In writing my last post, I had to take a bittersweet trip down memory lane. I kept thinking to myself, If I knew then what I know now, my approach to life would have been so different. I think of the mistakes I’ve made and the great decisions that impacted my journey. For those starting their journey into adulthood, here are 3 life lessons I wish I knew (or took seriously) when I was younger.
Take the calculated risk
You only get one chance at this and all you have is today. Try not to worry about the tomorrows. They either aren’t promised or they will still be there. Take the trips, the out of town experiences, study abroad, or move for that job. Take the college acceptance that seems too far away from home. To be clear, calculated means you weighed the pros and cons and you are not putting yourself in a life threatening or possibly criminal situation. Calculated means you can recover. I had an opportunity to study abroad in college. Unfortunately, this was right around the time the 9/11 terrorist attacks happened. We were going into war and I suddenly felt it would be unsafe living abroad while the US was fighting a war I didn’t completely understand. I had rational fears, but I was also using it as a scapegoat. I had never traveled across the pond. I had never flown alone without a family member. Crazy as it seems for some, the thought of leaving the safety of home was terrifying. Were my fears rational? Yes, but it is still one of my biggest regrets; as many of my fears have been. When the opportunity came around again in Grad school, I took all my PTO and had the most amazing trip in Africa. But, you don't get the chance for do-overs. So let go of the fear of “What if’s” and take the leap. Ultimately, everything will work out. Yes, you will have tears and some anxiety, but you will be alright. Prepare yourself for life’s crazy moments and live life.
Find a mentor and invest in yourself
Find someone who has achieved a certain amount of success in life that you desire and someone you admire. Whether it be academically or professionally, if you want to become VP of a Fortune 500, find a VP to connect with and learn from. Someone who is also invested in inspiring and mentoring you. Meet with them, spend time with them and put your learnings into practice! Get feedback on pitches, salary negotiations and job moves. Be open and honest and ready to soak up as much knowledge and constructive criticism they will offer. But also remember, you are responsible for your own growth. Having a great mentor will have a huge impact on your life but learn to be your biggest advocate. You may experience moments where you feel small in meetings or with dealing with authority figures, but speak up! Share you thoughts and ideas. We don't always feel ready to use our voice or that we have enough experience to command more ( impostor syndrome is very real) but you do. Speak up and command more for yourself. Never stop investing in yourself! Read the books, take the classes, sign up for the leadership conferences! I wrote a post dedicated to some of the books that changed my life, both personally and professionally. Check out my previous post below here.
Protect your paper!!
If there was one thing I wished I had a better handle on in my early adult life, it would be my overall attitude towards money. I tried not to stress it by telling myself I will always find a way to pay back the loans, the store credit cards, and the random shopping sprees. What it boiled down to was that I didn’t understand the value of a dollar. Cash was easy come and easy go. I wrecked my credit in college and it took me a while to get control of my finances. Thankfully, a mortgage broker pulled my credit report and had a heart to heart with me on my spending, my savings, and my credit. I hired a credit repair specialist, opened 2 retirement accounts, and created an excel based budget sheet that I still use 15 years later. One of the best piece of advice I received on budgeting was to create an annual savings plan then work your way backwards. Your expenses and plans vary from month to month and your budget needs to account for that. Some can manage on a set expense limit for each month, but I could not. I created my budget at the beginning of every month and did my best to stick to it. I accounted for the vacations, bridal shower gifts, car repairs,and all the other miscellaneous things that WILL come up. Most financial advisors will argue against opening credit cards but building credit can be tough without one. If you open an account, find one that pays you to use it. If you are not accumulating usable points on top of points, find another card. Pay your balance in full before the end of the billing cycle and only charge what you can afford to pay for in cash. The points will add up and provide you more discounts and opportunities. My husband and I basically used our wedding credit card to help pay for our amazing honeymoon and any trips 2020 will allow us to take! Read about our honeymoon here! Stay vigilant on spending and responsible with your bills!
Learn to WORKOUT! Find something you love to do to stay in shape. Whether it be a sport, dancing, or a gym class. Find it and do it regularly. It is MUCH easier to stay in shape later on in life if you have a solid foundation in working out. I’ve seen so many women struggle with getting in shape in their 30s because they hated the gym. They hated working out. They were intimidated by going to the gym and didn’t know what to do once they got there. Getting active with fitness in my 20s helped me stay in shape or get back to my desired weight quickly in my 30s. I found a love for staying fit and challenged myself every few years with a new program. Trust me, it helps, and you will not regret it!
This journey never stops. In my 30s, I am still reminding myself of these lessons and putting them into practice. Like do I really need to shop the Zara sale AGAIN?? The journey always continues and we continue to grow. What are some of your best practices?