Last Monday I hit the beginning of my late-twenties and started to think about life lessons.
I find it difficult to comprehend that I was 18 years old eight years ago. Family photos show the quick transition from boyish complection to manhood. Time stops for no man; the years are racing.
For me right now, life is a treasure chest of opportunities. Whether that is translated through my appreciation of philosophy, joy of reading, understanding of the arts (yes, I’ll include heavy metal in this category!). After years of curiosity, I’m even turning my hand to amateur photography for the first time.
Whilst an enthusiast for life, I’ve also experienced some tough life lessons. Losing a close-friend, turmoil of relationships as people transitioned from university, the depression of being stuck in a job that wasn’t right. Sadly, natural parts of life and more to come.
At the end of the day does age matter? Not in my eyes. It’s your attitude, thoughts, and actions that really count. In my head is an excited eight-year-old chasing dreams and the surly older man who is told that he thinks beyond his years.
So in a similar style as Stephen Waddington’s wise observations from middle-age, I’ve contributed some of my own life lessons below. Broadly categorised into the main things that matter in life; purpose, relationships, career, learning, approaching life.
Perhaps when I hit middle-age some of my approaches to life will change? I’m still learning. The below shows where some of my thinking currently stands.
#1 Live for pleasure
The primary form of intrinsic good in life is pleasure. It’s safe to be directed by a hedonistic lifestyle if it operates within ethical guidelines.
#2 Be lead by convictions
The most turbulent personal years was when I hadn’t formed my own convictions. Be true to what you believe in and put this before everything else.
#3 Freedom of enquiry
Be thankful that you live in a liberal society and don’t be afraid to approach life as a sceptic.
#4 Be inspired by others, but don’t imitate
When it comes to role models, life is full of potentials. Be inspired but don’t try being somebody you’re not. Perfect yourself.
#5 Challenge perceptions of success
Your life is not an advertisement; material gain will not bring you happiness. Your journey through life might be a mess, you will have to work hard.
#6 You’re never an expert
I’m certainly not.
#7 You’re not singular
Where possible put yourself before others, act as a couple and contribute to your communities and society. Self-obsession makes life impossible.
#8 Build bridges
Do not burn them. Treat people as you would like to be treated. Don’t let emotion overcome you in difficult situations.
#9 Keep calm. Carry on.
You’ll meet lots of different people through life. Don’t count your friends, value the relationships you have.
#10 Do what you love
This goes back to #1 ‘live for pleasure’. You’ll spend almost ¾ of your life working, make sure you enjoy it (this is the secret to success).
#11 Beyond money
Whilst it’s not always possible, try to think of money as an outcome of enjoying work. This is challenging in the entry-level roles of a career, but I’m certain it makes a difference. Being motivated by money alone is not attractive.
#12 Be prepared to work
Nothing in life comes for free, you have to work for it. Rather than aim for the successes in life, think about what you’re willing to struggle for. Do you want a big salary? Then be prepared to work through late nights for it.
Everyone is different. Everyone knows something you don’t. Don’t be quick to pass judgement, you have no idea what people are dealing with behind the scenes.
#14 We’re all human
We all face the struggles of life. We’re all naked under our clothes. When things get tough, realise that the world is much bigger than the contained situation you’re dealing with. I find perspective alleviates stress.
#15 Learn something new each day
Try to learn something new each day. No, Google is cheating. Actually talk to people and leave the confines of the home and office. True learning is through experience.
#16 Never give up
Nothing was worse than struggling with dyslexia as a child, but having a passion for reading and writing. It was frustrating, but I beat it. Today I manage and almost hide my dyslexic traits entirely. How? I can recognise the way I think and know the mistakes I make.
#17 Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
I’m not telling you to mess up a multi-million company merger. Just don’t be afraid to try new things, receive advice from others, and build on your abilities. Learn from your mistakes, create something incredible.
Stop talking. Listen. You’ll learn a lot.
#19 By guided by passion
In life I’m a child lost in a sweet shop, chasing interests and being guided by curiosity. Let your learning be guided by your passions.
Technology has merged our careers with personal life, try to keep these separated. Use the off button, otherwise what’s the point in living?
#21 Dealing with hardship
Life can be difficult; some situations are tough to understand. Stay true to yourself and eventually try to use experiences to help others. That’s why I made the decision to contribute this post to CALM last year.
You’re not giving up by letting others support you. Always be willing to support others. The human race is biologically one big family.
There is a difference between action and intention. Make things happen in life, otherwise you’re just speaking empty words.
#24 Look after yourself
Sadly, we’re not immortal and the decisions we make with our health today may impact the rest of our lives. I’m still trying to look after my body better.
Without love, life is not possible. Nurture love, try not to understand its complexities, but appreciate it.
See beyond your age. Don’t let it sway your approach to life.