26 Rules To Live By From An Unsuccessful 26 Year Old

Hey Ya’ll. Even though I wrote this originally for Thought Catalog (you can see all my other type of writings there). I want to make sure you didn’t miss it so I’m republishing it here. I hope you enjoy this piece. 

This is inspired by one of my mentor’s post a year before.

I just turned 26 and I’m going to be honest with you. I do not have everything figured out. I’m still traveling, searching, struggling, and fighting hard to accomplish the goals I’ve set for myself. I am not a millionaire, a hundred thousandnair, or infamous. Almost every great opportunity I have had has led to a downhill battle, or is still pending in results, due to my inability to make the right choices.

Simply, I’m an unsuccessful 26 year-old.

So, if you’re looking for the right kind of inspiration from a successful 26 year-old to help guide you to become a more successful you, then this article isn’t for you. It’s for people who want to hear the mistakes I’ve made to help guide them to make better choices so they can become what I’m not, successful.

The only thing I can say without a doubt is, at least I have experience.

[*] Find a mentor, appreciate their time, and treat them right. I’ve had a few mentors who I’ve let down by not following their advice, or completely and consistently making the same mistakes they were trying to correct: don’t do what I did.

Remember that mentors are hard to find because successful people are usually very busy, so for them to take the time to talk to you, advise you, and help you – should be appreciated immensely: you show this by exceeding their own expectations of you.

[*] Don’t worry if you don’t find the perfect job right away. Jump into anything and everything. If it isn’t something you enjoy, use that career experience to land other opportunities. The mistake I made wasn’t jumping into new opportunities, it was never leaving until the higher ups realized that I wasn’t good at or enjoying what I was doing, which led to my layoffs.

[*] If you want to start your own projects, don’t forget to do your research. In these 26 years I’ve finally understood that being patient is better than executing with a half-ass researched plan.

[*] Save up to travel. Recently I’ve had the opportunity to travel to many different states and countries, however, I could’ve done it sooner if I just saved up earlier. Instead of buying gratuitous expensive food and other weird things, I’ve could’ve put my money into my travel savings account.

[*] Turn off your social media feeds (facebook / twitter / instagram) if you’re depressed with how you’re living your life. Those feeds will only depress you more and make you less productive while you salivate hours of your time over other people’s lives.

[*] Don’t have sex with a random person without a condom. It’ll burn a few weeks later. Or worse, it’ll unexpectedly cry 9 months later. For reference, I’m not a father (thank god).

[*] If you’re in a leadership role with interns, remember they are your interns first and your friends second. You don’t want to be taken advantage of or have a hard time firing them if it doesn’t work out.

[*] I’m still having difficulty ingraining this in my head but everyone is trustworthy… just when it comes to business it’s always good to get your agreements in writing.

If not, there is a higher potential of getting backstabbed and screwed…

[*] Small business relationship experiences don’t need a written contract. If your entire goal is to just build a relationship with the other person, then a contract is (usually) unnecessary because it will only make you seem shady.

I’ve actually rarely made this type of a mistake because I love jumping into small / relationship type business deals without a contract! It makes both parties feel more comfortable with each other.

[*] In business situations always be transparent to your team. I’ve made the mistake of trying to impress my team by starting a project on the side; however, due to my lack of transparency (even though I accomplished the goal successfully) I just made myself look like a fool in the end.

[*] Don’t try to be friends with the ex-fling/partner that your current partner doesn’t like. It won’t help you, your ex, or your current partner. It’s just bad news. You’ll seem like you’re a manipulative indecisive “player.“

[*] Stop talking shit behind people’s back. It’ll make you more paranoid because you’ll think that everyone else is talking shit about you. In fact, you should be saying good things behind their back.

[*] Know that the best type of revenge is not doing what they did. Hatching a revenge plan is just a waste of time. Focus your energy on your own projects.

[*] Know that everyone is smart in his or her own way. I remember not really thinking this way until around 22 / 23 years old when I would constantly meet people who would blow away my expectations. Stop judging others because everyone has something to offer.

[*] Don’t argue with a close-minded person because you’ll go nowhere. I remember wasting countless hours writing rebuttals to my opponents who were stuck with their opinion(s). Seriously, only argue with them if there are spectators around because then you’ll actually have a chance to inspire a listener to think differently.

