1. Stop thinking you have to follow the plan your parents or society makes you feel like you have to take. You don’t. This year start doing the things YOU want to do, even if it’s not the conventional way. If you want to drop out of college because you don’t think that path is for you, do it. I know someone who failed out of community college and has now paved her way to making a hell of a lot more than I do at my 9-5. Don’t want to go to grad school after you graduate college? Don’t. Book a one-way ticket and backpack. Follow your dreams of being an artist, or a doctor, or a food blogger, or whatever it is your passionate about. Do what YOU want to do because it’s your life-not anyone else’s.
2. Stop letting fear dictate your choices. I know a very smart guy and he has all these dreams in his head of things he could do but he’s so scared of failure he won’t even start. Don’t let fear dictate your choices because when you look back on your life you don’t want to be left with this lingering question of “what if”. Stop doubting yourself and just go after what you want. Failure isn’t a bad thing and we need to stop associating it as such.
3. Stop doing things out of obligation. I can’t think of a worse reason to continue doing things you don’t want to do. If you don’t want to go out on the weekend, say no. If you don’t want to hang out with someone who keeps asking, say no. No is a complete sentence. Use it. If you really don’t want to do something, don’t do it. It’s time to start putting yourself first.
4. Stop being so concerned with what’s next you forget to focus on what’s right in front of you. As cliche as it is, you are only this young once. Stop waiting until you’re married, or have a family, or a house or your dream car. Stop thinking things will be okay once you hit a certain milestone and start focusing on how you can improve your life right now, in this moment. Make now a priority and everything else in the future will work out.
5. Stop holding onto people who have let you go. Moving on is never easy but it’s necessary, just like letting go. You can’t cling to someone or something that has already left you behind. It sucks. It’s hard but it’s part of life.
6. Stop wasting money. Yes, I know no one likes to talk about money but seriously, stop wasting your money. Stop recklessly spending it on things you don’t need and start investing it into your future. Start putting it into a Roth IRA and/or a Mutual Fund. Use Acorns (it’s SO simple, you don’t even have to do anything. Here’s a link to get $5 for signing up, and no this isn’t an ad it’s just REALLY helpful) it’s an easy way to invest without thinking about investing.
7. Stop spending all your time in your comfort zone. You do NOT grow in your comfort zone, you don’t better yourself or challenge yourself. The way things are now is the way things will always be if you never push yourself. You will remain stagnant and no one wants to be stagnant. It’s important to push yourself to do the things you want. Stop doubting yourself and start making those strides to where you want to be.
8. Stop comparing yourself to others. Where your college roommate is in life does not reflect where you should be. The person who is 4 years younger but has a million Instagram followers does not reflect where you should be, and it also doesn’t make you a failure. Stop comparing yourself to others and focus on being better than you were last month. Make continuous strides to be better than where you used to be. And if you must compare yourself to others, at least use that as motivation to better yourself.
9. Stop doubting yourself. Stop thinking you don’t deserve good things because you do. Stop thinking you’re not smart enough or important enough or that your opinion doesn’t matter. You are strong, smart, capable and resilient, stop doubting yourself and go after what you want.
10. Learn how to swallow your pride. Your ego can be your biggest enemy and it usually won’t get you anywhere you want to be. Everyone is wrong at times and not being able to admit that is not a good look. Swallow your pride and learn from it to figure out how to make things better next time around.
11. Stop settling because you’re scared to be alone. I’ve seen more people than I want to admit settle in relationships because they’d rather have someone there, even if that person sucks, than be alone. I’ve seen people who have been in relationships for years who are terribly unhappy but won’t break up because the thought of having to date again and figure life out without their partner seems too daunting, so they stay. Don’t do this. If the bad outweighs the good it’s not worth it. Being alone is not a bad thing and ending a relationship because you’re not happy or being fulfilled the way you need is also not a bad thing. Things won’t get better when you get engaged, or married, or have kids, or whatever it is you think will make things better won’t.
12. Start questioning your life and your decisions. The worst thing you can do is just walk through your daily life without questioning what the hell your doing. It’s important to ask yourself difficult questions like if you’re actually doing what you want or if you’re doing what someone else wants. It’s good to question your relationships and if people really have your best intentions at heart or if they’re only concerned about their own. Question what you’re doing and it will really help you evolve.
13. Stop over-committing yourself. Being busy is great but don’t over commit yourself because you feel guilty saying no. There is only so much you can accomplish in 24 hours as one person. If you become overwhelmed your work is going to become worse. Find your healthy balance of work and know when too much is too much. People would rather you say no than have you half-ass something for them.
14. Learn to admit when you’re wrong. No one likes being wrong, no one. But learning how to admit when you’re wrong is so valuable. The number of people I hear in my daily life complain about someone who can’t apologize or admit when they’re wrong is absurd. Acknowledging you made a mistake and asking advice on how to do it better next time around shouldn’t be hard. Everyone is wrong at times, it’s okay. Admitting it and saying “I’m sorry” is such a great thing to be able to do.
15. Learn how to accept constructive criticism. There is more than one way to do everything in life and sometimes it’s not your way. If someone is offering you advice (for free!) listen to them, you might not always agree but it’s important to listen to what they’re saying and ask questions if they’re willing to help. It’s also important to note there is most definitely a difference between someone giving you constructive criticism and someone just being an asshole, and it’s important to tell the difference.
16. Learn how to be empathetic. Being empathetic is so important to understand other people’s perspective and why they feel a certain way. If you just live in your own bubble and never try to look at a situation from someone else’s point of view you will never become a well-rounded person. It’s important to understand that not everyone has been as lucky or privileged as you might have been or that other people haven’t gone through what you might have gone through. It’s important to understand there is so much depth to people and not everything is as it seems. It’s important to give people the benefit of the doubt and understand where they’re coming from.
17. Start taking big risks. Now is the time to take big risks because you are still young enough that you can bounce back from failure if things don’t work out the way you hope. Try everything you want. Start a company, travel the world, write a book, start recording music, do whatever you want to do. Try everything you want to take a risk on – you could be really surprised.
18. Know your worth. Learning your worth and figuring out how much your time is worth is hard but it’s so important to do. Once you start getting paid what you feel is fair and you deserve something in your changes. I used to work for $10 an hour for a friend doing farmer’s markets, she asked me a couple months ago if I would help out for the same rate but this time I knew I was worth more. I offered to help out for fun because getting paid didn’t feel worth it but going to help out for fun seemed like a better option. Things change and that isn’t a bad thing, but it’s important to know your worth so your not constantly being shorted.
19. Prioritize your time. Time isn’t endless. For example, if you go camping twice a year but you think to yourself I have 10 years ahead of me to go camping, you’ll realistically only go 20 times, if you actually make it twice a year. Therefore, you really only have 20 times to go camping, not 10 years to camp. Perspective and laying things out like that are important. Time flies and it’s so easy to let the things we want to do slip through our fingers. Prioritize what’s important so you don’t miss out on what you really want to do.
20. Drink more water. As simple as it sounds most of us don’t drink enough water. Drink more of it. It will hydrate you, flush out toxins, it’s good for your brain and skin and overall health. Water will help you be more productive and in turn, help you stop ruining your own life.