Thursday, June 4, 2015

Advice To My Twenty-Year-Old Self

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Last October, Fortune Magazine listed their 40 Under 40, the forty people that, in the ever-so-humble opinion of the editors of Fortune Magazine, are the “most influential people under 40 years old.” when they had their list, they asked them questions, among them this: What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self? They listed some of the answers in this article.

  • Ask questions and listen more than you talk. You can’t be an expert at everything—and at 20 you’re more likely to be an expert at nothing! That said, with inexperience comes fresh perspective. (Ivanka Trump)
  • I would tell myself to buy real estate next to the High Line in NYC! I’d also tell young Sarah to be more patient with my career and to realize that good things will happen with hard work and time. (Sarah Kauss)
  • Shave your legs. (My personal favorite) (Sophia Amoruso)

Seeing as how 60 is the new 30, that means 59 is the new 29, so as a successful blogger under 40 (work with me here), I have some advice for 20-year-old me (or 40-year-old me, since 40 is the new 20). Ten pieces of advice, in fact, since after all, it’s Thursday.

  1. Read. A lot. The most important piece of advice, I think, and I’m not saying this as a writer. Read everything: books, magazines, newspapers, fiction and non-fiction, materials from as many different areas as you can. TV is lousy, social media, while important, becomes a waste of time after a while, and while the Internet is important in everyone’s life, it’s a tool, nothing more.
  2. Decide what’s important and say “no” to the rest. What’s important does change all the time. Sleep is important, so don’t go out bar-hopping if you know you need to sleep to be ready for the next day. When you’re working, what they’re paying you to do is the most important thing, so shooting the bull with your co-workers comes after you get your work done. Lunch time should be time for eating lunch, not working or running errands. Well, all right, but eat lunch first, then run the errands.
  3. Learn to focus. Whether you’re working, exercising, practicing, reading, or whatever, focus on what you’re doing. No multitasking. You’ll get more done in less time by doing one thing at a time.
  4. Take care of yourself. Watch your weight, exercise, don’t drink a lot, don’t smoke, don’t eat a lot of crap, get enough sleep, and if you’re sick, stay home until you’re well.
  5. You are not your job. Don’t let what you do to earn a living become who you are. You spend less than a quarter of your week doing what you’re paid to do (in a perfect world), you should get eight hours of sleep a night, you have to get to and from work, you need to run errands. That leaves about 60 hours a week that you can use however you wish. Don’t use it to do more work, at least on your main job. Work on a second career, have hobbies, leave time for a social life (which is not the same as social media), go to school, do things that help you grow as a person.
  6. Don’t be afraid to leave. A job, a bad relationship, a city with no opportunities for you, a career you’ve soured on, a neighborhood with crappy neighbors, an organization you’ve outgrown.
  7. You always have a choice. I posted this a couple of weeks ago that covers this. And remember, the easiest decision is no decision, and it’s usually the least desirable.
  8. Have fun. Whatever you do, have fun. Or learn to make it fun, or find somewhere where you can have fun. Mom used to say “J-O-B does not spell F-U-N,” and with all due respect to my mother, that’s BS.
  9. Never stop learning. You can learn something from everyone and everything. Take every opportunity to learn something new. It might — no, will — become important someday.
  10. Be grateful. Learn to say “thank you” to people who do things for you or teach you something. Thank your Higher Power (whatever or whoever that is) for endowing you with your unalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. (Thomas Jefferson was a great writer.) Thank the people who pat you on the back and the ones who kick you in the backside. Develop an attitude of gratitude.

I already dispensed my career advice here, so I tried to stay away from those things here.

What advice would you give your younger self? The lines are open below!




from The Sound of One Hand Typing

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