true to your instinct and keeping a positive outlook and attitude will set you in the right direction…

20) Apply the transitive property often. It will lead you to valuable deductions such as The More Things You Have In Your Life = The More Upkeep = More Stress AND Just Enough To Make You Happy > Never Satisfied = More Days You’ll Live Happily.   Another one of my favorites is The More Bells & Whistles Your Product Has = The More Complicated It Is To Operate = The Less People That Buy It.

21) Always listen to your inner voice. It’s smart. It’s correct far more times than the external voices you hear.  If the business deal sounds bad, it likely is.  If it sounds good, but feels bad, it likely is bad too.

22) Everything is as it’s supposed to be.  The sooner you accept that, the happier you’ll be.  Everything that happens in your personal and work life caused you to do certain things—for good reason. Don’t believe me? Look back at your life or your career. I guarantee there is a pattern that connects the dots. If you’re not happy with the pattern, there are two things to consider. First, you’re probably not looking hard enough. Second, your future is spotless.

23) The more people who tell you something is wrong, the more right you probably are.  The degree to which something is right for you usually is inversely proportional to the number of people who tell you it’s not.  It’s also easier to believe a lie you’ve heard a thousand times than the truth you’ve heard once. Never hesitate to follow your instinct and create a path for your life and career.  If it feels like a bad idea in your gut, it is. There’s also no need to confirm your gut with anyone else. Never feel the need to subscribe to one of society’s pre-canned menu options for life or work. We only grow as a society when people choose to be different. You’ll never grow as a person without doing the same.

24) You will be happy because of what you think not what happens to you. If you’re conditionally happy, you’ll have less happy days. My way, you’re happy every day. Happy people accomplish more, learn more, and are more fun to be around. Someone once asked me, “How can you be so happy so often?” I said, “Because I always think I’m happy.”  I’m always right about that.

25) Experience doesn’t always lead to good judgment—gathering all the facts and making completely informed decisions does. Listening to another’s experience before you attempt something can be helpful. But, remember, when they did that something they did it without your one constant variable—YOU. Applying the transitive property that I love, this means that you can’t experience anything without actually experiencing it yourself. What makes you think the outcome would ever be the same when you insert yourself into the player’s seat? Different variables lead to different outcomes—better and worse.

26) Life isn’t always fair. Over the long run, however, the universe is incredibly balanced. Karma also has no deadline.

27) Patience is not a virtue. It’s learned. Don’t ever confused patience with being worn down or not caring. They’re not the same.

28) There’s no shame in quitting. Winners do it all the time. They just know the right time to move on. It’s usually right before things turn really sour. It’s also never before they’re about to a make a breakthrough. In that sense, timing might not be everything, but winners sure know how to set a clock.

29) You get back what you give off. Sending good things out into the universe and building a bank of goodwill is better than any checking account with a seven figure balance.

30) Comparison is a recipe for mediocrity. If your goal is to be “better than” someone else or you grade life on a curve, you’ll never reach your true potential because you’ll feel you’ve reached it when you’ve surpassed someone. Usually that only means you’re leaving something on the table. Comparison kills.

31) When giving or receiving advice, remember that advice is typically a person speaking to his or her younger self.  For example, it took 30 items for me to realize my 46-year-old self is dispensing advice to my long-gone 22-year-old self. Oh. And, remember, free advice doesn’t cost you anything until you act on it.

32) Question everything. Not in an insubordinate but an inquisitive way. Once you know the “Why,” you’ve increased your chance of fixing the problem by 87695%.

33) Nothing is original. I’m sure anything I’ve just written has been written or dispensed before. Everything that needs to be said has already been said. We just need it repeated because no one was listening the first time. I think that happens because of this recurring dream I keep having. I’m driving down a highway and see the big green town road sign on the right as I zip past. The sign says, “Welcome To The Town of NO ONE CARES…Population 7 Billion.”

34) If you never try you’ll never know. Not knowing is my biggest fear. Only those willing to go too far can actually know how far they can truly go. Life was meant to be lived. Don’t wait until it’s too late to start.

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