The following is my response to Cameron Schaefer as he has asked for input towards his future post called: 20 Things to Do in Your 20’s. Why my top four you might ask? Why four and not five? Why four and not ten? Because I don’t want you to make this your top 10 list. Use the following in your own way, and not simply the “secret to life” top 10 list…
1. Read 2-3 Books per Month (or more). Once you’re finished with college and all those “mandatory” reads, pick up some books that may actually interest you. For me, these books are usually about investing, religion, or psychology. Ben Casnocha calls this exposing yourself to as much randomness as possible—I think he has a great point here. Read a book nobody is reading. Listen to a lecture that most people are sleeping through. Ask questions, dig deeper, and take notes. I find I don’t remember much if I don’t write it down. Cameron Schaefer wrote a great post called: 7 Ways to Remember What You Read.
2. Actively Seek Mentors. For some reason there seems to be confusion regarding what constitutes a mentor. I define a mentor as anyone who can potentially add value to something. A friend can be a mentor. A relative can be a mentor. Moreover, the best mentors I’ve had are the people that challenge you to be better and constantly seek to improve you as the mentee. Find people you can bounce ideas off of. I have mentors that I talk business with. I have mentors that I talk about Christianity and religion with. I have mentors at work, etc, etc. Just remember: People are always willing to help you and nobody reaches their full potential alone.
3. Study the “Big 3”: Religion (or spirituality), Your Marriage, and Your Finances. If you don’t have a very good grasp of all of these, you will never enjoy the fullness of life and all that it has in store for you. Find yourself spiritually and seek the will of God in everything you do. If you aren’t spiritual or you’re not religious (or both), you will never completely find happiness and contentment in your life. You may find fleeting moments, but you won’t be able to sustain them for any period of time.
a. Learn to love your spouse unconditionally and constantly work to be a better husband/wife. I am currently reading just about anything I can get my hands on related to improving your marriage and starting out right. Will there be growing pains? Of course. But how many people make a life changing decision without proper preparation? Unfortunately, way to many because ½ end in divorce. Don’t be a statistic!
b. If you don’t understand the world of finance and investing, start reading right now! I have a few books to get you started: A Random Walk Down Wall-Street by Burton Malkiel and The Little Book of Common Sense Investing by John Bogle. Unfortunately, personal finance and investing are not mandatory subjects in public schools, so you must be the one to realize the importance of learning these topics! Do you know how to retire with more than $1,000,000.00? Is it better for you to lease a new car, buy a new car, or buy a used car? When you buy a home, should you get a fixed-rate mortgage or an adjustable rate mortgage? Depending on your tax bracket, what is the best investment strategy for you? If you can’t answer all of these questions with ease, you probably need to brush up a bit. Read. Read. Read.
4. “Whatever You Are Be A Good One” – Abraham Lincoln. My favorite quote by one of the greatest Presidents of all time. Don’t complain about the situation you are in—find ways to make it better. No matter what you are doing, be the very best and take pride in what you do and who you are. Look at every situation as if it is the exact situation you are supposed to be in. Subscribe to the mantra: “Live for Today, Dream for Tomorrow.” Be the best at what you are today, but always work to improve and seek opportunities when they present themselves. Don’t ever forget people are always watching you. Don't live your life with regrets.