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Tomorrow is my birthday, and I am turning 30.
Obviously, an important milestone in anyone’s life—as another decade of life wraps up behind us.
It’s important to reflect, and look at how far we have come, how far we have grown.
It’s also equally important to see the changes in our perspective, as we’ve gained a little bit more wisdom in this journey.
So in the spirit of that…
Today I’m sharing the 14 Things I would Tell My 23 Year Old Self as I make it into my fourth decade.
I purposefully said 23-year-old self instead of 20 years old self.
Truth be told:
My 23-year-old self was much more open to hearing new messages—whereas my 20-year-old self would have ignored these things until something jolted him and woke him up (which it did).
So today I’m writing to my 23-year-old self –
Still pretty fresh entering into “the real world”
Increasingly aware of how little formal education has prepared himself to win in life.
And after a life-changing event (crashing his car and getting a DUI just before turning 21)…
That rocked his entire world…
Here was a young man, 23 years old, wide-eyed, open to new knowledge, hungry for change, and wanting new meanings…
It’s to that 23-year-old man that I write this letter:
The 13 Things I Would Tell My 23-Year-Old Self:
I know you’ve been through a lot over the past few years, and have grown a lot as well.
I’m proud of who you’ve become, and more importantly, who you’re becoming.
You’ve graduated from college, traveled to different corners of the world, and have grown in the process.
You’re just starting out your life, and you have so many wonderful things in store for you.
And lots of challenges as well, but as you’ll learn, those are really gifts too.
To help you better navigate this next decade coming up, I wanted to share with you 14 points that I learned so you can better navigate the next decade of your life.
Here they are:
There’s a quote that I’ve once across that said…
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
There is SO much truth in this – there’s a lot of noise out there, and as you’ve realized what society finds popular or acceptable as far as “social norms” is always changing.
But here are the things that don’t change… fundamental principles.
The fundamental principles of the universe.
To borrow the words of another great man…
“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary”
So trust yourself. Because you already know who you’re meant to be, and where you want to go.
So just do it.
You don’t need permission, you don’t need someone to come by and dub you as “worthy” and you don’t need some magical council to tell you what your destiny is.
You have a sense of what makes you come alive, what is really meaningful for you, so GO DO THAT.
At the end of your life, you’ll regret more the things you didn’t do than the things you did.
So go do it.
Go live life.
Go experience different things.
Go make an impact.
Chase what makes you feel alive, chase what fills you with PASSION and LIFE!
As cliche as it sounds, you don’t want to arrive at the end of your life full of regrets and wondering “what if…”
Don’t worry about what others are doing, no one else has it figured out either.
So go for it – you already know who you want to become.
This might sound awfully similar to the first point, but it’s not the same.
And it’s very important, so I’m making this the second point.
Learn to believe in yourself.
This is both mindset AND practical actions you take.
If you tell yourself you’re going to do something, make sure to do it.
Make good on your promises – to yourself and to others.
That will help create self-belief and confidence.
—and don’t forget that the world will readily place you where it wants you to fit.
If you don’t have a plan or vision for yourself, someone else will.
So be the director of your own story.
Be the hero of your life. The main lead in your own movie!
You get to write the script!
Believe in YOURSELF and recognize that when you look around…
Everything that you see was once created and once an idea from another human being no smarter than you.
You can and WILL have an impact.
You can and DO have a choice.
It’s just up to you to decide which endeavors are worthy of pursuit and have much of an impact you want to make.
Believe in yourself that you can do it.
The word desire literally breaks down into de-sire, which in Latin means “Of the Father”
Let that sink in…
What if, your desires and your dreams were given to you?
What if, just by you having the desires and dreams you do meant that you were capable of achieving them?
What if, just by having the desire or dreams, meant you inherently have the capabilities and gifts capable of making them a reality?
I know you’ve always believed in a higher power…
Whether you’ve called it God, the Universe, Mother Nature or Infinite Intelligence…
And I know you’ve always felt her Divine Presence,
I’m here to tell you that instead of questioning and fighting with yourself, wondering why you’re different…
Understand that your dreams are your treasure maps to fulfill.
They are yours and yours only to fulfill!
As Paulo Coelho calls it, they are your own “personal legend.”
So understand that your dreams and desires were given to you—and you only.
And only YOU can fulfill them.
Go fulfill them.
I’ve told you to trust yourself, believe in yourself, and to pursue your dreams.
Now here’s the truth:
More dreams die in the hands of “well-meaning” family members and friends than anything else in this world.
Out of an uninformed desire to protect, not wanting them to experience the pain of failure, or simply a projection of their own limiting beliefs…
There are a lot of people who might try to talk you out of your dreams just because they don’t want to see you in pain or they didn’t go for their own.
And most of those people might not be “intending” any harm,
But be careful who you listen to.
Learn to drown out the voices of other people, as bad advice can literally kill you.
Tony Robbins paints this idea by telling the story of his original mentor, Jim Rohn.
Jim Rohn would ask, “What would happen if your worst enemy came to you and dropped some sugar in your cup of coffee?”
