They say the best way to learn is simply by making mistakes. If that's the case, I’m life’s valedictorian.
The past few years haven’t been easy. In fact, the years between 20 and 25 have felt somewhat akin to stumbling through a pitch-black cave, basically blind, barefoot and with no flashlight.
Fortunately, my eyes gradually adjusted to the darkness, and I’ve become a bit wiser along this admittedly awkward journey.
I’ve learned a lot, and it runs much deeper than putting a portion of every paycheck in savings and avoiding shots of Fireball from strangers.
Sometimes, I wish I could go back and do things differently, but then, I remember I still have a good five years left to practice these realizations.
Live by the following advice, and maybe, just maybe, you will be able to dodge some of the disappointments I've had to experience.
Trust your instincts.
Sure, there will be times when your first feeling about a certain person or situation will be wrong. But, those instances will occur significantly less often than the times when your hunch is actually correct.
When something you’re doing feels wrong, it probably is. When someone seems shady, he or she likely is. Our perceptions are typically a lot keener than we often realize.
In fact, a study by professor Gerard Hodgkinson at Leeds University Business School found that trusting your intuition has the potential to prevent catastrophes.
Hodgkinson's team of researchers concluded that your brain actually bases intuition on past experiences and external clues. Because your reaction to these factors happens at a rapid, subconscious level, you aren’t aware of them, which is why you can’t come up with reasons for why you feel a certain way.
The only thing worse than feeling let down is realizing that you could have avoided it. So, just listen to your gut in order to waste much less time on people and situations that aren’t worth the trouble.
This piece of advice should apply to almost every area of your life: work, relationships, the food you put in your body and even the brands of alcohol you consume. Being selective pays off.
Obviously, there’s such a thing as having unrealistic standards. Otherwise, there’s no reason not to be choosy when it comes to those with whom you surround yourself or what job offer you take.
You won't just be handed what you deserve because life doesn’t work that way. It’s up to you to figure out when to pass on a potential partner because he or she isn't good enough and when to ditch a job because you're capable of something better.
Your 20s can be overwhelming, so it’s easy to go into cruise control and let things happen as they will. Every decision you make right now, however, could make a big difference down the line. It's okay to be picky because, ultimately, doing so will pay off.
Patience is not always a virtue.
In many situations, patience is helpful, like when you’re stuck in traffic in LA or waiting in line at the DMV. Aside from situations in which you have close to no control, however, it’s good to be a bit impatient.
Miserable at your 9 to 5? Haven’t heard back from the hiring manager about that job that’s basically made for you? Waiting for your significant other to get it together?
If there’s one thing I’ve figured out in the past few years, it’s that you cannot expect change to happen. It’s up to you to make it happen. Being proactive is among the most rewarding things you can do for yourself.
Regardless of whether you get what you want, it's helpful to have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you did everything you possibly could. Sure, good things sometimes come to those who wait, but even better things happen for those who go after what they want.
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