Another year is about to end and let's look back with all that's done. Writing an annual review has been my tradition as it helps me see the bird's eye view of my progress. Whether good or bad, everything has its own lessons. Before I start, I still have the resistance not to accept my current age. I always have the mentality that I'm aged 20. I didn't realize that I've been in the industry for years and I've lost track of what date it is.
Not seeing my physical age, I will always feel 20 at heart. I still act like a young-blood who is always giddy to learn new things. "Think like 30s and act like 20s", they say.
2018 has been my most productive year for personal goals
I've caught up with a lot of things in tech and tried some out-of-the-blue experiences. Met people with different backgrounds and broadened my view on life. Admittedly, I had an elitist characteristic but I had to let it go. There's no gain to keeping it. My speaking/event engagement dropped as I've become more pragmatic with what I attend. I can't say that this is the best year but it did give me a more well-grounded reason to continue what I'm doing. It made me realize that I'm fortunate to where I am now as opportunities aren't available for everyone.
Compared to mine where I had to urge to quit my job, started my startup at 21, and had the leeway to do passion projects, others are still working to make ends meet, not having the privilege to do the things they want due to endless consumerism. Some started a family early (subjective), feuds from friends, and had to take the breadwinner role to survive. I had a lot of colleagues who are suffering in their (pre) quarter-life and I can't help but feel sad. Political tensions are rising and we become victims of things we're not in control of. It gave me a perspective to understand deep into sociology and it makes me want to create a solution.
Time is Money
In the movie In Time, time is treated as currency. By the time you reach 25, you don't genetically age. However, you get a free 1-year worth of time, which is treated like your money. Once you run out of time, you die. You pay 4 mins for a coffee, 30 mins for a bus, and essentially pay anything through time. There are 2 major time zones: Dayton and New Greenwich. Dayton is where the poor people live and typically have only 24 hours in their wallet while New Greenwich is where the rich and "immortals" reside. Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) is the protagonist and he's a factory worker in Dayton earning 6 hours per shift. His goal is to move to New Greenwich. To move to New Greenwich, you'll need to pay 1 month per time zone in the first half and 2 months on the latter. Dayton time zone lies in the 12th zone and NG on the 4th. Overall, you'll need to pay a year to get to NG. Given that, it is nearly impossible for Daytoners to get to Greenwich.
I'm not going to explain the entire plot of the movie but the point is this is how our world works. People work day and night to survive only to end up the inevitable. People would instead accept their faith and rely on authorities for miracles to happen.
Because of this, I want to make something out of it. I want to help people through means of innovation. If I only have all the time in the world, I'd love to work on the dozens of ideas I have but no. Nobody has discovered time control and while it might be impossible, we have to keep up with what the world has to offer. People need to start developing their own ambitions and quit the "Go with the flow" mentality. Ambitions require experience for discovery so as long as you stay in the box, you don't get enough exposure for a fine-tuned ambition. While it's a long way to go, change starts from ourselves.
On the contrary, a lot of bad stuff has happened to me too. Running a business has a lot of twists & turns and you'll never know when misfortune happens. Life is not perfect. Every year doesn't need to have an ultimate achievement. Frankly, I kinda felt stagnant. Sure, I was invited at Harvard to deliver a talk but I am yearning on something to fill in the gap. I am yearning for more fulfillment than just reaching the summit.
I actually wrote a birthday introspection telling a little in-depth about my career. A lot of people praised that it transformed their thoughts in life so if you have 10 minutes, read it here.
The real tips
You thought those were the tips eh? That was just an ice breaker! Coming from the roots of the above, I'd like to share my 9 golden nuggets before you turn 25. If you are 25 above, that's fine. You could still learn a thing or two.
1. It's okay to chill once in a while
This world is overly competitive, so competitive that there are no opportunities for late bloomers. With that, it gave me the urge to grind non-stop that resting even a short while becomes a sin. I was wrong. While I had a lot of benefits professionally, you are slowly losing your perspective to the other. Take a break and space out for a while. Resume once you're ready but do not over chill! Life is more than just grinding.
2. Broaden your perspective by traveling outside the country
There are plenty of things that the world has to offer. Every adventure out of the country will give you exposure to a local's life. Traveling will not only teach you to go out of your comfort zone, but it will help you understand there are plenty of rooms to grow for you as a person. Going to developed countries will give you ideas for solutions. Going to underdeveloped countries will relate you to cultural differences. Overall, they give you a sense of perspective. If you think your culture is (im)perfect, wait 'till you see others. While at a young age, do it!
