10 Things I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me When I Was 18

Some of the best advice any young person—or any person, period—can get and take is to “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” Most great advice is blunt and to the point, so it seems. With this in mind, please read the list below for more advice that could have helped you out immensely in the past, but that can still help you a great deal in the present and future as well.

10 Things I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me When I Was 18

1: Meaning is created—not found.

To put it another way, decide your own path in life—don’t wait for it to present itself. If you’re active and assertive, you’re bound to make it somewhere you want to, but if you’re hesitant and passive, there’s virtually no chance that proper ambitions will formulate and accomplish themselves.

2: Human beings are constantly growing and evolving.

It’s always possible to be happier because there are usually countless ways of experiencing new and different happiness. What’s more, sometimes this better or different kind of happiness can be obtained by doing something as simple as writing a gratitude journal or reading a truly perspective-altering book.

3: Advice is a powerful gift.

So you should be extremely grateful to people who provide you with sound advice—but you should be deadly careful of who you take advice from. Ultimately, you’re the only person who has to deal with your own decisions in their entirety, so you should make sure that you always do what you think is right so you can truly own your actions.

4: Passions can be many and varying.

Although the concept makes for some great movies and books, there is no need to have one fateful passion in life, that shapes your life and your every decision. It’s perfectly fine to just go with the flow and to drop interests naturally and pickup others as you happen to see fit. There’s nothing wrong with just being curious in general, as Elizabeth Gilbert argues: “If you can let go of ‘passion’ and follow your curiosity, your curiosity just might lead you to your passion.”

5: Experiences are far more valuable than material goods.

What’s more, the memories of experiences are infinitely more valuable than the memory of material goods—especially when the people and the goods themselves begin to physically wither away.

6: Live in the present much more than in the past or the future.

Human beings can’t change the past, the future is always somewhat uncertain, and the future is constantly becoming the present regardless, so the most productive thing that people can do is clearly to focus on the moment and the day as opposed to the past or the future.

7: Take stock of means and ends.

Vishen Lakhiani made a video explaining end goals and means goals; end goals define an outcome that you desire 100%, while means goals define more general targets like your amount of annual income. Keeping track of which of your goals fits into which category can help you keep track of what you’re really striving for most.

8: It’s who you know—not what you know.

This is another case of an old cliché being 100% true. Well, maybe not 100%–but very true, indeed. In life, personal connections and relationships tends to get one further than slightly above average grade point averages and standardized test scores do.

9: Human beings are always trying harder than you think they are.

Do you ever wonder how it’s possible that people can underappreciate you so much or not realize how many things you do for them (and how well you do them)? Well, pretty much everyone else thinks the same things about themselves, and most of them are right to think this. With this in mind, try not to get angry when someone is rude or pessimistic—they just might have things exponentially worse than you do.

10: Always be cognizant of why you’re doing something.

You’ll probably find that you have a lot more power over your own life than you’ve realized, and that you have a lot more choice in life than you’ve realized. Most people don’t say “no” enough; doing so might be hard and painful at first, but the extra enjoyment you experience from being able to spend more of your time doing things that you genuinely enjoy will far outweigh any initial negativity in the long run. Steve Jobs once said that, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something—your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

Much of life is chance—but much is within your own control, as well.

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