25 Lessons at 25
Reflecting on a quarter century of life.
There was a time I didn’t think I’d make it to 25.
I’m still holding onto the idea that the best is yet to come.
1. Love is a choice, not a feeling.
This one is from my favorite book on love, “The Course of Love” by Alain de Botton.
Growing up I always thought that love was butterflies. I thought love was that spark you felt when someone was near. As I’ve gotten older and watched the spark fade, I realized that love is really just a choice.
You wake up in the morning and you choose one person everyday.
When you fight with that person, you can walk away, or you can choose to continue to love them. Love lasts because people choose each other over and over again.
You wake up and you choose to be kind to others, even if you don’t feel like it.
To love others and those around you, is a choice, that sometimes our feelings don’t align with.
2. When you don’t know what to do next, just do something.
Some people have 5 year plans, others don’t. Everyone hits a wall where they realize they are unhappy, but have no idea what to change. Just charge forward.
Identify what is making you unhappy and do everything to try and change that.
If you don’t like your job, look for a new one, even if you don’t know what that new one is. If you don’t like where you live, move somewhere you can move, even if it’s not your dream location.
Life is rough, it’s okay to stumble a bit.
3. Don’t waste time on things that don’t make you happy.
And with the above point, stop wasting your time with things that don’t make you happy.
If you hate running, stop running and try cycling instead.
If you don’t like your vegetables steamed, try roasted.
If the person you are dating, isn’t making you happy, find someone that does.
Don’t stick around and try to force yourself to like something you don’t.
Leave the things and people that do not serve you.
4. You are the only person responsible for your career.
Your boss is not. Your mentor is not. Your company is not.
You are responsible for you.
I’ve had 3 jobs since graduating college and while some boomers might call me a job hopper, it has always been what I know is best for my career. It has given me a breadth of experience at a young age and a network 3x’s the size of my peers.
5. You need a minimalistic wardrobe.
Finding the t-shirt and jeans that fit me perfectly have changed my life.
I’ve created my uniform.
Everyone knows me for wearing a black t-shirt, black jeans, and white sneakers. When I want to change it up, I switch the color t-shirt or the shade of jeans.
It has saved me time and money keeping my wardrobe simple.
6. Everyone’s path is different, you can’t compare yourself.
The person I had my first relationship with just had a baby.
Several of my friends from high school have gotten married.
My other friend just graduated from a top law school, my other will soon be a doctor.
I have friends that make 10k a year and I have friends that make over 100k+.
Each and every one of them impacts my life in a positive way.
Everyone is doing their own thing, at their own pace. Life isn’t a race to see who can make the most money. My friends that make 100k+ aren’t more successful than my friends who are excellent teachers, social workers, and front line workers.
The people that make you feel alive sometimes hardly have any money at all.
7. You have to decide what is worth it to you when it comes to your money.
While on the topic of money, you have to sit with yourself and prioritize what is worth it to you.
While it may be cheaper to buy your groceries at Walmart, is the ethics around it okay with you?
Would you rather have a Tesla or take more vacations?
Would you rather have the freedom to work from wherever you want or an extra 40k on your salary?
Sit down with yourself and decide what matters right now.
8. You only get one body, treat it right.
Watching the people around me get older, I see the problems starting to pile on. Back pain, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, nicotine addiction, the list goes on. Some things are genetic and can’t be avoided, but we really only get one body.
Growing up, I was an athlete, I thought I was invincible. I tore my ACL when I was 19 and I could never run as fast or push myself as hard again.
I realized I wouldn’t be young forever.
After working full-time for a year, I developed serious back problems from being hunched over a computer 40–50 hours a week.
I realized how important it was to stretch and to stand.
9. Certain foods make you feel good, others don’t. Find out what that is.
More so than just fruit and vegetables, certain diets work well for different people.
I’ve been experimenting with what makes me feel good and what doesn’t for awhile now and found that processed carbohydrates like bread, pasta, and sweets make me feel terrible, bloated, and sick. I try to avoid them as much as possible.
10. As fun as alcohol and substances can be, it hardly leads to anything good.
Everyone knew me as a party monster in college. I would never say no to a gathering on the weekend. Even up until today, it’s hard to say no because of FOMO. However, hardly anything positive happens after a night out.
Maybe you have a few laughs and you get forget your problems for a few hours, but you wake up and your problems will still be there.
