7 Life Lessons For Your 20s, 30s, and More — From Someone With Grey Hair
And why we should be able to read the ‘3 Towns That Bill Gates Recommend You Explore’
Articles with life lessons are popular and overdone. Very overdone. You know the ones.
Things I wished I knew in my 20’s. 30 Lessons I learned at 30. What I would tell my 6-month-old self (not a lot, presumably, unless you are a 6-month-old genius).
I’ll admit some of them have great life lessons. But what they don’t have is life experience. I don’t want to add to the cavalcade of life lesson listicles, but I have grey hair, and that only comes from making mistakes in life and learning from them. Well, except if you are George Clooney. His grey hair is just part of his brand — and probably too much Nespresso.
So this is my advice to anyone currently younger and with less grey hair than me, which is a damn lot of you.
1. You don’t ever have to know what you want to be when you grow up
When I was in elementary school, I wanted to be a footballer. And a writer. In high school, I wanted to be a stockbroker. After college, I wanted to be a sports agent.
I had lots of jobs. I started my own business (twice). I tried lots of different jobs. It was only when COVID hit and I was forced to pivot I found my true calling. Ironically it was the same calling I had in elementary school.
No, it actually was to be a writer. If I could take more than forty years to work out what I wanted to be when I grow up, so can you. You will bounce around jobs and industries many times — some jobs you’ll hate, some you’ll love. If you find the right job that you are passionate about when you are young fantastic. If not, try something new.
Don’t stress about what you want to be when you grow up. You have until your last breath to decide.
2. You will meet the love of your life more than once
Everyone has one soul mate, right? I’m not so sure. There have been a few times I’ve thought I met the one.
I was married. And divorced. I had a few long-term relationships when I think this is DEFINITELY the one, as I was madly deeply in love.
So don’t stress if you are in your early twenties and just broke up with the love of your life. You will meet another love of your life. Probably more than one. Maybe lots.
And that’s OK.
You’ll fall in love many times. The next ‘the one’ is around the corner.
3. Travel is greater than education
I spent a lot of time in my life studying —probably less time than my parents had hoped for but still a lot of time. And I have traveled the world. I have learned far more from the latter.
I’ve learned about culture, food, history, and people. Especially the people. When you travel, you are forced to adapt — to new languages, new environments, new customs. There is nothing that compares to the excitement of leaving an airport or a train station and entering a whole new world.
Everyone should take a career break, a study break, or a life break and travel.
I also wish there were fewer 3 Books That Bill Gates Recommends You Read articles and more 3 Towns That Bill Gates Recommend You Explore articles. I care less about what Gates reads and more about where he has been and what he learned on his travels.
The world is your oyster. Go shuck it.
4. Saying yes is a bigger risk than saying no, but also a bigger reward
How often is your first reaction to say no to something. No is safe.
Many of us are afraid to say yes. Often our first instinct is to reject an opportunity or proposition. Fear is hard-wired into our brains to protect us from danger. But there is so much more power in overcoming our fears by taking the positive road and saying yes.
I love the philosophy of Richard Branson, who said, “if somebody offers you an amazing opportunity, but you are not sure you can do it, say yes — then learn how to do it later!”
Try it. Next time you are about to say no or maybe (which is a way of postponing a no), say YES.
You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. Pretty original quote, but hey, it’s true.
5. It’s not the number of friends you have, but the quality
When you are young, you collect friends. It starts from an early age when any kid you spend more than four seconds with becomes your best friend. It seems to increase at school and college, where every person becomes your Facebook friend.
You want a huge invite list to your sweet (or not so sweet as the case may be) sixteenth, even more at your 18th, and a waiting list to attend to your 21st. I used to measure my success by the number of people I could get to a housewarming party.
As you get older, friends drop off. But something happens the ones that remain become more loyal, more dependable. You can trust them in times of need.
Like a bottle of wine, some friendships go off, some are forgotten, but the quality ones get better.
You arent an influencer, so the number of followers/friends/fans doesn't matter.
6. Fifty is the new thirty
I’m not fifty yet. But before I know it, I will be.
When I was 20, I thought 50 was ancient. When I was 30, I thought 50 was pretty old. As I hit 40, I thought it’s not that old.
Now I realize that age is only related to how you feel. Keeping your body and mind fit and healthy will make you feel younger. I feel better now than I did ten years ago. I’m fitter and mentally stronger.
The age on my birth certificate is different from the age in my mind. I can't wait until 80 is the new 40.
You really are only as old as you feel. Some days I feel 120, others I feel 15.
7. Know when to quit
Like now, I don't have seven reasons, so I’ll stop at six.
If that section was too long to read, I can’t help you.
The bit where I summarize
It’s taken me a long time to learn these lessons, but they have all been valuable. And what they all add up to is to relax, enjoy life, and not be too focused on material items.
If I were talking to Ash in his late teens/early twenties, I would say:
“You don't need all the answers now; you don't need to solve the world’s problems, and you are more successful than you think you are. Also buy shares in Amazon, Google, and Apple.”