10 Life Lessons From a Man in His Young 20’s
Upon entering college, my goal was to save enough money to buy a house by senior year. I had to make sacrifices. I chose to go to college locally, stay with my parents, and forego the "college experience."
I saved a bunch by working on different websites, and I bought my first house 17 months ago, a month into my senior year.
The day I bought my house was among the coolest days of my life. It was euphoric to see the work I put in turn into something tangible.
I was living the American Dream.
Then things changed quickly and I went through a stretch of unhappiness.
Is it possible to be unhappy when you have great family and friends, freedom to work whenever/wherever you want, and a sweet place to live?
Before going to college, I knew I was never going to work for anyone else. I wasn’t worried about getting a degree from a prestigious school, just looking to continue my education. I had a chip on my shoulder and wanted to prove I made the right choice to go to school locally.
When you buy a house at a young age, everyone assumes you know what you’re doing in life. I felt less people doubted me and I got complacent.
Then I ran out of goals.
I hated working. I put it off. I told myself I would work more once I graduated, when I would have more time to focus. After graduation, I had no obligations. Things got worse. I would think of home projects (i.e. repainting a room that didn’t need to be repainted) to avoid work.
I was forced to become an adult, homeowner, and landlord all at once. Things kept breaking (leaky roof, bad drain pipe). I rented two rooms out to my friends.
One of them missed rent.
I let bad people stay in my life for too long.
I was overwhelmed.
I went through a period where I was asking, “Have I hit my peak at 23?”
I started to question why I was successful making money online and believed everything I’d done was due to luck.
Things I learned and hacks I’m using:
1. The consensus opinion is right. I love going against the consensus opinion. I’ve always been a contrarian. The best ideas come from those who question why things are the way they are. It’s one of my core beliefs. It pains me when the consensus opinion is right, but sometimes there’s a reason why everyone has a certain belief; it’s because the belief has been proven.
2. Eliminate bad people from your life. People can be labeled, yet I want to see something different. When I see glimpses of good, I want to believe that’s who the person is. I’m optimistic. But some are genuinely bad people and not going to change if they don’t see a reason. When the good parts of someone aren’t showing up enough, get yourself out of the relationship. Find people who have your back and who are empathetic. I cut people out of my life who don’t have my back.
3. Get rid of all things that bring you down. Do you have people in your Twitter or Facebook feed that you can’t stand? Do some people make you angry every time you read what they say? Delete them. Unfollow them. Eliminate them. I stopped checking Facebook because it wasn’t bringing positive value. Do you have songs that come on during shuffle that you skip? Delete them. Also, I moved on from projects that I didn’t care about. I even sold some sites (at a loss) to clear the clutter.
4. Stick to your beliefs while being flexible. I’ve fought hard for everything I believed in, yet I let some things remain to avoid conflict. I kept letting more and more bigger things go. It got to the point where I didn’t stand for anything. I threw away everything I believed in to cater to other people. It reminds me of when Steve Jobs was asked about Gizmodo buying one of the iPhone prototypes that was found at a bar. He got really mad. A lot of people wanted him to “just let it slide.” He goes on to explain why “letting it slide” is the worst thing that he could’ve done. You need to find the balance of staying true to your core values but be willing to be flexible in the things that aren’t as important to you. Compromising isn’t a bad thing. This is something I’m still struggling with and working on every day.
5. Rejection is necessary. I’ve always been terrified of rejection. Last year, I was rejected more than ever, but it was a huge year for personal growth. People say the idea of rejection hurts more than rejection itself. No, rejection sucks, but every time you get rejected it sucks less. It’s crucial to develop personally, and if you’re not getting rejected, you’re not evolving.
6. Listen to friends. It’s important have friends who you trust and listen to. Sometimes you’re too close to a situation to be rational. When looking back, I found my friends knew me better than I knew myself.
7. Get quick wins. I make my bed everyday. I stole this idea from Noah Kagan, but it’s brilliant. It takes me 30 seconds to make my bed. Even if I do nothing for the rest of the day, I got one thing done. It’s strange, but making my bed first thing has been a great way to propel the day. Once it’s finished, I’m ready to complete the next task. It’s all about getting quick wins.
8. Write a task list on paper before you go to bed. When I wake up, I know exactly what’s on the day’s agenda. Don’t write things like “check emails.” What does “check emails” mean? Make tasks specific like, “Email Tom the guest post pitch on 10 marketing tips.” It’s easy to be lazy about a task if it’s not specific. These are goals you want done before you leave your desk for the day. Long term goals have their place too, but are different; those should be on a different list.
9. Create a routine. I wanted to get in the habit of getting up at 9:00 every morning. I started to use the Barcode Alarm app. Pick an item in your house with a barcode; the only way to shut off your alarm is to scan the item. I’ve been using a bottle of Windex that’s under my kitchen sink. My roommates make fun of me as I sprint to the kitchen every morning, but now used to it. This helped me create a routine. Now I’m waking up before the alarm goes off. It makes me cut drinking out of weekdays. It wasn’t possible to get up at 9:00 after a night of drinking. Waking every morning with a hangover didn’t help me work or get motivated.
10. Focus on one task. I’ve started to use the Pomodoro Technique, which involves working on a specific task for 25 minutes with five minute breaks between the next. It lets you focus on one task and forces you to eliminate distractions. I log all of my Pomodoros on a Google spreadsheet and make a game out of it.