post written by: Marc Chernoff

18 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I Was 18


Life Lessons

This morning I was reading a book at my favorite beach-side coffee shop when an 18-year-old kid sat down next to me and said, “That’s a great read, ain’t it?”  So we started chatting.

He told me he was getting ready to graduate from high school in a couple of weeks and then immediately starting his college career in the fall.  “But I have no clue what I want to do with my life,” he said.  “Right now I’m just going with the flow.”

And then, with eager, honest eyes, he began asking me one question after the next:

  • “What do you do for a living?”
  • “When and how did you decide what you wanted to do?”
  • “Why did you do this?  Why didn’t you do that?”
  • “Is there anything you wish you had done differently?”
  • Etc, etc, etc…

I answered his questions as best as I could, and tried to give decent advice with the time I had.  And after a half-hour conversation, he thanked me and we parted ways.

But on the walk home I realized the conversation I had with him was actually quite nostalgic for me.  He reminded me of me ten years ago.  So I started thinking about his questions again, and I began imagining all of the things I wish someone had told me when I was 18.

Then I took it a step further and thought about all the things I would love to tell myself if I could travel back in time to give my 18-year-old self some advice about life.

So after a few cups of coffee and a couple hours of deliberation, here are 18 things I wish someone told me when I was 18:

  1. Commit yourself to making lots of mistakes. – Mistakes teach you important lessons.  The biggest mistake you can make is doing nothing because you’re too scared to make a mistake.  So don’t hesitate – don’t doubt yourself.  In life, it’s rarely about getting a chance; it’s about taking a chance.  You’ll never be 100% sure it will work, but you can always be 100% sure doing nothing won’t work.  Most of the time you just have to go for it!  And no matter how it turns out, it always ends up just the way it should be.  Either you succeed or you learn something.  Win-Win.  Remember, if you never act, you will never know for sure, and you will be left standing in the same spot forever.
  2. Find hard work you love doing. – If I could offer my 18-year-old self some real career advice, I’d tell myself not to base my career choice on other people’s ideas, goals and recommendations.  I’d tell myself not to pick a major because it’s popular, or statistically creates graduates who make the most money.  I’d tell myself that the right career choice is based on one key point: Finding hard work you love doing.  As long as you remain true to yourself, and follow your own interests and values, you can find success through passion.  Perhaps more importantly, you won’t wake up several years later working in a career field you despise, wondering “How the heck am I going to do this for the next 30 years?”  So if you catch yourself working hard and loving every minute of it, don’t stop.  You’re on to something big.  Because hard work ain’t hard when you concentrate on your passions.
  3. Invest time, energy and money in yourself every day. – When you invest in yourself, you can never lose, and over time you will change the trajectory of your life.  You are simply the product of what you know.  The more time, energy and money you spend acquiring pertinent knowledge, the more control you have over your life.
  4. Explore new ideas and opportunities often. – Your natural human fears of failure and embarrassment will sometimes stop you from trying new things.  But you must rise above these fears, for your life’s story is simply the culmination many small, unique experiences.  And the more unique experiences you have, the more interesting your story gets.  So seek as many new life experiences as possible and be sure to share them with the people you care about.  Not doing so is not living.
  5. When sharpening your career skills, focus more on less. – Think in terms of Karate: A black belt seems far more impressive than a brown belt.  But does a brown belt really seem any more impressive than a red belt?  Probably not to most people.  Remember that society elevates experts high onto a pedestal.  Hard work matters, but not if it’s scattered in diverse directions.  So narrow your focus on learning fewer career related skills and master them all.
  6. People are not mind readers.  Tell them what you’re thinking. – People will never know how you feel unless you tell them.  Your boss?  Yeah, he doesn’t know you’re hoping for a promotion because you haven’t told him yet.  That cute girl you haven’t talked to because you’re too shy?  Yeah, you guessed it; she hasn’t given you the time of day simply because you haven’t given her the time of day either.   In life, you have to communicate with others.  And often, you have to open your vocal cords and speak the first words.  You have to tell people what you’re thinking.  It’s as simple as that.
  7. Make swift decisions and take immediate action. – Either you’re going to take action and seize new opportunities, or someone else will first.  You can’t change anything or make any sort of progress by sitting back and thinking about it.  Remember, there’s a huge difference between knowing how to do something and actually doing it.  Knowledge is basically useless without action.
  8. Accept and embrace change. – However good or bad a situation is now, it will change.  That’s the one thing you can count on.  So embrace change, and realize that change happens for a reason.  It won’t always be easy or obvious at first, but in the end it will be worth it.
  9. Don’t worry too much about what other people think about you. – For the most part, what other people think and say about you doesn’t matter.  When I was 18, I let the opinions of my high school and early college peers influence my decisions.  And, at times, they steered me away from ideas and goals I strongly believed in.  I realize now, ten years later, that this was a foolish way to live, especially when I consider that nearly all of these people whose opinions I cared so much about are no longer a part of my life.  Unless you’re trying to make a great first impression (job interview, first date, etc.), don’t let the opinions of others stand in your way.  What they think and say about you isn’t important.  What is important is how you feel about yourself.
  10. Always be honest with yourself and others. – Living a life of honesty creates peace of mind, and peace of mind is priceless.  Period.
  11. Talk to lots of people in college and early on in your career. – Bosses.  Colleagues.  Professors.  Classmates.  Social club members.  Other students outside of your major or social circle. Teaching assistants.  Career advisors.  College deans.  Friends of friends.  Everyone!  Why?  Professional networking.  I have worked for three employers since I graduated from college (I left my first two employers by choice on good terms), but I only interviewed with the first employer.  The other two employers offered me a job before I even had a formal interview, based strictly on the recommendation of a hiring manager (someone I had networked with over the years).  When employers look to fill a position, the first thing they do is ask the people they know and trust if they know someone who would do well in the position.  If you start building your professional network early, you’ll be set.  Over time, you’ll continue talking to new people you meet through your current network and your network’s reach and the associated opportunities will continue to snowball for the duration of your career.
  12. Sit alone in silence for at least ten minutes every day. – Use this time to think, plan, reflect, and dream.  Creative and productive thinking flourish in solitude and silence.  With quiet, you can hear your thoughts, you can reach deep within yourself, and you can focus on mapping out the next logical, productive step in your life.
  13. Ask lots of questions. – The greatest ‘adventure’ is the ability to inquire, to ask questions.  Sometimes in the process of inquiry, the search is more significant than the answers.  Answers come from other people, from the universe of knowledge and history, and from the intuition and deep wisdom inside yourself.  These answers will never surface if you never ask the right questions.  Thus, the simple act of asking the right questions is the answer.
  14. Exploit the resources you do have access to. – The average person is usually astonished when they see a physically handicap person show intense signs of emotional happiness.  How could someone in such a restricted physical state be so happy?  The answer rests in how they use the resources they do have.  Stevie Wonder couldn’t see, so he exploited his sense of hearing into a passion for music, and he now has 25 Grammy Awards to prove it.
  15. Live below your means. – Live a comfortable life, not a wasteful one.  Do not spend to impress others.  Do not live life trying to fool yourself into thinking wealth is measured in material objects.  Manage your money wisely so your money does not manage you.  Always live well below your means.
  16. Be respectful of others and make them feel good. – In life and business, it’s not so much what you say that counts, it’ how you make people feel.  So respect your elders, minors, and everyone in between.  There are no boundaries or classes that define a group of people that deserve to be respected.  Treat everyone with the same level of respect you would give to your grandfather and the same level of patience you would have with your baby brother.  Supporting, guiding, and making contributions to other people is one of life’s greatest rewards.  In order to get, you have to give.
  17. Excel at what you do. – There’s no point in doing something if you aren’t going to do it right.  Excel at your work and excel at your hobbies.  Develop a reputation for yourself, a reputation for consistent excellence.
  18. Be who you were born to be. – You must follow your heart, and be who you were born to be.  Some of us were born to be musicians – to communicate intricate thoughts and rousing feelings with the strings of a guitar.  Some of us were born to be poets – to touch people’s hearts with exquisite prose.  Some of us were born to be entrepreneurs – to create growth and opportunity where others saw rubbish.  And still, some of us were born to be or do whatever it is, specifically, that moves you.  Regardless of what you decide to do in your lifetime, you better feel it in every fiber of your being.  You better be born to do it!  Don’t waste your life fulfilling someone else’s dreams and desires.

