I was interviewing a candidate for a position in my department, and I asked her a question about where does she see herself in the coming five years, and does she have a destination or a goal in mind that she plans to reach in the coming years, and to my astonishment she had it all figured out to the nitty gritty detail. I was really impressed and amazed how she had it all written down, from all aspects, as if it’s she was describing the story of her future self to me during the interview. Now, she was smart and practical enough to know she might not get all what she is aiming for in the coming years, or that her own plan might change, but she does believe that aiming high coupled with proper planning will take her further than just living her life by the day.
That interview triggered an idea, a thought, in my head. If I was to go back in time to, say when I was 30 years old, what advice would I give myself? With everything that I went through in the past fourteen years, from being married, to having kids, to having my own thriving business, to losing it all and hitting rock bottom, to getting up again, and with knowing all that, what would I tell my thirty years old self.
In the movie from 2013 titled “About Time”, the hero character, Tim (played by Domhnall Gleeson) can travel in time and change what happens and had happened in his own life. Imagine that, whenever you do something wrong or when you don’t like the outcome of something you did, you can travel back in time and change it. Wouldn’t life be just perfect? The movie goes on with Tim redoing everything he wants in order to get the desired results, only to realize at the end that in order to live life at its potential and enjoy It, he must really experience life with all its imperfections. The movie closes on this quote by Tim “We are all traveling through time together, every day of our lives. All we can do is do our best, to relish this remarkable ride.” Well, I don’t have that ability to fly back in time, although that would be really cool, but if I was 30 years old, I would consider the following tips.
But first, let me share three important rules:
- You don’t know everything, and you will never do. For some reason hitting the age of 30 gives us that feeling that we are on track and that we know where we are going and that we know it all, as if we have reached enlightenment. Sorry, it’s a myth, and you have so much to learn in life still, you have no idea.
- It is ok not to know everything, but is important is that you know yourself well, and know that you need keep learning and growing your knowledge and experience in life. Only then will have peace with whatever life gives you.
- Every one is different, so don’t compare yourself to others, as that make focus your energy on the wrong things. The only person you need to compare yourself with, is your own self yesterday, last week and last year
By age of 30 you should know a good deal of what career field you like to be in, building on your previous few years of work and to some extent your degree.
- THE PASSION – Whatever career you choose, make sure you love doing it day in and day out, otherwise you will not be happy at your job.
- KNOWLEDGE GROWTH – Strive to learn more to develop your personal knowledge, so you can grow at your job, focusing on being good at it, and never settle to be average. As Jim Rohn beautifully said in his audio book “Exceptional Living”, “Working hard on your job will make you a living, but working hard on yourself will make you a fortune.”
- PRIORITIES, PRIORITIES – Jobs and careers are like an elastic ball, so if they fall, the will eventually bounce back up again, so never give them more priority over your personal life.
- THE ENTREPRENEURIAL WITHIN – Don’t believe that we all must have our own personal business, that is not something for everyone, and for sure it’s not a sign or measurement of success. There are plenty of very wealthy and successful Individuals who have been employees throughout their careers. However, if you have an entrepreneur in you, then it’s the time to take a shot at it. Keep in mind that the older you get, the harder it is to leave your job and establish a personal business.
- MAKING MONEY – In short, learn to save, and the earlier in life you start the better. There are plenty of resources on how to plan your financials and be smart with money, so find your favorite plan and stick to it. Some ideas below:
- Set aside a monthly amount. This amount goes out on the side once you get paid your salary, and before even paying your bills. Do this religiously. This amount should ideally be a percentage of the salary (10%-15% ideally).
- Set a target to aim for. For example, you would want to have, say, $5M in savings by age 45. So, explore options of different funds/projects where you can invest your monthly savings amount in, while working backwards on how to hit the targeted amount. While at it, consider retiring by age 45, and by retiring, I mean that you can just stop working for money. The idea is to have enough accumulated wealth that if you want not work another day and just enjoy the rest of your life traveling, exploring, reading, or writing, you can with no financial worries. This way you can work a few hours a day if you like, while giving focus to the people and things that you care for the most.
Your happiness is mainly in the fulfillment of your persona life, so pay good attention to this side of your life, and as said above, work is like an elastic ball, while family and personal relationships are like a glass ball, much less elastic, so be careful.
- YOUR OTHER HALF – if you are not married yet, then choose your life’s companion wisely, no rush, and once you find your other half, give that person the best of you. No holding backs, no compromise and no tradeoffs. It is like establishing a business with a partner, that business needs constant attention, effort and team work from you and your partner, nonstop and never take it for granted. The three main must-have’s pillars in that relationship are; love, trust & respect. If you have those three, everything else is solvable. Dr. John Gottman says “Marry your best friend. The simple truth is that happy marriages are based on deep friendship. By this, I mean a mutual respect for and enjoyment of each other’s company,” in his book “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.”
- BUCKETLIST CREATION – if you don’t have one already, create one. You must have a list of places to visit, experiences to live, and memories to create. The last thing you want is being at the age of 80, and feeling regrets on wasted dreams you never perused. It’s the great experiences that will last with you for the remainder of your life and not things you buy. I would recommend the social media account @dreamaat_co on snap & instagram, especially for those who never created a bucket list.
- YOUR HEALTH – it’s the only body in the world that you are guaranteed to spend the rest of your life with, so if you DON’T take care of it now in your youth, you will take care of it in illness when you are much older.
- VALUE OF TIME – the only asset you have no control over, and you keep spending from by the second. So, spend it wisely and use it efficiently. Remember that this is the real thing, there are no repeats, no rehearsals, no extra lives, and most of all no fixed timing, as GAME OVER can come at any minute.
- THE HIGHER YOU – it’s your personal time with your inner self, when you pray or meditate. It’s purely a personal decision, but we all do need that connection, regardless of our religious backgrounds, we all need that time to reflect, meditate, connect or pray. Know who you are and what you want, but establish a rhythm. It is not about praying five times a day for example, that’s the actual physical practice, but you need to go deeper and realize who are you standing in front of five times a day, and how should you stand and what should say to really appreciate that post you are in, five times a day. It is that famous hadeeth by prophet Mohammed PBUH when he said to Bilal asking him to call for prayers, saying “أرحنا بها يا بلال’ which means in a way, oh Bilal please call for prayers so we can stand before God, be humbled by his presence and feel the peace and serenity of praying to him.
And the final note to my 30 years old self would be this… think of your own eulogy (which is a speech or piece of writing that praises someone who has just died), and the most important people you care about in life and what are they going to say about you when you are dead. i.e. parents, spouse, kids, siblings, best friends, coworkers, etc. Imagine what would you want each one of those to say about you when you are dead, and how would they describe you as a person considering your relationship to them. Write down how do you want each one of the friends and loves ones above to describe you. That document you will write is a description of your ideal life that you obviously want people to remember you by. Well, so far you are not dead yet, so take that eulogy of yours and make it your manual, your guiding light for how to live the rest of your life.