I sometimes dream about one day being able to take a time machine back to 2003 on my first day of the 7th grade so I could reassure myself that everything was going to be OK. I then would proceed to give myself a sports almanac from my time so that I could become a millionaire by the time I was in my 20’s.
All kidding aside, I think we all have certain things we wish someone would have told us when we were younger.
For me, I definitely have a laundry list of things, but here are four life lessons that I would have wanted to know.
1. College Isn’t Always Necessary to be Successful
If I had a nickel for every time I heard that I needed to go to college to be successful, I wouldn’t even come close to paying off my student loans.
While a college degree is viewed by many as the pinnacle of success, several of the most successful people today either dropped out of college, never went to college, or went to college but don’t really use their degree.
A few examples include Mark Zuckerberg, creator of Facebook, who dropped out of Harvard his sophomore year; Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, who dropped out of school altogether at 16; and Pat Flynn, founder of SmartPassiveIncome.com, who graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture from Berkeley but after being laid off started his own online business in 2008.
Now, don’t get me wrong, college is a fantastic place that can provide a person with exceptional opportunities.
If my child wanted to go to college, I would do everything in my power to make it happen.
However, the idea that college is always a prerequisite to success is a myth, and many successful people today are proof of that.
I personally don’t regret going to college, as that’s where I met my fiancée, but I would explain to my younger self that college isn’t always needed to be successful despite what people might tell us.
With as many opportunities as there are today, many people are able to build successful businesses for themselves by being smart and not losing focus.
2. Play Less Video Games and Spend More Time Learning
I won’t lie: I am the master of Super Smash Bros. on the Nintendo 64.
Hands down (proof).
I spent more hours on that game than I can even begin to fathom, but if I would have spent even half of that time on things like learning entrepreneurship, business, wellness, writing, etc., I would have saved myself a lot of time and energy that could have been spent elsewhere.
Of course, I don’t regret being the master of Super Smash Bros., but if I could I would explain to my younger self that while video games are awesome, gaining valuable knowledge is far more awesome and can propel us to do amazing things in our lives.
3. Develop Your Creativity and Never Stop Dreaming
When we were children, all we did was create.
We built rocket ships, sailboats, forts, and imagined we were cowboys, pirates, and astronauts.
We wrote stories, invented things, and dared to dream the impossible like traveling to space or exploring the depths of the Mariana Trench.
Did any of us have to learn how to do these things?
No, it just seemed to come naturally.
Many people lose touch with their creative side after they’re told to “grow up” and eventually start working a desk job where they wonder how the heck creative geniuses like Steve Jobs or Elon Musk are able to do what they do.
It’s easy: they never stopped dreaming.
If I could, I would teach my younger self to always value their creativity, never stop dreaming, and let their imagination run wild with possibilities.
4. Spend More Time With the Ones You Love
After my grandpa died of cancer in April 2010, I realized how short this life is and how valuable our time spent with the ones we love truly is.
The last thing he said to me before he slipped into a coma on his hospital bed was, “I love you”, and as I left his room a new sense of purpose began to form in me as I desired to make every moment count not only for me but for the ones I loved.
Time is the most valuable asset we have, and spending it wisely can spell the difference between a life lived to the fullest and a life filled with regrets.
If I could, I would explain to my younger self that life is precious and should be spent with the ones we love and cherish.
We should find time each day to tell the ones we love how much they mean to us because we never know when they will draw their last breath and say, “I love you.”
Living a life of regrets is never a healthy way to live, but self-reflection like this can help us recognize how far we’ve come in our lives and give us valuable insight that we can teach our children as they discover life the same way we did growing up.