People love to say, “Never regret anything.” Well, that’s bullshit. Regret is a natural and important human emotion. It helps us learn from our mistakes, and it helps us educate younger generations so they don’t make the same mistakes we did.
I just hit the big 40. As I look back on the last 20 years I did most things right. But I did quite a few things wrong and I do regret them.
If I could borrow Doc Brown’s Delorean to go back in time and hand my 20 year old self a letter, here’s what it would say.
1. Save 20% of everything you make.
You’re going to make a lot of money. Save 20% of everything you make and you’ll be financially free one day. You’ll have a nice home, no mortgage, one or two very nice cars, and plenty of money in the bank. I’m not saying you’ll be rich, but you’ll be so financially free you’ll be able to do what ever you want in life.
2. Invest in index funds.
Don’t just put your savings in a bank account, invest in an index fund. Index funds are a collection of some of the best stocks in the world, therefore diversifying your risk at an extremely low cost. Stock market billionaire Warren Buffett swears by them. Keep doing this and watch your savings turn into millions by the time your 40.
3. Buy real estate, and as much as you can.
Take some of your savings and the money you’ve made in your index fund and buy real estate. Put down 20% on a 15 year fixed loans, and let your renters pay off your mortgages for you.
4. Stand at your desk, or your back will be jacked for life.
Don’t spend the next 20 years hunched over at your desk. It will destroy your back. Stand and work at least half the day, every day.
5. Learn to control your emotions.
Yelling won’t solve a problem, it will just make it worse. Think thoroughly before you speak and rationally discuss your concerns. You’ll gain more respect from people and have far less stress with a stoic attitude.
6. Meditate once per day. Your brain needs a break too.
Your mind and body need daily breaks. Find a quite place and meditate once per day for at least a few minutes. Work and life can be stressful, and this will help you learn to control your emotions.
7. Take extra care of your teeth. They are important to your Health.
Don’t shove your mouth full of candy and fall asleep before brushing. Brush often, especially at night. It will catch up with you one day, and you’ll have eight expensive and painful root canals by the time you’re 40.
8. Sugar will kill you and they do not Care!
The candy and soda companies don’t give a shit about you. They just want your money, and in exchange, they will slowly destroy your body and convince you that other foods are causing the problem.
9. Always keep your mind open. Things are not always what they seem.
Ask lots of questions, listen, and then decide what to believe. But even then, still keep an open mind. Everything is not what it seems. Humans are inherently good, but we’re motivated by attention and money.
10. Take responsibility for everything. Never make excuses!
Nothing is more powerful than taking responsibility for everything you do in life. It gives you full control over any bad situation. By taking responsibility you give yourself the power to change. Blaming others transfers all the responsibility and power over to them.
11. Don’t believe all the hype.
Listening to people brag will bring on jealousy and envy. But the truth is that they’re bragging to convince themselves, not you. Spare yourself the jealously and envy because most people are full of shit.
12. Walking is as important as eating and breathing.
Walking is as important as eating and breathing. It helps you burn energy and think. Go for lots of long walks to clear your head and calm your body.
13. Be in the present. Anxiety lives in the future.
Anxiety lives in the future. Enjoy the ride of life or your anxiety will get the best of you.
14. Travel More and meet different people.
You have little to no responsibility right now. Travel and see the world. Bring nothing but a backpack, explore new cultures and meet different people.
15. Move around. You can settle down later.
I know family and friends are comfort, but trust me, move around. Try different cities, different states, and even a different country. You have the rest of your life to settle down in one location.
16. Talk to aging loved ones because one day they will be gone.
Don’t take people for granted because one day they will be gone. Answer the phone and visit more, even if it’s only 15 minutes.
17. Journal once per day. Your future self is curious.
Even if it’s a sentence or two, write something down. Your 40 year old self is curious about the things you did, why you did them, and how it made you feel.
18. Learn self-awareness and how you impact others.
Be mindful of how your actions impact the world and others around you. Self-awareness make us human, but there are degrees of this. The more self-aware you are the better person you will become.
19. Listen, don’t wait to talk. There is a difference.
Listen to people, don’t just wait to talk. There is a difference.
20. Trust your gut. It’s usually right!
We’re born with a natural instinct that leads us in the right directions. Trust your gut instinct. No matter how good something looks on paper, go with your gut. It’s right about 80% of the time.
One last thing. Read this list at least once per year, otherwise, you’ll forget what’s on it.
You in 20 Years
What do you regret not doing 20 years ago?
Tell me in the comments below.