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20 things I wish I would I could go back and tell my 20 year old self

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Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

Looking back to my college years, there a whole slew of things I wish I would have known. Parents and other adults taught many of these things to me, but I refused to buy into them. Had my 35-year-old self visited me, I might have had a different perspective on things. Here is what I would tell my 20-year-old self if I could go back in time.

  1. Pick a major that sounds fun and interesting to you. Forget picking a major just because it seems like a good fit, or will offer a career that will make lots of money. True success will come when you pursue what you are passionate about.
  2. Start your own business, even if it’s selling lemonade on the corner of campus. Do something that will earn you extra income and teach you about running a business.
  3. Work fun and exciting jobs. Forget working at Wal-Mart, or that telemarketing firm. Get a job that excites you and that you are excited to walk into every day. Don’t settle for a J.O.B.
  4. Save Money. Plain and simple.
  5. Don’t have debt. Walk past those campus credit card reps. The free t-shirt is not worth it. They rip after a couple of washes anyway. Being slave to the lender is not fun. And avoid student loan debt too, if you can, unless you want to be paying that beast off for most of your adult life.
  6. Budget. Something I wish I would have been able to tell my 16-year-old self. Don’t just set theoretical budgets. Actually stick to them, and make sure savings is a part of that.
  7. Invest Money. Again, this goes along with the above, but saving money now will set you up for a way better retirement, even if you are only investing a small amount. It will yield far bigger results than starting to save in your late 30’s.
  8. Plan to retire early. Don’t buy into the idea that retirement occurs at 65, or when you have enough money saved. Start planning now, and you will be able to retire very early.
  9. Don’t plan on retiring! Sounds like a contradiction, but “retiring” simply allows you to pursue other jobs and business ventures with little risk and low stress. Setting yourself up for financial health early on will prepare you to live comfortably when you are older.
  10. Start giving generously early. Donate money to your church and local charities. If you don’t have giving as part of your budget early on it’s going to be harder to ad it in there as you start making more money, so start giving generously now.
  11. Eat healthy. Don’t eat so much fast food, make your own meals, and I don’t mean cheese sticks and pizza. Learn to cook tasty healthy meals, and don’t gorge. It made you 50lbs overweight.
  12. Exercise more. Remember that time that cute girl beat you at basketball? It was because you were winded and out of shape. So, run several times a week, lift weights, or go to the climbing gym. Get in shape, you will feel better, and be able to do more things.
  13.  Don’t smoke. I’m actually kidding. I enjoyed many of good conversations around a cigar, cheap cigarette or a pipe. Smoking creates a unique bond between men. My only regret now is smoking too much, and not giving it up sooner. This is something that definitely shouldn’t be a mainstay in ones life, but it’s not an evil that some people make it out to be.
  14. Really and truly don’t care what others think about you. It was easy for you to say, but deep down you were a people pleaser. Don’t listen to those lies and pursue your dreams, not what other people want you to do, or expect you to do.
  15. 15. Don’t stress over finding a mate. So much wasted time and mental energy can be spent pining over a certain girl, or surfing Internet dating sites. Stop it! Be you. Be bold. be brave! Enjoy life as you are, and take advantage of all the free time you have as a single person. Life will be much easier if you don’t stress over things that are not in your complete control.
  16. Develop a sense of fashion. Stop saying, “ I don’t care how I look” and act like a man. Dress nice, and learn what clothes work together. You will feel better and more confident the better you dress.
  17. Do what you want, not what makes sense. Taking the first job offered for 25K a year made a lot of sense at the time, but the 5+ years wasted there did not.  Pursue something that is going to make you happy and allow you to utilize your gifts and talents.
  18. Ignore conventional wisdom. Conventional wisdom tells you take the moderately paying “secure” government job, but truth of the matter is, no job is really secure. Moving across the country doesn’t sound like the wisest idea either, but truth be told, things always end up working out. So, pursue what you want, not what everybody else says you should do.
  19. REALLY, listen to your gut. This is something I haven’t been really in tune with until my 30’s, but if you have a bad feeling about something, it’s probably not a good idea…RUN.
  20. Get out doors more. Come out from behind the computer screen, get off Instant Messenger and get outside. Go for a walk, run, or swim. The outdoors are amazing and have far more to offer than a computer screen.



About Caleb

I'm the co-owner/founder of Bearded Brothers, an organic snackfood company. I love ultra running, rock climbing and cycling. I'm also a vegetarian, passionate about health and well-being.