Ten Things I Wish I Knew When I Was 18

As we endure the substantial changes of adolescence, we all make mistakes. Having progressed through our teen and college years, most of us, upon reflecting on our past, look back on some of our mistakes with shame. "How could I have done this?", you might ask yourself.

I came to the same conclusion when I came of age and compiled a list of ten things I wish I had known when I was younger, hopefully to aid some of our younger readers.

10. Always be cordial and cooperative

Surprise, surprise!

You cannot succeed in the work force if you cannot cooperate and collaborate with others. These projects were more effective in teaching us about how much we hate everyone else than how to coordinate ideas. But unfortunately, there will be numerous occasions where we are forced to take on tasks we cannot handle alone. And even though you might be more productive when working on your own, you have to learn how to take the opinions of others into consideration and compensate for one another’s shortcomings and strengths.

9. When you half-ass a job, it will come back to haunt you

One of the easiest ways to lose your job is to force your boss to have to clean up after you. You were given this work for a reason—your boss did not feel like doing this work and assigned it to you. And there is nothing more annoying for an employer than to pass off work and still have to spend time completing it.

But another thing that can be detrimental to your work life is being unable to explain how you come to your conclusions. When presenting your work to your boss, you do not want to appear like a complete imbecile and be unable to explain yourself in an articulate manner. It is not only important to demonstrate that we finished something, but how we finished it.

8. Do not bad mouth your superiors

As a child, talking back to your teacher could get you into a lengthy detention sentence. Talking back to your parents? Well that can land you a lengthy beating coupled with an even lengthier grounding sentence.  But when you are an adult, speaking too candidly with your boss could have a much worse effect. Talking back to your boss could make you homeless in a matter of weeks.

Despite the fact that your employer might be a complete imbecile, an unfortunate part of life is that until you are the boss, you will be forced to listen to someone and pretend to be cordial. And that goes even when you know that your boss is an absolute douchebag. We have to be respectful, deferent, and show that we are capable of taking and incorporating advice and corrections.

When you think about it, is truly that important to tell your boss how you feel when it could cost you your job? Weigh the costs and benefits. Oftentimes, it is best to hold your tongue for the sake of your career and livelihood.

7. Remain organized

Now many of us young entrepreneurs might have skated along due to our natural intellect, but organization is key. Even if your personal style is reminiscent of a “last minute Larry”, it is difficult to deny that keeping yourself at least mildly organized will benefit you in many ways. You will be able to think more clearly, work more efficiently, and generally feel better about yourself as your mind becomes less cluttered.

Cleanliness is next to godliness, my friends, and this is important to understand when entering the work force. Do you think your boss truly is not passing judgment when he stumbles upon your desk littered with papers, old coffee cups, and incomplete assignments? Of course he is. He is taking note of all of your actions, and even though you may work best under pressure, we all slip up from time to time.

The difference is when you are organized and make a mistake, it seems out of the ordinary. When you are disorganized and make a mistake it appears as if this is routine behavior. Even if you do not possess the ability to be completely organized, at least make sure that your boss does not know you as unambitious or disorganized.

6. Expect the unexpected and always be prepared

There was no worse feeling in school than arriving in class and realizing that you completely forgot to do a major homework assignment. Well, maybe those occasions where you completely forgot that you had a test that day. I have had quite a few of those situations. And if you thought the backlash and resulting effects from those situations were bad, wait until you have to inform your employer that you were unable to complete your assignment by the deadline.

Your employer will be much less accommodating with extensions than your college American Politics professor would be. You really do not want to be that one guy who showed up to the meeting unprepared. One of the easiest ways to prevent this is by always being prepared. And while you may think that your mental calendar is reliable, it would be prudent to have a location—be it your phone or an actual physical calendar—where you can jot down important dates and events to remind yourself.

We all forget on occasion, and some of us have a tendency to forget things quite often. But if you are forward thinking and compensate for your weaknesses, you can become much stronger. Just because you are prone to procrastinate does not mean you have to do so.

5. Always take the initiative to succeed

Only you can increase your self worth and better yourself. There is no way for others to artificially bolster the way you feel about yourself; the strength to believe in yourself comes from within. Do you think the world’s most powerful individuals achieved their lofty status by believing they could not make it?

Have you really deluded yourself into believing that perpetuating the cycle of depression initiated by your sullen mindset will benefit you in any way? Probably not, but you have yet to break free from it either. So how do you make the necessary changes? You must take the initiative to succeed, transcending the clutches of your mental prison and hastily regaining your faith in yourself.

4. Mistakes help you find yourself

When we make mistakes, we learn about our weaknesses, our limits, our strengths, and our capabilities. Making mistakes helps us discern what we are truly talented at from what we desire to be skilled in.

3.  Embrace fear

Big surprise: Not making a mistake is the biggest mistake you can make. While we are driven to strive for perfection, it is oftentimes unattainable. You should not spend your entire life seeking to avoid making a mistake, but seeking out a way to accept that mistakes are inevitable and best learn from them. Let go of your fears and allow yourself to really experience life.

2. Always live without regrets

While this may seem surprising at first, if you are always cautious you will actually regret it more than if you had taken risks. Well, calculated risks, that is. We are not recommending that you make irrational decisions, but if there is room to gamble when you can win big, you might want to take that risk.

If you solely play it safe you will constantly regret not taking risks and passing up potential opportunities. Consider Digg, who got offered $200 million and decided to hold out. These guys decided to play it safe and wait for a better offer instead of taking a risk, and look what that got them: a substantially smaller offer.

1. Always be bold

If you live in fear, you are only limiting yourself. Allowing opportunities to pass you because you have hesitated will hurt you in the end. One must always be bold and willing to put themselves at the forefront of the action. If you can force yourself to be bold and take the initiative to ensure that a job is completed, you will be able to succeed.