2. Take care of joints and teeth. Once they degenerate it's impossible to reverse the process.
3. Get financials straight. Know tricks to increase your credit score and keep it as high as you can. Also knows to invest a bit and make sure not to borrow money to invest because you are probably not that good.
4. Find something you can spend a life on. Something fundamental such as astronomy, mathematics, physics, geology, etc. The point is not to excel at these things, but to find consolence when you feel being ditched by the whole world. Reason I recommend those topics because not only you understand the world better after studying them but your mind will be sharper.
5. Stay away from gambling unless you are very disciplined. And if you do, don't play against the house and don't borrow money to gamble.
6. Stay away from drugs. Maybe stay away from smoking too. You don't need those for "artistic inspiration" or other enhancements. Exercising and reading get you much further. Enhancements through medication also bring side effects in the long run.
7. Build your personal brand. Be sound and reasonable. Knows how to communicate effectively. Learn to speak in public. Soft skills are tough to pick up and grow.
A trainer is essential for a new lifter. It is easy to hurt yourself, and you need to work on good form for years before it becomes second nature. You will look good (you won't look like a meathead), feel good, and your bones and heart will stay strong into middle age as your peers get fat and unhealthy.
Start investing. You don’t have to learn a ton about picking stocks — start by consistently putting money into a robo-advisor like Wealthfront or Betterment. This compounds; a small amount of money invested now will be more impactful than a large amount of money invested later.
If your job offers a 401k, contribute as much as possible. If you can afford it, max it out. This also compounds.
Appreciate your body. Years down the line, you will have to expend a lot of money and effort to look the way you look right now for free. I used to love having long hair in my teens and early 20s; now I need to take hair loss drugs.
Related: start exercising. The aforementioned money and effort will be much less if you build up good exercise habits now.
Learn to cook. Cook a variety of things. This saves money and becomes more important socially as you age.
Take a hobby seriously. I’ve played guitar for almost 15 years, but haven’t tried to really up my technical skills until recently, and now there’s a long road ahead of me until I can play what I want. Whatever you decide to do, when you get serious about it you’ll wish you had done so years prior.
Related: if you’re in tech, finish your side projects. It takes a lot of dedication, especially in the home stretch, but it’s much more satisfying to be able to point to one finished thing you made than a dozen abandoned works in progress.
It's very much an enriching experience that constantly feels worthwhile, but it's been years in unfolding for me. These things build over time just as much as interest does on bank accounts.
...and I haven't actually done that much drawing, so maybe this is bubkus, but I feel very strongly that it's the same. A decade of doing it with some regularity, at any age, is worth infinitely more than a year of showing promise when you're 15.
- Start seeing a dentist every ~6 months. You won't have any issues for many years, so you may think that it's wasted time/money, but one day things will start going downhill and you will be prepared. Note that many tooth or gum issues cannot be reversed.
- As someone else mentioned, don't be afraid to experiment. You will mostly regret the things you haven't done, not the other way around.
- Take care of yourself, try to stay fit, but don't worry about the things you do wrong too much.
Also, yes, therapy, although this can be expensive. The difficulty in explaining therapy is that until you've committed to it, the benefits / aspect of it as a tool aren't super grokable. You may need to try out many therapists. They're essentially a pair-programming decompiler. You and this technician work to make sense of the machine code of your mind. Incidentally, therapy also helps realign friendships since you can use therapy to deconstruct personal / social / work issues, and use time with friends to build / elevate one another. Many folks misconstrue a friend who "listens" as a form of therapy; it's very much not. A good therapist will be a master pattern matcher, and will help you build habits to extract yourself from negative loops.
Speaking of negative loops: personally, I found removing alcohol from my diet to be one of the simplest and most profound overall quality-of-life upgrades. I wish I had done it sooner. (I did it around ~29.)
And don't worry too much about investing. Open a Schwab / Etrade account and put $100 in it. Just break the "investing seal." Treat it like a little savings account to start with. And then slowly add to your portfolio. The critical step is making the account. This will allow future decisions to flow more easily.
