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I’m 30 years old, and I’ve made my fair amount of mistakes in my life. I’m not a big believer in regrets … and I have learned a lot from every single mistake and to this date my life is great.
However, there are a few things I wish I had known when I was graduating from high school and heading out as an adult in life.

Would I change things? Hmm…I’m not so sure. I might never have gotten into a mountain of credit card debt, but then I wouldn’t have learned the amazing satisfaction of getting out of it. I might have made better career choices, but then I wouldn’t have all the work experience that makes me the Senior FedEx CSR and blogger that I am today.

I might not left my parents home to go rent a single studio apartment at $600.00 a month …but then I wouldn’t know how it is to live my own and how to budget my money.

I don’t think I would change any of that. However, looking back, there are some lessons I’ve learned that I would probably tell my 18-year-old self. Do I share them now to share my regrets? No, I share them in hopes that younger men and women, just starting out in life, can benefit from my mistakes and my lessons.

What follows isn’t a thorough list, but it’s one that I hope proves useful to at least a few people.

Control my impulse spending. If there’s anything that got me in trouble financially, its impulse spending. Buying clothes when I don’t need them. Buying gadgets because I gotta have them. Ordering stuff online because it’s so easy. These days I’ve learned to control my impulses, at least a little better. Now, I give myself some time to breathe. I think over my purchases, see if I’ve got the money, think about whether it’s a need or a want. That would have been a useful tool 15 years ago.

You gotta stay active. I was in cricket, cross country and basketball in high school, but once I started working, the running and basketball began to slowly fade away. Not right away — I played pick-up basketball for years after high school. But even that went away, until I became inactive. Playing with my friends outdoors winded me. Am very active now, but I’m still trying to as fit as was in high school.

How to plan finances. I always knew that I was supposed to budget and track my spending, when I became an adult and decide to rent my first apartment. I just was too lazy to do it. And I didn’t have a good idea of how to actually do it. Now, I’ve learned how to plan, and how to stick to that plan. Sure, I deviate from my plan, but I’ve learned how to handle that too. Maybe that’s not a skill you can learn from book reading. You just gotta practice. Well, I hope to teach it to my children before they go out on their own.

Watching TV is a huge, huge waste of time. I don’t know how much TV I’ve watched over the years, but most of it is just crap – except sports of course. Hours and days and weeks I’ll never have back. Who cares what happens on reality TV, when reality is slipping by outside? Time is something you’ll never get back — don’t waste it on TV.

Bacardi white run is seriously evil. I won’t go into details, but it should suffice to say that I had some bad experiences, and I’m not sure I learned very much from them or benefited in any way except to learn that Bacardi is the drink of the Devil.

Here is a bonus! 😀

Forget the Daily drama. Focus on being happy. There have been many things that have happened to me, professionally and personally, that seem like the end of the world. And while these things were bad, they get blown up in our heads so that they become major drama. They caused me to be depressed from time to time. What a waste of time. If I realized that it was all in my head and that I could be happy instead if I focused on the positive, on what I did have, and what I could be doing … I could have skipped all the moping about.

All these mistakes you’re going to make, despite this advice? 🙂 They’re worth it. My 18-year-old self would maybe have read this post and said, “Good advice!” And then he would have proceeded to make the same mistakes, despite good intentions. I was a good kid, but I wasn’t good at following advice. I had to make my own mistakes, and live my own life. And that’s what I did, and I don’t regret a minute of it. Every experience I’ve had (even the barcardi ones) have led me down the path of life to where I am today. I love where I am today, and wouldn’t trade it for the world. The pain, the stress, the drama, the hard work, the mistakes, the depression, the hangovers, the debt… it was all worth it.

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2 Comments »

Comment by Dan
2008-04-03 11:03:52

Very open and honest introspection, Chris. Many of us are smart when we are young, but few of us are wise when young. In fact, the inability of the young to wisely accept the experience-based advice of elders is known as the “generation gap”.

Like you, I’m content now, and recognize some folly from my youth. I accept what I can’t change, but wish I’d been wiser then.

 
Comment by MoonLae Subscribed to comments via email
2008-04-04 07:54:39

Hmmm..I’m super dramatic 😳 .Maybe it’s time to smile a little! :mrgreen:

 
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