I’ve often fantasized about being able to hop in my time machine and go back in time, and not just for the ability to win the lottery, or maybe prevent some great wrongdoing. Who hasn’t had those thoughts?
I think as I get older though, those thoughts are less focused on what I would change about everything else, and what I would change about myself.
Given the opportunity to slide back in time, I think I would sit my 18-year old version of myself down, and divulge some info that one can only acquire through time and experience.
So what would I tell 18-year old me?
You’re Going to Screw Up
No one gets it right every time. Growing up is basically just a long conjoined combinations of successes and failures, and there are probably going to be more failures. That’s how we learn, grow, and become better people. You have to embrace the failures to accept them. If you simply ignore them – you learn nothing. That doesn’t mean you need to harp on them and beat yourself down, it means that you need to understand that you are fallible, just like everyone else.
Find What You Love To Do, and Do It For a Living
So many people, my self included, get involved in a career path that may serve a purpose at the time, but isn’t fulfilling. There is an old saying: “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” As true as that is, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t work hard at what you do, it simply means that fulfillment is more than a paycheck.
When you are young you have all kinds of opportunities to explore new ideas, new places, new people, and life in general. As we grow older, and our responsibilities increase, we start to lose that ability to explore and find new things. How do you know if you don’t like something unless you’ve tried it? Exploring is like a workout for your soul, it strengthens you as a person.
Be Decisive, and Act on Those Decisions
Before we acquire experience in life, simple decisions can often be way more taxing than they need to be. When you’re trying to weigh the pros and cons of a decision without that gut instinct that you learn over the years, indecision leads to inactivity. Inactivity leads to missed opportunities.
The only thing about life that will never change is its ability to change constantly. You can either roll with the punches, or let life knock you out, it is that simple. Embracing change is another aspect of life that gets easier with time and experience, so the sooner you embrace it – the easier it gets.
Quit Worrying About What Other People Think
The people that you think are so important to you life most likely wont be around in 5 years. That’s just the way life works. People grow up, grow apart, and new people will come into your life every day. The opinions of the people around you affect you only as much as you let them. The sooner you learn to embrace yourself, the sooner you free yourself from what anyone else thinks.
Being honest is a double-edged sword. As important as it is to be honest to other people, it is important to be honest with yourself. You may be able to fool others around you, but it is your voice in your head at the end of the day that will remind you that you’re living a lie. Trust is a crucial element of any relationship in life, and once you’ve lost that trust it can be impossible to get back.
Pay Attention to Your Health
Not a lot of 18-year olds even give a passing glance to their health, except for when there is a problem. Your health is an accumulative thing. Making good health decisions when you are young and developing good health habits extends on into your life from that point forward. Completely changing your life in 10 years may not be an option for some people, so starting early on a healthy journal is crucial.
You Are Not Bullet Proof
When we are young, nothing in the world can touch us. At least that is what we think when we are young. In reality, no one is bullet proof. There is a difference in living an adventurous life, and living recklessly. Even the guys that make a living doing dangerous things will tell you that. Experience will tell you that what you do every day has consequences.
Pay Attention to Your Money
I think of all of the things I could tell 18-year old me, this would be the most important. When you are younger and have little to no financial responsibilities, it’s easy to develop terrible spending habits that extend into adulthood. Wasting money on frivolous things, or binge-spending are just as easy at 33 as they were at 18. The difference is that with age, comes responsibilities, and those bad spending habits have way more of an impact on your life.
In reality, in putting this list together, I realized that I don’t need a time machine. Every one of these life lessons is something that we need to tell ourselves every day. I guess that means I can quit building this time machine now.