26 Things About Life I Wish I Had Known When I Was 20 Years Old

Photo by Caleb George on Unsplash

As Ludwig famously said –

Less is More.

We are always running behind something and someone. When we don’t really know the meaning of this philosophy, we may want everything we see.

In the past 10 years of my life, I’ve slowly started to comprehend this fact. That less is more and this eventually became a fundamental value of whatever I do.

There are many other learnings like this which shaped me as a person in past 10 years. I thought to share these with you, as some of you might be in your twenties and find them helpful. So I jotted down these 26 learnings from past 10 years of my life as A to Z below.

How did I learn them you ask? I have learned these from various books, people and experiences.

I wish I had known these 26 things when I was 20 years old but here they are for you. The 26 reminders –

  1. Ask questions – Don’t follow anything blindly. Ask more and more question. By asking questions you’ll learn things at a whole different pace.
  2. Be grateful – Make this a part of your daily habits. Like Eat, sleep, Wake up, Shower, Be grateful and then start your day. By being grateful not only you become humble but also get a chance to step back and appreciate what you have.
  3. Create every day – Make something every day. Click a picture, Write something on your notebook or on a blog, Work on a sculpture. Work on a Painting, write some code for your own project. The point of creating something every day is that it indirectly makes you learn something. So by creating something every day, you will learn something every day.
  4. Don’t care about what people think – Don’t get stuck in the idea of what someone might think about you or your work or how you look. If you do that you’ll get in a vicious circle of thinking too much before doing anything and that will make your growth to halt. So don’t think too much about what people will think. Just go ahead and do what your heart says is right.
  5. Ego is the enemy – The minute you start thinking yourself special that’s when you start digging your own grave. In order to pursue a valuable goal in your life, you have to put hard work and there will always be a fight between you and your Ego. Because your ego is your biggest enemy. I learning this specifically from a book of Ryan Holiday, called the same name – ‘Ego is the enemy‘.
    To quote Ryan from his book –

    To whatever success you have achieved, Ego is the enemy.