But above all, laugh when you can, apologize when you should, and let go of what you can’t change.  Life is short, yet amazing.  Enjoy the ride.

Also, if you liked this article and you’re looking for similar advice on life, love and personal growth I highly recommend that you read The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck.  It’s an easy, enjoyable read that literally changed my life.

This article was co-written by Marc and Angel and Shaun Boyd, and inspired by Shaun’s post, 10 Things I Wish Someone Told Me 10 Years Ago.

Photo by: Taylor McBride

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190 Comments

  • Great post. Reading something like this after completing my first year of college helps put things in perspective. I often worry about the idea of looking back and thinking to myself that I failed to do the things you mentioned.

    Thanks for the genuine advice.

  • Excellent post and excellent blog!!
    keep up the good work.

  • Absolutely loved this post. As a 19-year-old blogger, I can attest to everything said here.

    I hope this changes the lives of people everywhere, teenagers and adults, alike.

  • It’s one of the best articles I have read recently. In addition, it says the whole truth about real life experiences.

    As I am also 18 years old, I think that the best point here is that you should not rely on other opinions or what they say you need to do. If they do not think you are capable of doing something, it’s another motivator to try and prove yourself to them because otherwise as you mentioned you can go on different and generally worse way.

  • Wonderful post Marc.

    I am running a life-lessons series in which some of my personal development blogger friends are participating and I’d love to link-back to your post and include it in the series.

    The details are here http://www.abubakarjamil.com/known-earlier-life/

    Kindly do lemme know your interest.

  • i like the post’s title so much , also the lessons are very useful, i should have been told that too :)

  • Excellent article! I recently learned of your site from a friend, and have been totally amazed at the beauty of your work. And since then I read all your articles. Keep up a good work. Regards from Serbia!

  • Meeee toooo. Now that I think about it, some of those things have been told to me early on, by people who I respect a lot and are now my mentors.

    It’s tricky because when you’re 18, you often don’t take lessons from anybody. You sort of need to discover things on your own. But other people can also help you here, by creating the opportunities for you to learn.

  • I’m 18 now, but I started my college career when I was 17. A lot of the times I avoided speaking to people and asking question only because I was scared, so my first year was definitely difficult. But this article really inspired me to step out of my bubble and interact with people. I’m so thankful I stumbled upon this.

    Thanks so much.

  • Is this an instruction to how to become Mother Teresa? ;-) I think some of the advice is perfect, and some might not fit everyone. But I’ll have to think more about it.

  • I am so inspired by this post. In fact I’m going to compose one called:

    9 Things I wish I could say to my ‘20 Something’ Self and 1 more. It will be about being an OK mum and I will invite others to add a 10th ‘Thing’.

    I’ll invite my readers to read this post, and join this site, with your Link.

    I love this site and learn so much. Thank you.

  • Hi Marc, wonder post, always!

    I especially love your “commit to making mistakes” and asking alot of questions tip. I know many adults who could use those tips :)

  • @All:

    Thanks so much for the kind remarks and added insight. This article is actually one of my personal favorites that I’ve written recently. The 18 year old kid I discuss at the beginning really inspired me. He made me stop, think, and realize how many significant lessons I’ve learned over the last 10 years. It’s really an interesting thing to ponder.

    Hope you all have a fun, productive week! ;-)

  • Thank you for a great article, in my opinion one of your best! It couldn’t have come at a better time for me.

  • As a kid who’s not even 18 yet, I thank you.

    Honestly, I don’t think the power of networking is stressed enough to college kids - it, not your major, is the number one thing that governs whether you’ll be employed or not post-graduation (for the vast majority of students). Just like how high schools don’t teach personal finance, it boggles my mind that nobody teaches people how to network in school. It’s so important that you’d figure somebody would try doing it in our education system, no?

  • I totally enjoyed reading it, insightful & profound. Great life lessons stated here. Thanks!!

  • Hi Marc.

