Many people go through life unconsciously. Sorta like sleepwalking.
This “sleepwalking” is counteracted through discipline and conscious action.
Why should I even care about this?
That’s the thing. You don’t have to.
You can just keep mulling about life as you please.
But know that there’s a certain set of purposeful actions that all great men and women have done to go beyond themselves. One of the first actions? They laid a foundation for themselves in their 20s.
The twentysomething brain is VERY easily influenced. Think of it like wet clay. Yes, science has shown that the human brain is making connections all the time.
The twentysomething brain is shooting off and making neural connections at an astounding rate. That means we have an incredible capability for learning new skills, habits, tempraments, and so forth. That’s why change happens a lot during these years.
It’s so easy to change habits because they’re not too deeply entrenched. So if you want to change something about yourself, the time to do it is definitely NOW.
These habits are my conclusions after seeing, hearing, reading, and experiencing things that lead to either success or failure.
This is not a definitive list by any means, but it will definitely give you that slight edge that can make all the difference.
If you’re reading this, I’m going to guess three things:
- You live in America (or a first world country)
- You have all of your needs provided for (food, shelter, clothing)
- You are reasonably healthy
Compared to the rest of the world population, you have nothing to complain about. I’ve seen how the other side lives. I’ve peered into the abyss. It’s not pretty.
Take every opportunity to see the good. Take every opportunity to live in the present moment.
Whenever I find myself being negative, I think to myself: it could be a lot worse.
2. Continuous Learning
If you take away anything from this list, I hope it’s this. The world is too vast to not be learning about something new. How do most people usually learn? Through books and reading.
Did you know that 33% of high school graduates never read another book in their lives? I don’t know how plausible that is but if it has any grain of truth to it, that’s really fucking scary.
Of course, the ways in which we consume information has changed and is changing, but books (especially those in print) remain the foundation of how we gain knowledge.
Not only that, but books are incredible because you can learn things that the author of that book has learned (usually over a lifetime of experience) in a few hours. How incredible is that?
Now…there’s a lot of garbage out there. But there’s some incredible books that can absolutely, positively change your life.
I’m just going to cut right to the heart of the matter: a lot of people give up pursuits pretty early on. I don’t know whether this is from discouragement or wanting to get incredibly quick success.
Either way, it’s a shame because there’s a lot of great things that would have happened if that person kept on going. Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without any lack of enthusiasm.
What if Mark Zuckerberg decided to stop with his idea for Facebook?
What if Thomas Edison decided to quit when trying to figure out the lightbulb?
What if George Washington decided to quit at Valley Forge?
All of these men had a strong reason. A strong “why”. This “why” propelled them through the hardest of times.
What’s your “why”?
A lot of us millennials are too distracted. We’re the first generation to have not grown up throughout our teen years without any of the instant gratification that surrounds us. As a result, we have scattered attention. Multitasking is the new normal.
Think about a magnifying glass. When it is focused on an specific area, it is able to scorch whatever it’s focused on. The same goes for your attention. Where you put your focus grows in prominence.
You can absolutely incinerate everything in your path with focused attention. The question is: will you?
Start by trying to focus on accomplishing one important task for the day. Don’t stop until that’s done. Move to the next.
Or, if you have many things to do: set a timer. Set a timer for half an hour or so and don’t stop until that timer is done. Don’t check your phone. Don’t browse the Internet. Put your entire focus on that task for that half hour.
I’ve also found that meditation has made a MASSIVE impact on my ability to concentrate for long periods of time.
To meditate, you don’t need anything fancy. Just sit up straight, close your eyes, and concentrate on your breath for as long as you can. 20 minutes is good, 30 minutes is better. An hour is the best. You don’t need to do it for too long, though.
If you have trouble with this, work up to 20 minute meditations. Meditate for 1 minute the first day. Move it up a minute the next day. In 19 days, you will have worked up to 20 minutes. Repeat until you get to 30 minutes.
You will immediately notice the difference after a couple of days of doing this.
Do unto others as you would like done unto you. The Golden Rule exists for a reason.
Empathy is the ability to place yourself in someone else’s shoes. A lot of the problems we have today is failure to see something from a different perspective.
