25 Things I’ve Learned Since High School

by Joseph_Phillips on June 12, 2014

Untitled-15This weekend is my 25th High School Reunion and this weekend is also my son’s 19th birthday. In reflection of both, I’ve created a list of 25 things that I wish I knew when I was his age:

25. Cook. You should know how to cook at least one really good meal that you’ll make for others. Make something outstanding, but not overly complex. If you don’t know how to cook, learn by doing. You can easily start with a slow cooker and a chicken.

24. Be nice. There has never been, nor will there ever be, a shortage of assholes. And since there’s such a big supply of them, there’s little need for you to be one.

23. Actions. Decisions and actions are not the same thing. You can decide to lose weight, get a new job, or move to Alaska, but until you take the action to make it so, you’re dreaming.

22. Creativity. There is a God. Man was made in God’s image. God was a creator. Man is best when he’s Godlike – when he’s creating. Find your creativity.

21. Judgment. People will first judge you by how you look, not how you are on the inside. If you want to make a good first impression, wear nice clothes, polish your shoes, and smile. People will then judge you by what you do. What you do is more important than what you wear.

20. Consequences. There are consequences for your actions; you reap what you sow. You won’t finish a marathon without the training. You won’t write the book without the first sentence. You won’t achieve your goals unless you begin.

19. Waiting. The longer you wait to do something, the worse the dread becomes. It’s best to just get the unpleasant thing done so you can move on.

18. Travel alone. I’ve travelled all around the US and through Europe by myself and with other people. While I’m grateful for both opportunities, the sweetest memories are from the strangers I met and the friends I made on those solo trips.

17. Save. Just because you have it doesn’t mean you should spend it.

16. Contentment. Money isn’t the root of all evil; the lust of money, as the verse actually goes, is the root of all evil. It’s okay to want to be wealthy, but in the meantime, be content with what you have. In the contentment, be thankful.

15. Meeting people. When you shake hands, don’t be a dead fish. Have a confident grip, look the person in the eye, and say their name and how nice it is to meet them. You’ll make more friends and have more meaningful conversations.

14. Be passionate. Don’t find a passion – find several. The things you learn in your passions can help you in other areas of your life. I’m passionate about photography, writing, reading, running, chess, and great movies. I’m rarely bored as I can oscillate from adventure to adventure.

13. Create big goals. Break your big goals down into tiny, tiny goals. Achieve the tiny, tiny goals and your big goals will become a reality. It works.

12. Stuff is heavy. You don’t need all those things. The things you set out to own actually begin to own you. Realize that it’s just stuff, you don’t need it to be happy.

11. Regrets. The parents of regret are fear and doubt. When you’re fearful of failure or doubt your abilities, you’re setting yourself up for regrets. Overcome your fears. Trust in yourself. And try, try, try until you succeed. Know this formula: The more you succeed the more fear and doubt diminish.

10. Fill the void. When you remove something from your life something else will fill that void. When you choose to remove some element from your life also choose what will go into the void you’re creating. If you don’t choose, something else will spill into that hole.

9. Do more. You can do more than you ever thought possible. You’ll never know how far you can go unless you push yourself. Do just a little more today than what you did yesterday.

8. Become the expert. Determine what you’ll need to do and what you’ll need to learn in order to be the expert in an endeavor. When you’re the expert you’ll earn more, be questioned less, and people will respect you. This isn’t permission to be a condescending snob, but an opportunity to be a leader, a mentor, and an influence.

7. Adventure learning. Do things even if you think you might not like them: go camping, listen to opera, learn how to ride a motorcycle, join a club, eat snails, live somewhere else. When you escape from your self-imposed restrictions, then you’re realizing that you really can do whatever you want. You’re learning that you really are free to explore, to experience.

6. Who you are. Believe Shakespeare when Polonius said “To thine own self be true.” Making promises to yourself that you have little intentions to keep is not being true to yourself. Understand who you are and deal with that understanding. When there is a gulf between the “You” in your mind and the “You” presented to others there will be turmoil in your life.

5. Vice President of GTD. You must become the Vice President of GTD – that means you’re the Vice President of “Getting Things Done.” Turn off the TV, get off your ass, and go get done what needs to be done.

4. Parkinson’s Law. Work expands to fill the time allotted to it. If you give yourself ten weeks to accomplish a six-week goal, that goal will take ten weeks. Understand how long it’ll really take and then commit to get it done within that time period.

3. Change. Change happens slowly, like moss climbing over a rock. You are changing, will change, as will your friends and family. When you’re conscious of the change you can control the change. You can create the garden of your life or you can do nothing and allow the moss to creep.

2. Forgive yourself. We are often our worst enemies, our worst critics, and harshest judges. You can’t move onward, upward, if you’re holding yourself down. Let go of the past. Forgive yourself and start anew. You’ll never be the best version of You if you’re held captivate by poor choices and sad events from long ago.

1. Be happy. From all that I’ve read, experienced, and pondered, I believe there are just three things you need to be happy:

 1. You need something to do that’s worthy of your time and talent.

2. You need something exciting to look forward to.

3. You need someone to love.

Above all else, seek out these three things.

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