    #6 sure makes sense. People rarely know what I’m thinking until I point it out. I used to have the general feeling that people knew what was on my mind but would later find out that they thought the opposite or had no clue. Because of this knowledge, I am much more likely to point out what I am thinking if it has relevance to others.

    Asking lots of question is one I can also vouch for. I don’t ask enough questions. The few times that I do, I always get more out of it than I expected. Usually, it is because I find out I was way off in some regard, and then am much more better off with the new information.

  • Thanks Marc for the article. I like number 9 a lot: “Don’t worry too much about what other people think about you.” We have to realize that we can’t make everyone like us. Thanks for sharing this list of wisdom.

  • Great post! Especially agree with points 1 and 3.

  • Cheers for this. Comes at just the right moment for me.

  • Brilliant…You nailed it seriously …what an article!!

    I am 18 years old and i am so grateful that i found this site and read this article. Seriously, you inspired me, so I also thank that kid that inspired you to write this…. God bless you.

  • I would have loved to receive this info at 18 - but I probably would have been too “smart” back then to listen! Amazing how “dumb” I’ve become 20 years later to actually need this advice. :)

    The best tip I can give an 18-year-old is to repeat #15: Live Below Your Means. You have no idea how much this will impact every part of your life in the future.

    When you live below your means possibilities are always in front of you and you can take the ones you want. When you live above your means the best life you can have is the one you are currently in, and there is no guarantee it will last if the market changes, you lose your job, you have children, get sick, or your partner decides to leave. You know, regular life.

    We’re getting ready to travel the world in less than 100 days, and it never could have happened with debt and no savings. All the other lessons can be learned as you age, but once you get consumer debt it is really tough to break free. So don’t do it!

  • These are wonderful pieces of advice. Unfortunately, most young people don’t listen even if the information is presented to them. But that’s okay. True learning comes from experiencing rather than being told.

    Thanks for helping me to reflect on all that I’ve learned since age 18.

  • I know this is not all that there is to learn in life, but if I had learned, appreciated, and internalized them when I was 18, I could have lived a better life.

    Now, I am 63 I have learned a lot of things that have made me more comfortable living my life. I often say to myself why I did not learn all these when I was younger, and not when I am in the last chapters of my life.

    So, if I was not able to live them in my youth, I have now considered it my mission to share my experiences and the resulting wisdoms with people through blogging.

    And thanks to the wisdoms you share in this blog. Although I have learned a lot through the passing years, there are still a lot that I should learn. And you are one of the contributors to this learning.

  • I was just going to take a glance at your blog before dinner time, but when I saw the title, you had me.

    I turned 18 one month ago and since then I have been wondering, “what the hell am I going to do with my life?” Just today some family friends were inquiring into what I wanted to do in my future and I had no idea. I’ve been thrust into the adult world, even if it is a mere legality (I still have some serious growing up to do, but that goes without saying), and I have no idea what to do.

    So I’ve been doing what the 18 year old did with you, ask adults, any adult, really, how they got to where they were, and if they had good advice. I hadn’t gotten anything substantive until now, so thank you for that.

    Because I’ve been looking for it everywhere, and you just offered it to me on a silver platter. I’ve written it all down, and I intend do something substantial with it.

    :D

  • Nathaniel Winfield
    June 22nd, 2010 at 6:25 am

    I think this is a fantastic article, you’re quite the writer. I stumbled upon this through a google search and thought I would take the time to read it. A little curiousity never hurt anyone.

    As a nineteen year old, in first-year university, in Australia, I’m pretty well aquaunted with life. Haha. No, I’m just a spring chicken. But, there are two points that personally have helped me in the little time I have lived in the ‘real-world’:

    1- Your fear makes you foolish:
    You’ve only got one shot to live and there are so many good opportunities out there. So, why don’t you change? You don’t have to live in this comfort zone, move beyond it! Create a life, don’t step into one.

    2-Remember what you live for:
    No, you don’t live for your pay cheque, or that t.v. show that is on later tonight. You live for the people around you.They are what drive and create you, your interactions with people; with others; loved ones beyond yourself. Think about all the happy times you’ve had so far, when are they? are you alone? No, they are with people!

  • This list is ageless… I don’t think that you have to be 18 to learn and take from this. Thanks for sharing! :)

  • Awesome read!

    Thanks a lot for the advice.

  • Hey Marc,

    Great Post. You’re dead on about all of those things. And while I enjoy each and every one in them, I think number 1 is my favorite.

    Life is about doing and trying and then doing it all over again. When you ask people what they regret more: the things they have done or the things they haven’t done, their answer is always the things they haven’t done.

    Making mistakes can be painful, but they are always worth it in the end. Plus, they usually make for the best stories too :)

  • Very good post! Very inspiring as well. I wish someone told me all this when I was 18. But I know it now and I will take care to share my wisdom with those who are less experienced.

    There is one more thing I wish someone told me when I was younger: that I was beautiful…

  • Thank you for #1. I think it’s exactly what I need to hear. I’m a musician, and my band’s first show is coming up soon. I’ve been trying to get this going for a year. I’m so nervous, and worried that we aren’t ready, or that the audience won’t like us, or that my gear is going to break down in the middle of the show… So many What Ifs running through my mind.

    Your #1 doesn’t really relieve any of that, but at least I recognize that it’s normal, and I have to commit to just biting the bullet and doing it, whether it all goes wrong or not. If it doesn’t work out, what’s the worst that could happen? Musically, I’d still be where I am now. If it does work out, it could be great.

  • Thank you. I’m 18 too and I found this very inspiring. Yet, I fear that sometimes I don’t know who am I supposed to be… I mean, I don’t think I know yet what motivates me the most or what my passions are. It is very frustrating.

    Anyways, thank you for some really interesting points.

  • I’m 19, and starting my third year in college this fall. I’ve been trying to do these things all my life - but I needed the reminder. Thanks!

  • When I come across a nice list like that Marc I always wonder; why isn’t self-improvement and health living a part of the school curriculum? It is such an important subject going forward into the world from high school. My tip for the young would be to read volumes on life and living, in books, and oh yes, on the internet.

