There’s one thing I can absolutely guarantee will happen to you at some point in life; you will look back and say, “Wish I knew then what I know now”. Whether you are a failure or you make billions, this will always haunt you.
Do not get me wrong. I’m not the kind of person who does that a lot. Sometime ago, a close doctor friend of mine told me to “never look back”. I took it as a good therapy and to date, I follow it.
You can go crazy wondering what could have been. Nevertheless, here’s the thing: There’s a good reason why you do not have to. For whatever reason, I’ve always followed the path that seemed right to me. I have taken risks when I needed to and did not let fear get in my way. Sure, I’ve spent a good part of my life terrified but I highly recommend it. That said, there have been moments when I regretted what I’d done or, more frequently, what I did not do.
To help you minimise those bitter moments, here are some pieces of advice for those who are just getting started:
Observe and link up with people:
There is a crazy number of laundry lists of attributes and behaviour that successful people are supposed to have but if I had to pick one – just one thing that made all the difference – it would be observing people. Everything in business is about people. If you get people, you’ll probably kill it out there. If you know influential people, you will be halfway to that important tender. I know some people must be thinking nepotism here. Tell me one person who succeeded without knowing the right people. Facebook founder had to connect with venture capitalists for him to make it in life.
Take the first step in the right direction:
Of course you cannot know in advance what the right direction is. However, should an opportunity arise and you do not take that first step, I can absolutely guarantee you’ll never find the right direction. Learn to say ‘yes’ ... a lot. If it scares you, even the more reason. For those of you who watched ‘YES MAN’ the movie, you know when the guy started saying more ‘yes’ to anything, his micro-lending business started making more money.
However, I do not recommend that you say yes to anything.
If you’re a people person, then friendships and relationships come naturally to you. If not, it wouldn’t hurt for you to get to work on that a bit. No, I’m not saying you cannot be successful if you’re an introvert. Of course, you can. All I know is, life is like a tree that branches like crazy and each branch usually involves a person. So like I said before, the more people you know, the better for you.
Find a way to do what you find exciting:
The hands-down best piece of advice I ever got was when someone told me digital technology would become huge. That was when we did not even have brick phones. I don’t know why but it sounded exciting. Moreover, following that path was the hands-down smartest thing I ever did. If it sounds exciting to you, that’s your heart telling you something. Listen. And find a way to do it.
Be geographically mobile:
Most of the people I knew growing up who never left their surroundings, never went anywhere in life. Most xenophobic people have never travelled out of their countries. If that was their choice, fine. However, I bet many would do it differently if they could do it over again. Steve Jobs grew up in Silicon Valley. That was the luck of the draw. Most of us aren’t that lucky. Do not let geographic boundaries stand in the way of your future. See what you want and go for it.
Try to save money for after college:
I often converse with a lot of college graduates who took out loans, had all sorts of side jobs and after finally graduating, ran out of steam (money). If you’re a hot software developer, companies may fly you around and roll out the red carpet. But the rest of you have to pay your own way to interviews, relocating, getting an advanced degree, or maybe even starting your own companies. So whether you have a ka-small business or thinking of starting one, please save a bit for that rainy day.
If it isn’t working, try something different:
It’s not always easy to know that what you’re doing isn’t working but let’s put it this way: If you’re miserable and you would rather be elsewhere doing anything else, then it’s safe to say it’s time for a change. Don’t wait! If you’re not sure, trust your gut. Regret is the most tragic thing in life. The best way to avoid it is to know yourself, face your fears and follow your heart.