Read every damn day. Read in your field proactively - stuff you don't need to know yet. Read stuff tangentially related to your field. Read the stuff most people in your field don't know (sales! business! negotiation! psychology!) This has been the bedrock of my entire career. I now make a comfortable upper middle class salary working 20-24h a week as a consultant, allowing me to do grad school in areas of personal interest, and I didn't even do comp sci in uni, or start programming professionally until I was 30. But I probably read 1-2 hours a day and have read a lot over the last three decades. It has paid off massively. Learning to write is important too, but recently there has been a trend in telling everyone they need to write daily. If you write more than you read, you're doing it wrong and are probably a shit writer wasting your time. (Real Writers who have done an extended period of MASSIVE reading excluded..)
Learn soft skills: writing, communicating, negotiating, reading a room. I did this by doing door to door canvassing in my 20's for an environmental group, haha. Trial by fire. Once you've spent some time hitting rich folks in West Vancouver for money to save trees, you aren't afraid of any meeting. (No German Shepherd ready to roam out onto the road and scare me off? I got this.)
Have a hobby that you can build a life-long practice habit around. I recommend this be something that you don't plan to pivot your career to so you don't ever take your eyes off long term development for short term gain. Music is a popular one, but there are lots of other options. The point of it is to get good and consistent at highly focused solitary skill development. Warren Buffet famously credited playing an instrument as his biggest advantage. I've taught a bunch of juniors to code now, and the ones who already had this skill basically had rockets on their feet. One of my friends who has been a silicon valley exec many times over said "I always hire the musicians".
Lots of other things are important, but for me, those are the big three. Start doing those now and you'll have a very attractive career in your 30's and 40's.
Build a reading habit. Books have evolved as a central tenet of knowledge preservation of societies for a reason - they contain a lifetime of wisdom in a few hours of consumption. Read books that are 10+ years old, like High Output Management, The Mythical Man Month, and Good Strategy / Bad Strategy. They’re written by people who have done great things and condensed great lessons, don’t underestimate the depth of the words and revisit them often!
Make at least 2 really close friends that you can tell anything, preferably outside of work. You can make friends at work, just make sure you keep the friendship and hang out afterwards since work can distort relationships. As you get older it’s generally harder to make friends, but just as important to have them - so make them young!
Exercise is great, has been mentioned multiple times. Carve out an hour a week, start small, but be consistent. Healthy body = healthy mind!
1. Work on your cardio and your strength. If you don't like weightlifting, that's OK, you don't need to do all the fancy accessory movements (curls, leg extensions, side raises, etc.). However, increasing your strength in the big 5 is huge boon to your life and your longevity: Some kind of deadlift, a squat, bench, Pull-ups, and an overhead press. Strong, fit, and flexible/mobile is the key to feeling young as you age.
2. Don't bother about "building a personal brand" because you probably have no idea what you want to be or who you really are yet. Instead, actively avoid building a bad brand. Be honest, don't overcommit, don't speak ill of others, don't be an unwarranted pessimist (without a solution), etc. You can use that clean slate to build on later. Plenty of people don't ever get clean slates because they pollute their "brand" with what were ultimately throw away jokes, bad moments, etc.
3. Earn money, invest it, and reduce your spending on material things. Learn your taste in clothing by doing it inexpensively (though not too cheaply, don't skimp on decent quality) and when it's locked in, then buy the nice versions. Don't rush to houses and cars. They'll come when you know where you want to be and who you want to be with.
4. Do spend money on experiences. Sure, ocassional nights out, but mostly whatever will make formative memories.
5. Spend time with your family. They won't be too old yet for quality time and they still are likely to have their health, and you're free enough to not have to squeeze them in around kids, work, etc. Get to know them as adults now you're one.
6. Continue to educate yourself (even informally).
7. Do not neglect your health.
8. Seriously, don't neglect your health.
9. Consider therapy or coaching. Yes, you do have things you can work on. No, they may not be illnesses or significant, but why not improve what can be improved?