  • After completing three decades of my life time, I still feel I do not belong to where I am. Now this post refreshed all my old memories. I can attest each and every point mentioned here. I had committed the same mistakes and now I feel I am wasting the purpose of my life.
    I wish I should be 18 while reading this blog. Still I feel re-energized after reading this and I am trying to find out how can I utilize the rest of my life…

    Thanks friend…

  • Marc all of these absolutely rock and make sense. Let me add, ‘Don’t take yourself so seriously’ and ‘What you worry about rarely happens’. Still life is about learning and us older folks would always say, ‘If I had a £ for every time I heard someone say, ‘If I knew then what I know now’, I’d be a millionaire. That kind of wisdom is priceless and called life and it takes time and experiences to know and believe it.

  • Great article , really helpful and inspiring.
    Regards from Iran .

  • This is a fantastic article.
    I am very happy that I stumbled across it.
    Thanks.

  • I like your style of writing. I’m usually not a huge “self-help” type of reader, but this article managed to put a smile on my face. Thanks :)

  • Great post, I really enjoyed reading it. Thanks :-) I have to keep reminding myself about #9

  • Thanks for the reminder, great motivational article! :D

  • Good stuff!

    /@dennisphang

  • Thank you! Inspiring. /Sara

  • Beautiful post. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Beautiful! A really inspiring and up-lifting read. Thank you so much for this!

  • What a great read!
    I read an article about how to make a good article/headline a couple of days ago at smashingmagazine.com and this here made it all right. Addicting words - you just have to know whats the next sentence.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts,
    from germany,
    Felix

  • This is, by far the best article I’ve read in months. Great.

    P.S. I’m only 19 now, but everything makes perfect sense …

  • That is brilliant! I wish I was told those things too but I am definitely heading down the right track. This has inspired me even more :)

  • Beautiful! Exactly what I had need to read today.

  • Awesome article.. have bookmarked it so that i can read whenever I be be upset.. :)

  • that’s some sound advice!

  • I’m 25 and have been feeling pretty shitty about life, friends, etc. lately. I read this blog this morning and it made me feel a little better about it all.

    Thank you!

  • Great Article and nice career motivator… I’m starting to think of it now…Keep up the good work & God Bless…=D

  • … and trust me on the sunscreen thing. ;)

    Great article. I’m forwarding to my 19-year-old nephews (and re-reading as a 40-year old). Thanks!

  • Do you have such list for age of 40!
    I need it.

  • Excellent post, thanks for doing this! It would be great if something like this could turn into a meme… imagine getting 18 great tips like these from hundreds or thousands of other people.

  • What excellent, intuitive advice. Easy to say - maybe less hard to do. I have sent this to my two teenagers. I hope they digest it and take it on board. If more people followed these points they would happier. ‘To dream of the person you want to be is to waste the person you are’. I think of this every day.

  • Thanks for the tips. I think these will go a long way, consider I’m still only 19 ;)

    I especially like #15, I look around at people my own age and they are already 20,30,40 thousand dollars in debt. I just could imagine doing that.

    Thanks.

  • A lesson it took me until my 30’s to learn is that maintaining something is always easier than getting it back. That applies to your health, career, relationships, car, house, wealth, etc. It’s something I learned when I worked in sales but never applied to myself at the time. It’s always easier to keep customers than to get new ones or win old ones back. The application of this lesson is endless - keep your resume updated (not just when you lose your job), don’t take your spouse, kids or friends for granted, get to the gym a few times a week and keep the junk food\drinking in moderation, floss every day, get your oil changed regularly, save 10% of your paycheck, and on and on. Almost everyone in their 40’s with a potbelly and high blood pressure or that’s living paycheck to paycheck said “that will never be me” when they were 18. These simple things we know we should do sometimes get away from us.

    Another lesson it took me about a decade to learn is not to be a workaholic. After you’ve been through several cycles of people resigning\getting fired\promoted, you see a strange pattern develop. It’s not always the people who come in early, stay late or work weekends who get the promotions. Come in on time, always give 100% but don’t stay late unless its an emergency. Working 60 hours a week only makes you the first person they come to when there’s extra work to be done.

  • What a truly wonderful article, Marc, and I am so pleased that a friend recommended it to me. I am not 18 but the points you raise are so important and I would say treating others as you would treat yourself is an absolute must and so too is doing something that you really enjoy. Life is not a dress rehearsal, so enjoy the time that you have. I personally think that this article should not only be addressed to 18 year olds but 40 year olds and upwards - life lessons that they still should learn - you are never too old to try! I shall definitely be following your blog from now on.
    Again, many thanks.
    Alex
    http://brains-trust.co.uk
    http://twitter.com/alexparr

  • I really enjoyed reading this post!

    Thank you for your insight and experience.

    Life is much easier on paper, we all need to work our life muscles in order to keep these principles at the cutting edge of our day to day.

    These words are too easily forgotten, and regret is a killer.

  • This post is awesome for a teenager!

    I’m a 3rd year college student and did exactly this and moved from MN to FL for an internship and it has helped me in more than one way.

    Everyone should never quit reaching for their dreams, it will come eventually.

  • Indeshaw Adenaw
    July 8th, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    Great post. Thank you.

  • What a great post. It brought tears to my eyes. At 33 years old I am just now learning some of these lessons and wish someone older and wiser had helped me out when I was 18.

  • Nice post.

  • Excellent post! Really made me think. I agree with pretty much every single one. If only… if only… :)

  • Great post Marc. I’m 18 and I’ll implement these tips as soon as I can !

  • Thank you so much for sharing.

  • it’s really nice post

    thanks a lot for such a nice blog……

  • I wish someone told me about sex education.

  • Yeah, if only someone would have told me all that stuff! The person I am today vs. at 18 years old is on a whole new planet!

    -study hard to get to college
    -get a job
    -get good benefits
    -get retirement
    -etc. ad nauseum

    self help, personal development, build your ideal life

  • Amazing info! Thank you so much for posting this :)

  • நன்றி. That’s “Thank You” in Tamil :)

  • That was great! You just opened my eyes to some things. But you should let go too of things you cannot change, because you speak a lot about not following someone elses dream, you give me the impression that you made this mistake, so let go. If i am wrong, sorry, never mind. Just hope you actually read this.

