If someone had handed me these life lessons for young adults, I would have lived my life differently. Of course, I say that with a giggle because we all know blogging didn’t exist in 1988.

Seriously, I don’t truly think that because I believe the universe is perfect the way it is. “What is” is what’s supposed to be, otherwise it wouldn’t be.

But, for amusement, I often reflect on the lessons I’ve learned. If I was smart enough to learn them sooner, I would have. I’m sure you would have too.

Here’s what I would have told myself:

  1. Try It. You won’t know if you like it until you do. It’s technically the only way you can discover your passion. You’re never born with passion. It’s something you discover by falling in love with something you experience.
  1. Start Now. The best time to plant an oak tree was fifty years ago. The next best time is today. You and your retirement account will thank me.
  1. Eliminate First. This is something 99% of the world doesn’t understand. Everyone wants to add things to their lives. The secret to accumulating more and accomplishing more is by doing things in this order: 1) Evaluate, 2) Eliminate, 3) Try, 4) Review, 5) Clean Up Mistakes, 6) Repeat. Number two makes numbers three through six a lot easier. This works great with clothes, people, and generally anything else you can think of.
  1. Go Big. Your accomplishments will be in direct proportion to the height of the goals you set for yourself. Whoever said, “Failure is not an option,” was a fool. Failure should be your most probable outcome when you first attempt something. If it’s not, you didn’t set your goal high enough! Read Out of Reach but in Sight: Using Goals to Achieve Your Impossible.
  1. Keep Moving. It’s always easier to direct an object in motion than a stationary one. You can be concerned with checking all the boxes on your lesson plan before you take your first step. Alternatively, you can work on checking the boxes along the way.
  1. Quit Sooner. Don’t be a fool by spending time on things you don’t love. Speaking of…
  1. Time Wins. Time is the only commodity you can’t win back, earn back, or recreate. When it’s gone, it’s gone for-your-ever.
  1. Give first. It’s better to be a giver than a taker. It’s really better to ask for a favor after you’ve given one. But, don’t keep a scorecard. Just consider it goodwill.
  1. Own It. Take responsibility and accountability for your actions. It’s important to understand you need to take responsibility for your response to any situation. I promise you’ll be the criminal in every crime scene in your life. At this moment, you are the sum total of your decisions from your yesterdays. Own them all.
  1. Say No. The faster you learn to politely say “No”, the happier you’ll be. More than half the problems in your life won’t be due to misfortune. They’ll exist because you said, “Yes” without thinking first. See My Favorite 8 Ways to Politely Say “No.”
  1. Read More. It’s fun. You’ll learn things. You’ll sound smarter. You’ll write better.
  1. Write More. It doesn’t matter if your spelling is poor or your grammar is bad. It doesn’t have to be for an audience. Writing will help empty your brain and relax you. For some reason, thoughts get disentangled when they pass over the lips and through the pencil tips (or, uh, fingertips). More importantly, what gets written down tends to get accomplished. Who knows? You might even become a published author someday.
  1. Listen First. You have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Listen first. Listen often. Listen to understand, not to reply. You’ll be amazed at what you can learn. You’ll also be amazed at the number of things you hear that are incorrect. (See Number 24.)
  1. Save First. Don’t borrow money you don’t have to buy things you can’t afford to impress people you don’t know. Here are my two best suggestions: Save first; buy second. The only exception to this is rule is if you’re spending money to invest in yourself. This includes schooling, business, and so forth. Technically, in these cases, it’s referred to as an investment.
  1. Travel More. You’ll be far better off if you collect experiences rather than things.
  1. Wear Sunscreen. You’ll have fewer wrinkles and likely significantly reduce the possibility of a bunch of diseases you won’t like.
  1. Call Mom. She misses you. I don’t care if you called her an hour ago. She still misses you.
  1. Family First. Contrary to what many people think, you can choose your family. It’s not in a name or a bloodline. It’s your choice.
  1. Fifteen-Minute Plans. Forget the five-year plans. The people who are most successful and happy in life aren’t the ones who can plan for the future. They’re the ones who live the present to its fullest.
  1. Ask Her. She won’t bite and you’ll never know how she feels until you ask. Make sure you’re smiling when you do. People like smiles.
  1. Teach Yourself. I can tell you what it feels like, but you’ll never know until you touch it. When people try to guide you by sharing their experiences, they will forget the most important factor. They’re not you. They can’t do what you can do. They don’t have your heart. Don’t ever forget that.
  1. Work Smarter. This is way better than working harder. For more on that, check out 7 Secret Ways to Boost Productivity.
  1. Maintain Contacts. Hang on to everyone’s phone number. You will likely need them someday.
  1. Question Everything. You won’t believe the number of things you’ll hear that aren’t true. Many of these will be long-held beliefs by many who were too lazy to wonder. Blind acceptance is the fastest way to failure.
  1. Be Original. You’re the only you on this earth. In fact, you’re the only you that has ever, or will ever, be created. Would you rather enjoy being yourself, or pretend to be someone else? That would make one more of someone else the world doesn’t need. Just wasteful.
  1. Life’s Unfair. I’m not sure I can add any more here, but I’m sure you’ll discover what I mean sooner than you’d like.
  1. Don’t Worry. Or you will go through so many terrible, horrible things in your life… before they never happen.
  1. It’s Possible. I cringe every time I hear the word impossible.

Best of luck. I know you’ll grow into a fine man who will help many people. Just remember, you will never lose your way as long as you stay true to yourself.

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