I am going to turn 18 soon. What specific advice can you give to an 18 year old boy?
Start living on your own
There is always time for that, but the sooner the better. 18 years old is just an arbitrary moment in time, but it may help you to change your mindset. Start considering yourself an adult from today. My favorite definition of adult is: someone you can depend on (by Jim Rohn).
Think about adult things: your health, your career, starting a family, how are you going to raise your children and what’s the sense of your existence anyway.
There are plenty of answers here that encourage you to enjoy your youth: eat, drink, have sex, spend a lot of time with your friends and don’t worry about the future.
That’s pure bull shit. That’s the perfect recipe for ruining your body, waking up to the reality ten years from now and spending the next 5 to 7 decades struggling, because you turned off your thinking as a young man.
Mommy and daddy won’t support you the whole life (hint: they aren’t immortal), so you’d better start thinking about the life on your own.
“Living on my own” connotes with job, house and the whole load of life responsibilities. Well, they won’t avoid you, but you don’t have to start 100% right now.
Open your mind and probe your options. Find some paid gig. My 14- and 15-year old boys are helping me in my business. They do simple virtual assistant stuff, but they don’t have to worry about putting the food on the table and the roof over their heads. Doing this job they explore their options, acquire new skills and (hopefully!) learn to manage their own money.
You live in the best times
When I was 15, I also helped my father in his business, but it was hard, physical job. Nowadays you can earn money filling Google sheets with data, posting updates on social media, submitting data on promotional sites or doing a keyword research on Amazon. The whole wide world is opened in front of you. Use that opportunity. Take initiative. Being proactive was never so easy, as it is nowadays.
You are responsible for your life
It’s not your mommy, it’s not your daddy nor your close friends. I am in touch with only one guy from my teenage pack. I’m in touch only with one friend from high school. I kind of know what happened with a few more, but we didn’t stay in touch. I lost contact with everybody from university (all 100 of us) even though I worked with 2 gals for several months in the same company.
You may get good advice or even some resources from your relatives or friends, but in the end you will have to figure out and make happen most of your life. Stop looking for support and help; start looking for ways to adulthood, so the others could depend on you.
You are responsible for your health and for your finances
You are in charge in your whole life, but I start from those two areas, because they are so neglected. There is plenty of good, sensible advice about both health and personal finances. The problem is that very few people consent to them. Hence, you see a lot, and I mean a LOT, of wrong role models in those areas.
I helped a grandson of my friend to get a job in the company I work for. The guy is 22 or 23, handsome, easy going and thin. I noticed that he gained some weight recently. His workmates eat junk food and he joined the pack. There are few lessons hidden here and I’ll come back to them.
Some guy on Quora asked what to do with his bad spending habits with credit cards. He did well financially, he lived frugally, but he started to worry about too many impulse purchases. The lesson #1: what he does is the result of bad advice prevailing in finance world. He got those credit cards “to get a good credit score.” What is a credit score needed for? To get a loan.
And here is the “secret” of personal finances: debt is your enemy. If you cannot pay in cash, you cannot afford a purchase. Getting a ‘good score’ is a prosperous idea! He should think about how to finance his life with no debt whatsoever, instead of digging his own financial grave.
You are responsible for everything else as well
There is a lot of bad habits, bad role models in other areas too.
Spirituality: you need to face death sooner or later. You need to figure out your own answer, otherwise it will eat you up down the road. Is there any sense in human existence? Is there God? Providence? My answer is “yes” to all three questions and it helped me immensely in my life.
Others have different opinions and different coping mechanisms. I tell you, if you find your answers early enough, it will unleash the power within you, that otherwise will stay concealed by constant questioning the basic meaning of your life.
Education: you learn our whole life. Education doesn’t end with getting a diploma, it’s a myth. Realize that and you will be ahead of majority.
Relationships: they are of utmost importance. You are the average of people you spend the most time with. Quality, and to a degree quantity of your relationships, will determine your happiness… and everything else. This morning, out of the blue, I got an invitation to be a guest on a podcast. It happened because I cultivated my network.
Career: you have to eat, you have to provide for your family, you have to work. It may be a full time job, freelancing or your own business, but there always will be some activity in your life. Choose your path wisely. Sometimes take what’s necessary, but always be on the search for your ideal work. Act on your strengths. Desire is a sign of potential.
Success and failure
This is my most specific advice for you: success is a few simple disciplines repeated over time; failure are a few errors in judgement repeated over time.
The common factor here is time. Remember my thin coworker who starts to gaining weight. It’s only several months, he is young and his metabolism is awesome. If he continue his bad eating habits in the next few years his health will decline, in the next few decades his body will be ruined.
A single hamburger won’t ruin his health, a habit of eating hamburgers will.
The same applies to every other area of life. I’m an exemplary case: for years I didn’t much care where my life was going to and lived only to get by. I repeated many small errors in judgements: I slacked in my studies, at my work, neglected relationships and ate load of sweets. My life deteriorated slowly, but surely.
I dedicated the last 4 years and few months to simple daily disciplines and I experienced miracles: My income doubled, I started a new career, overcame my shyness, deepened my spiritual life, survived a crisis in my marriage, found new friends all over the world…
I’ve just finished reading a book of my friend, who is ahead of me on this road. He is financially independent, has a thriving marriage, spend a lot of time with his kids who are a few years younger than my kids, contribute to the local community… his life is a dream come true.
I could’ve been at the same place if I would have started following my disciplines earlier.
Start living today. Take responsibility for your life. The time is always ticking: for you or against you, depending if you follow the path of discipline or the path of purposeful ignorance (“Enjoy”, etc.).