Developing the ability to give people the benefit of the doubt will help you many times in tons of professional situations, especially if you want to be a leader. People will let you down for various reasons. Accept it with the best of intentions and move on.
Do not mistake this for sympathy. These are completely different emotions.
6. Financial Understanding
You don’t have to be an economic genius to have a good understanding about money. A lot of it is common sense when it comes to the basics. Save money for emergencies, watch your spending, try to get a good ROI on purchases… this is all simple stuff. It’s all easy to do.
Then why is the savings rate in America less than 5%? Simple. It’s easy not to do.
Why bother save up when you can have it right now?
With student loan and credit card debts at all time highs, THIS is the time for millennials to know how to wisely use their money.
Do you know what an APR is? What about APY? Do you know what a 401K does?
Nothing of value was every accomplished by one person alone. Most of the things we value and cherish came about by teams. It takes a lot of discipline to work within a team and leave your own ego on the shelf.
If there is one “habit” that you can take away from this list, it’s to know how to work within teams. For most young people, this will be at work.
Business objectives are only accomplished when people are able to join together and combine their individual talents, experiences, and knowledge towards a unified purpose. Part of the reason why many companies and ideas fail is because of poor teamwork.
More often than not, you will most likely be starting at the bottom. You will be given grunt work. Do it with a smile. It all contributes to the larger vision of the organization at large.
Learning to work within teams is a valuable skill because it teaches you to reach common objectives with people of different personality types and it teaches you how to resolve inevitable conflicts.
When working in/on a team, always do more than what you’re paid for. Go all out. Over-deliver. Develop the mindset of a craftsman.
You’re probably saying “I don’t work for free” or something along those lines.
Ah…but you aren’t working for free. You’re gaining more on the backend by increasing your ability to be efficient and develop a strong work ethic. This is another long game investment that you’re putting in and will serve you massively down the road.
Think of it as another form of self-development.
There’s a reason the saying “cleanliness is next to godliness” exists. No one likes anything that’s unkempt.
That goes for physical hygiene, personal surroundings, general organization, etc.
Cleanliness creates order. Order creates clarity. Clarity creates a better life.
Stuff you don’t use, clothes you don’t wear, things you haven’t opened…that’s being unkempt.
Life is already chaotic enough. We don’t need more stuff we already don’t need.
After all, the things you own end up owning you.
9. Being Social
Social intelligence is a skill-set in and of itself. Knowing how to work a crowd, knowing how to talk with different people… those all add up.
Humans are social by nature and if you’re antisocial, you are denying a core tenet of your humanity. I’d know because I was fairly antisocial myself.
Charisma isn’t developed in your bedroom. Fear of public speaking isn’t overcome by talking to yourself. We all intuitively know this…but some people choose not to interact with people.
I’m not saying you have to be an extreme extrovert, but knowing how to talk to people and have good rapport is essential.
Start by smiling or saying “hi” to the next person you come in contact with. Talk with the cashier who’s checking you out at the store. Soon, all of these things will be automatic. Enthusiasm is infectious.
10. Developing a Long Time Perspective
Edward Banfield of Harvard University wanted to know what made certain people successful and other people not so successful. He eventually found out that the development of a long time perspective (playing the long game as I call it) was essential to success in life, however that individual defines it.
This should be pretty obvious. If someone doesn’t believe they’re going to be a huge success later in life, why would they go to the gym? Why would they not do drugs? Why would they not do illegal shit in general?
You need to see the future already finished in advanced. You have to believe that reading books, learning about self-development, keeping fit, and doing good stuff for yourself is going to make a difference. If not, then how in God’s name will you keep yourself motivated?
You have to see that you’re going to have a larger payoff from what you’re putting in now. It’s not about what happens now, but what happens 5.10,15 years down the road.
It’s like planting. You don’t harvest immediately after you plant the seeds. You have to wait many months. Same thing with results and success.
As I said before, developing good habits isn’t really that hard once you start to get the ball rolling. It’s just the initial push that’s so fucking difficult. It takes a ton of force to get a heavy object to start moving downhill. But once it goes… it goes baby. It’s locked in.
You have to start now. You have to realize that this will take time. But once you start to make these a part of how you go about the world, you will be way ahead of many people – who are being run by the day instead of running it themselves.