Myself and many other LinkedIn Influencers and company owners were recently asked to help the graduating class of 2014 by expressing what we would tell our 22 year-old selves if we could. You can check out the hashtag #ifiwere22 to see others accounts of what they would tell themselves as well!
I have definitely learned a lot over the X amount of years it’s been since I was a college graduate myself. There are a lot of things I would tell myself from "go on more dates" to "invest in Apple stock!!!" But after giving it a lot of thought and reflection, there are 7 solid lessons that I would tell my 22 year-old self:
1. Be Curious
Being curious is an underrated quality in today’s society, but one that will take you wherever you want to go in life. The saying that “knowledge is power” is 100% true. With the amount of information that is at your fingertips with computers, eBooks and the internet, the only thing stopping you is your own curiosity. So ask as many questions as you can, try as many new things as you are capable, and always seek to learn more about yourself and the world.
2. Travel the World, Travel the World, Travel the World
In case I didn’t get the point across yet, TRAVEL THE WORLD! This is one of the things that I was lucky enough to do in my twenties, and something that I would absolutely make sure my 22 year-old self did again. Traveling the world will open your mind, heart, and soul to endless possibilities as well as help you gain a great perspective on life.
3. Stay True To Who You Are
This sounds a lot easier than it really is. As you grow older there is more and more pressure on you from your family, friends, coworkers and society to follow a certain path. The easiest way to get caught in this trap is to worry too much about being “liked” by everyone. If you stay true to yourself, others may not understand (especially at first), but everything always works out if you believe in what you’re doing.
4. Relationships Are Everything
Who you choose to surround yourself with after college is vitally important. Make sure that you choose people that will challenge you and help you become the person you want to be. This also includes networking as much as you can, because relationships are the biggest asset that you have. Make sure you don’t burn any bridges (regardless of what happens) because you never know what that relationship could mean down the road – for you or them.
5. 30 is not the new 20
Enjoy your twenties, but make sure you are doing important things with your life. Don’t end up wasting your twenties thinking that you’ll start taking life seriously when you’re 30. 30 will come faster than you think, and the last thing you’re going to want is to look back and think that you’ve wasted some of the most important years of your life by simply “coasting”. Be proactive in gaining experience in work that is truly meaningful to you and trust your instincts!
6. Stay Healthy, Stay Positive
Your first year in the “real world” is where you start forming the habits that you will keep for the rest of your life. Two habits that I think are the most crucial are to stay healthy and stay positive. Eating right and exercising become more important as you get older in order to stay healthy and vibrant. It is also really easy to get down on yourself if you see your peers attaining more “success” than you. Stay positive. Know yourself and your goals and stick to them. Maintaining these two habits will help you be much happier and more confident in life.
7. Don’t settle. Life is too short.
Jim Collins wrote in his book, Good to Great, that the biggest obstacle preventing us from a great life is the temptation to settle for a good one. I could not agree more. Throughout your adult life you will have plenty of opportunities to give up on your dreams to settle for a good job, to settle for a good relationship and to settle for a good life. Don’t do it. We only have one life and it's a short one. Don’t settle for what’s easy, fight for what’s worth it.
Mark Twain said it best:
Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.