7 Life Lessons You’ll Wish You Learned Before Age 25
At age 23, Iyinoluwa Aboyeji had co-founded Andela, now a global software and talent accelerator company. Chinua Achebe had written his classic novel, Things Fall Apart, by the age of 25. J.K. Rowling was 25 years old when she came up with the idea of Harry Potter, the book that had sold over 400 million copies.
In some parts of the world, you are expected to place your life on hold until your mid to late 20s before you can start creating meaning out of your life. “There is nothing to rush; you are still young; just enjoy this phase of life”, people will say. Some will even go as far as saying you are too young to have an opinion. The result is that we are left with a lot of adults who don’t know their left from their right. Why do you have to wait until two decades and a half of your life before you take the responsibility to figure out what to do with your life?
Whether you are just under 20 or in your later twenties, you will learn valuable lessons from this article.
- No one has it all together
Sir Isaac Newton who is widely recognised as one of the most influential scientists of all time, once invested his money in a Ponzi scheme and lost all his investment. As critical-minded, as he was, he couldn’t see the deception and impracticability of the money doubling scheme he was buying into. No doubt, we all have varying levels of understanding of the world we live in based on our education, experiences and environment. Some people are more knowledgeable than others about different aspects of life. But no one has a full grasp of what’s going on.
So don’t wallow in low self-esteem thinking everyone else has it all together except you. You are not as weird as you think. You are not as terrible as you think. You are just as flawed as every other human being. All lost in the wonder of some unsolved mystery. Why is this important? When you understand that no one is perfect and that everyone is engulfed in a private internal war, you’ll learn to accept yourself more and judge other people less. You’ll develop emotional intelligence, which is a requisite skill for success.
- Chase skill not money
The problem with making money your primary motivation is that while you are chasing after money, you are losing the time you could have used to deepen your knowledge and increase your value in your area of interest. And time is the currency of life.
If you have been following this site for some time, you know we constantly encourage you to consider the future of work while making career and business decisions. We encourage you to identify and explore current and emerging opportunities. The essence is not to just look for where the money is, but to look for where you can make the most impact and add the most value. Money is a result of the value created. If you focus more on developing skills and creating value, making money becomes inevitable.
- Start from where you are
George Eliot, an English poet cum novelist once said: “Great things are not done by impulse but by a series of small things brought together.” I remember how I started my writing career with my mobile phone – Nokia 3230 to be precise. I couldn’t afford a laptop. And I wouldn’t accept that as an excuse not to start. That same business paid for my first laptop, several laptops later on, and has grown into a company with over 30 people in my team.
It’s good to dream big and set big goals. But once you are done setting those goals, put it aside and start from where you are; no matter how small. If you want to become a bestselling author, start by writing and submitting guest articles to blogs and websites in your field. Experience the feeling of being rejected by 10 and accepted by 1. Your big goal is just a destination, but life is a journey, not a destination. And it’s the little steps that make up the journey. So don’t be afraid to start taking steps from where you are.
- Find and develop on what interests you
Late Professor Chinua Achebe, discovered his love for writing and storytelling while at the university. He won a scholarship to study medicine but changed his studies to English literature at the University. He became fascinated with world religions and traditional African cultures and began writing stories as a university student. His carefully honed craft of writing and storytelling resulted in his first published book, Things Fall Apart; a book that opened his doors to the corridor of immortality.
You don’t have to spend 4 to 5 years of your life studying a course you have no interest in, with the hope that everything will work out fine when you leave school. Most people in the corporate world hate their jobs. Don’t be fooled by the façade. If you want to minimize your regret as you grow older, find what really interests you and build your career around it.
- Your Money Habits will Influence your future
Chinua Achebe once told the story of how he spends about 35 pounds on the manuscript of ‘Things Fall Apart’. This was a large chunk of his income at that time, but he wanted to create a professional impression with his manuscript so he had to make that costly investment.
While his colleagues were partying, Mark Zuckerberg was building Facebook and investing every money he could get into his project. Most successful under-30s started with a healthy money habit in their early 20s. They spend their money acquiring knowledge, investing in their idea and saving up for opportunities.
Now hear this; the decisions you’ve made have brought you to this point. The decisions you’ll make from now on will likewise determine where you’ll be tomorrow. Your habits with money will determine your financial status in future to a large extent. You are not too young to start learning how money works and making it work for you.
- Persistence win over talent
Here is a quote from Michael Jordan “…If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”
One of the obstacles Michael Jordan faced at the beginning of his basketball career was his height. At the time he was always considered short by all his coaches. For this limitation, Jordan was rejected from the high school basketball team. Pause for a moment and really think about that. The man we admire today as the greatest basketball player of all time was once considered unworthy to play for his school team. After experiencing rejection, Jordan decided to develop his skills by privately training for a full season. As they say, the rest was history.
Don’t rely on talent. The world is filled with talented underachievers. Rather rely on your ability to bounce back with every obstacle and try again each time better than before. That’s a rare skill. And that’s how you win.
- Experience is all you get
When Jeff Bezos was about making a decision between keeping his job as a finance software engineer at Wall Street and starting an internet book store, he had to honestly answer a simple, yet profound question, “When I turn 80, which decision will minimize my regrets?” With that it was obvious he should quit his job and start Amazon. In his words, “If it failed, I would be very proud when I am 80 that I tried.” As you get older, you might feel remorse for things you did wrong, but most life regrets stem from those things you didn’t allow yourself to experience.
Experience increases your self-confidence. The more you experience overcoming difficulties and daring the impossible, the more confident you become. When making important career decisions, consider the option that offers you more opportunity to grow, get out of your comfort zone and create more experience. Don’t be afraid to try new things and make mistakes.
In the end, you are more likely to regret the things you did not do than the things you did.