stop giving yourself pain…
Now that I have gotten wiser with age, I can look back on hindsight and say where I went wrong and what I could have done better. If I was young and had done what I now suggest, I can imagine getting more success and happiness. Even if you are older, it is not too late to amend. They are about doing two things-observe and ask… then of course do it!
It is the fact of life ; that young people are so eager to go out into the world and make their mark knowing life accords them only one chance. They have the ‘now I am grown up’ attitude that impedes them. The wise ones take the legitimate short cut of observing, asking and doing.
What should I do whether I am young or old and want to avoid making too many mistakes in life?
1) I would study hard. It is when we are young that we have the power to retain knowledge with speed and volume. Be good in what you have to learn even if you think you will not apply it later in your life. It is the discipline that you inculcates, the tenacity to do your best in what you are suppose to do. Things then get easier if you need to learn more as you grow older as the habit is ingrained. For this reason, children must be encouraged and motivated to study hard.
If you are much older, all the more you need to work hard consistently to keep up with the ever changing world to keep abreast of what is happening. No one can guide you fully except yourself and if you are literate, you already have the basic skill.
“ The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn” Alvin Toffler
2) I would read widely– novels, non fiction, philosophy, well written articles. All these activities contribute to better writing skills as well as speaking skills (though these need to be honed further )and critical thinking. Only books can open the mind like nothing else. Maybe movies do too but they need some afterthought and analyses as the messages may be subtle. The ability to speak eloquently and also write fluently will come in good stead later in life. The best things that adults can do for children is to engage children in reading widely.
3) I would always make time for sport. Any sport- swimming ,golf, ball games etc. It is another discipline worth instilling in oneself. Sporty people are more resilient to physical and emotional discomfort as they always strive to do their best and sports do demand a certain amount of personal drive and motivation.
4) I would not waste time idling or gossiping. There are so many experiences to be had. Once you become an adult in the working world, free time becomes a luxury. It is a chance to do jobs that you are curious about to find out more about them- for example , if you like a certain restaurant, why not apply to temp there for a period and find out how things worked so well for them? What is the secret behind that delicious dish? Why not do a sales job and experience how challenging it is?
I think to go to school from the lower level right up to University then graduate into the working world is quite a parochial way to live. When you do a temporary job during the holidays or even in the evenings, you may be attracted to certain vocation or profession and that can lead you to study what you feel you are passionate about. Not to mention that you may be talent spotted for their job in future.
By fate, I did not have enough money for University and had to seek out a job that paid well. That was in the late 1970s. I could only think of an air stewardess job that paid relatively well then. Though I have only worked for one and a half years, there was much seen and learnt in the real world. One grows up very quickly in an airline job where there is much exposure to human interaction than working in the office, in this case, with passengers and colleagues.
In any case, I would not trade this experience for an earlier year to graduate if I could go back to dental school immediately from my college. The experience in the airlines- the travels, the destinations, the people I met were priceless.
5) I would be selective about my friends. Without discriminating anyone as every one of us has our own talents, I would shun people who have a propensity for dangerous habits — gambling, excessive smoking, drugs, you name it. It is the peer pressure that will get you so do not even give yourself any proximity to such influences. The friends you select should be sincere, forgiving and love acquiring knowledge. The ones I avoid would be loud and emotional, violent and fickle hence lacking direction in life.
In this respect, I am glad that I was reined in by my own conservative and traditional attitude. As an air stewardess at 19 years old, I was subjected to a lot of temptations — smoking, excessive drinking, gambling, material seduction etc all of which I had no interests. Not that they are all bad people as long as one is able to get out of these habits at some point.
6) I would learn to be money-wise. Be a saver. Savings compound themselves. Spend when there is excess and if only when it is necessary. The lure of credit spending is a curse. Though credit has the convenience of ‘instant cash’ and rewards for purchase, the fine print of a credit card cannot be overlooked. Credit cards are useful if the amount used is duly paid otherwise, the principal amount not settled often snowball into a runaway debt. Today, the interest on the principal amount may be as high as 29%! Young people would do well to observe why some people are in a cycle of debt.
7) I would look for mentors — usually the older ones whom I admire in their field. Read about them, even better if you have met their acquaintance and if it is me, I would ask them for advice and mentorship if they agree. Actually, I also believe that a mentor may be younger than you. When I wanted to learn about computer skills, I would usually approach the younger ones. I have had mentors in flute playing, Japanese language, Mandarin language, minor oral surgery and I thank these friends for their generous mentoring. I am open to anyone who is willing to share their failure or success stories as there is always something to learn.
8) Even as we grow older, we are still making silly mistakes. The key is to keep an open mind knowing that there will always be someone better than ourselves so stay humble. Other people’s life lessons are invaluable. When a mistake is made, be aware and try not to repeat it.
To err once is human, to err again is a fool.
The pain in one’s life journey is often the result of one’s choices. It takes some reflection to understand why we get to the stage that we become despaired. Everything can be ameliorated. Put aside your pride, have an open mind and eyes, think, ask and listen and then act.
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