  • Hay man, i guess i owe u one. Your article has really inspired me, and i can only imagine the number of lives you have touched out there. Yeah its a great work! And believe so much in you. Just keep it up.

  • This is the absolute best thing I’ve ever read in my LIFE, thank you so much for posting this.

    After reading this it kinda makes you think about your life and what your going to do with it. Hopefully I’ll follow what you said and keep everyone of these questions in mind for the future.

    Thanks again,
    Nikia :)

  • the best I’ve ever read

  • That is really wonderful and helpful blog!!!

    Cheers!!

  • Thanks so much for posting this!

    I’m 18 and in my second week of college. I’m the shy, nerdy, socially-awkward type, and though I have a career plan, I’m really afraid that I’m not going to pick the right major, make enough friends, enough money, etc….
    Your article is really helpful, and highlights things that are both new to most people, and some things that we just need to be reminded of from time to time.
    Definitely bookmarking this so I can look at it when I’m feeling uncertain again. Thank you!

  • As the mom of a 14-year-old son who starts high school in two days, I read this post with great interest and appreciation. So well said. And such good advice, not only for young people but also for middle-aged people like me. A great reminder about what counts in life.

    I’m going to give this to my son. It’s a keeper. Thanks a bunch.

  • This post is relevant for any age. I most relate to the “live below your means” one. I just watched a series called Millionaires on Hulu.com today. One of the shows was on getting out of debt. I love that living below your means can help you prevent debt to begin with.

    The only debt I have is student loan debt. I do wish I had lived below my means when I was accumulating debt in school. I do now, but I am paying for the high life in professional school.

  • I love the article. It’s so true. Thank you (sun)

  • Beautiful entry. Really inspired by this. Just gave a moment to think and felt the same, someone should have told me these things 8yrs back to me as well. :) Thanks for inspiring me :)

  • Wonderful post! Keep it up !

  • I disagree on the no.1 IDEA????
    (Commit yourself to making lots of mistakes.)

    - i really don’t believe that this thing really works
    bec. you learn from others, from their past, so why bother commit a mistakes if you know how to solve it, and besides you can always GOOGLE everything. DON’T ever commit a mistake or you’ll regret it for the rest of your life.
    -Just always be an OBSERVANT person for you to gain knowledge.
    -maybe thats why we study our History to shape ourselves or to shape our future.
    -DON’T believe too much to yourself that’s why friends,family and God exist. ALWAYS be patient. ALWAYS consult them for you to have a better idea.
    -maybe that’s also the reason why people gets old.
    for us to learned from their mistakes or successes.
    so we can improve ourselves to become better than them.

  • Wonderful post. I am grateful for every opportunity I get to influence a “punk kid” to learn from my mistakes…

  • Wow… I am astonished. I greatly appreciate the effort you put in informing me and others like myself. I am 18 also and I am going to live my life according to your advice. Thank you!!!

  • Great guidance, ty, will share this with my children

  • 18 was 30 years ago for me. One thing I wish I realized a lot sooner is that time is the most valuable thing we have. It’s the only thing we have. Everything else can be taken away from us and we can probably bounce back. When we’re out time, we’re out. There’s no getting it back. You really notice it when you realize you have more of it behind you than ahead of you.

  • 18 was so long ago. I’m Glad that I am older & I’m just going to enjoy live each day, and thank God for each special thnig.

  • Thanks for the post.

    I’m in the exact same position now. I am reflecting on my life and I am so uncertain of so many things right now. It feels good to be reminded that it is ok to make mistakes and it’s a real booster to hear that I should make as many mistakes as I can (and while I can).

  • I found this blog through one of followers on my twitter. Amazing and do true. It opens eyes for sure. I’m not in 20’s anymore, and honestly saying I sometimes think what I would change if I could reverse time 20 years back or at least 15. Well, it would be a lot. You are writing something what my 70 years old friend told me last month while we were drinking coffee in Tokyo. I wrote about it in my blog. Very inspiring words both of you added to my life. I think Japanese should read this. Their culture is hide, do not express yourself, smile even you are angry, do not try things because of opinion and shame if you fail and more.
    I will sign up to your RSS. Thank You again for inspiration. Thank you to be me and to be where I am.

  • Great post! Thank you.

  • This post truly inspired me. Believe it or not (because I’m not worrying too much about what others think of me), this really changed the way I look at my life. Thank you so much.

  • Thanks for such great advice! :)

  • This is amazing.
    Every time I read your article it inspires me to go out there and try out new things.
    Thank you!

  • How amazing! this blog really is something.Even though I’m 22 now but it’s never too late to start over again ,right ?

  • I can relate to most of the points in this article! Amazing it is, just loved it :-)

  • WOW–WOW–WOW! Probably one of the single greatest things I have read in my adult life and I am 50 years old! I am immediatley forwarding this to my 17 year old daughter, all of her friends, and my nieces! Thanks from the very bottom of my heart! YOU ROCK!!!

  • towards the end of this article i fell in love with a quote “above all laugh when you can, apologize when you should, and let go of what you can not change life is short yet amazing enjoy the ride” I decided to use this quote as my senior quote thanks.

    Esperanza R.

  • Great article, I really like this website.

  • Amazing blog! Thank you for your wonderful advice. I might not be 18 anymore, but I really needed that advice.

  • Absolutely agree - I stumbled across this post at a time when I needed it the most.

    Thanks for the perspective, regardless of age.

  • Great article! I agree with a lot of it.

  • I came upon this site by accident, and I’m sure glad I did! I will be going to college this fall and still don’t know what I want to major in. It’s all so confusing! Anyways, I will take every one of these 18 things and be true to myself. Thank you for the article! :)

  • For the most part swell, but really, the best advice I ever received as a young adult was not to look for work you love, because that doesn’t really exist. People have a misconception of a lovable job as being something you’re in a state of ecstasy every single day doing. Nobody is like this. No musician, no teacher, no politician, no artist, no actor… Nobody.

    What people love is hobbies. And you touched on hobbies a little bit. The best advice I ever received was to find TOLERABLE work that leaves time and resources for the hobbies you love.

