Have you seen those tshirts where it is written ‘growing up is a terrible idea.‘?
I am sure you have.
Growing up is also to some extent similar to Einstein’s twin paradox.
When you were kid or teenagers, we wanted to grow up faster and become adults.
But when we become adults, we again wish to go back to our childhood or teenage years.
Perhaps we lose sense of of time when we grow up. As if time is running faster in our adulthood.
We get so busy in our work and meetings that we hardly realize how time has passed.
Over the years, I have realized that we must review our life on our birthdays.
We give so much importance to annual review of companies and organizations, why not take your own life’s review seriously.
So here I am on my 27th birthday, trying to write my feelings on this review day (as I say birthdays).
Last year on my 26th birthday, I wrote an article describing life lessons I have learned. A lot of people sent me messages after reading that article. I didn’t now so many people would resonate with my feelings.
That furthur enhanced my belief that life-review on birthdays are must.
This year I thought to write for my younger self (and for people who are younger than me).
Here are some of my advices that I would have told my younger self if I could go back in time with the hope that some of these advices would inspired me to live a better life in this world.
1. Read more to gain focus in this distracted world
When I was a child, I saw my grandfather reading those 1000 pages thick books with an unwavering focus.
I used to pass by him multiple times, but he never noticed or distracted by me.
Back then, I didn’t rate his unwavering focus skill as something extremely valuable.
But today I have realized how crucial that skill is.
As Cal Newport says-
“To remain valuable in our economy, therefore, you must master the art of quickly learning complicated things. This task requires deep work. If you don’t cultivate this ability, you are likely to fall behind as technology advances.”
I can’t imagine today’s youth reading books for hours.
And it’s not entirely their fault.
There was no social media, smartphone, or any fancy gadgets to steal my grandfather’s attention.
But today we mostly run on autopilot mode where we have no control over our attention.
From Facebook to Whatsapp to YouTube there is no shortage of attention robbers.
Thanks to my grandfather who inspired me to read books.
Often some people tell me ‘so what if people don’t read, that doesn’t make them any less‘
I think reading is not even a luxury today, it is a must-do activity.
It is not just about earning knowledge via books, that is of course there but the most important reason why you should read is to get back your focus.
Remember, watching YouTube videos, scrolling social media feeds are passive processes where you don’t need your brain to work much.
But reading is an active process (that’s why a bit hard) which involves greater participation from your brain.
I was really late when I started exploring books. I was 18 then.
But at least I know it’s significance today.
Whether you are younger to me or older to me, please read more often.
Do not just read those news articles on your smartphone, read some quality books of your choice.
This would certainly change your life and help you to focus better at your work.
2. Understand the difference between being busy vs being productive
We live in a society which rewards people who says’I am really busy, I don’t have enough time“
This is the result of the Industrial revolution. ‘The more hours a worker spent in a factory, the more he could produce’, that’s what the belief was/is.
No wonder why society gives badge of honor to those who always seems to be in rush, always busy.
But you go back before the Industrial revolution and you will find that people who produced a great volume of work were not necessarily always busy.
Take for example Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, John Lubbock, etc., if you read about them you will find that they were not necessarily always busy like today’s workaholic workers to get their work done.
They loved their leisure times equally to their work times. They had multiple hobbies.
Today productivity is perhaps one of the most searched word on Google.
It is because people are getting burned due to their overwork.
In today’s work culture there will be always something more to do, something more to finish. Your boss will perhaps not tell you to go back home and take rest.
Alex Soojung-Kim Pang said beautifully in his book Rest-
“Rest is not something that the world gives us. It’s never been a gift. It’s never been something you do when you’ve finished everything else. If you want rest, you have to take it. You have to resist the lure of busyness, make time for rest, take it seriously, and protect it from a world that is intent on stealing it”
You don’t need to work like a maniac to do good work. You just have to be productive.
The earlier you realize the difference between busy vs productive, the better you could balance your life.
Someone might work 14-16 hours a day compared to your work 8-9 hours a day, but remember you could do something worthwhile in those extra 4-5 hours when you are not working (at your workplace) that could make your life more interesting.
Strive to be productive, not busy.
3. Never overlook your family and friends for your work
Do you often wonder how the relation among you and your old friends changed with time?
