5 Things I’ve Learned in My 20’s: Business Tips and Life Lessons
Sandwiched between my boyfriend and his grandma Lucy at the breakfast table, I ate my oatmeal topped with fruit in silence, hoping no one would ask me a question. I didn’t want to speak for fear of choking up.
“Make sure to do a lot of crazy things in life, even if not everyone agrees with it, because those are the best times.”
Usually sarcastic and a bit reserved, grandma Lucy’s words echoed with purity and warmth, letting us into a light in her life — a time when opportunity abounded, before she was struck with dementia, before she lost a chunk of her memory, before she lost Peter, the love of her life. That morning at the breakfast table was unlike other mornings at the breakfast table. It was Peter’s birthday, and Lucy was reflecting on the good times, bestowing wisdom on us in the process.
Sometimes we must be reminded that life isn’t as complicated as we make it to be.
In an effort to be more conscious of this, I’ve created a list of five business tips and life lessons I’ve learned in my 28 years of life thus far:
Five Business Tips and Life Lessons
- Time is the only luxury. If you knew exactly when you were going to die, how would you choose to spend your last day on Earth? And who would you spend it with? This is a great exercise in realizing who and what is truly important to you. How many of you would spend your last day playing video games, working on a menial project, or watching TV? With 24 hours left, because you’re aware that your time is so limited, you’d probably cut out things that don’t strengthen or fulfill you, or improve your bottom line. In reality, our time is so limited and today could be your last day on Earth. Quit wasting time valuing disposable objects that have no value to your goals and self-growth, and stop putting energy into relationships that aren’t reciprocated or that no longer fulfill you. All you have is now.
- It’s okay to change your mind. I can be extremely indecisive. I attribute this characteristic to my habit of overthinking and fearing I might make the wrong decision, which could lead to regret. This way of thinking can be paralyzing. We must learn to give up some of our control and surrender. Follow your gut, your instinct, and your heart. At the end of the day, we are the only ones who must live with the consequences of our decisions. Most times, we already know what we seek, but our fear of being wrong leads us to procrastinate actually doing it. The beauty of decision-making is that, oftentimes, the result is temporary. If we move somewhere and don’t like it (as was the case with my brief affair with New York City), we can always move back. If we end up in a relationship we’re no longer happy in, we have the freedom to end it and start over. If a career move isn’t the right fit, there’s no harm in moving on. We learn by trial-and-error. The shoe won’t always fit, nor should we expect it to.
- Make time for yourself. I am, by nature, a workaholic. A few years ago, while climbing the so-called “business ladder” and getting a high off being busy — working early mornings, late nights, and even some weekends — I lost sight of other priorities, like my own health. Around that same time of having no balance in my life, I began to ignore a health concern (I don’t have time to see a doctor or take time off; I need to catch up on work!). I ended up in the emergency room, losing a day of work anyway. There will always be work to be done. Understand that you can’t do it all, all the time. Prioritize yourself and your well-being, because no one else will do that for you.
- Actions are everything. We have a tendency to hold on to words. Growing up, we realize that words don’t actually have meaning unless they are met with action. The same goes for thoughts. We may have the ability to conjure up insanely amazing ideas — perhaps to increase our connections with consumers or to improve the world we live in. But that has no value at all if the idea is not put into motion. The same goes for people in our lives. If your best friend or partner consistently makes empty statements or promises without following through, maybe it’s time to rethink where they fit into your life.
- Be kind, always. You’ve probably heard this a million times, but it’s true: It costs nothing to be kind. Being nice doesn’t have to be anything big; small acts of kindness are just as effective. Giving a stranger a compliment can brighten their entire day. Communicating your gratitude and appreciation to someone in your life can boost their confidence and strengthen your relationship in the process. My first internship was at an NBC affiliate in Miami, and I wanted to make an impact on my supervisor, who became a friend and mentor. Therefore, everything I did was met with a heightened awareness, including the little things. I didn’t realize it at the time, but was told my emails and how I signed off on them were extremely thoughtful and positive. My supervisor told me that no matter how successful or busy I became, I should never change that, because people will always remember how you make them feel. It takes more energy and emotion to be rude than it does to be kind. There’s no excuse.
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