    Granted, following what you love will lead to something tolerable, but sometimes it won’t provide much to support yourself or a family. This is particularly true in the world of arts and athletics, only a select few make top dollar and the rest struggle to maintain themselves. If arts or sports are a passion, but you’re not exceptionally talented at them, I think the best thing to do is look at yourself and prioritize what’s really important. Stability or this thing you love that could be a hobby? If you want a family, I’d hope the former would win every time, for your spouse and children’s sake.

  • This is powerful, and reminds me of the “Peggy Sue Got Married” movie, where you got to go back and do some things differently. We all wish we had the confidence back them that we have now. But you live life looking forward, and understand it by looking backward.

  • Such a Mind-opening Article..lovely.
    I’m not 18 yet abut this one would be good for a special friend of mine who turned 18 last month.
    I dont want him to wish in his later life about someone had told him these important things of 18th stage.
    Thanks For Everything!

  • I love #1 and think it’s very important.

    So many people are so afraid of making mistakes that they just sit back and watch. Think about. Dream about. Wonder about.

    Us crazy humans have this bizarre misconception that mistakes are bad and to avoid them at all costs.

    Stop dreaming and start failing. You’ll be winning so fast you’ll forget that you ever failed.

  • Thanks, I’m 16 years old, and this site has MORE than been helpful. I think my maturity level is up by a few years. This is a great resource. You have almost possibly saved my life.

  • I loved it, Im 22 and Im still confused about my interests and how to act my dreams trough, these are things you think through but sometimes its just so hard to actually stress facts that’ll convince your mind on actually commit yourself of doing it. I always wanted like a teacher somewhat that would talk to me about how to do that stuff and how to focus focus my energies… Thanks for the advices.

  • I passed this blog onto my 18 year old sister. Hopefully it helps her!

  • Great post. A pity these important topics and questions are not addressed at school.

  • Indeed, this is a great post, and indeed, it’s a shame these topics aren’t discussed at schools today. I imagine that in other countries they probably share some of these. These are essential lessons that should be taught in Elementary school and Junior High both. While some kids won’t quite grasp the concepts, most kids would by the time they reach Junior High. Childhoods would be a lot less intimidating if children learned these lessons early on.

  • Many thanks for sharing and when I see the last sentence you recommended the book called The Road Less Travelled, I realize that we may have similar interests coz that book is my favorite. Again, thanks a lot for your sharing of 18 things we should know. I have added your blog as one of my favorites. Young

  • I personally believe mistakes are are one of the gifts we have in life. Mistakes are the greatest way to learn and improve, mistakes are great. Just make sure you learn from them haha

  • I have such a difficult time with #9. I know its true, but I just can’t get around the fact that I do so much to please other people. I wonder what the world would be like if everyone just acted true to themselves…

  • I agree with you prayer guy…
    I have a hard time doing #9. Especially with my parents. I couldn’t stop worrying about what they would say on my decisions. And even on peers, what easily comes into me is what would they think about this and that, which is very wrong. :(

  • Such sage advice. I’ve stumbled across this several times now, and I reread it each time. Thanks for a well thought out, well written post.

  • I wish my family would have given me the following advice:

    Always follow your logic, never your feelings.

  • Great advice!

  • I am 48. I am 15 years into my second career, this time as an attorney.

    I would expand on #11. I wouldn’t suggest limiting yourself to talking to lots of folks ONLY in college and early in your career. I suggest you NEVER stop doing that. I am fortunate to still have a number of parental figures in my life: my mum and step-dad, my father-in-law, and my brother’s father-in-law, all of whom I respect greatly and who know me well and have known me for decades. I trust their wisdom much more as an adult than I did as a teen (when I “knew” everything).

    About a year ago, I was really conflicted. I’d had a significant medical event that caused me to wonder if I should move closer to my people. I live in a place I love (the Pacific Northwest) and have a job I love (doesn’t pay much, but I LOVE it). But all of my people (most of my family and long term friends) live in San Diego, where I lived most of my life before changing careers. When this unexpected medical event happened, I was alone to deal with it and wished I was surrounded by those who mean the most to me.

    So I posed a question to my “senior counsel” (those persons identified above). They’re all in their 70s and 80s. If they were my age, would they stick with the security of the great job and region that I find beautiful, or would they take the leap and go home, which in my case would have required another bar exam: ack!). I was surprised that all of them said they suggested I take the leap.

    Just food for thought.

  • What a wonderful post! Everything , every single point , every single line, is to be treasured. Thanks a million times for posting this.

    Right now, I ‘m feeling too elated on reading the things you’ve written. Wonderful use of language . If you ever write a book , do tell me and send me a signed Book , k? :)

    Once again, thanks . Hats off to you!

  • I resonated with these. I wish I could go back to my 14-year-old self and make different decisions such as attending a private school vs. public school. I’d also listen to me and not my father who told me to get a ‘practical degree’ instead of anything to do with art, English, or marketing.

    I should have followed my heart. The kicker is I paid for my degrees. Live and learn!

  • I wish I read this article when I was 14-17. That was the time I really, really needed this advice. But, at 32, I think it’s never too late. Thanks.

  • This is a fantastic list Marc - thanks for sharing!

    Your suggestion to “narrow your focus on learning fewer career related skills and master them all” hits home for me right now - but it’s difficult to do when there are many elements of (supposedly) divergent kinds of work that I love to do. I think it’s possible to craft our own career by weaving together these elements in our own unique form - but I’m grateful for your reminder that real mastery comes through focusing on one or a few. The mastery that we learn/develop in one are of work can also infuse the rest of our life/work.

  • I am not even 18 yet, but even at my age I am so thankful you shared this. This is so helpful.

  • Hi, I stumbled upon your website and it’s awesome.

    I don’t agree with every point here, but most of them click. I guess that the beauty of different perspectives. Thanks.

  • Loved the article…..so inspiring………

  • Thank you

  • This is probably one of the best blogs that I have read and I read a lot of them each day. I agree with everything that you wrote and will pass this along.

  • This is a post I wish I had written. Well stated in every way. Thanks.

  • I was an ‘old’ child. Listening to those much older than myself. Much more adult than most my age. Then my parents separated and I hid from it, messed up at school and blamed everyone but me. Through this the child, angry child, started to show to everyone BUT me.

