If I Had A 20 Year Old Do-Over…

Everyone remembers being 20 years old…well, if you actually reached 20. At that age, life is different and full of dichotomy. It’s easier but it’s more confusing. You have more energy but less money. You recover much more quickly but have less experiences to recover from. You can go in so many directions, yet have no idea where you’re going. In my case, I was just graduating from college. I was talented musically, fairly smart academically, and for the most part, life wasn’t too hard. My family wasn’t wealthy, but we had a nice life.

My parents moved to the state where I attended college during the summer after my sophomore year. So, immediately after college, I went back home and worked at the same job I started during my senior year of college. I had a few bucks saved and a few months after college, I bought my first car, brand new…a Ford Escort GT. It was bright green and I loved it! I had just turned 21. It was the first of many major decisions I would now begin to make in my life. To be honest, although my dad proudly told people his son bought a new car, his first advice was for me to wait. He suggested jumping right back into a graduate program, keeping my Volkswagen Rabbit Diesel and saving until I was done. If I had it to do over, to be honest, I would have still bought the car. My goodness it was fun! But, I might have driven a little slower on the snowy day when I totaled it.

When we think back, we all have some things we might do a little differently. We don’t necessarily regret the choices we have made or not made. We just have a new perspective on how we might have arrived a bit more quickly or been a bit more successful. You know the saying…hindsight is 20/20. But there is something special about what you can accomplish when you are young, if you have the right tools, the right resources and even the right perspectives.

If I had the opportunity to go back in time, I’d share a few nuggets with my 20 year self that I believe would have earlier success. Here are a few:

1. Not everyone will like you no matter how hard you try — Stop caring about what everyone thinks. People don’t give you opportunities simply because you were nice to them. Don’t alter your behavior for the personal approval. Instead, focus on the result you need. This seems like simple advice but if you slowly wait for everyone to like you, then you will slowly find out they don’t. Then you will slowly find out it doesn’t matter.

2. Intentionally find 2 or 3 mentors — Sure, you’ll come across people who give you advice but if you’re not intentional, it will be accidental. Decide the areas in which you are interested, then find people who are accomplished in those areas. Sit with them, offer to buy them lunch and learn from them. You will get advice from people who are older and more experienced but who really don’t know how to help you in a given area. Politely refuse to pay attention to those folk.

3. Do something that scares you regularly — The older you get, the more you will find comfort in comfort. This will slowly debilitate you and keep you from exploring the bigger dreams bubbling inside you. The only thing you need to be comfortable with is being uncomfortable. Do something regularly that scares you. Don’t hurt yourself but don’t be scared to fail.

4. Take time to articulate your dreams regularly — Your interests, your dreams, your passions will change. That is ok. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. Don’t allow anyone to make you feel guilty about this. If you do, it will slow you down and you will spend time doing things you hate to simply please others. Stop every 3 months to rewrite your goals and visions. Then continue to go after them HARD! If it continues to poke at your heart strings, pay attention to it.

5. You don’t have to do it simply to get your parent’s or anyone’s approval. — Your parents love you but they really don’t want you to do things just to make THEM happy. They want you to be successful. Sometimes in order to get to that, they will not understand what you are doing or why you are doing it. That’s ok. Get as much information as you can but don’t sit pondering. ACT! Go! Don’t be afraid to use the word No! Pray and then do what you are led to do!

6. Create multiple streams of income immediately. — Even when you get your first real “job”, look for at least 2 other ways you can generate income. Learn about investing IMMEDIATELY. Look into real estate. There’s a bubble coming and you don’t want to miss it. If you have property, that will be a great time to make some money.

7. Serve more. — Go on a mission trip once a year if you can. Go serve people so you can get a true understanding of how good you actually have it. Learn more about ways you can help people instead of simply thinking you need a job to pay your bills, survive and have other people pat you on the back. Give more, serve more! You’ll thank me later.

8. People already respect you. Be confident in yourself. — You don’t know this but others are already looking at you as a leader. They respect you and they expect great things from you. By the same token, don’t get caught up in what they are thinking about you. Simply look to help people as much as you can. Look to make everyone else look good and feel good about themselves. I know you feel like you have no idea what you are doing. But, be bold. You have great things ahead.

9. You have a gift for speaking and teaching. Use those and everything else will grow from that. — You might be nervous and feel the butterflies every time, but keep speaking. Remember when they told you you talked too much as a kid and you shut up? Trust me, the talking is going to come in handy. Use it earlier than you will be tempted to. It’s your gift. It’s what is going to make you money. It’s what you will use to inspire others. It’s what you will use to cause others to think differently about themselves and about their world. Don’t forget to write some of those words in a book or five.

10. You are naturally an introvert but don’t ever use it as an excuse to isolate yourself. — You will feel at ease when you are by yourself and not around people. But don’t get comfortable with that. For you, isolation is not a great thing. It will be great when you are creating, writing and developing. But, create space to learn about people. Ask them questions and find out about them even if you feel like you don’t have anything to say.

Of course, it’s easy to look back and say you’d like a do-over. But, if you are gifted 20 more years, what would THAT you say to the you now? The answer is not always clear. But it always lies somewhere in the middle of “Don’t be scared, Do your best, Do more than you think you’re capable of, Do the things you’re scared of, Everything will be ok.”

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