11. You have to forgive yourself & make peace with the past.
I live with a lot of regret for how I treated people and the choices I’ve made in my relationships. However, with the help of support groups and a great therapist, I’ve realized I can never be truly happy and move on without forgiving myself.
To be comfortable in your own skin, you have to accept your mistakes and move on .
12. You have to learn to forgive others and then sometimes walk away.
People will hurt you. They might apologize, they might not. For your own sake, it is best to just forgive them. It won’t harp on you emotionally and you can remove any bad energy that is bringing you down.
13. Your parents will still drive you insane, but remember time is limited.
I read a powerful article the other day and I wish I could remember the authors name.
The author lived a few states away from her parents and could only travel to see them once a year. That meant that she would probably see her parents only 20 more times in her life based on average life expectancy. It was an absolute wake up call to me.
As you get older and move away from home, your time is so limited with the people that raised you.
14. You’ll never be any younger than you are in this moment.
It is true. We aren’t getting any younger. People say “I’ll write that book when I’m older”, “I’ll start my own business when I’m older”. You will never have as much youth and time as you do right now.
There is no better day than today.
15. Most people are only looking out for themselves.
Who do you think about the most?
Be honest, you know its your own damn self.
There’s nothing wrong with that.
We have to look after ourselves, but just remember everyone else is doing the same thing. Don’t take it personally when others act in self interest.
16. Spend time alone.
I spent most of my teenage years and early 20s avoiding being alone. My calendar was always packed with work, school, and social obligations.
Being alone in a room with your own thoughts is terrifying.
However, being comfortable with those thoughts gives you power.
It helps you understand you.
17. Experience something new regularly.
The best way to spark creativity is to change your environment.
Experiencing something new actually makes our brains function differently. Enough to give you brand new ideas and inspiration. Whether it is a new place or just trying a new restaurant down the street, getting out of your comfort zone makes you better.
18. Some people won’t like you.
No matter what you do, some people won’t want to be your friend. Some people won’t vibe with your life and that’s okay. You save room for the people that matter.
19. Your job doesn’t have to define you.
Everyone wants to know “what do you do for work?” And don’t get me wrong, I have the exact job I want and I’m very proud of what I do, but there is more to me than what I do from 9–5pm.
There is so much that goes into what makes a person, the way you make your living is not the defining factor.
20. No one cares what your GPA was.
It may come as a shock to many, but no one ever asked me what my GPA was for a job. People care about how you add value to your environment. People care about how you make them feel.
The first conversation you have with someone will always matter more in their judgement of you than what grades you had in school.
21. No one owes you anything.
You will meet a lot of people who walk around feeling entitled to things like higher salaries, better job titles.
Heck, I felt entitled to a good job when I graduated with my degree, but quickly found out there was still many hoops to jump.
The world doesn’t owe you anything, so drop the idea you are entitled to it.
22. On the other hand, you don’t owe anyone anything.
People will feel entitled to your time.
Don’t feel obligated to say yes.
Whether it’s additional hours at work, a social obligation, or a date, you don’t owe anyone your time. Your time is sacred and it is yours. Time is your life and you can’t waste it.
23. What you put in is what you get.
Especially in relationships. Grass grows where you water it. If you wonder why no one is asking you to hang out, make sure you are also extending invitations.
If it feels like you have no one to talk to, make sure you are asking others questions and finding the time to listen.
It feels elementary, but when you treat others the way you want to be treated, it comes back to you tenfold.
24. Take the time to understand others.
And while you are listening to others, take the time to try and really understand them. With so much stereotyping and assuming being done these days, it’s so hard for people to really feel seen.
Take some time to think about the wants, needs, desires and goals of the people you care about.
What can you do to help or support them?
25. It’s okay to do nothing for awhile.
I’m a sucker for productivity hacks. I love Kanban boards and time-boxing. However, sometimes we do just have to stop for own sanity and mental clarity.
There is literally nothing wrong with doing nothing, don’t let online gurus tell you otherwise.
(Bonus) 26.Build your wealth, life, and career in silence.
There is nothing wrong with being excited about your accomplishments and wanting to share them, but it’s important to have the humility to stay quiet.
Don’t count your chickens before they hatch and never assume something is yours till it’s yours.
As Lil Wayne says “Real G’s move in silence like lasagna”
Your 20s are for building in silence and discovering the real you, so when you are later in life you can share loudly with others so people can learn from you.