13 Things I’ve Learned Over the Years
Inspired by this blog post.
Do It Now or Never – How many times do you say “I’ll do it later”, and never get to that thing again. If it’s worth doing, do it now. If not, do it never.
Be Kind to Your Future Self – Set things up to help yourself later. From putting out your clothes the night before (your “morning self” will thank you), to cultivating healthy eating habits. Sometimes it’s hard to put down the iPhone/computer/TV and do things that have no immediate pay off, but thinking about the future will pay off down the road.
Love Yourself – We are often told to love others, but rarely told that we must love ourself. If you have love for yourself, love for others is a natural progression. So accept yourself, accept your weaknesses, and take advantage of your strengths.
It’s OK to say “No” – Don’t feel like you are obligated to say “yes” to everyone that asks you to do something. Saying “yes” to too many things can overwhelm you, and cause you to be miserable, anxious, or depressed.
Say “Yes” More Often – This somewhat contradicts the rule above, but these two rules might both apply to your life, at different times. If you find that you’re bored a lot, spend too much time on the internet or watching TV, make a point to say “yes” more often. Take on more side projects, or go out with friends more often.
There are No Good Excuses – 99% of the time we try to use an excuse to get out of something, it’s because we’re giving in to fear or anxiety, and don’t “feel like” doing it. If you really don’t want to do it, then just admit that, and move on. Otherwise, don’t let yourself give in to excuses. If you really want to do something, there is always a way.
Create, Constantly – Always be creating, whether it’s writing, coding, drawing, knitting, or whatever. It doesn’t matter how good you think you are–the only way to get better is with practice. Make it a priority and a habit to create. Schedule time for creating (preferably in the morning).
Try Everything Once – Well, not quite everything! Force yourself to try new foods, new activities, hang out with new people, etc. If you don’t like it, that’s fine, but at least you’ve experienced it once!
Experiences, Not Things – When giving gifts, or deciding how to use your spending money, choose to buy experiences instead of things. Buying stuff gives you that good feeling for a short time, while experiences and the memories they generate last a much longer time.
Feed Your Mind – Read books, fiction & non-fiction, bonus points for books with views you don’t agree with. Study a topic in depth, or learn a new language.
Take Breaks – Short or long breaks are both necessary to keep you sane and avoid burning out. If you are having trouble solving a problem, take a short screen break (whether it’s grabbing a coffee, or just going for a quick walk). This should help your mind focus when you come back. Also, for similar reasons, take vacations.
Don’t Care What Other People Think – Easy in theory, hard (impossible?) in practice. The fear of what other people think can keep you from achieving your goals. This is a relevant quote from Paul Graham, in his essay The Acceleration of Addictiveness:
You can probably take it as a rule of thumb from now on that if people don’t think you’re weird, you’re living badly.
Don’t Hold On To Blame – It can be easy to blame your problems on your parents, childhood, or other life circumstances. Even though these things do affect how you grew up, dwelling on blame will not help anything. Instead, accept that you are who you are, leave the past in the past, and focus on what YOU can do to help solve your problems.