As the new year begins, I am reflecting on a time when I was younger, with little knowledge of the wonders of youth and that it is definitely a defining period in life.
I graduated high school, eloped with my sweetheart as we ran away from home, got married, started a family, and rushed into trying to acts like a grown up adult. Luckily there were some things we got right. For example, we are blessed to have great kids, terrific grandchildren, but we eventually got divorced. Luckily I now have wonderful wife.
However, I have seen many friends, or colleagues who have lost their children, and have had to bury their kids too early. But generally speaking, most young people live their lives in such a hurry, they forget to pause, listen and take it all in to gain valuable knowledge that sometimes turns into wisdom.
I now realize that the key is to focus on growing into the person we want to be, not what others expect of us. Learn from each one of our mistakes. They can teach us great life lessons. Whether its falling down, being dumped, or losing a job, looking back I can honestly say that rejection taught me far more and had long-lasting effects. It let me realize that failure isn't the end of the world. Getting divorced taught me the difference between good and bad relationships, something I kind of knew deep inside, but perhaps refused to accept until I experienced a bad relationship.
Staying healthy is primordial. When we're young, it's easy to put off exercise and a healthy diet, but its never too early to establish good habits because when you're younger, body parts are stronger. Avoid junk food, soda, alcohol, smoking, etc. Poor health habits take time to break, so the future is now.
Paying for a high priced education may not always be wort it. The fact that we have done well academically doesn't necessarily mean that we'll immediately succeed. Instead, swallow a big humility pill and realize that great students are not always great in the workplace. An education is important, but its not the only way to gain knowledge, experience and find success. There are many things in life that can help us grow up fast. There are no right or wrong answers to many decisions in life. In fact, instead of seeing the world in terms of black and white, see it as a color chart. There are many perspectives, realities, several ways of doing things and not one of them alone is the right way.
While early choices we make have an effect on the future, some wrong choices don't mean that our life is over. Learn from mistakes, and grow into a better individual because the sun will come out tomorrow, and there will be another day to live and learn. There will always be people who dislike us, and the idea that every single person is going to tell us the truth and get along well with us isn't realistic. Take time to write, or learn a new language. Find folks that we get along with, then build relationships and forget about the ones that aren't worth our time and energy.
Buying new clothes, or moving into a new place will not bring happiness. While traveling is enriching, educational and enlightening, moving should not be used as solution to difficulties. Many young people travel, or seek new surroundings, or buy nicer clothes. But happiness is internal, not external.
Teamwork is more important that competition. Many people see cut throat competition as the only means of rising in their career path, but this is simply not the case. In our early years, a lot of emphasis is put on test scores, awards, and a empirical measurement of our accomplishments. What we're hardly ever told is that collaboration, is a more powerful tool at our disposal. In every worthwhile human endeavor, it was the harmonious, cumulative effort of a multiplicity of persons, often over many years, that yielded truly extraordinary results. The eureka moment for me is the realization that my personal impact can be compounded by orders of magnitude through well-orchestrated collaboration.
Learning experiences are more valuable than having stuff. It's important to work hard, and success is definitely a positive thing, but physical objects shouldn't be considered of higher importance than other more meaningful alternatives. This is not realized by many young people. No one will never be satisfied by how much money they earn. There will always be space for more. We should not invest a lot in materialistic things like expensive cars, clothes, or jewelry. Instead start investing in experiences. Travel the world and meet people of different cultures. This will open our minds to a lot of different perspectives, but it will give us much more satisfaction than money.
I have finally realized that listening is more important than talking. It's surprising how much we can learn by paying attention to what is happening around us without making a comment. We can see things we wouldn't see otherwise, and learn lots from from what we see all around.
Our abilities are limitless. When we make mistake or fail at something, its essential to pick ourselves up and learn to see the positives. However, we learn some of the most important lessons from these experiences, so we should not allow ourselves to be limited in our capacity for success. We have a substantial degree of control over all our actions.
Youth is the time to learn as we go. Its an opportunity for growth, development and having new experiences. It's OK to still be exploring and figuring out what we want in life. There are pressures to get our life together and figure it all out. Most of us don't get it all together for some time. Many others only begin to figure out what went wrong much later.
The important thing is to go at a pace, which will help you make decisions that will allow us to grow. Take it nice and easy, but I know that going slow is easier said than done.