Following on from my previous blog post inspired by the blog post 21 Things I Wish I Knew When I Was 21, I am addressing the last eleven things on the list. I think there’s a misnomer in this article that it may lead some to believe there’s an age limit or cut off to think about the following, I personally don’t think there is. You make your own developmental milestones in adulthood and I think too many people are put off learning and growing for fear that they too old. It’s never to late to reflect and take stock. I found the remaining eleven things listed here more positive than the previous ten I blogged about.
11. Learn to ask great questions.
You don’t know everything and odds are you’ll find yourself around people who are a lot smarter than you. Stay curious and ask great questions. Listen more than you talk and keep asking. Some people have incredible stories and lessons to give to you. You just have to willing to ask.
As Judge Judy says, “you were given two ears and one mouth,” I have spent more time listening to others than speaking in the last 4 years. I often find myself observing and googling stuff, which in turn, makes me realise there’s a lot I don’t know I don’t know and its ok to admit that. I have become emotionally bolder in the last twelve months and questioned a lot of things, too.
12. Leverage what you’ve got.
Stevie Wonder can’t see, but he has an exceptional ear for music. He exploited that talent and his passion for music. Today he has 25 Grammy awards to show for it. Learn to work with what you’ve got instead of complaining about your situation.
None of us comes with a manual and as we get older our likes/dislikes may change and we develop different skills and aren’t so happy about doing certain things. It’s invaluable to find what you bring to the table, rather than wasting time lamenting about skills and or attributes you may not have.
13. Make people feel good.
Never underestimate the power of a simple compliment. Make the people around you feel good, and the world will return the favor. People seem to have a way of remembering the people who made them feel special.
I find if I pick up on positivity and reflect it back I have better days than if I dwell on what’s wrong with the world, which is why I love reviewing and promoting books I like. I find it hard to accept that I have the power to make anyone feel good, but if I have, I am humbled and grateful for being able to do so. I don’t want to make anyone feel the way I have over the majority of my last 40 years.
14. Invest in yourself.
Never. Stop. Learning. Yes, school ends at some point, but life is a journey, and if you’re not growing, you’re dying. Learn a new skill, read a new book, learn a language, take a class, learn to dance, learn to play an instrument. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you invest in yourself and you keep growing.
Learning is what keeps me and this blog going. I took a load off my mind when I happily accepted I am no encyclopedia of life or myself. Yet learning has dark connotations for me. There is always more to know, other points of view you have not thought of and anyone who cannot see that is making life extremely hard for themselves.
15. Find something challenging you love doing.
Find something that you’re passionate about and that challenges you. You’ll feel the most rewarded when you do.
It doesn’t have to be big, you can start small and build confidence as you go. I know what it feels like to be rock bottom, but even when there seemed like nothing was possible I still started this blog, I still found things that made me feel good like reading. Go back to basics and find what you like and love.
16. Learn to love yourself.
You can’t possibly live a fulfilled life until you learn to love yourself completely. When you look in the mirror, tell yourself you’re handsome, or beautiful. Say it often. You’re unique and no one looks quite like you. Embrace it. Love it. Other people will only love you more for it.
Accepting yourself and turning off the voices in your mind that tell you, you aren’t enough, you can never achieve an arbitrary level of style or attractiveness is a step in the right direction to being you.
17. “Send the elevator back down.” –Kevin Spacey
Once you find yourself in a position to help bring others up to where you are, send the elevator back down. It can be lonely at the top. Help others get to where you are. Mentor, give back, contribute.
This is an excellent way to get your mind off your own troubles and finding something altruistic to do, although helping others has such rich rewards I’m not sure it’s purely altruistic. I can’t think of a single unselfish reason not to help someone else where possible.
18. Enjoy the journey.
We all have goals and aspirations. You’re probably working toward something right now. Achieving what you’ve been working for can be anticlimactic, so learn to love the journey and appreciate all the little failures and wins. You’ll wish you’d stayed in the moment more once you’ve “made it.”
When I think back it’s the one regret I have that I didn’t take time for me and do what I wanted. I lived in fear so much of my life that the fear is now a habit. However, realising this is liberating in itself and I can honestly say if nothing else I make the most of what I have to bring me true happiness, not the sort you think you have because you’re keeping up with the Jones’.
19. It’s you versus you. That’s it.
Stop comparing yourself to others. You might never be the strongest person in the gym, the richest guy on a Forbes list or the fastest guy in the marathon. If that upsets you, you’re missing the point. Instead, concentrate on being better today than you were yesterday. If you keep doing that, you’ll be successful. It may not happen right away, but if you stay focused on improving just a little every day, you’ll amaze yourself.
Being at the top or the richest does not guarantee happiness and your happiness will never be the same as someone else’s. Making your own path and following what feels right for you, making your days better is the aim.
20. Take big risks.
Go after what you want. Quit your job. Jump out of an airplane. Start a business. Walk up to the beautiful girl eating lunch alone and say hi. You won’t always succeed, but you won’t always fail, either.
Sometimes succeeding is taking a chance on something different. Wanting to change and stepping out of your comfort zone is the success, anything else is a bonus.
21. Rediscover who you were born to be and be that.
Somewhere along the line we forget what made us come alive as kids—the things that used to make us feel amazing. Some of us are born to be writers, poets, musicians, artists or entrepreneurs. Take the time to relearn what makes you feel alive and do more of that. Don’t waste your life fulfilling someone else’s dreams. What the world needs is more people doing what they love.
This is probably my most favourite thing out of the 21, it inspires hope and excitement for what change might bring. Focusing on the future rather than living in the past is a sure fire way of bringing more positivity into your life. I am someone who would never be comfortable doing the routine 9-5 grind, but that just means I need to do something that has no specified hours and something I can devote myself to passionately. I feel privileged and lucky to have the option, time and opportunity to do so.
Life is short but incredible. Wake up and enjoy the ride.
See more at 21 Things I Wish I Knew When I Was 21.