Five Things I Wish I Knew Earlier in Life

Some time ago I was asked to speak to a group of students about my perspectives on work, business and life. I took the opportunity to review all those things I learned after I reached twenty years old (about the point I realized I did not know everything) and sifted through the list until I was left with five important things.

1. Love what you do

You will work for a long time, probably 30 years or more and the motivation that will drive you will largely come from within. Occasionally, you will be inspired by a great leader, a great cause or possibly money. In the deepest, darkest struggles of your life, it will mostly fall on your inner moral compass to guide you and the engine we call motivation to move you ahead.

2. Set your objectives & priorities

Chaos happens. Making your way in the world and achieving your goals will only come about by having a road map. Know what you want to do (objective) and how important it is to get done (priority). Write down a list and be sure to look at it frequently. That way, should a crisis occur or an opportunity arise, you can act effectively.

3. Manage your time

Suppose you were blessed with a magical bank account. Each day at one second past midnight, $1,440 was deposited in your account. However, just 24 hours later at the next stroke of midnight the entire account was cleared. How would you spend the money? Frivolously? In a panic? Wisely? In any case the unspent portion is gone each day. There are 1,440 seconds in the day - how will you spend them?

4. Your career is your own damn problem

Your work should be an integral part of your life, neither dominant nor disconnected. Treat your career like you would your health. Look after it, improve it, and correct it if it gets unwell. In any case, understand that you are singularly responsible, not your boss, your peers, and for sure not your employer.

5. Act locally with a world view

Far too many of us are busy trying to fix the problems of the world in some far off place and we lose sight of the fact that we can do a great job at fixing some of the shortcomings of our own little space on this planet. If you want to change the world, start in your own backyard. Sure there is a world of good to do in distant parts but in most cases movements, which affect a broad spectrum of people, started with a small idea in someone’s home turf.

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