I wrote this article originally for AskMen. Check out the original link here.
A couple of months after I turned 25, I had a slight quarter-life crisis.
25 is a funny age. Optimistically, if I am to live to be 100 years old, I have already lived one quarter of my life. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s just a sobering realization. One that has really allowed me to see what I want out of life and pushed me to reflect on my journey so far.
Life sure is interesting. For a 25-year-old, I’ve had more than my fair share of successes and failures. I have definitely come a long way over the last couple of years. By no means have I “made it” yet, but I sure have learned a lot of lessons. Lessons that taught me how to become a better entrepreneur and a better person in general.
Although I’ve learned hundreds and possibly thousands of lessons over the last quarter century, I've narrowed it down to the 25 most important ones here:
1) Be Happy
I went through the majority of my early twenties feeling unhappy because I wasn’t exactly where I wanted to be in life. I thought I needed certain things to be happy. I eventually learned that we are the catalyst of our own happiness and it’s much easier to be happier than bitter.
2) Follow Your Passion
If you want to be successful at what you do, you must be passionate about it. I tried to do many things that I wasn’t passionate about and failed miserably. When you’re working on something you’re truly passionate about, you’re not working — you’re doing what you love.
3) Protect Your Dreams
Your dreams are some of your greatest possessions. They’re yours and only yours. Don’t let anyone tell you your dream isn’t possible. People who are too scared to chase their own dreams will try to crush yours. Dream big because life is too short to be mediocre. Protect your dreams and continue to fight for them until they come into fruition.
4) You Can’t Please Everyone
When I came to the realization that it’s impossible to please everyone, my life became much easier. I was taught in business school that if you aim for every target, you’ll probably miss them all. Don’t worry about the people you can’t make happy, just focus on the important people in your life that you can.
5) Your Health Is Your Most Valuable Asset
Out of all the assets that I possess, my health is by far the most valuable. I am reminded of this every time I, or anyone close to me, gets seriously sick or injured. You can have all the riches in the world, but if you’re not healthy enough to enjoy them, they are useless.
6) Be Physically Fit
Socrates said “No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable”. Being physically fit and lifting weights has taught me a lot about persistence, chasing goals and mental strength.
7) Spend Time On Your Appearance
Contrary to what you've been taught, most people do judge books by their covers. You might as well have an attractive cover that people will want to read. Whether it was business or dating, I learned that the better I dressed and groomed myself, the more people respected me. Dress sharp, groom well and stand out.
8) Don’t Take Anything For Granted
I have taken many things for granted in my life, including relationships, friendships, and opportunities. When you take things for granted, they will eventually disappear from your life. When you have a good thing going in your life, appreciate it, hold it close and never take it for granted.
9) Confidence Is Everything
Confidence is the key to becoming successful at pretty much anything in life. People admire and trust confident people due to the fact that confidence is the main indicator of competence. I noticed that when I began really believing in myself and my abilities, others began believing in me as well.
10) Don’t Be A Jerk Or A Nice Guy
Be a gentleman instead because nobody likes jerks and nice guys finish last. When I was younger, I was too nice of a guy and was known to be a pushover. As I got older, I became a jerk to overcompensate. I eventually found a good medium: Be a good person but don’t take shit from anyone.
11) Fail Fast, Fail Often
For any successes that I’ve obtained over my 25 years, there have been exponentially more failures. Failures are lessons of future successes. Many people will never try something because they fear failure. You should embrace failure, as it means that you at least had the balls to try. If you really want something, you have to be willing to fail to get it.
12) Travel Often
One of my biggest regrets from college was that I never studied abroad. I firmly believe in the quote “Traveling is the only thing you buy that makes you richer." I don’t travel nearly as much as I’d like to, but every time I do, I make memories that I won’t soon forget and learn something about the place I visit, as well as about myself.
13) Take Risks
The biggest risk you can ever take is not taking any risk. Take risks while you’re young because as you get older and obtain more responsibilities, taking risks will become more, well, risky. When all is said and done, you will always regret the things that you didn't do, not the things you did.
14) Entrepreneurship Is Not A Job
Entrepreneurship is not a job or a profession, it’s a calling. I originally chose entrepreneurship as a major in college because I thought it sounded cool. Starting my first business was anything but cool; It was the most difficult and fulfilling thing I ever did in my life. Don’t think of entrepreneurship as a job, think of it as a lifestyle.
15) Networking Is Ridiculously Important
There really is some truth to the saying, “It’s not what you know but who you know”. I’ve gotten countless leads, job offers, and introductions thanks to people in my network. You never know: A connection you make today may lead to an opportunity tomorrow. Get on LinkedIn, attend mixers and make friends in high places.
16) Learn Sales
Sales is one of the most valuable skills you can learn, regardless what business you’re in. If you want to get ahead in life, you have to sell yourself and your skills every day. Even before I got into entrepreneurship and sales, I learned that I had to sell my vision to get people to believe in me.
17) The World Doesn’t Owe You Anything
I quickly learned that the world didn’t owe me shit and I would need to grind for everything I wanted in life. I know too many people my age who feel they are entitled to certain things. Entitlement is the opposite of hard work and while hard work is difficult, it’s necessary for success.
18) Date Often
Dating often is the easiest way to find exactly what you’re looking for in a significant other. The more you date, the higher your standards become. I date quite often. Even if nothing materializes from a date, I am at least able to enjoy conversing over dinner or some other activity with a pretty girl.
19) Don’t Waste Your Time
Time is a non-renewable resource. Once it’s gone, it’s really all gone. Don’t waste your time on people or things that have a negative impact on your life. I learned to filter out people who didn’t deserve to be there and not waste my time on anything that wasn't going to help me succeed in life.
20) Your Friends And Family Are Everything
When everything else fails, your family will have your back. And if you have amazing friends, like I do, you consider them family as well. I have some of the most badass parents, brothers, and friends a guy could ask for. Cherish your family because even if you lose everything else, you still have them.
21) Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone
Life begins at the end your comfort zone. Growing up, I disliked speaking in front of groups. When I decided that I wanted to be an entrepreneur, I realized I would need to become great at presenting and pitching. I forced myself to get out of my comfort zone and practiced like there was no tomorrow. Do something today that scares the shit out of you.
22) Patience Is A Virtue
When I first started my company, I was in college and I had no patience whatsoever. This caused me to make some bad decisions for the company. I eventually learned that anything worthwhile takes time to build. Be patient, don’t fall off the path, and never lose faith in yourself.
23) Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish
Steve Jobs taught our world many lessons, but one of my favorites was to “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish”. To me, this means being hungry enough to never settle or stop pushing yourself and being foolish enough to try to do the things that people say cannot be done. Any time I get complacent with my life, I remind myself to stay hungry and stay foolish.
24) There Is No Benchmark For Happiness
You can’t use other people’s happiness as a benchmark for your own, as there will always be people with more than you and there will always be people with less than you. There is no special income number or success level that guarantees happiness. You need to discover what truly makes you happy and not stop until you find it.
25) Life Goes On
I have had failed start-ups and relationships that I thought were going to be “the one”. Even though, at the time, it felt like my dreams were crushed, I eventually learned that there will always be other opportunities. Failure is a part of life and no matter what happens to you, if you’re still breathing, life goes on.