Someone asked me the most interesting question the other day.
If you could call yourself 10 years ago, what would you tell yourself?
My instant response was to tell myself to invest in Bitcoin as soon as I could, but since this conversation, this idea has still been on my mind.
10 years ago I was a senior in high school, preparing for college. Unsure of what major to pursue. No hobbies. I had ambition but no real direction or drive to guide me.
I don’t know why this question is having such an impact on me, but the thought of being able to redo the past decade, knowing what I do now, what would I actually want to change? What advice could I give to make a real impact, to make my life better today?
If I could call 17 year old me with insights for the next decade, I would say:
1. Don’t Pick a Practical Major
I know you thought you were being practical picking Finance and joked that even if we were broke that we would know how to manage the money we don’t have, it’s not funny now. You really aren’t interested in business and you aren’t going to make enough money to make it worth it.
Stick with something that you actually find interesting. You’ll be kicking yourself in the future that you didn’t pursue Architecture, Physics, or Literature because you thought they wouldn’t pan out. We’re going to be broke for a while regardless and could have had more fun.
2. College Is For Experimenting, But Don’t Go Wild
I know we love trying new things, but don’t try everything. You will save yourself a lot of physical and mental stress if you don’t drink as much or take everything offered to you at parties. It sounded fun and cool at the time, but I can promise you, you will feel better without those things in your system and may be able to avoid some depression and anxiety from it later.
3. Don’t Get Too Comfortable At Work
You want a position that will allow you to work from home, and it’s amazing, but it will slow down your career path. You will get complacent and comfortable and not push yourself anymore. Working from bed is nice but as soon as you put comfort over ambition, you’re in trouble.
4. Don’t Open More Than 2 Credit Cards
No, you can’t handle it. You still think you’re going to be rich somehow in the future. Who knows when that is coming, but from here, we can’t afford it. You don’t need 90% of this stuff and in a few years when you live at home to try to save money to pay off debt, you’ll wish you had never spent it.
5. Stop Saying No
It took us a while to learn that it’s OK to say no and to take care of ourselves, but you’ll take it too far. We missed out on some amazing opportunities because we said no. Between being too complacent to stay at home, and becoming more of an introvert, you will regret not going out more, hanging out with friends more, or taking chances because you want to be comfortable. Start saying yes.
6. Start Taking Risks
It’s actually hilarious now how our safe path still screwed us over. Doing the “right” things won’t get us any better results. We should have been taking risks and going after things we wanted the entire time. Life will suck for a while anyway so we might as well have moved to a new city, taken a crazy job or gone on that wild trip anyhow.
7. Don’t Neglect Your Health
Sure you have time to get back in shape but they were right, it does get harder. You’re going to screw up your knee in a few years and slow down any progress you made, so start getting in better health now. Choose a diet you can stick to, start going to the gym, and stop drinking so much. The future us will really appreciate it.
8. Stop Waiting
There’s not going to be a magic moment where everything snaps into place, you need to start working at it right now. In 10 years we’ll still be waiting for things to change and we could be in a much better place if we started then. Stop waiting and start doing anything to move forward.
9. Figure Out What You Want
Don’t wait to figure this out. Trust your gut and go after what you want. We will still want those things in 10 years and didn’t need to waste so much time overthinking things or trying to plan. Sit down now and make a game plan of what your ideal life would be, what actually interests you and what you want to be. We’ll still be thinking about this for a while.
10. Work On Your Skills
Don’t watch so much TV, and spend a little more time working on skills. You say you like to read but I know how many books are on your bookshelf and we still haven’t read some of them. Start doing it now. Start writing more, exercising more, studying more, building habits, anything to develop yourself more. We need these skills and if we learned them before it will really help.
And I’ve been thinking about these things.
There’s plenty of things I wouldn’t change, but so many I wish I could do differently. And it occurred to me, these are the things that I wish 17-year-old me would do, but 27 year old me isn’t doing most of them either.
We’re still thinking about how we should do these things, with plenty of excuses why we aren’t, but still not making much progress. I have a feeling that in 10 years if 37 year old me could call me now, we’d probably have the same conversation.
I can’t redo the past 10 years, but I can try to make a difference in the next 10.
What would you tell yourself 10 years ago?
This post was originally featured on Medium’s 101 World Publication.