“You only have to do very few things right in your life so long as you don’t do too many things wrong.” – Warren Buffett
Here are some things that I would tell my 20-year old self. Try them on for yourself and see if they fit. Each of us has to create our own credo and this happens to be mine. It is my wish that this betters your life in some way.
Decide your life path as you would your dinner
Before I go out to eat, I usually spend 5 minutes exploring my options. Dinner itself might take another 90 minutes. This would be the equivalent of spending 2.5 years over a 45-year career deciding on what you want to do and who you want to be. The former seems perfectly logical, yet the same logic seldom carries over to our lives and career. Spending any length of time, let alone 2.5 years to discovering oneself seems utterly uninquisitive, and it is one of life’s tragedies that more people don’t devote more of themselves to self-discovery.
Three questions to help you find your bearing
To begin on the path of self-discovery, consider how you might answer these three questions:
- Where do you live?
- Who are you with?
- What do you do?
1. Where should you live?
We are born into an amazing world at an amazing time. When it comes to choosing where to live, consider placing yourself in the centre of the waterfall. That is, where all the action is.
Do you aspire to be an entrepreneur? Then pack up and move to Singapore or Silicon Valley. Do you just want to get rich quick? Then haul your ass to New York or Hong Kong and have your go at money mastery. Do you want a steady job that offers maximum security? Australia might be the place for you.
2. Who do you want to surround yourself with?
Evolution dictates that you are the average of the five people you hang out most with. So pick your support crew with great care and diligence. Surround yourself with a network of like-minded people who share in your values and beliefs. Remove yourself from an environment that spreads contempt, cynicism or negativity. As you become of value to others, continue to learn under those you respect and those who are more capable and experienced than you. Somewhere in that mix, devote yourself to the education of love and in finding a life partner who will be your greatest source of joy and lovingness.
3. What are you going to do?
Aw, if it isn’t the billionaire-dollar question that puzzles the millennials and corporates alike.
First, picking the right direction is far more important than how much force you apply. It’s not that complicated. If you’re just getting started and you aspire to be a miner, a mechanic or a truck driver, you’ll be lucky if you still have a job in a decade. Doesn’t matter how hard you’re willing to work, it’s a bad move. Instead, pick a growing industry and begin there.
Second, don’t get caught up in any long-term goals. Strive to be yourself and make your work and your goals conform to you. Let me explain why setting long-term goals don’t usually contribute to your well being. In the words of Hunter S. Thompson, “The tragedy of life – is that we seek to understand the goal and not the man. We set up a goal which demands of us certain things; and we do these things…[But] every man is the sum total of his reactions to experience. As your experiences differ and multiply, you become a different man, and hence your perspective changes.”
“So it would seem foolish, would it not, to adjust our lives to the demands of a goal we see from a different angle every day? To put our faith in tangible goals would seem to be, at best, unwise. [Because] we do not strive to be fireman, we do not strive to be bankers, nor policemen, nor doctors. WE STRIVE TO BE OURSELVES.”
Wouldn’t it be better if we make the goal conform to us instead? This way, we will have dedicated a way of life we KNOW we will enjoy. The goal becomes secondary: it is the functioning toward the goal that matters. Decide how you want to live and then see what you can do to make a living within that way of life. You may say, “I don’t know where to look; I don’t know what to look for.” But by even deciding to look, you go a long way toward making the choice.
The external path is inevitable, just don’t forget to return to the internal path
Most of us don’t heed the advice of those who’ve been to the mountaintop and back. Jim Carrey famously said, “I wish everyone could get rich and famous and have everything they ever dreamed of so they would know that’s not the answer.” An easy thing for Jim Carrey to say of course.
The truth is, we can’t help ourselves. We have to do the external thing anyway. We have to try to succeed, we have to fail, earn lots of money, lose lots of money, experience power and success, before we can then return on the internal path of self-discovery. It is my sincerest hope that we all manage to find our way back before the sun sets.