10 things I wish I did after graduating from university that would help me live a better life today (~15 years after graduating)
I reflect back on the journey I've taken and some lessons I learned later in life that would help me now.
1. Learn how to sell
For the longest time, I thought selling was something used car salesmen did and it disgusted me. I didn't want to convince people to buy something they didn't want. But selling is something we do every day. We sell ideas to our partners. We sell ideas to our boss. We sell ideas to ourselves. Selling is just a fancy combination of communication, negotiation, persuasion, and understanding.
2. Learn how to communicate
I was lucky that my father turned me to Toastmasters early in my life. I attribute many of the good things in my life to good communication skills. For example, knowing how to talk with clients, knowing how to answer questions, knowing how to interview - all of these situations are comprised of mini skills that I learned in Toastmasters.
3. Read (and take action)
I've always been a big reader when I was young, but after university, for some reason, I stopped reading. I felt like my 'learning journey' was completed. I finished my Bachelors for goodness sake! But my learning is never done. Nor is yours. University was a great 'forced' way of getting people to learn (and some people don't even do that).
What was difficult was transitioning from being directed to learn to taking learning into my own hands and being completely accountable for what to learn and what resources to use. But the earlier you learn this, the more growth you'll experience because learning (just like investing) compounds.
4. Learn about investing
I'm not an investor or even financially savvy. All I know is that I wish I had at least learned about investing earlier in my life. Maybe I wouldn't have invested back then, I don't know, but learning about investing, and destroying my preconceived notions would have done a lot into getting me into a path for financial independence.
James Altucher says there are three key skills with money: earning it, saving it, growing it. I only talk about investing (growing) here as I'm assuming you can earn and save money but if you can't do those two things, you're always going to be tied to some sort of work (and wouldn't you want to retire early?)
5. Learn to retire
Yes, learning how to retire right after university would have helped me. Ernie Zelinski, author of The Joy of Not Working, argues that when people retire, they don't know how to.
And if you learn how to retire early, you might find that retiring is so fun (and affordable) that you can do it right away.
Learn what makes you happy. If you didn't have to work, what would you do? Do that with every free moment you have. Experiment with sabbaticals or leaves from work. Or negotiate with your employer to work on a part-time basis. Why wait until you're 65 to retire when you have all of your best years now?
6. Find a healthy activity you can do regularly and inexpensively
Investing in your health pays you dividends in all areas of your life.
After university, I joined the YMCA. Sure it was fun to head to the Y after work and get on the machines. But I really started losing weight (and enjoying it) when I played sports - floor hockey, badminton, squash. It also didn't feel like I was just doing reps for the sake of doing reps.
Find something you enjoy doing that will get you sweaty without you realizing it.
7. Date around
For the longest time after graduating, I didn't date. Tinder wasn't around, but I also had strange hangups about online dating so I didn't register for some of the dating websites right away. I thought it would be great to meet people but I never put myself out there.
I went into dating thinking I would meet my soulmate and that would be that. But I'm not sure life works that way. Dating is a way to meet your soulmate, but honestly, if you haven't done a lot of dating, you don't know what you like or dislike. Dating is a way for you to learn more about what you want in a partner. Dating is also a way to learn more about what you are like in a relationship and some things to do and not do. Date lots of people to learn more about yourself so that when you do meet your soulmate, you are ready.
8. Travel lots
Bonus if you get to travel for work because then you're not paying for it out of your own pocket.
Travelling is great. It exposes you to other cultures. Other people. Other foods. Travelling shows you that the world you live in is such a small place. I travel because I love experiencing other cultures, but when I come back to my home, I always have a fresh perspective on things, whether it's work, how to enjoy life, relationships and other things.
I suggest travelling earlier in your life because later in life, you aren't weighed down by lots of things (kids, finances, work, etc.) Not to say that you can't travel later in life but it's a little easier to pick up and go when you don't have kids to work about, or wonder how you're going to afford your mortgage and save at the same time)
9. Learn how to cook
Living by yourself is a great way to learn how to do a lot of things that you took for granted when you were living with your parents. You learn how to do the laundry. You learn how to clean. You learn how to take transit. But one of the best things I learned a little later in life that I wish I learned earlier was cooking.
Besides the fact that you save money if you cook your own food, it's a fun way of creating, experimenting, and seeing the results right away. I've made some horrible dishes in my life, but I've also made some surprising ones too.
And if you want to be more creative, browse through a recipe book. The colours, combinations, photos, and ingredients will stimulate your thinking.
10. Become an idea machine
James says that every 6 months of being an idea machine has changed his life. I believe it although to be honest, I haven't done it 6 months straight before (trying to start a chain now).
When you come up with ideas every day, you develop an abundant mindset. You no longer worry about people stealing your ideas. I'll just come up with 10 more tomorrow. And you don't really care whether your ideas are good. Quantity of ideas > quality of ideas.
There was a study done with a photography class. They asked half the students to take as many photos as they could and that their grade would be based on the number of photos they took. They asked the other half to submit the best photo and their grade would be based on that one photo they took. After, they looked at who produced the better photos. The result? The students whose grade was based on the number of photos they took produced better photos.
Why focus on developing that one best idea when you can develop ten good ideas? And once you have those ten good ideas, do what James says: practice idea sex. Combine those ten good ideas and see what happens.