- Friends and family and community. This is actually more important than all other advice in this thread (I never say that kind of thing, but it's true here). They will be there for you when you can't be there for yourself. The HN community is giving good advice, and a community that knows you personally will give you even better advice. Modernity is hard on friendships and community so it takes some work to get started and maintain.
- Exercise. In your 20s, someone who lifts is just bigger. In your 30s and 40s, someone who lifts is actually fitter, and it diverges from there.
- Music. I have just started learning piano. "Where has this been all my life?" The skill compounds, and it's a huge help.
- Therapy, probably. Whatever issues you have won't just go away, and it's wonderful to have inner freedom. Quality is completely dependent on the relationship with that particular therapist.
- Meditation, if you can avoid the mainstream stuff.
Get a working holiday visa in Canada, australia, Japan or UK. Go live.
I'm in my early 40s now and I don't juggle or balance as often as I used to, but I still find time every now and then and enjoy dusting off the skills. These kinds of things can also surprise and impress people, or encourage others to give them a go, or best; get surprised when someone else also has the same skills. It's like an instant bond. That knowing nod shared when people understand the work that has gone into learning these stupid things.
So yeah.. my piece of advice is, while you're young and have more "spare time"; spend some of it on learning some weird physical skill.
Others have mentioned learning an instrument... and I've sort of regretted putting my time into learning physical "tricks" rather than say the guitar.. So maybe my advice is to do both :)
Don’t do drugs, gamble, drink, or watch tons of porn.
Do read. Books. Not kindles. Books.
Be part of a regular community. That could be church, a sports team, chorus, etc.
Invest. Put money in an SP500 index fund. Especially if retirement accounts available.
Don’t be an asshole.
If you need therapy, get therapy. Take a Carnegie course. Even taking etiquette lessons can help.
Learn to cook. You’ll save so much money and eat much better food.
Get a pet. Having a pet is a lifestyle, and a good one.
Consider having kids. It’s rare people say “I wish I never had children.” Early 20s might be too early, but there’s no perfect time.
Also, have fun!
Exercise independent thought and awareness of yourself (self-inquiry) and those around you.
Give yourself time to do it, sink it in. Time invested in understanding yourself will bring great appreciation for life which will lay a solid foundation for all the positive things to come in your future.
2. Get to know people who are 5 and 10 years ahead of you in your career track. This will push you out of your bubble of same age peers.
3. There's a high likelihood that you're wrong about many things about the world in your 20's. The effect of cognitive biases (read up on them) is also non-negligible at this age. So make sure you have a feedback mechanism to validate whatever it is that you think are learning. Otherwise it's possible to be wrong about things for years without realizing it.
4. Learn at least one hard skill that can be measured objectively in some way (if you haven't already). It could be programming, maths, music, sports etc. Once you know what it feels like to genuinely learn something, you're less likely to fool yourself when learning other things later in life.
5. Develop friendships and other relationships if you find people you gel with.
6. Don't get too out of whack, health wise. Try a bunch of physical activities until you find one you enjoy doing on a regular basis.
7. 20s are a time when you are at the bottom of the power hierarchy in the corporate world and probably socially and politically as well. So beware of anti-authority, outsider-types figures who'll use this resentment to sell you simplistic solutions to everything. At the same time, keep in mind that power corrupts. Chesterton's fence and all that.
Exercise - helps you think better, helps you feel better, helps you emotionally. Find something you like doing - I do power lifting and yoga - and get in the habit of doing it daily.
Explore - odds are your career isn’t really going to take off until your late 20s at the earliest, because frankly until then you’re just not going to be very good. Spend the time to learn everything you can from everyone you can and try anything you can - experience now pays dividends later. Accept that you’re young and inexperienced, be humble, don’t pretend you know what you’re doing when you don’t, and you’ll come out of this decade miles ahead of where you start.
Oh, and - you’ve got 60 years ahead of you, statistically speaking. Probably no more, probably no less. Plan accordingly.
don't spend 4 or more years in college unless you need it for immigration reasons. if you do end up doing this sort of thing, use it as a time to cultivate lifelong friendships with worthwhile people.
