As I step into my early adulthood years, I’d like to share some personal experiences that made me who I am today.
It’ll be a good way to document how things are going. Looking back, I can see how much I’ve changed in terms of personal growth.
Here are 10 lessons I’ve learnt at 22:
1. Success = Luck + Hard work
Normally people equate success with hard work and being “lucky”.
But “luck” is not pure coincidence.
Rather, you can create your own luck – through preparation.
“Luck is like a bus. If you miss one, there will always be the next one. But if you aren’t prepared, you won’t be able to get on.”
In other words, you can increase your surface area for “lucky” encounters if you are prepared.
More importantly, it is what you do AFTER you have created your luck that matters.
When the opportunity knocks on your door, would you walk through it even into the unknown? And I don’t know whether that is tied to putting yourself on the line, taking a risk, allowing yourself to be challenged by new responsibilities and maybe different form of scrutiny or being a fish out of water, I don’t know, but, or even things as simple as being willing to move. I’ve found a lot of people when doors open, they’re not as capable of walking through them for whatever reason. Sometimes just, by the way, self-doubt. – Bob Iger
2. Comparison is the Thief of Joy
With social media being an everyday part of our lives, it makes it so easy for us to compare our lives to others.
It always seems like others are living a better life, and the fear-of-missing-out (FOMO) is real.
But excessive comparison robs you of your happiness.
Social media is a narrow telescope of someone’s lives. It does not actually tell you the full picture of how things truly are.
Quit comparing your life to someone’s highlight reel. Focus on your own life. If it helps, go on a social media detox.
3. Finding Mentors
Having mentors can fast-track your life. Learning from them has helped me gain a tremendous amount of knowledge.
I have a few people whom I consider to be my mentors in my life, without ever having spoken to any one of them.
Previously, I’ve written an article about how to find mentors. Read more about it here.
4. Don’t Take “No” for an Answer
Last summer, I was applying for internships as I wanted to gain more work experience while in university. Many of my applications were rejected.
Some got back to me but eventually the offer did not go through, as they said they were reducing headcount due to the pandemic.
Admittedly, I felt dejected after receiving a stream of “No”s.
Nonetheless, things turned out fine. Looking back, if not for the summer break without an internship, I would probably not take time to start writing and sharing my thoughts online which has given me more opportunities.
Facing rejections are a part of the journey towards success.
Keep trying and knock on doors. Don’t take “No” for an answer, always keep trying until you get a “yes.”
You will never know if the next one would be a “yes”.
5. Find Your Unfair Advantage
I’m sure many could relate to having an “existential crisis” at some point in life.
What am I good at? What is my purpose here? What can I do not just for a living, but to actually feel alive?
Navigating through this phase can be challenging, especially when you have to consider the opportunity costs at stake.
Though I am still in the process of self-discovery and building my skills, through my journey, I’ve understood these key principles:
- You are unique, stop trying to be like everyone else.
- Find your “unfair advantage”.
Everyone has different strengths and no one is completely the same.
What is something that you have while others don’t?
For me, I enjoy and find value in writing book reviews of books I’ve read. From investing, personal finance, business and self-development books.
Writing allows me to clarify my thoughts and synthesise information. By bringing together the range of things I’m interested in and piecing them together.
I can’t tell you with great certainty what is your “Unfair advantage” because only you have the answer.
Here are some guiding questions to discover your “unfair advantage“:
- What are some topics you are passionate about?
- What feels like play to you but work to others?
- Get 5 acquaintances to describe your top 3 strengths. What are some common traits that are repeated?
- If you were to give a speech, what would it be about? Who will be the target audience?
What is your personal branding and unique selling point? How are you different from others?
Most of the time in life, you don’t have to fit perfectly into the “cookie-cutter” to succeed. Being different makes you unique, especially in the age where everyone is trying to “copy” one another.
6. Invest early: Compounding Magic Starts Now
One of the best decisions I made was to start investing 3 years ago.
After reading a couple of beginner investing books, talk to peers who have invested before, and joining the investment club in university. I still felt like “I don’t have enough knowledge to start”.
Truth is, as with most things in life, we will never think that we are 100% ready.
As seen on the graph, investing early allows you leverage on the power of compounding.
Compounding is the eighth wonder of the world. The best time to start investing is now.
7. Pick your friends wisely
As you grow older, you’ll realise that friends do drift apart. And that is okay.
Stay away from people who gossip and who spread negativity.
Rather, spend more time with people who are of positive influence, and work towards shared goals.
You become the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Pick your five wisely.
Make friends with those who want the best for you.
8. Life is Not Always Fair, But That is Okay
Life is not always fair. Sometimes, things might not turn out the way you want them to be. And you might not start on the same playing field.
But look forward into the future and don’t dwell too much on the past. Focus on the things you can control.
In one of my favourite books, “Man’s Search for Meaning“, Victor Frankl a Holocaust survivor, describes the different experiences of prisoners in the Nazi concentration camp. They were being treated like slaves, they had endure to unimaginable physical torture. Thousands starved to death and were forced to be separated from their families. There seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel.
But even in the most grueling circumstances, the human condition does not change. We all have the power to change our attitude.
This was the reason why some prisoners survived, while others did not manage to live past tomorrow.
Life is 10% what happens to us, and 90% how we react.
When we can’t change our external circumstances, the only thing we can change is our attitude. It all starts in your mind.
Instead of beating yourself up in self-pity, focus on what you can control. Harness the inner power you have to take charge of your life.
Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. — Victor Frankl
9. Always Invert
When solving a problem at hand, always try to think in reverse.
Instead of “How can I achieve the highest returns in the market”, ask yourself “How can I avoid ruin at all cost?”.
Flipping the question around helps you to gain a different perspective of looking at the same problem.
10. Be a Lifelong Learner
Stay curious and be inquisitive. Be open-minded about learning from across a range of disciplines (e.g. finance, psychology, science).
The world does not move in silos. Having knowledge from different fields helps to prevent human bias in decision making and judgment.
Build your “latticework of mental models“, as Charlie Munger would have called it, and never stop learning.
The best things in life comes from compounding, including knowledge, money, relationships.
Summary of 10 Lessons:
- Success = Luck + Hard Work
- Comparison is the Thief of Joy
- Finding Mentors
- Don’t Take “No” for an Answer
- Find Your Unfair Advantage
- Invest early: Compounding Magic Starts Now
- Pick Your Friends Wisely
- Life is Not Always Fair, But That is Okay
- Always Invert
- Be a Lifelong Learner
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.
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