A lot of times, it changes because we overlook it.
One of the side effect of the busy culture is to overlook the old friends.
There is a famous saying-
“No one on their deathbed ever says they wish they had worked harder”
There are certainly people who wished in their deathbed that if only they could talk more often with their family and friends, they would have led a better life.
In our late 20s and 30s, it’s easy fall in the trap of busy work culture and forget about friends and family.
What is the one most important thing you need to really good at to lead a cheerful life?
It is protecting your relations with your friends and family.
It is not just Philosophy. The longest scientific study carried out at Harvard University found good relations with friends and family to be the most important criteria to lead a happy life.
Never ever overlook your family or friends. They are the actual currency for your happiness.
4. Do not force, let things happen to you
When we are very young, it’s easy to compare ourselves with others.
‘He has the latest gadgette, why don’t I have’.
‘He is travelling the world, why can’t I’.
‘He is having a girlfriend/boyfriend, why haven’t I’.
Little did we realize that comaprison is the root cause of your unhappiness.
The sooner you realize this fact, the better your life will be.
In fact, you will misjudge things if you try too hard for things to happen in your life.
Take for example relationships.
In our early 20s, a lot of people think about starting out romantic relationships.
But you must asses yourself before choosing someone. Ask yourself
‘Do I genuinely care and love that person or I want it because my friends are in relationships or I dreamt of having a relationship‘
Best things happen to life when you don’t force yourself too much into something.
Be like water. Just flow but don’t keep too may expectations in your mind.
You will enjoy your life most when you would get things your own way not by following others.
5. Physical appearance matters more than you think
I never thought in my life I would write on physical apperance.
But I eventually realized that it does matter.
Physical apperance is not just about how good you look.
It’s about the choices we make to look better.
I am still lousy when it comes to look better.
Your physical apperance affects your confidence.
I remember reading somewhere
“Just workout 15 minutes daily and you will look better than 80% of people in this world”
Take care of our body. As Swami Vivekananda said-
“The sign of vigour, the sign of life, the sign of hope, the sign of health, the sign of everything that is good, is strength. As long as the body lives, there must be strength in the body, strength in the mind, [and strength] in the hand.”
Confidence is crucial to your success. And having a better physical appearance helps you to build confidence to some extent.
6. Personal finance is a must learn subject
All our life we have to deal with money. But ironically no school or college teaches us about money and how to best manage it.
You don’t necessarily need to know about how economics work (although you can), how stock markets work, how banks make a profit.
But you should at least know about your own money and how you can manage it best.
You must have some basic knowledge about stock market index (sensex, nifty), mutual funds, index funds, insurance, etc.
The earlier you start investing your money, the better your financial future would be.
Warren Buffet started investing when he was 11 years old. I was late in starting it.
You must at least start investing in your 20s no matter how little you invest.
Money is crucial to living a healthy life. You read Physics, Mathematics, History in your school no matter if you utilize that knowledge or not. But knowing that you will need knowledge about personal finance throughout your life, you must learn about it.
And managing money is equally important to earning money if not more.
7. Never stop exploring, you will be dead the day you stop learning
What is the one common thing among all great personalities of the world?
They never stop exploring. They remain curious throughout their life.
Are you grateful for being a human?
I know it sounds cliche but you should realize sometimes that as a human being you have so many superpower that no creature in this planet have.
Unlike animals or any other creature, things are not predefined for you.
You can bend your reality, you can mold your personality, you can renovate yourself time and again.
Your mind is perhaps your biggest asset. And you need to expose it to new and better things throughout your life to keep it healthy.
In today’s world when artificial intelligence is finding its place everywhere, upgrading your old skills and continuously learning new skills are essential.
There cannot be a better time than today to learn and educate yourself.
You can learn almost anything if you have a stable internet connection, a computer, and a lot of curiosity.
Today self-education is becoming more important than just formal education.
Most people today have a formal degree but not many are willing to self-educate themselves.
“The height of your success in the future is directly proportional to the amount of effort you put today in self-educating yourself.”
I hope some of these suggestions have touched you and you will take action to implement these.
Let me know in the comment section if you have anything to say.
And don’t forget to review your life on your birthdays.