In general, in those years, you should take biggest risks and try to do/learn the most difficult stuff you can find and you are interested in. Do not prematurely tie yourself to a job that doesn't provide a sufficient challenge. (You can always make more money later.)
The life is a negotiation with reality about what you can accomplish. Do not set your initial offer too low.
It's much harder to make friends in your 30s when people spend more time with their families. No experience with 40s yet, but extrapolating, I suspect it becomes close to impossible :)
Otherwise, I'll just +1 early investing and dentist others mentioned.
Learn as much as you can.
Start investing early.
Read. This will get you an edge against most people today.
Here are some things that may help your quality of life several decades from now.
* Start saving a large chunk of your income and invest it wisely in assets that will provide value over the long term. Avoid get rich quick schemes.
* Exercise everyday, preferably for a minimum of 30 minutes (it doesn't have to be a single session).
* Eat well, meaning, you can eat in tasty and highly indulgent foods, but develop the habit to eat more of whole and unprocessed/minimally processed foods.
* Related to the previous point, cooking is a life skill that will help manage your budget and health better. Learn to cook and try to cook at least one meal a day, if not all meals for the day.
* Sleep well and rest well during your waking hours.
* Related to the point about sleep and rest, try to regularly review your interactions online and offline, and cut off those that are not productive or those that make you feel worse, increase stress, etc. Good relationships can uplift you a lot, and bad relationships can make every other achievement pointless.
* Try out meditation, and if you're sure about your mental health, try a meditation retreat (even once is enough for a different perspective).
* It's natural to get extremely angry and upset about many things in this world. Practice some detachment if possible (this depends on your background and situation).
Odds and ends:
* Measure and track what you value. Without measurement, you won't realize how far you've reached or how far you've deviated from your desired states.
* Enjoy life through whatever provides you joy. Don't get guilt tripped by others on this front.
* Though related to health, I'm keeping this for the last since it may be very controversial. Avoid or drastically minimize the consumption of alcohol, smoking, and also caffeine if you can. The accumulated damage from these over decades cannot be reversed (well, if you have good genes, then it's a different matter).
And don't forget to enjoy the results of the above. :)
Chase your passions at the moment you have them. One day you will wake up and your heart has moved on.
I wish I would have skipped the entire college career quagmire and jumped right into living simply, healthily, happily, small.
The reason I suggest the foregoing is that technology changes at a rapid pace, but in my experience the majority of real problems stem from people factors, communications issues, biases, lack of critical thinking, perverse incentives, factors such as ego, greed, hubris.
Meet one new person everyday.
Nurture your older relationships and don't let it falter.
Spend an hour learning everyday. Newspapers, courses, skills.
Travel regularly to see new places and people.
Be open minded. Don't imprison yourself in your beliefs, values, judgment.
Write a one-page journal every night before sleep.
Find joy in simple regular everyday things by practicing mindfulness. Food, sleep, nature, hikes, music, play.
Meditate 20 minutes a day.
Save half of your money and invest in all-world diversified stock market and never sell.
Get wild, just don’t make permanent mistakes like taking hard drugs or getting killed in a car accident.
Apart from that, break all the rules kiddo.
Imagine if we could give you the magic recipe, it won't taste good to you.
My father always told me, I could find the perfect woman for you, smart, beautiful and funny, but you wouldn't like her, you had to find her. Same here.
It's also worth doing the same for things at work. Having a few stories written down about features you've implemented or bugs you've fixed may help you get through a few interviews.
- exercise, at least three days a week
- save and invest
- read. Not just HN or Reddit but actual books
Travel as much as you can. Get a job abroad if you can.
Study languages. They compound: french will make your English richer, Spanish will make it easier to get into French, Russian will make you understand some of the other slavic languages, etc. English, Spanish, Russian, and French cover a large portion of the earth. Also, as you get into a language and its culture, your understanding of the world will grow.
Learn how your mind works (eg. read „waking up“ by sam harris and know that people don’t think as much about you as you might think. Therefore don’t spend money you don’t have to impress them.