  6. Fail often – If you have an idea and you want to execute it you’ll have to get your hands dirty. You’ll have to try doing it. In the process, you’ll fail. You’ll fail N number of times and that’s where the difficult decision will come. To quit or to keep on trying. If that thing is something you really believe in, you’ll try again. Probably you’ll fail again until you can’t fail anymore.
  7. Goal setting – In past 10 years what I have learned is that without a goal you can easily drift from the right course. If it’s a marathon race or building a product or a company or a career goal. There can be a long term goal and then you can divide that long term goal into shorter goals so that it is trackable. That way you’ll be on right course and eventually reach there.
  8. Hard work is not always the answer – If you work towards something blindly without seeing it from a larger perspective, you might just be doing circles and never reach there. So you have to work smart along with working hard. Try to be effective in comparison to just being efficient.
  9. Instant gratification is never good against long term goals – If you have a long term goal of writing a book but instead you just write a small article on which you’ll instantly get feedback. That feels good always. But it will take you away from your long term goal of writing a book because you’ll never be able to devote the time needed for the book. So don’t trade your long term goals with Instant gratification. Delay the gratification for the larger good.
  10. Jot Down what you listen – If you are in a meeting or having a deep conversation, you should always have a notebook or your phone ready at hand so that you can jot it down for later comprehension. Because we may understand whatever is being said in that moment, but as our brains work like random access memory. You may completely forget The thing you just listened and eventually you’ll lose the learning of that conversation.
  11. Keep up with people you care – Spend more time with your beloved ones. Family and friends. Because those are the ones who’ll be there for you eventually, who actually care. Others are just guest in your life. Family and close friends are the ones who’ll be there in your hard times as well.
  12. Lead the way – If you are presented with a difficult situation and nobody have much idea about how to handle it, but you feel confident about it, then lead the way. Take it, own it and finish it. If you are an individual contributor and not a leader, that difficult time will be the time you will come ahead and prove yourself as a leader. So don’t shy away from the situation and lead the way.
  13. Minimal Lifestyle – As I quoted ‘Less is More’ in the start. A minimal lifestyle is something I believe in firmly. Don’t crowd your home with things you’ll never use or very rarely use. Take a challenge and assess everything you see in your house. If it gives you joy and happiness, keep it. Otherwise, let it go, donate it or put it in the bin. You’ll see how uncluttered your life becomes. Minimalism is just not that you have fewer things in your house. The whole point of minimalism is to unclutter your life and mind, physically and emotionally as well.
  14. Network – Connecting with the right set of people is crucial to your growth. So learn how to network and be good at it. But don’t fake the relationships you make, put some real energy, try to be helpful, try to something for your network selflessly, then only you’ll network with real people and good people. When times comes this network which you made with values will help you eventually, directly or indirectly.
  15. Obstacle is the way – If you have a calling, you have to put work towards it. Even if you work towards it you’ll face obstacles every now and then and as you reach towards the goal, the intensity of these obstacles will increase. But you need to understand that through facing these obstacles, these hardships, these problems only, you will become better and eventually will earn that goal which you set in the first place.
  16. Practice Mindfulness – Start living in the present moment by practising mindfulness. Set aside 20 mins or an hour whatever you can every day, to do nothing, no productive work just sit back and focus on your breathe. Start listening to your body, start feeling your surroundings. Some people do it through meditation, for some, it’s doing exercise. But any way you do it, practice mindfulness every day.
  17. Quitting is not losing – This one I learned the hard way. When we are pursuing something we are passionate about. We sometimes isolate ourselves from the reality. Sometimes your goal can become irrelevant. You should be aware enough that it’s time to quit and quitting doesn’t mean losing. Quitting means you are just freeing yourself from something which is not relevant anymore and you can start a new project and put your energy and resources on that. Quit when it’s time is the right thing to do and it comes with time and training.
  18. Run every day – I always struggled with my health in the earlier 20 years of my life. I got introduced to running 5 years back and around 4 years back I became serious about it. If you want to do more and more, you have to have a healthy body and mind and a healthy mind lives in a healthy body. Running keeps you healthy that’s why you should do it every day. Run every day.
  19. Step back and observe when you don’t see the way – If you are stuck in a situation or at something, isolate yourself from that situation for some moments and take a step back. Think about it mindfully. You’ll surely be able to look at the situation from a whole new perspective and may also be able to resolve it with a new kind solution which you wouldn’t have thought of if you were still being in the same spot.
  20. Time heals everything – It’s true. I’ve experienced it. Let it be a relationship which broke, let it be a business that failed, let it be a passing of a beloved one. You will have the memories forever but time heals the pain. You get the strength to cope with the pain.
  21. Uplift the ones you work with – I read this quote in a book – Find canvases for people to paint on.When you are working with someone, let it be your boss or your peers, give your ideas away to them, clear the way for them. Be helpful and uplift them. Not only it’s a selfless act but in process of doing so you’ll learn so much, you wouldn’t have otherwise.
  22. Value providing – Whatever you do, whatever you make. Make sure there is some value in it for someone. Not everyone but at least someone. This will make sure whatever you are doing will be helpful for someone. If you provide value, then people will respect you in whatever you do not just for doing sake but genuinely. You’ll make good relationships and people will provide you right feedback as well.
  23. Wait for the right moment – Be patient. Put in the work and wait for the right moment. When you do that, universe somehow understands it and opens unusual ways to let you reach where you want to be. But remember you have to put in the work, visualize it and be patient.
  24. Xerox the values and processes of someone you get inspired from – Whatever you aspire to do, chances are someone has already done that before you. So start learning about those people and start getting inspiration from them and then start copying the way they do things. At least some of their attributes. Don’t copy their work but try to pick some of their values and processes. You’ll build upon their knowledge base and reach your goal faster.
  25. You are your biggest competition – Of course, the world is competitive right now. Every second person wants to do what you are aspiring. But what I have learned over these years is that competition with others is good but it’s not always healthy. Of course, if you are a competitive athlete or a business owner you need to look out for your competitors. But remember your biggest competitor is YOU. You need to benchmark yourself and then try to become better at it with each iteration.
  26. Zen is the key – The philosophical meaning of zen is ‘Now’. The present moment. If you live in the present moment you will become a better version of yourself. An attribute of Zen is becoming content with what you have. So when train yourself to be in the moment and being content, you’ll slow leap forward towards a happier life.

Will you be master of life if you applied these 26 things? No freaking way. But you will definitely become a better person.

But just know that you know nothing. So always keep learning.

P.S.: This post is inspired by a piece from Darius Foroux.

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