I have been thinking about this for a while now, but I needed some time to decide how exactly to put this out there. I turned 19 yesterday, so I thought it would be a nice idea to share 19 pieces of advice, from the long list that I have. I know that there are people who have done this before, but maybe there is nothing wrong with hopping on a train once in a while. If you are interested, I could update this list now and then and add other useful advice that I get.
1. Find out who you are and what you are interested in
This is a big one, I know. We change a lot over our lifetime and every event or person in our life influences us in one or the other way. However, it is always good to have a general feeling of who you are or what you like or don’t like. This will make it a lot easier to make decisions with which you will be satisfied and happy (I wrote a post about finding yourself, you can find it here).
2. Find out what your goals are and what you want in life
This follows from the first piece of advice. If you know what you like and what you are interested in, you can start thinking about what you would like to do in the future and what way you want to go. You are the only one who can decide about this, you should not let anyone dictate what you do with your life. It’s yours after all. It can sometimes help to write down what you want to achieve in life and/or what you dream of. I did exactly that. If you are interested in reading about my dreams and goals in life, you can find it here.
3. Just try and do it!
Probably one of the most important things that I have learned in life so far. Even if you have enormous doubts about the future or the outcome of whatever is in front of you, just do it. We all obsess over what could happen and what the worst possible outcomes are, but you should never let this doubt get the better of you. If there is something you have been dreaming of or where you definitely know that you want to do it: Try.
4. Look for people that inspire you
This is still something I am working on, since I never really was the person who had a lot of role models. I just did my thing, but it can be helpful to see what other people do and be inspired by them. There are a lot of great people out there that most likely can and will help and motivate you on your way, which leads me to the next topic.
5. It is okay to ask for help
There is nothing wrong with struggling. We all go through difficult times and it is okay to reach out and ask for help. There will be lots of people who are happy to be there and do whatever they can to support you. There is no need to be strong all the time and do everything on your own. Humans are a social species; we always will have it easier when we stick together.
6. Focus on what you can do, instead of what you can’t do
This is probably one of my mom’s tips that helped me the most. There is a lot of things that you can influence, but there are equally many things that you have no control over. Don’t waste your energy and time on the latter. It will only make you unhappy and dissatisfied. Let go of everything you cannot influence and make the best of everything else. However, know the difference between the two. Often it is not easy to tell right away whether you can influence something or not.
7. Don’t waste your time and energy on unimportant things
You can waste your time on important things that you cannot control, but you can also waste your time on unimportant things that you do have an influence over. Make sure that you have your priorities straight, before you put a lot of work into something you are not dedicated to.
8. You make your own decisions, they decide over where you will end up
Jup, that’s right. We can decide what we do. This shouldn’t be surprising, but there are many people out there who believe they are only a boat floating around on the ocean with no influence over their lives. This is simply not true. We all start in a different place, of course we don’t have equal chances or circumstances at all, but regardless of where we start, we can always make choices (I am not referring to different amounts of money, which most people would in this context, I talk about general life situations). If I live in a family who tries to dictate my life, I can decide to not let them to. If I don’t like where I am, I can do something. We can decide over our lives, but we must be aware of the consequences and constraints that come with it. Our life choices are something we can influence, but there are many people who would sort “life” as itself into the “non-controllable” category of number 6.
9. You will find your way
This is the one sentence that calms me down most when I am having serious doubts about everything again (especially regarding the life choices before). It implicitly says that it is going to be okay. It means that there will be obstacles, some of which I probably won’t be able to overcome, but then I will just take a different route that maybe leads somewhere else. It is okay to keep trying, but it is equally fine to fail or to change your mind. Sometimes we don’t get what we want, but what we need instead, without knowing about it. Doubts are something that will accompany us throughout our lives, but there are ways to deal with them and regain confidence (here you get to my post: Doubting yourself and struggling with confidence).
10. Be open and listen to others
This can help with finding your way but will also give you a view of other peoples perspectives and the insights they have that you maybe lack. Exchange of ideas and opinions has usually a positive influence, because it makes us think about what we thought we knew. Maybe not everything is as one-dimensional as it seems to us.