Keep learning in general and have fun in your profession - not in „fun every day“ but don’t become one of those people who drag themselves to work just to make ends meet.
Travel within your means. There is a lot of fun in learning about different cultures. The best way is not so sit in a pricy hotel room.
Keep strong relationships with friends and family if possible. A supportive network of people that care about you can be very hard to build when your older and might be worth more than money some times in your life.
You‘re going to do better than a lot of your peers with these simple things.
Learn to stretch out various body parts and make it a habit.
Stop eating out at low price/food value places.
2. If you want to make money focus on management not development.
3. Have a back up plan. I have a back up career as a part time job that has, at times, become my primary job.
Learn how money works, I don't mean how you buy stuff with it, but how money and debt actually work. If you get this squared away now you'll be better off than 80-90% of everyone else, it does taking a bit of a more pessimistic (realist) mindset. If you don't know where uncollectable financed debt goes or how financial instruments work to lower your monthly costs, or how your wages compare year over year in real purchasing power (i.e. whether you are making less the longer you stay at a job) then you don't know enough. Most people fall into a usury trap set by predatory banking institutions at some point.
Always risk manage big decisions and figure out what the ROI is for those decisions ahead of time. Do your research. Have a plan of action before you do something that locks you in for longer than a year. Don't trust the salesperson.
If a college degree you are interested in doesn't have a good ROI, don't major in it, or consider traveling internationally to a school where the ROI makes sense. You need to have your education paid off by the time you are 28-30 without outside help and promises of jobs at graduation are often fluff, consider the risks as well (are there hidden factors that might prevent graduation within a time period just as an example).
Learn how to negotiate, constantly determine whether they have credibility. If you are too agreeable you can't leverage the things you'll need later, and there is no basis for further negotiation when one party lacks credibility. Being able to walk away is valuable. Don't get caught in a circular logic trap, you decide what you want to do and no one else, you don't need to explain why because if they can't respect the decision then you have nothing to talk about because they've lost credibility.
Don't get taken advantage, your time is valuable, many people in their 20s discount their professional experience and subsequently get paid much less, or worked more; most places take advantage at some point unless you reasonably push back, as an example this can include sudden changes to shifts where they know you have prior commitments but they call and ask anyway (i.e. classes). Be wary of illusory promises as well and learn about the psychology and tactics you might face from these influencers. Understand Burnout and what you need to do to fix it.
Learn how to communicate effectively in writing at a professional level. Spelling, grammar, punctuation, and word choice all affect interactions. People will treat you differently based on how you present yourself (that includes appearance, odor, speech as well).
If you make a mistake, own it. Ask questions, improve, don't own/accept something that isn't your mistake.
Learn how to effectively learn and build the long term habits you'll need later, whether that's adjusting your diet or something else. (hint, don't give yourself the choice whether you follow through but have criteria/rules for exceptions and understand attention is finite, do what you need to structure the change accordingly).
Learn how to deal with liars and how to hold them accountable and don't lie. Almost all interactions moving forward will have some small lie where they can't easily be held accountable (Document details, memorialize, in writing, case-build, who you spoke to, when, what, etc) and fight for the rights have. If you are working to deal with an issue, realize what people can and can't do at various levels. Customer support, corporate, overseeing regulatory body, congressional representative that supports or oversees the area.
Build Discipline and other habits which make doing new things easier.
Be able to defend yourself, take Brazilian Jui Jitsu as a starter (this builds discipline), then some firearms training to understand how accurate guns are and how they work and are used.
Be able to survive, know how to start a fire that burns 8 hours without attention (putting a log on) and what you can and can't eat, how to prepare emergency food that doesn't need refrigeration, and what kind of preparations you need if the supply chain breaks down for necessities (shelter, water, food, safety).
Spend some time at the library reading up on historic events, everything happens in regular cycles, knowing and preparing to capitalize on certain events can ensure your safety and future prosperity. Also, most of the history you learned in high school if its US based is likely a biased narrative and useless, in many cases it may not even be all that accurate (i.e. Panama, West/East Berlin, Latin America 1950+).