[*] Take care of your addictions and vices first before taking on anything new. When your mind is free from the stress of your addictions is when you can function at a 100%. A ton of failed projects have happened because I was dealing with my gambling problem.

[*] Don’t focus on what you want. Rather, focus on HOW you’re going to get what you want: you will accomplish your goal faster. I would characterize my early 20s as being a “dreamer” – because all I did was focus on what I wanted rather the latter of “how.” Yes, a ton of wasted years.

[*] “Be true to yourself” is a load of bull if you don’t know what you are: take time out of your day to experiment with different types of foods, books, exercises, and whatever else to see what makes you, you. Why? Because if you don’t you’ll end up doing a ton of stuff that’ll in the end make you feel unhappy.

[*] Happiness is a feeling that you cannot control. It’s okay to cry.

[*] Know that crying can only last for so long because in the end of everything… life will never give you enough time to cry. In fact, life won’t stop so you can wallow forever in your sorrows. It’s unfair but after a short while you’ll need to pick yourself up and get your act together. Life is harsh sometimes.

[*] Don’t be a troll on YouTube (or any other social media outlet for that matter). There are better things to do with your time. Yes, I trolled a few forums when I was 22. Pathetic. I stopped after about 6 months.

[*] Life isn’t about how often you have sex. It’s about the quality of sex. Though I wouldn’t mind having sex everyday – I found in my experience it just feels GREAT when both parties have the energy to go out at it at the same time.

[*] There is no need to worry about treating everyone equally. I’m not saying to be an uncaring asshole. I’m saying not everyone deserves your time. Be nice, be cordial, but just know you can’t be everywhere and give love to everyone. This way you can spend and give more of your time on the people you actually like and love.

[*] Get over grudges, seriously, get over them. There is no need to hide your face and runaway if someone you dislike just happens to be in the same room as you (a friend or relative you disagree with)… What are you? 13? If you GAF (give a f*ck) too much, your mind will go crazy.

[*] Don’t panic over the mistakes you’ve made. Own up to your mistakes and use them as a tool to do better next time. This sounds cliché but when I exasperated my time on worrying and regretting the mistakes I’ve made… I was more likely to do worse or just make the same mistake(s) again.

[*] Though you have to be your own rock. Please note that it’s okay to rely on people who rely on you: give and take. I believe you cannot accomplish anything alone. I will honestly say that I’m at where I am today due to the mentors, the friends, and the loved ones who keep motivating and inspiring me every single day.

I owe them so much.

I’m finally putting all these lessons into use and my life is improving… slowly. I just got offered to run a company (startup) and I feel less stressed out now that my addiction (gambling) is being handled. I want to say that I’m still unsuccessful because I’m nowhere near where I want to be in terms of my life’s goals. And, I know that I could’ve been there a little bit closer if I just followed my own advice above. Oh well. I’m 26 now. Let’s not make the same mistakes.

Btw you want to see something wonderful? Just click here 😀

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  • Annie Hall

    Fantastic post. But you are too hard on yourself, calling yourself “unsuccessful.” In your 20s, if you are growing and seeking, you are already on your way to amazing possibilities. No time was wasted, you did the best you could with the limited information you had then with the choices that were handed to you. So please don’t torture your younger self just because now you have the privilege of knowing how things turned out. Soldier on, and don’t buy into oversimplified fabrications like “success” and “failure.” All the best.

    • Thanks for the advice Annie Hall. It’s tough sometimes but I’m hearing you out. It’s hard to teach new tricks to an old dog. However, my head is held high and I’m going to push forward with a smile and everything I’ve got.

  • I agree, you’re a little too hard on yourself. You’re responsible for a lot of other people’s success. Now it’s time to fuel that knowledge into growing your own image.

    Thanks for mentioning your friends and mentors though. I have to remind myself daily not to be a loner haha. I guess it comes from a place of insecurity, trying to avoid rejection by being alone a lot. Your posts always give me some cool perspective of myself though. I kind of view you as a mentor too. Thanks for this post

    Good luck on your own progress too, I look forward to the next post Jonathan

    • Thanks for always reading Michael. Also, I’m glad you understand that you need to always be thankful for the people who have brought you where you are today. You need to always thank them and give them the benefit they deserve.