    Now I am in my twenties and I have gradually been able to let go. Almost 10 years of dark, hidden feelings have come, been faught against and been faught for. Now I can look back at that time I lost and look forward with the feeling of Never wanting to look back. I know everything written above is true and I hope more ‘Teen’s in need’ find themselfs again. A breath of fresh air when you do!

    My advice which has always kept me safe. If something feels wrong, it is! Like walking down a diffrent street to get home or buying something from ‘that guy’.. your instinct could save you, use it and trust it. xx

  • Thank you for sharing this posting. I’ve been living a very satisfied life I guess, but sometimes, I feel a big hole in my heart and didn’t know why. Kind of gloomy and lonely. But after I read this, I think I understand why. You made my day! Keep it up :-)

    -Chloe from. South Korea

  • This is an amazing article. Reading this really helped me to open my eyes and it made me realize that you need to enjoy your youth years, make the best of them and stop worrying so much about what others things of you or what they will think of you if you do not so something perfect.

  • I love this article! Thank you for the great reminders.

  • This article is so true! I wonder why we have to make mistakes in order to understand some obvious things!
    Thank you very much for this list!
    Lenia

  • What a life changing article this is especially for me, I’m 18 and don’t know where to go or what to do yet, still stuck in life’s cross roads .. This was so helpful to me .. thanks :))

  • Thanks a lot for sharing this advice. I’ve been living a fairly satisfied life I guess, but sometimes, I feel a big hole in my heart and didn’t know why. Kind of gloomy and lonely. But after I read this, I think I understand why. You made my day!

  • I have to say, google brought me to your article just at the right time, right after yet another family argument, something that I feel there is no way out, no solutions… and then your article reminded me to be honest with who I am and what I represent, and be at peace with myself and not think about what the world thinks, and just accept that some things can’t be changed, and life still goes on, and life still is great. Thank you. I also fully agree with your book recommendation, it is a great book.

  • Thank you so much for sharing! I just read to my 13 year old and told her we will revisit it every year! Thanks again!

  • I agree with a lot of these points, and I would probably tell my 18 year old self the same things hoping it would sink in, but I don’t think my 18 year old self would listen.

    For instance if I told my 18 year old self to be honest with myself I don’t think I would have any clue what that really means. I didn’t know who I was at that point in my life so I think I couldn’t be honest with myself because I was in such a state of confusion of trying to please others and ‘be cool’. I think that experience brings about insights and I needed all my experiences to actually understand the things I now know.

    But either way, this is an insightful read for all who are willing to truly listen.

  • I am 18 now and find this article extremely enlightening. Much of this makes complete sense to me. Thank you for putting this together.

  • That was an amazing article. Very helpful, and interesting. You just summed up in one page, what people learn in a lifetime.

  • If only these kind of topics were discussed in schools…SO important! I’m sending this to both of my sons, these ‘18 things I wish someone had told me when I was 18′ are wise words indeed!

  • Above all else, be true to yourself…

  • AMAZING advice for youngsters… just shared this with my Senior High School Students… hopefully they take some of the advice! Thanks!

  • Thanks very much for this post, Marc, but as an almost 58 year old who has been through even more I’d like to add a couple of things: Don’t believe the myths we are taught about relationships. You don’t have a soulmate, and there is no one Mr. Right or Ms. Right for you. No relationship is magic — they are all hard work. They will all have ups and downs. If you think that you do have a soulmate you’ll either constantly question yourself about each relationship or expect the magic to carry you through. Don’t give up during the down times. Learn from them. Those are the times during which we grow. And that’s true of all down times, not just down times in relationships. We’re here to learn, and we only learn from the bad times. The good times are lovely, but they teach us very little. Cherish the bad times, too, and use them to grow.

  • Awwwwwwwwwww, this is so nice!! Such simple, wise advice. Thanks for this. :)

  • Great wisdom! Thank you.

  • I am currently 18 and I think this article is brilliant. It made me think. I’m going to transform this year into the best year of my life.

  • I’m 18 , and I have had the same questions since I graduated.

    Thank you so much for this advice.

  • Great post. There is one i would add to this list — keep a journal. As a kid, i was inspired by the old series ‘The Waltons’ and began keeping a personal daily journal - similar to what ‘John Boy’ did - summarizing my day just before calling it a night. On many an occasion, it’s served as a catharsis - a great way to safely empty out whatever was boiling up in me at the time. Over the years, I’ve been amazed at the many twists and turns that life has taken - the ups, the downs and the in-betweens, and were it not for that journal, i would have forgotten many of the lessons that life had a way of subtly teaching me when I never saw it coming.

  • Love your blog.
    It is really very inspiring.
    Thanks for all the inspiration.

  • Brilliant post - thank you. Great advice that I wish someone had given to me when I was 18! I also love The Road Less Traveled. It was one of the first ones I read that put me on the right path. Love Suky

  • Thank you for this post!

  • Great read! Also, in my opinion number 9 should be number 1 and the words “too much” should be removed. From a 48-year old.

  • Great read! I am 18 now and I am sure that after 10 years I won’t have to say “I Wish Someone Told Me When I Was 18.” Thanks. This article helped me.

  • I concur! If I may be bold enough to add one: Always take your dreams for the future seriously.

    And, by the way, I love your posts. Just discovered this site today. Very valuable to all those who want to achieve more in life. Thank you.

    Ken West,
    author of Get What You Want

  • I just read this article… I too wish someone told me these things nearly 30 years ago! I did go directly to my favorite audio book site and purchase ‘The Road Less Traveled” before I posted this comment, thank you!

  • After the years which i have lived and after my experiences , i think i still need to re-read these words from time to time.

    Thank you for this advice and this wonderful article.

  • This article is superb! Great advice!

  • I myself am (around 18 and) at that awkward stage where I’m trying to work out what I want to do with my life having not quite decided on unis or anything so far. The more I think (idly, yes) about everything the more scatter-brained I become; my focus is all over the place. I was just looking around for something inspiring and motivating and this was just the pick-me-up I needed- super sound advice right there, thank you for this! I’m actually going to come back ever so often when I need to sort myself out again :)

  • Excellent life lessons.

