A GREAT article. The Wisdom Journal blog had an article written by 42 year old Ron if he could have gone back and told 12 things to his 22-year-old self. The link is here, but here were some good ones (my favorite is 5, (#8 on his list))
- Stay in school – you’re bored now, but wait until you’re in a dead end job that you can’t stand but you’re afraid to lose.
- Establish the habit of living in a budget
- Keep insurance coverage at all times
- It’s quality of time at work, but quantity of time at home
- There is NO shortcut to wealth: Wealth is created when you provide something interesting, unique and valuable to people who demand it. Until then, you will be trading hours for dollars and you’ll always think you’re underpaid.
- Make sure your spouses values line up with yours -This one step can single handedly determine your level of happiness more than just about any other.
- Never take a job just because it pays more.
I would like to add a few I’ve learned so far:
- Don’t let fear run your life – this works in relationships as well as jobs/work. I left my software job to go live with Benedictine monks and study for the priesthood right as the dot-com bubble was bursting. I was told if I left, they were being forced to close all external hiring and laying off internally. In essence, there would likely not be a way to come back. I took a deep breath, left in good standing, and didn’t regret it. Now, I didn’t do this completely unprepared. I saved up money, I made sure I could afford at least a year (I stayed for 5 years), I did a lot of prayer and research to make sure this is something I knew I needed, and financially/emotionally/spiritually could do. I knew I’d always ask ‘what if’ if I didn’t go. Now I know and I don’t regret the time spent one bit – in fact it was some of the best so far in my life.
Marriage/relationships are all about trust and risk with another person. But you’ll never grow as a loving human being that can step out of their own desires/wants if you don’t risk stretching yourself by entering relationships at many levels. I learned this not only from dating, but working with homeless, with migrant workers, and those in ministry. Learn where your emotional hot-buttons are, where your comfort zones are, where safe and necessary boundaries are, where your gifts are – then stretch them a bit (it’ll feel like a lot!) in an environment where your boundaries will be respected, and you can get help/guidance if needed. If it all goes sour, you’ll survive – but be a better (usually a less selfish) person for it. And that is what real love is – learning how it’s not about you, but what you give of yourself in a reciprocating relationship.
If you run around afraid to make mistakes, then you’ll never realize your dreams or aspirations. You’ll spend all your energy in the mythical ‘future’ of what might be in your mind and heart – but it will never become reality. Ultimately this robs us of learning who our core self really is – which is where self-actualization can happen, and when we truely become free people – free in the sense we can become fully gift to others. Prepare, research, and plan – but always try it out.
- Give it 6-months to a year, but not more than that – In relationships or work. If you’re constantly thinking about whether you did the right thing or not, you’ll kill yourself in the ups and downs of the moment. But also, if you don’t give yourself a goal/timetable – you’ll end up drifting into everything (this happens in relationships a LOT – how many folks do you know just dated for a long time then said, heck, lets get married cause we’ve been together this far). Give your major life decisions a year to work out or not. At the end of that time, then make your choice based on how the whole time went. If after that time frame, you’re still not sure or are uncertain about how it’s going – it is probably not going for whatever reason and time to re-evaluate things.
Seminary took me about 3-5 years to figure out if it was clicking since it was such a radical change. But I had a hard time limit – so put a time on your decision making.