3. Go for public speaking
I am outspoken to the youth about this. Public speaking will help you build confidence and articulate your vocabulary. Early-20's is the perfect time to develop this skill. If you have never tried this before, go ahead! You don't need to start at a grand event. You can start with your small circle of friends then eventually rising to the big stage. After all, speaking is what we do every day so why not do better?
4. If you have not discovered your purpose, just keep trying
I am seeing a lot of social media posts that millennials are suffering from a quarter-life crisis due to a lack of purpose. That's okay! Purpose discovery requires exposure and needs a lot of introspections about yourself. Don't get me wrong but the majority of people seem apathetic when it comes to introspection. Finding your purpose doesn't magically appear while sitting. You've got to do crazy stuff. You've got to take action!
I've met some people who have real jobs yet they discovered their purpose to be a cleaner or a fast-food helper. Regardless of how ambitious it is, it's about doing what you love. A menial purpose should not make you less of a person.
5. Actively engage in discussions with your own opinion
People are more listeners than preachers. I have learned in the past few years that having an opinion is important regardless of what topic. This will create engaging conversations that can be fun and intellectual. There are no right or wrong opinions. If you think you'd be ridiculed, consider them to be constructive feedback.
Everyone is a winner at the end of the day. If your boss asks you to say, a best practice, don't say "You're the boss so you should decide that". Instead, provide your thoughts and assess as if you are the owner. This will also help you become a better communicator. Do note that not all people accept opinions openly. Learn to express them at the place and at the right time.
6. Cut the toxic people in life
If your friend in Facebook posts stuff that irritates you, there is that unfriend button. If your boss is giving you a hard time, leave the company. If your childhood friend haunts you of your past, leave. You have options. Toxic people are not worth your time and you should just move forward instead of focusing on things that pull you back.
7. There is no "one size fits all" rule. Learn to be adaptive
You are not in control of the people you meet in the future and for sure you will meet someone with conflicting personalities. As such, understand that everyone is different and learn to adjust your personality depending on the person. If you are an introvert at home, you are probably an extrovert outside. Characteristics are not consistent all the time.
There is also no one size fits all. If you follow a certain principle that's not applicable to the situation, find the right characteristic. An example of which are the golden rules. Unfortunately, they don't apply all the time.
Principles serve as a guiding light but probably not your absolute rule in life. Learn to adapt to various situations. If you act "elite" in the workplace, you can't do the same in rural communities.
8. You cannot please everyone. Learn to accept denial
No matter how many times you tried to influence people, some will say no. You want people to go for a vacation but they can't. You want them to quit their job, be partners for a startup yet no. You have strong opinions for politics yet your friends disagree. Just let it go. If ever you were right, it's their loss. You have the right to say "I told you so". If you lost, then... you lost.
You will receive the same feedback on several occasions. You should be aware that not all things will go accordingly and you should set yourself for contingencies if something happens. It just means you should look for people who complement your stand and stay on that group. Why would you preach meat to vegans when there's a group for meat-lovers for you to stay?
9. Have your advocacy and be well-grounded to your actions
People are mostly apathetic when it comes to social issues. We want to change yet we rely too much on the government for support. We want to have a prosperous world yet you are too busy chilling in the bar on paydays. You want to build a game-changing platform yet you are too busy playing video games. In other words, people don't simply care about issues. Their ignorance will eventually backfire through consequences.
Instead, develop your advocacy and have a firm reason why you believe it. Being an advocate is not simply claiming it by title but a responsibility backed by your calling. I became an education advocate because I hate the current school system and it does not give the value for all the time, money, and effort people invested in. Similarly, you should have this kind of well-grounded reason (backed by experience) to remind you why you're doing this.
Create action by joining causes or even starting your own. This will add more value to you as a person. If you want to save the environment, stop throwing away things, and educate people about the consequence. If you are an advocate for education, teach people the right stuff. There are plenty of issues this world has to offer and it's your job as an advocate to address them. Be outspoken about your advocacy!
If you don't have your advocacy, you are missing this huge piece of the puzzle. Recall problems you've encountered that you want to solve badly. From there, make it your basis for your advocacy.
To sum it all, this year feels kinda neutral. Lots of good and bad yet learnings are unparalleled. Let's hope for a better 2019!