This post is part of a LinkedIn series in which we share lessons for this month’s theme If I Were 22. Here is what I shared on a recent LinkedIn post…
If you had a time machine and you travelled back to the age of 22, what would you do differently in your life?
What steps, actions or decisions would you have made that may have taken your life on a completely different path to where you are today?
I’ve been thinking about this question and asked my friends and family the same question.
While everyone stops, reflects and smiles to themselves as they recall their youth, many mentioned that every choice they made was the right choice at the time for what they have achieved and where they are today.
“Sure, I did some stupid things but that’s part of growing up!” they added.
So it got me thinking.
When I was 22 I had completed my university degree that was sponsored by the military. After helping me fund my science degree, the time had come to return my obligation by serving as an officer in the Royal Australian Navy for four years.
At 22, four years seemed like a lifetime and a world away from my family, friends, and comforts of home. On the horizon was a life of travel, adventure, and new possibilities.
Knowing what I know now, if I could go back in time and whisper some advice into the ears of my 22-year-old self, here’s what I would say:
Be Continually Learning
“One of the best things that you could do for yourself is to be continually learning. I know you’ve just finished university studies and the last thing you want to do is to go back there. (Besides, you won’t be able to afford the university fees but that’s another story). By education I mean self-education. Have an open and curious mind, be open to new opportunities that come your way and volunteer for as many projects that you can that will expose you to different people, ideas, and experiences. Most of all, start building your networks now and stop hanging out with people who are exactly like you.
Become Financially Savvy
“One of the best things you can do today is to educate yourself on how to manage your finances and build a nest egg for the future. It may mean you will need to work harder initially. It may mean that you won’t buy those new shoes or technical gadget however the savings you would have accrued will give you a buffer for the times when you may need it the most.
And trust me, you’re going to need it.
Pursue Your Creative Talents
“In the future, you’re going to wish you had more time to pursue your creative talents that you placed on the back burner because you thought that you couldn’t make a career or find paid work in the creative space. Remember those journals you started writing for many years? Stick with them. Your journal writing will help in your work because you would have picked up the critical future skill of self-reflection. Also, use your time to make something, build something, create something – with your own hands, heart and mind.
In the future, it’s people’s creativity and their unique perspectives, skills, and talents that will set them apart from others in the world of work.
The Career Ladder is Broken
“Don’t always listen to your parents advice when it comes to employment suggestions. They lived in a different time, a different world. The world you will see in the future is one in which is constantly changing. You think it’s all about doing good work and being promoted up the career ladder working for one organisation until retirement. This is not the case. In the future, there’s no such thing as a career ladder. This will rattle you. There will be times you feel insecure, uncertain and anxious. You will question why you spend years in education when you cannot be guaranteed of secure employment. Knowing this now, use every job, project or experience as a learning experience.
I’d recommend you start writing about what you’re learning and working on and sharing these publicly through a blog. The sooner the better.
Use Your Time Wisely
“In the future, it will feel that you’re running out of time. In fact, people will be saying this to you as an excuse much of the time. Don’t listen to them. Everyone has 24 hours in a day, 7 days a week but it’s up to us to decide how we spend it. Don’t fall into the trap of making excuses that you ran out of time too. Instead, own up to the truth because you chose to do unproductive “busy” work that added little to no value such as reading and responding to emails, attending meetings, playing mindless games on your phone, trawling through social media for hours on end or binge-watching reality shows and television serials. All because these were easier to do rather than face the real task at hand that required a personal commitment.
You have time, use it wisely.
Spend Time With Positive People; Let Go of the Negative People in Your Life
Unfortunately you’re going to meet some people in your life who will attempt to bring you down. Some of these may be your friends, family, fellow workers or your bosses. Don’t take their comments to heart and certainly don’t let negative and jealous people judge you. Spend more time with the people who make you feel happy and joyful and reduce the time you spend with others that suck the energy out of you.
Don’t feel guilty of letting go of negative people in your life.
Question, Question, Question
Don’t be naive and take everything on face value. In the future, we will have abundant information been thrown at us by advertisers and media agencies. Start getting into the habit of questioning everything. Learn to think critically and analyse the information provided so that you may understand the real intent of the message.
Go beyond the first page on Google. What’s Google? Never mind. This will make sense to you in the near future.
So that’s what I would have said to my 22-year-old self.
What would you have said?
Interested in your thoughts so please share. Even better, write your own post on If I Were 22.