1. Know Thyself
Knowing your interests, habits, and flaws are all integral parts of being a well-functioning adult, but that is not the extent of knowing thyself. It takes years of experience and self-analysis to truly understand your patterns of behavior. (For example, over-self-analysis is one of mine. Who saw that coming?) Though you spend the most time with yourself, asking others can be a great way to get some perspective of how you’re perceived and how you compare to your peers. Without truly knowing the state of your evolution you can’t set goals for the future. A great way to start is keeping a daily, or even weekly, journal or diary.
2. First Impressions Matter
You’re going to meet a lot of people in your (hopefully) many years on this planet. First impressions are unfortunately hard to break and you’re going to want to make as many of them positive as possible. A friendly demeanor and approachable smile will go a long way when making new friends or meeting new colleagues. Never compromise your personal image for others but bear in mind that others will take signals about you based on your personal presentation. Always be mindful of how your behavior affects those around you.
3. What Other People Think of You is None of Your Business
Though it can be helpful to ask others for their thoughts on your style or conversational skills, you can’t take every individuals opinion to heart. For every 100 people you meet there will be a handful who will, statically, dislike you. That’s okay. Everyone has their own personal preferences and experiences and you can’t please them all, just ask any artist. The important thing is to keep feedback in perspective and remember that first and foremost you need to like you.
4. Everything in Moderation
Listen, we all have our vices and our hobbies. No matter what you enjoy, be it exercise or macramé, you’ve got to try and keep some variety in your life. Not only will it prevent burn out or a repetitive stress injury, it will also make the time you do spend doing those activities more special. We should all strive to be more well rounded people and you can start by mixing up your hobbies and diet instead of relying on old standbys. If a new hobby does nothing else, it at least gives you something to talk about at parties.
5. Reforms Succeed Where Revolutions Fail
For all the magazines pushing a “New You!” it’s actually extremely rare for anyone to wake up one day and quit anything cold turkey. The vast majority of people who “diet” never keep the weight off. Rather than quitting smoking on New Years Day (only to be buying another pack on the 5th), try reforming your routine instead. Wean yourself off of sugar and work the gym into your schedule only a couple of times a week at first. Little changes are easier to maintain. Results may take longer but they last.
6. You Can’t Be All Things to All People
There’s a reason why we have so many categories of people in our lives. We have bosses and friends and parents and mentors and siblings and teachers and peers and coaches because each of these jobs fills a specific need. “It takes a village” isn’t just a phrase about raising children. You’ve got to accept that you can’t ever emotionally fulfill another person entirely or expect that they can for you. Open up your life and accept what everyone has to offer gratefully.
7. Save For a Rainy Day
This one is the easier to understand and the hardest to practice. Life is filled with booms and busts and you’ve got to have a plan in place for both. Open a savings account. Stock up on essentials. Get insurance. The small price you pay in effort today will make the hardest day of your entirely life dozens of times easier to handle. People you know, including you, are going to get sick, fired, and even pass away. Be ready, even if that just means putting aside a few dollars a week.
8. Stop and Smell the Roses
Live in the now! I don’t personally believe you should live every day as if it was your last (because then we’d never do our taxes or clean the bathroom) but I do believe in trying to be mindful and thankful of what we have. Take a walk in the park. Appreciate the people you have in your life. What’s the point of all the good things we work for if we don’t take a moment to enjoy them? Turn your phone off for the afternoon and just exist.
9. Keep Your Eyes on Your Own Paper
You can’t compare your accomplishments and shortcomings to anyone else. Sure, they may be prettier or richer or more talented than you, but only you have your experiences and origin. Compete with yourself and set your own goals. There will always be somebody with greener grass, no matter whom you are, so just tend to your own yard. You’ll be surprised how free to actually accomplish things you are once you let go of the need to peek at everyone else’s canvas.
10. Know When to Ask For Help
Nobody does it alone. You do your best to be a one-soldier army but life’s problems aren’t always surmountable alone. You’ve got to know when to ask for advice or directions. Be there for people when they get turned around and frustrated and they’ll pay you back when it’s your turn to reach out. We’re lucky that there really are no original problems in the world. Somebody you know likely has some wisdom to pass on… you just need to ask.