You’re young, fresh and brimming with the energy and invincibility of youth. The future truly seems limitless, but the reality is that the quality of life ahead and the opportunities and possibilities you can experience are determined by the steps you take right now to guide the course of your future.
So, to set you on the path of least resistance to the life of milk and honey you deserve, here are five things you should be doing while you’re young:
#1 Set goals and timelines
Ever just left the house one morning, and started walking in a random direction with no intended destination or time of arrival? Me neither. Trite as it may sound, setting goals and timelines is the most important piece of planning you can do before embarking on any journey (in this case, life.) A goal can be short-term, like saving $300 by the end of the month; medium-term, like graduating and getting a job next year; or long-term, like retiring by the time you’re 45. Note how each of the previous examples contains both an objective and a timeline; a goal without a timeline is simply just a dream.
Once your goals are set, start taking active steps to achieving them and…
#2 Get educated
Whatever long-term goals you set, chances are you won’t be able to achieve them with your current skill set. Now is the time to build up that brain meat—learn the skills you need and get the relevant qualifications. Depending on your goal, you may not need a PhD, but a certification of any kind in the area you wish to pursue can open certain doors for you and put you (and your resumé) at the top of the pile.
#3 Hone your skills
You have the knowledge, now you need practice. After 14 years of computer programming, I can tell you without a doubt, that knowledge without application counts for absolutely nothing. You don’t learn ‘til you practice.
Try getting a job in your field of interest; an internship would do (remember, you’re not trying to be C.E.O. here…at least not right now). Get your foot in the door, at any level, and learn, learn, learn. This is the best kind of learning since, unlike school, you’re actually being paid to learn this time! But even an unpaid internship isn’t too shabby since this learning period also gives you job experience that will look rather spiffy on that budding resumé.
#4 Practise money management skills
See those new Air Jordans that cost $2,500? See how they’re posed so attractively in the window just begging to be bought? Let them beg somebody else; you’ve got more profitable things to do with your money.
Your personal income could be an allowance, a stipend or a salary. No matter what it is, how old you are or how much you make, plan a budget and stick to it as best as you can. Money, like a crafty criminal, seems to just slip away if you don’t keep your eye on it. The truth is that you’re going to need some money to get where you’re going in life; your cash can serve you better when it’s not in Michael Jordan’s pocket.
This is where people with the very best intentions tend to flounder. It’ll seem like everyone is rocking the latest and the greatest stuff, going to all the coolest events and, overall, appearing to be having the time of their lives. Really though, it’s just smoke. As someone who has passed through this phase and is back here again (see, you have company), I can tell you that those people living it up now are going to be wishing they were more like you in a few years. You’ll be ahead of them in all the areas that count while they’re only just attempting to buckle down, get serious…and not be broke.
#5 Take the shot!
- Goal due date: Soon.
- Education: Check!
- Hot skills that nobody can compete with: Check!
- Money management skills to put an accountant to shame: Double check!
Now you’re ready to take the shot. All those years of hard work and sacrifice have led to this moment; set engines to warp speed and fire on all cylinders! You can handle it.
Again, most people tend to get a little shaky at this point; just when the time is nigh to execute the final phase of the master plan. Don’t be one of them. You’ve done your homework, planned and prepared, and at this point the only thing holding you back right now is you. Refresh yourself, roll your shoulders and neck and make the final leg of the ascent to your personal success and satisfaction.
If you plan to be an entrepreneur, go register that company and start building your product/service. If you plan to be C.E.O. of the firm, start lunging upward, moving and shaking things up. Whatever your endgame is, give yourself one last squirt of NOS to rocket you past the finish line.
Whether you’re 12 or 32, you’re never too young or too old to get a hold of your life and chart a course for a new journey. Using these tips as your map, let God be your guide and success will be certain.
About the Author:
Kevin’s idea of the perfect day is one huddled around the warm glow of a monitor, eyes fixed on a code editor and hands caressing a comfortable keyboard. His hobbies include writing, fine cinema, adoring his gorgeous wife and attempting world domination.