It’s been a year or two since I was 22. (Okay, maybe three or four.) But as I graduated college and started down the path of life, I remember thinking the world was all mine. I was going to get a great job, quickly earn my millions, travel anywhere, any time, and in general live the life everyone wants to live.
Well things obviously changed from my original 22 year old goals. A Lot! And that’s okay, because right now I wouldn’t change a thing. Yet if I had five minutes to go back and tell my 22 year old self a thing or two, this is probably the advice I would give.
1. Don’t worry about picking a “perfect” career right now. Instead, pick something you can learn from. If you want to travel more, get a job on a cruise ship for a year. Your life isn’t cast in stone at 22. Have fun and play around with the jobs you take. It will only help you later in life.
2. Stop with the credit cards, and build up your savings. Invest, invest, invest. Okay, I’ll admit when Andrew and I first got married, we bought a townhome for $30,000. Man I wish I still had that townhome and was collecting rent. And stocks? Why didn’t we invest in Microsoft or Apple? Its fun to look back and dream, but I would definitely tell myself to jump in a lot earlier.
3. Do what is right for you. It’s hard moving away and getting out of your comfort zone. But the time you spend with friends and family will change along the way anyway. Instead of focusing on what you have, focus on what you could have once in a while too.
At one point in our photography career, Andrew and I had the chance to move to Phoenix to start up another photography business. Because our daughter was young and set in a great school environment, we chose not to do it – and are kicking ourselves now. It would have been a great opportunity. Yes, things worked out well staying and doing what we are doing now. But we always wonder “what if” we would have jumped at something entirely new.
4. Travel as much as you can. It’s a big world out there, and experiencing it changes your perspective. Don’t stop at your country’s borders. Go everywhere. With 195 countries to visit, see how many you can experience – and have it change the way you look at everything.
That’s the great thing about photography, you don’t have to stay in one place. Travel, commercial, even portraits are possible be going anywhere, any time.
5. Never hear the word “NO”. When you are a child, the word “no” doesn’t matter. You still try and reach for the cookie jar. Yet somewhere along the way you start listening to the “no’s”. And by the time you are 22, your confidence is left somewhat shaken. Some people get it back years later, and some people don’t. Don’t listen to the no’s. Get off that track as fast as you can, and find out everything you can hear “yes” to.
6. You don’t need to have it all to take a step back. If you want to quit and try something new, do it. Don’t buy the most expensive house that ties you down. Instead, stay small and flexible. It’s easier to jump at new potentials and experiences if you don’t have as much weighing you down.
7. Completely ignore the negative. When people say you are _______ [fill in the blank with everything you can imagine], don’t take it to heart. The more you hear, the more you should realize you are doing something great. People ignore people that don’t have much to say. But the more you say, the more positive and negative you will hear. Take the good with the bad. Ignore the bad and focus on the good. It will only help you build even more towards the future.
BONUS: The one thing I would congratulate myself on: before my 30th birthday, I quit a high paying corporate job with great benefits, and jumped into the entrepreneur lifestyle. Never be afraid to dream and act on those dreams. Dream more. Jump more. What’s the worst that could happen?
If you are a year or two older than 22, what would you go back and tell yourself?