Five Things Every Twenty Something Should Know Going Into 2014

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Like that, another year is in the books.

12 Months. 52 Weeks. 365 Days. 8,765 Hours. 25,948 Minutes. 31,556,926 Seconds.

Over the last few months, I’ve seen countless tweets and Facebook updates from friends, peers, colleagues and acquaintances referencing the infamous quarter life crisis. It’s that awkward moment when you look in the mirror and question what you’re doing with your life. It’s that moment when you start questioning your career choices, degree choices, partner choices, and various other life choices that you can’t actually change. And that’s the key point. You can’t change what has already happened. You can’t change the past. You can only influence the future.

As this year comes to an end, take time to look at where you were in 2012 and compare that to how far you’ve come in 2013. Look closely at the new connections you’ve made, the friends you’ve lost and growth you’ve made as an individual. Look closely at your decisions and ponder what you could have done differently. Learn from those mistakes and be committed to accepting the past as just that while looking forward to a future of promise and potential. This is just a friendly reminder that you’ve got this. Whatever you want to accomplish, you can do it. You just need to focus and keep these few things in mind as you move into the New Year:

Realize That “FOMO” is The Enemy

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If you haven’t heard of this acronym, FOMO means Fear Of Missing Out. It’s built on the reality that many people make choices solely because they don’t want to miss out on something. They don’t want to miss out on a great party, great event or an experience that their friends could have without them. In this new digital world, it even gets so bad that people always want to be connected to Facebook so they aren’t the last to see that their friend is listed as “In A Relationship”. That thought process is the enemy of discipline and will keep you from achieving your goals and having a healthy social life.

It’s important to be disciplined with your time. You need to be disciplined in the number of times you say Yes to events and smart about those in which you do attend. You also need to recognize that you don’t need to know everything in real time and that it’s okay to wait until tomorrow to check Facebook.

At this age, there are a lot of opportunities to hang out with friends and be entertained. And while it’s important to strike a balance between work and play, you need to recognize that spending too much time playing is what will hold you back from living the life of your dreams. Strive to find a balance and be committed to saying No more times than you’re used to. At first it might feel awkward but good friends will understand.

“No New Friends” Is A Stupid Motto

When Drake came out with this song, a handful of twenty somethings and teens started proclaiming they don’t want any new friends. And that’s the stupidest thing I’ve heard in my entire life. I’m sorry to be so blunt but let’s get serious folks. Business and life is all about new relationships with people and the experiences we share together. It’s about building together, learning together, laughing together, and succeeding together (Tweet This). If you limit your network and circle to those currently around you, you’re going to limit your own growth and happiness.

Being connected is paramount for success. It’s one of the most overlooked realities throughout University but it’s a reality that each of us have to accept and deal with. In a world where building your network doesn’t only happen at fancy golf courses and networking events, it’s easier than ever to build strong relationships. Through tools like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook you can establish meaningful relationships with professionals you admire and respect. Don’t limit yourself to your existing circle. Go beyond that and challenge yourself to meet people who are smarter than you, think differently than you, and are interested in different things.

A diverse network of connections is a great way to grow yourself without much work. I have friends who have interests or careers in architecture, mechanical engineering, fashion, meteorology, education, and the military. This wide range of interests gives me a chance to get out of the social media bubble and better understand the reality of others. It also gives me a chance to learn about things that I would typically not spend the time to understand. And it’s all because I embrace the idea of new friends. Our relationships matter more than money or things. Happiness lies in rewarding relationships and experiences, not material wealth.

It’s Okay To Fail. As Long As You Learn From It.

Failure isn’t as bad as you think. It’s okay to butcher an introduction if you learn from it; it’s okay to butcher a pitch if you can learn from it. The key here is recognizing the importance of learning from your mistakes and identifying how you can improve or do better the next time. That’s really the biggest differentiator between those who are constantly moving forward and those who stand still.

People who allow their past to cloud their future are too blinded to see their own potential (Tweet This). It’s this insecurity that stops us from trying something new, saying hello to a stranger or leaving our job for a new opportunity. Don’t make that mistake.

