Yesterday, I turned 20 years old. And it feels just like any other day out there. Although I wouldn't be here if it were for the people around me and how much they've helped me grow, especially in the past 2 years of my life.
Recently I have changed my perspective on birthdays, after reading an article shared by GS Thina, on how your birthdays are not only to celebrate another year of your life but also for the sacrifices, pain and struggle your parents have made for you. It is because of them that I am here today, getting to experience things I've never thought of, and meeting people who inspire me every day and a lot more.
Here are some lessons I've learnt in the past 20 years, most of which I've only picked up in the past two years of joining college. And I'm not a perfect example of following all of these, there are times when I do feel lost and unsure what to do, and coming back these lessons act as a compass in the times when the sky is dark.
0️⃣1️⃣ Find the right mentors early on. Getting a mentor for yourself in life or any specific field that you're looking forward to improving on can change the game altogether. It can accelerate your growth exponentially and help you become well-versed and equipped for what's to come. I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to have mentors accessible to me at an early stage in my college life through Think-Digital.
0️⃣2️⃣ Motivation alone is not enough. You need consistency and hard work to achieve the goals that you want. You need to be willing to put in the effort day in and day out too, even showing up for 5 mins daily makes a whole lot of difference in the long run.
0️⃣3️⃣ What got you here, will not get you there. You might have made a lot of effort in changing yourself and how you work for the good, and that's really great. However, if you get stuck in the old ways, you'll not move forward and achieve what you're meant to. Being willing to change your beliefs and thoughts is not a bad thing, it's a superpower that will help you break your limits.
0️⃣4️⃣ You create your own opportunities. Be impatient with your actions and patient with your results and you'll find that you'll get opportunities much more frequently and also those that give good returns also.
0️⃣5️⃣ Keep your expectations low. Even after the hard work you might've put in, things might not always play out the way you think they should. There will be failures and lessons along with them, learn to accept and learn and move on.
0️⃣6️⃣ Nobody is obliged to return you the favour. Just because you helped someone, it doesn't mean that they're also obliged to do the same to you. It doesn't always work that way. Focus on how you can add value and give to others without thinking much about what you'll get in return. Do things out of the good of your heart, not for the exchange that you might get.
0️⃣7️⃣ Appreciate the little things. Despite coming from a privileged family, I've just recently started to appreciate the little things that I have. Having a roof over your head, getting full three meals a day, getting to go to college, having a place to stay with all the comfort that you need, these might sound common, but these little things are what keep me going.
0️⃣8️⃣ Take small and calculated risks. Sometimes it's important to take that chance that you might feel scared of, you never know what's on the other side once you're done with it.
0️⃣9️⃣ Early in your days of exploring, say YES as much as possible. When you're learning something new, and you get an opportunity to work, learn or attended some event related to what you're exploring say yes to it. Even if it inconveniences you in the beginning, this is a great way to learn and grow as fast as possible. It will also help you understand what's out there in the field that you still need to get a touch of.
1️⃣0️⃣ Learn to say NO. Contrary to the first one 😅. Sometimes, you just have to say NO, to those external events that you know will have no value to you. You know what's best for you, even if it's a tough one, it will also be the right one.
1️⃣1️⃣ Explore as much as you can before you find what's right for you. I remember in the first year of my college, I was learning how to write a blog, learning about the stock market and trading (lost of bit of money here 😭), graphic designing and video editing (these come in handy right now when I'm making content), making music, then coding specifically web development. It's in web dev where it all clicked with me, something that I'm really interested in and is really enjoyable, whenever I work on web dev projects I feel fun and I'm unable to stop. You gotta explore whatever you can out there to find what makes you happy.
1️⃣2️⃣ Hard choices, Easy Life. Easy choices. Hard Life. Being disciplined about your plans to achieve your goals makes the difference between the achiever and the perfectionist. Doing the hard work now will definitely make a difference at a later point in life. Having a long-term mindset will definitely help you take actions now which are more oriented towards your goals.
1️⃣3️⃣ Surround yourself with people with similar goals. Be it your friends, your seniors or even people who've already achieved what you're looking for. They will give you insights on how you can reach their level and in every conversation you have with them you'll always learn something new.
1️⃣4️⃣ Have different circles for different purposes. Extending on the previous point. Sure, working hard is really important, but all work and no play makes life monotonous and you'll eventually get burnt out. It's better to have different circles, one for learning and growing, others for having fun, some with whom you do business, but don't get stuck up on boundaries, you're always free to share what you want with whom. For me, this helps me switch up my mood, and not get distracted by things that are not meant to enter the circle.
1️⃣5️⃣ Even if you find something you're passionate about, don't stop exploring. After exploring web development, I kinda stopped exploring other fields, and to be honest, this was one of the reasons why I kept burning out, exploring some new things helped me get out of a rut, learn new things and get a clearer perspective.
1️⃣6️⃣ It's okay to feel bored and tired of things you may be passionate about. We're all human and at the end of the day, you can only do so much. You might be putting in all the effort, day in and day out, and that's really great. At the same time, it's also important to take breaks and focus on yourself, get the proper rest that you need before you feel reinvigorated to go back to the things that you're passionate about.
1️⃣7️⃣ Pen + Paper >>>> Any other productivity tool. I've tried so many productivity tools out there, and have realized that nothing beats the feel and flow that pen and paper give you. Using pen and paper gives you the freedom to express your ideas without any restraint, gives you a good flow and overall, there's no distraction when working with those.
1️⃣8️⃣ Learn finance and budget early on. Knowing the basic financial terms and flows will help you make better financial decisions. In college, you might think that they're not much required, but if you start early on, you'll be surprised at how much finance plays a role even while you're a student. Learn to invest early on, do your research and make budget plans for how you want to spend your pocket money or stipend from some internship.
1️⃣9️⃣ Have someone to speak to. Be it your friend, your siblings, or your parents, have someone with whom you can express your problems and troubles to. Someone who you trust and who will listen to you without any judgement. Bottling up your emotions might help in the short term, but you'll not benefit from it in the long run, having someone to talk to helps your clear your mind, and express your needs and what you're feeling.
2️⃣0️⃣ Be proactive about your habits. In the book Atomic habits, James Clear said, "Habits are a double-edged sword, they will either make you or break you". Some bad habits may limit you, but they can definitely be changed or diminished, and you can definitely build good habits with the right system and mindset.
These are some lessons I've learnt over the past few years, most recent and still serve as a good guide to keeping me in check. Cheers and thanks for reading. Here's to another year of exploring, learning and interacting with new people who might come along on the journey. 🍻