When I was 23 years old, I didn’t have a whole lot of personal success going on in my life. I was broke, jobless, a college dropout, and no real hope or prospects for the future. Now, I have a beautiful family, a good job, and a life that I can be proud of — along with an abundance of gratefulness and happiness. I don’t have all the answers and I’m still trying to figure out a lot of things in my career, relationships, and how to get better each day. I’ve come along way since that 23-year-old and I’ve learned a lot of lessons, mostly the hard way.
Despite my position in life at that time, I knew I wanted more from life and that I could get it if I was willing to do some hard work on myself. It took honest self-awareness and some painful reality to get past those days.
I was broke, but not broken. In pain, but could still see something was in the future. Exhausted with my results, but felt a resilience within that I could have better results — through better actions. Here are some words of wisdom I wish I would’ve had someone share with me then. (Like I would’ve listened):
**Read. Books are the cheapest resource in life to learn from other’s mistakes. Someone somewhere has been through similar situations — no matter what that it is — and we can use this as an invaluable resource.
**Be patient. Enjoy right now the best you can. This moment won’t come again. You might feel like this is a horrible season of life, but you will look back on it with fondness and remember that you made so much progress in your life, whether you realize or not.
**Be resilient. Whether it’s calling on something higher — like God or faith — or, just having a resilient belief in yourself. Find it, cultivate, and know how to call on it. Resilience is something we all need to be able to call on our whole life. Whatever that looks like for you, develop it and strengthen it often.
**Fear is nothing more than a passing emotion. We can’t avoid it. We just learn to live with it and know that it’s just a feeling that will pass in time. This changes the relationship with this emotion. As Jamie Fox says, “What’s on the other side of fear? Nothing.”
**Have a big picture. Know where you are going. It makes the hard days easier to deal with. You don’t have to post this on Facebook or tell everyone you know, just have an idea of it inside you and use it to drive, shape, and mold who you become and the decisions you make.
**Be willing to find the growth that comes through difficult situations. This is how we get stronger. Embrace it. If it’s hard, we get stronger. If it’s challenging, we have to rise up to face it. If it’s demanding, we get better. If life becomes too easy, you might not be living to your fullest.
**You can’t control the externals, only how you respond. Events will take place in your life that you have absolutely zero control over. Good and bad. Don’t even bother yourself without how to avoid them. Work on how you respond to them.
**Don’t worry about what others think. It really doesn’t matter. To be honest, they aren’t thinking about you as much as you think inside your own head.
**Find people and places that inspire and provide room for growth. Look for this in your relationships and your work. This is what you need right now.
**If it’s not a habit you see in your future, then it’s not a habit you should do today. If you find yourself saying, “I won’t ______, in the future”. What are you waiting for?
**You’re not as smart, important, or special as you think you are. Your opinions aren’t world-changing. Say less, observe more, and take notes.
**Take action. Be a man (or woman) of action. Be someone who takes what they learn and applies it to their life. Don’t just have an opinion and be able to talk about the theory. Do it!
**You don’t have to be flawless or perfect. You have to show possibilities — to yourself and to those who you need to see it — mostly, to yourself.
**Stay away from toxic people, places, and habits. These are exhausting. It’s not personal, but you have to guard your energy from these things. If certain people drain your emotional energy, let go of that relationship in your life. Even if you think you love them, it’s going to drain you.
**It’s ok to see things differently than others, to have a different take on it, even if it’s not popular. Maybe you’re weird, maybe you see things clearer, maybe you have a better perspective. Trust it. Your uniqueness could be your greatest asset, if it comes naturally.
**Compete with yourself, not them. Compete with your best and who you want to be in 10 years. Strive each day for that. If you do that, someday you’ll look up and what you dreamed of 10 years ago, will be what you’ve become.
**Save more money. Spend less. Create life leverage.
**Ask yourself, “Is this me? Or, is this me trying to be accepted, approved, or liked.” Don’t overthink it — you’ll know the answer to this question pretty quickly.
**Learn to listen to the empowering voice within. Yes, we all have voices within us. Listen to the one that feeds empowerment into you and your whole world will light up in ways you never imagined.
**Have self-awareness. Many people don’t. This is a skill that is often overlooked, especially in these times. Be able to healthily look within and examine your life to the best of your ability. Cultivate your strengths, improve your weaknesses, and be honest on both. When you know how to do this, you’ll grow daily, and that growth will compound into substantial growth in your life.
**Step inside the arena. Don’t sit on the sidelines. You may not be confident. You may think you’ve got nothing to offer. You may be embarrassed, ashamed, and fearful that your life will be full of failure. It happens. We have doubts. But…we have to run through them like we are running through a wall. Show up. Do your best. Improve. And as Teddy Roosevelt said in this famous speech, “…if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Most of these lessons were learned through experience. The hard way. Not much of these lessons came easy and I’m still learning them today. I’m still trying to master some of them and apply them as instinct. Honestly, I’ll always be learning these and many more. That’s life. It’s a continual process of learning and growing to be a better version of ourselves.
One more tip. If you ever meet someone who thinks they’ve figured it all out and don’t think they have anything more to learn — run! That’s a fool!
We are always growing and learning. That never changes. This list will keep growing.