11. Invest in yourself and keep learning
This is one of the earliest notions I have from my upbringing. In my family the permanent contact with opportunities and ideas to learn was highly valued and my brother and I received a lot of support in what we were interested in. Whatever it was we wanted to learn, our parents would try to make it possible. As a child you don’t realise what the actions of your parents imply, but when you get older you see what values lie beneath them. When my mom was sending us to English camps during the summer holidays, it was because she wanted us to get more comfortable with the language while engaging with other children and still having fun. When she gave me non-fiction books for my birthday, it was because they would most likely teach me a useful lesson for life. Trust me, there are really good books, seminars and other possibilities out there, which can help and inspire you to make changes in your work, life or personality or just learn something about a topic you are interested in. Learning is one of the greatest gifts we have in life and it would be a waste to remain in a constant mental state for the whole of your life without even trying to broaden your horizon.
A notion that becomes really important when you are drowning in stress. It implies to take a step back sometimes. Nobody should lose themselves for their job or university degree. It is okay to take a break. In fact, we need regular pauses, otherwise we just break down at some point (click here for my post on taking breaks).
13. Be honest and sincere
I feel like this would be supported by most people who also believe in karma. I am not so sure about the karma thing, but I still think that this is one of the most important lessons I have learned in my life. People often lie to either get an advantage or to protect other people. Even though we could maybe agree that the first reason is worse, I don’t think we should lie in either case. Telling someone a lie that they figure out in the end will often make them feel even worse than if you had told them the truth right away. In addition, being honest not only makes us feel better, it also makes us a better and more trustworthy person. If you are sincere and do not put up a fake image of yourself, you will be able to form much more meaningful relationships.
14. Take care of yourself
First I thought I could just leave this point like it is, but I guess I would have to mention a few small things. Even if this message is constantly thrown at me (by family members, friends or the internet), I still find it hard to always stick to it and some of you probably have the same problem. However, this is nothing you should underestimate. If you want to be happy, it is essential that you take care of yourself and your own needs and sometimes that means that you might have to take a step back and reconsider what is right for you.
15. Take care of the people around you
If your own needs are fulfilled, there is still plenty of room to take care of other people and help them out. This doesn’t mean that you have to build their house, it is often enough to lend someone your ear and pay attention to their struggles. This goes hand in hand with point 5. You can always ask for help, but it is important to give something back.
16. Read, read, read
This is partly connected to the learning point I made earlier. However, you should not just read to learn. Read for fun and for the amazing stories that other humans out there created for you. It is a great thing to be immersed in someone else’s story and to empathize with the characters. Of course, that works with movies too, but with books you can use your own imagination. It makes you think and use your creativity. In books you get a lot of subtle notions you often would not grasp in a movie. Also: books smell and feel very good.
17. Enjoy the things that you have
This basically means to “be grateful”. I know that can be difficult in some situations and depending on your personal circumstances, but I grew up with the sentence “it can always be worse” so I try to appreciate the things that I have as much as I can. I believe the ability to be grateful indeed can help through some hardships in life (click here for my post on gratitude).
18. Leave your comfort zone and you will grow
This is a fact. I have experienced this so often myself that there is nothing that will convince me of the opposite. Sometimes it can be hard to see the progress you make, but that does jot mean it is not there. It can be very subtle and sometimes you will only realise much later what exactly has changed, since it is a constant progress, but if we keep pushing ourselves to do some things we feel slightly uncomfortable about, it will make us more confident the least (5 Tips on how to feel more Empowered).
19. Nobody is perfect and you also don’t have to be
So, with all the advice I listed now, you need to remember that whatever you do, whether you decide to use this list or not, you don’t have to be perfect. Nothing and no one is, so it will be easiest to accept that there is no way for you to ever reach this stage. Sure, you can try to be the best possible version of yourself, but keep in mind that the journey is the goal here. Everyone has doubts and there will be times when you fail to reach what you wanted, but that is okay.
I really hope this list was useful to you or you and I really will be happy to maybe add to this in the future. Finally, I also have to say that these things have turned out to help me personally and be true for myself, but that does not mean that they will be equally suited for you. I am always happy about some feedback and your opinion, so leave a comment if you want to share something with me or leave an anecdote of your personal experience.