“You’d have sweet coffee” Tony would reply.
“That’s right. And what if your best friend in the entire world or even a family member came by and accidentally put strychnine (deadly chemical) in your coffee?”
“Well you’d be DEAD!” Tony said.
“That’s right. Life is both sugar and strychnine, and watch what you put in your coffee”
What he’s saying is to stand guard at the door of your mind.
What what is coming in, who’s saying it, what their intent is, and filter it to understand what will serve you and the world, and what won’t.
And here’s the other thing –
Don’t be so worried about letting people go out of your life.
It’s normal to outgrow old friends you used to spend time with.
You’re supposed to evolve, you’re supposed to grow and change friends.
Some people are not meant to be in your life forever, and sometimes it just means your values have changed and both of you are moving on in a new direction.
This is normal. No need to feel bad about it.
There’s no need to feel excessively loyal to people that you don’t owe any loyalty to.
You will attract new people into your life, new friends who are more aligned with your new values, and whom you’ll be able to help push each other forward in life.
And here’s a final note on this point:
When you start making ripples, some people will not like it and will try to throw stones from afar.
Every single person who has ever accomplished anything in life has experienced this. Period.
This is part of the process.
They are important for two reasons:
- They add fuel to the fire, and
- Remember that they don’t make statues out of critics 🙂
You are in a very young and pivotal point in your life…
…where you are discovering who you are, what you like, and what you stand for.
Focus on yourself and go do the things that fill you with passion.
Develop and immerse yourself in skillsets that will serve you & others.
Learn and grow, develop. Experience life.
Don’t go chasing after other people or looking for love.
Focus on YOU right now.
Get yourself and your life right, and everything else will fall in place, I promise.
Also, don’t be misled by distraction or the noise.
The world you live in is busier and noisier than ever.
With social, the internet, and how busy everyone is, learn to direct your focus on the FEW things that matter ALOT,
And let go of the little minutiae that serve little or no purpose in the long run.
The sooner you cut out distractions and the outside noise…
…the faster you’ll get to where you want to go.
So far I’ve shared a lot about trusting yourself, listening to your heart, and cutting out distractions that don’t serve you.
I want to add something else—seek mentors.
While it’s incredibly important to trust your instincts, it’s also important to know you DON’T have all the answers.
And to seek out the people who do…
This is crucial.
To be able to distinguish who are the people you should listen to, and who are the people whose advice you should probably ignore.
The easiest way to gauge this is:
“Do they have the result I’m looking for?”
In other words, have they achieved what I’m looking to achieve?
If I want to learn sales, am I learning from someone who has actually done it?
Am I learning from someone credible?
It’s important to not take advice from people who don’t have the result you want!
That goes back to point #4 about drowning out other people’s voices.
You wouldn’t take health and nutritional advice from someone whose massively obese right?
The same way you shouldn’t take sales advice from someone who hasn’t SOLD anything to save their life.
The same way you shouldn’t take advice from people who haven’t achieved the result you want in life.
But DO take advice from the people you see living an extraordinary life.
Seek those people out.
Get their books and consume their content to soak up their wisdom.
They are doing things that most people aren’t, and that’s why they are getting results most people don’t get.
DO listen to the people who are achieving and living life on their own terms.
DO listen to the people who have created extraordinary results that you would like in your own life!
Get around those people.
Learn from them.
Be mentored by them.
Listen, read, and watch their content. Soak it up.
Immerse yourself in it.
At the end of the day, think for yourself, and remember that “success leaves clues.”
Do whatever it takes to get around these people and learn from these people who are living an extraordinary quality of life. Not just in financial terms, but on every level.
Pay for it if you have to – do whatever it takes!
Get around these extraordinary people.
One belief I’ve picked up over the last few years that will definitely serve you as well is the belief that…
“Life is happening for you, not to you”
I know you already believe in a higher power, but I’m here to tell you to strengthen it.
And notice all the blessings, guidance, and magical moments in your life now!
Everything happens for a reason—and trust that all of it is going to shape you for the better.
The road to Rome is paved with your own steps.
It’s like what Steve Jobs said about trusting that the things will connect in your life,
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward.
You can only connect them looking backward.
So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.
Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well-worn path, and that will make all the difference.”
—Steve Jobs, Stanford Commencement 2005
You must trust that there is a greater purpose to everything that happens in life.
“God’s delays are not God’s denials”
– Tony Robbins
You must trust that there is a purpose to everything and that everything is happening to help conspire you to be the BEST version of yourself and fulfill your potential.
You must believe and see everything as helping you and serving a purpose in where you want to go.
This is something that’s absolutely key.
You’ll learn as you’re exposed to different cultures and by living with the people in their own countries.
You’ll gain distinctions and insights in life that could hardly be gained otherwise.
It’s really true what they say—traveling can be some of the best education a person can get.
Not only that, but it will teach you so much about yourself.
As said since the ancient Greeks ruled Rome, “Know Thyself”
By embracing and being curious about other cultures, you’ll have the opportunity to take what you like best from each culture and make it your own.