  • This advice could be applied to everyone’s life. Wonderful.

  • Some smart thinking here, kids. Chipping in with my own two penneth: Advice I wish someone had sat me down and slapped into me as a teenager: If you think you’ve fallen in love with someone but are terrified of telling them because it’ll “ruin the friendship,”…tell them anyway. What you have isn’t friendship if you’re busting to grab them and kiss them 24hrs a day. It’s something else. And something worth going for at any cost.
    That’s it. Rx

  • This is awesome stuff! I could relate to most of the points mentioned here. I’m now 30. But as the saying goes “Better late than never” :)
    Again great article! Expecting more beautiful ones like this one!
    Cheers, Justin Samuel.

  • Fantastic advice. I would also include save early, save consistently and save enough!

  • Awesome Article brother.. Keep it up… nice blog.

  • The best present for me this year is to have found this blog. I enjoy reading every article, especially this one! Thanks.

  • I would add #19 Find an older mentor in the career field that you plan to study. Often times what you “envision” a job to be is quite different than reality. Mentors can be friends of your parents; neighbors; people you attend church with; or someone that is already in the career field that you want to be in.

    Most older people will feel flattered when asked if you can shadow them on their job or schedule a coffee date (please pick up the tab, since you are the one benefiting) to get a true perspective on what their career entails. Who knows, they may become a life-long mentor. Good luck!

  • I am currently 24 years old and I definitely agree with all that you have said above. Honestly I wish I had known half of the list above when I was 18.

  • I am so thankful I read this list today, while I am still 18. Will definitely put all of this to good use. JazakAllah (thank you) for all the awesome stuff you post!

  • Excellent Blog and a definite good read. Everyone should have a list like that. Find your own voice to tell your 18 year old self. Reading the comments here, there is alot of 18 year old that are very greatful for your post but they are forgetting one thing… Don’t listen to what other say you should do… Don’t take his list here and make it your life mission… read it, digest it and move on guys… Life is waiting for you to experience it!

  • Thank you Marc for this wonderful post. I would like to use these tips in my life ahead, they very authentic and useful.
    :-)

  • Ask yourself, “What work would you do for free if you didn’t have to worry about money?”

  • This helps motivate as I change jobs and find my way. Though I’m not 18 years old anymore. LOL.

    Nice article.

  • Thank you for posting this! It put me in a much better mood. :)

  • Just turned 18 today. What a wonderful start to my day!! Thank you x

  • I am eighteen and completing my final exams before I go to university. This has made me realise that I’m not living my life how I want to be. I’ve applied for the wrong degree and I need to fix that so that the rest of my life is easier to enjoy. Thank you.

  • This is just fascinating. Thank you very much.

  • I think number 1 is so important. It is only by making mistakes that you can learn. Not being afraid to make mistakes is so important. We all make mistakes, learn, move on, make more mistakes.

    Eventually you will be successful.

  • I am also 19 years old and just finished a rocky first year of college! Thank you so much for your advice, I can really relate to them and I believe that this coming year I will work to enjoy and work harder for my life and happiness. These days I feel like I am constantly worried about tomorrow and never appreciating today. Worried about everything so much that I am afraid go live my life to the fullest. This year has definitely been scary but now I am confidence to live my life with more hope and joy :) Now I do want to talk to more new people, stop judging myself to be a failure and try to experience new adventures. Life is surely a roller coaster but I think sometimes I forget to enjoy the ride. Thank you again!

  • Thank you, I feel as if this was a wake up call. I needed to hear something like this from an experienced adult. I turned 18 about 43 minutes ago and I googled, ” I turned 18 and I don’t know what to do with my life.” I honestly didn’t know what was going to pop up in the search field, but i’m glad to of come across this. Recently, I’ve been realizing that this upcoming fall means new beginnings/experiences and transitioning to the “adult” world. All this makes me extremely overwhelmed. It’s reached the point to where I didn’t feel like taking initiative with my life for fear of not liking what’s to come. I’ve spent my summer slacking and sleeping, even missing important deadlines for school because I wasn’t excited about this brand new start. I should’ve looked forward to it all this time. I never step out of the box, but your right in order to get places and learn from your mistakes you must. No one will hold your hand and help you out, as good as that sounds at times. You need to steer your life in the direction you want to go because time passes extremely fast. Everyone will leave you behind because they’re doing what’s best for themselves. Much Respect.

  • Reading this puts a burning in my stomach as I turned 40 this summer. I look back with a lot of bitterness about my youth, but that’s not propelling me forward in the least bit. I feel in a way I’ve missed out on so much that it’s too late for so many things. Then I feel guilty for not being thankful for all of the great things that I’ve some how seemed to accumulate in my life thus far. I agree Marc, these are definitely things I wish someone would’ve told me when I was 18yrs old.

  • I love point 12. Sitting in silence and reflecting is a great way of remembering your day. In the evening I like to look back through my day in my mind. Focusing on the good stuff and thinking how I would do the bad stuff differently.

  • This is fabulous. I am forwarding this to my two sons. Shay (who will be 16 on Jan 4th) and Sam (who will be 14 on Feb 14th). As a single mom, and with an absent father this blog would be priceless and will add (and summarize) to the things I wanted I want them to so badly remember. I also hope that these two impressionable young ambitious teenagers will read your other amazing blogs.

    Marc and Angel you are simply the best… you change million of lives with your blog posts and book.

  • Wow! I’d say pick two that really jump out at you and of those two, take one and work on it really strongly for the next year! Then next year, do the other one!

  • This is the perfect post to come upon right now in my life. My daughter well one of 5, turns 18 on the 16th of July. I tagged her in a post on fb, because I want her to read it. I wish I had when I turned 18. But I do believe, ALWAYS do what you LOVE and you’ll never work a day in your life. I don’t. I love being a massage therapist.

  • Wow, thank you ! I have had some really bad days lately, thinking about my future and my past… now, after reading this post I feel a little bit better. You know… I have always known that I should be who i want to be and try new things, be a better person, don’t care about others opinion too much, but yet it is good when someone older than me reminds me of these things. Hope to see more “what would I say to my 18 years old self” posts. Thank you very much and have a good day. :)

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