It’s easy to get down on yourself for your failures. But it’s important to realize that more times than not, it’s because you’re comparing your behind the scenes footage with everyone else’s highlight reel that you feel this way. Comparing yourself to others is a sure-fire way to sink into a pity party and hold yourself back from getting up and moving forward.

You Are The Best Investment You Can Make.

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RRSPs, Stocks, Bonds, all of these things can make for great investments. While each of them come with risk there’s one investment that you can make that is pretty much risk free. That’s an investment into yourself. Investing in knowledge, growth and personal development is the best investment you can make (Tweet This). When you make an investment into yourself, it’s a long term investment that will have an impact that lasts as long as you live.

Investments you can make into yourself vary from a gym membership so you can stay healthy, to a handful of books from amazon so you can gain new knowledge. As you move forward into the New Year, think about the skills you want to gain along with your existing weaknesses to see where you should make an investment. The investment doesn’t always require finances either. Many investments simply require a time commitment.

Greatness Only Comes Before Hustle In The Dictionary

I talk to a lot of twenty somethings with dreams of success in their careers but lack the hustle. Somewhere along the way, many of us forgot that hustle comes before success. You need to be willing to put in the hours to know your craft and put in the time to make the connections you need to get where you want to be.

It’s not enough to spend four years in University and have the expectation that everything will be handed to you. You need to work for it. You need to earn it. You need to hustle and go out and get what you feel you deserve. While there have been countless studies conducted that debunk Malcolm Gladwell’s belief that 10,000 hours will make you an expert; it’s thinking like this that will get you closer to your dreams.

If you’re going to hustle, you have to start taking personal responsibility for your own career. You need to take responsibility for your failures and successes and stop making excuses for why you’re not where you want to be. You need to put in the blood, sweat, and tears with the intent of being successful. Dedicate 2014 to the hustle and I guarantee you when you’re done, you’ll look back at and see one of your most lucrative years yet.

So what’s on your list of things to do for the new year? What things are you going to finally commit to doing? What risks will you take? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

  • http://ryanstephensmarketing.com/blog/ Ryan Stephens

    Good stuff, Ross. I think one important thing to remember is that most people (not just Millennials, Gen Y, whatever you call us) are still figuring things out. Every. Single. Day. Our generation just wants to label it something, thinks they’re alone facing normal challenges, and feels the need to wax poetic about it to our peers.

    I genuinely like all 5 of these and think they all hit the nail on the head. I especially like the part about investing in yourself. I think that’s critical. It makes me laugh when people balk at the cost of a book when 9 times out of 10 there’s something, even just a small nugget, in the book that’s applicable to your life and will likely provide much more than the $12-$15 you paid for it.

  • http://www.rosssimmonds.com/ Ross Simmonds

    Spot on. A wise friend once told me that there’s nothing in this world that we can go through that someone else hasn’t. And because of that, we need to constantly look for the answers through reading and learning. I couldn’t agree more. It’s so important that our generation recognizes that we’re not alone.

    I read an article on Drew Houston, the CEO of Dropbox a few days ago and it talked about how he spent weekends reading for hours when launching Dropbox. In the interview he focused on the importance of gaining knowledge as much knowledge as fast as you can and planning ahead to read books and learn what you’ll need to know in the future. It makes so much sense. That $12-$15 investment could be enough to change your life or at the least your perspective.

  • Hadlay M

    Two months later, but I couldn’t agree with you more. I have always loved reading and gaining knowledge. One of the best purchases I made was my ebook. But I’ve discovered that many of my peers are not as excited as I am about reading. Which is a pity because they’re missing out on so much. I firmly believe that there’s always room for improvement and always a lesson to learn whether it’s within your own life experiences or through someone else’s. Having now reached that understanding, I constantly challenge myself to share my experience and add value /insight where I can. Thank you for always providing informative posts Ross. Keep it up :)

  • http://www.rosssimmonds.com/ Ross Simmonds

    Reading really is one of the greatest cheat codes to life. Appreciate the comment!

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