You’ll be able to assimilate, widen your perspective, and understand more deeply that we are really just people.
From where I’m writing to you, there are some turbulent times right now.
There’s a lot of turmoil in the media and divisiveness promoted every way you look.
But spending time around people from different backgrounds and cultures, especially those you’re genuinely interested in…
…will help you get a richer perspective of life and yourself.
You’ll give yourself permission to be more of yourself.
In other words, they will help you become who you’re meant to be.
There’s no need to put yourself in a box. Society might try to do that.
Institutions might try to do that.
But you don’t need to do that to yourself.
Embrace whatever you’re interested in, and dive deep into it.
I could probably write you a full essay just on this.
But boy, do you want to learn this as soon as possible.
Just understand that you get back what you put out in this world.
That is a universal fundamental law of the universe.
Like gravity, it does not err.
Do the right thing.
Always do your best, and try to remember to live by the Golden Rule: treat others as you would want to be treated yourself.
Also, if you haven’t started doing so…
Start giving a percentage of your income away.
Begin to tithe.
It’ll change your whole perspective. It’ll change YOU!
You see, you don’t get beyond a scarcity mindset…
You have to start beyond it. So start giving.
If it’s one thing I’ve observed of very wealthy people is that they are GIVERS.
If you’re not willing to give a dime out of every dollar, you can be sure you’re not going to give $100,000 out of a million!
You have to start where you are now, and build the habits!
“How can I give?”
“How can I add more value?”
“How can I help this person?”
Those things will serve you, and you’ll make a BIGGER impact.
Another name for this is the law of reciprocity.
You get what you give! Believe that!
You’re super young right now. You might not feel like that, but you are.
And right now is when you need to build the habits necessary to win.
Start now, so in a few short years, you’ll have developed the habits that will allow you to succeed in whatever you choose.
And also understand that there is a price to everything. So be ready to pay that price.
It’s better to pay that price today—so you can live a better tomorrow.
Do what you have to do to invest in yourself & your future.
And if you decide to pay the price today, and again the day after that, and you keep doing it…
It will be inevitable that your life will only keep getting better and better,
Because you’re constantly playing for the long term.
And please remember to enjoy the journey too.
Treasure every single moment.
We talk about the tough moments that test us, and forge us into the people we’re meant to become.
And the beautiful, magical, delicious moments of life.
And my advice here is: when you’re living those moments, soak every single one up as much as possible.
Be there and be there FULLY.
Savor every last drop, because those are the moments that make like worth it.
And know that the best is yet to come!
If you’re growing and investing in yourself and the world every day…
Things are only going to improve, so just know the best is yet to come!
Most people have the mindset that high school or college were their best days.
You & I know that the best is yet to come! Isn’t that right?
The best is ALWAYS yet to come 🙂
It’s popular nowadays to talk about working SMART.
And yes, it’s very important to work intelligently.
However, there is no substitute WITHOUT hard work.
That is like trying to bake a cake without flour.
You can add all the sugar you want, but if you don’t add some flour, that thing is not going to bake.
Always be the hardest worker in the room.
Even when- no, especially when conditions aren’t ideal.
We call those “separator days.”
Days when most people choose to sit and do nothing and point fingers about how things aren’t ideal when we put in the work to get better, to move closer to our destiny.
There’s not much else to be said. You need hard work.
This may not be the longest point of the bunch, but it might be the most important.
Most of your life, you’ve been taught to fit in and blend in.
That’s what we’re all taught in our school systems.
But I’m here to tell you that the most successful people in the world from Bruce Lee to Drake to Elon Musk to Oprah Winfrey…
These people win because they are different.
These people are these people because they don’t try to fit in.
They are themselves.
Don’t afraid to be different.
When most people go left, it might not be a bad idea going right.
Think for yourself.
Question why things are the way they are?
Why is 13 an unlucky number?
13 is the luckiest number 🙂
You get to decide what something means.
You get to decide to create your life.
I read that in Martin Luther King’s Autobiography.
It said that when he was in his darkest of times…
He would pray and come across this quote in what he was reading.
And he said it stood out to him and made an impression on him.
And isn’t that so timely for a situation our world is going through now?
Where it seems like CHAOS every direction we look.
But just know this.
In every obstacle, there is the seed of an equivalent or greater opportunity.
In other words…
There are two sides to every coin.
In every “negative” thing in your life, that exact same situation has the seed of an equal or GREATER POSITIVE thing.
It is always there as long as you decide to find it.
Those are just facts.
Nature “compensates” every infirmity or lack with something else of equal or greater value.
You’ll one day realize that every pain point and everything that seemed like a “set back” for you will become a strength and advantage for you.
And another thing…
In a couple of years, you’ll get a tattoo on your arm that says “crisis” in Chinese.
That’s because the Chinese word for crisis, “危机”
Is made up of two characters.
The first comes from danger.
And the second comes from opportunity.
In every crisis, there is danger and opportunity.
Only when it’s dark enough can you see the stars.