A Letter to Myself as I Started My Career

Over the last 8 years, I almost went blind. I got married and divorced. Gained weight and lost weight. Moved to three different states and about 8 different addresses. Took up kayaking, cycling, yoga and meditation. Watched a Cubs World Series and became a father. As someone who at 22 planned to move back to my hometown as soon as possible and marry my high school sweetheart, none of this was part of my plan. Which is great, because at 22, I was clueless. Reaching my thirties now, I have gained a lot of interesting life experience. Failures are just little chunks of experience we pick up along the way. If I could go back in time and send myself a letter, this is what I would tell my young arrogant self.

Dear Ryan, (I actually do have a name)

First off bro, congratulations on graduating college. I sometimes wonder how we got through it, but nothing worth doing is easy. Go out and celebrate by buying that new car. I can’t recommend buying a new car right out of college, but you landed a solid job and will travel a lot for work. Besides, 8 years later she’s still on the road so that investment worked out. Just stay away from luxury cars. After a couple of years, they lose their luster, along with their value. Everyone should buy a new car once so they can learn that life mistake.

Finances

I know it is fun to have a decent paying job after 4 years of basically living in poverty, but take it easy on the spending. I know you save well, but you buy a lot of unnecessary stuff as well. Also, you are going to move A LOT over the course of your twenties, so pack light! One day you are going to want a house, and it is tough to scrounge up that first down payment if you want a decent place. You need less square footage than you think, but pick a nice area with a good school district so you can sell it easily. All the same, save money from every paycheck and stick it in savings or safe stocks. Well, you’re young so if you want to gamble a bit in the stock market, now is the time to learn if you have the stomach for it. Besides, everyone made money over the last few years. The best way to learn something, is to just dive right in and see if you sink or swim. And make sure to open that Mint.com account as it will help you keep track of where your money is going every month.

The clothes don’t make the man and for some reason I remember caring a great deal about how I dressed for work. Yes, we dressed terribly in college, and dressing up for work every day was intimidating, but it is overrated. Get yourself a nice grey suit for weddings and formal functions. In a couple of years, you’ll be going to a wedding every month it will seem. That linen suit you will buy works great for hot summer weddings and really stands out in a crowd of sweaty black suits. Get a couple decent pairs of chinos, a few solid colored dress shirts and you’re basically all set. Simple and classic is timeless which saves you a fortune on clothing. Not to mention that it will save you time when you get dressed in the morning if your closet is not overloaded with choices. Often times, less is more.

Stay Active

The best way to look good in your clothes, is to hit the gym. You always were a gym rat which helped on that, but I do wish I would have spent more time on the cardio. Also, you can’t outrun your fork, and this will get harder the older you get. Exercise is 20% of the picture. The remainder is all diet and yours is horrible. Slow down on the booze; it will lead to too many carbs, and it is a wasteful way to spend your weekends. Working 40 hours a week is enough time wasted, don’t spend the rest getting wasted. Although getting that rice cooker was one of your better drunk impulse buys. It worked as the perfect one-person slow cooker for all sorts of tasty meals. Learn to cook some more meals. This is one of the most important skill sets anyone can have and will help you stay healthy and save you money.

Ease Off the Video Games

They’re fun time killers, but they are a waste of time. All that time wasted playing mindless games makes you a less interesting person and its horrible for your health. Get off the couch and get active. There are simply better ways to spend your time than sitting on a couch all day leveling up fake characters. Take this time to learn some new habits and read all those books sitting on your shelf. Reading makes you a much more interesting person to talk to and provides education and insight into any topic you want. Smart people read books. Get outside and go for walks so you can enjoy nature. It is good for the health of your mind as well as your body. You’re young and don’t have as much responsibilities as you think. This is the perfect time to explore and try out new things. Don’t waste too much time staring at a screen, especially since you do that enough at work. Now, 30 is still young so all is not lost, but I would have liked to have done more physical events like 5Ks and tough mudders. Besides, there are so many interesting people out there to meet, like this cool guy from South Africa that’ll become a good friend, and a lawyer who decides to cut ties with the corporate world to become an actor. You even meet a private detective who just might have the coolest job ever.

Start Writing

Everything worked out surprisingly well, but I regret not focusing a bit more on what I wanted out of life. In retrospect, I would have written down my goals more and tried to establish a daily routine. Accountability is everything and by writing it down, you are more likely to pursue your goals. Also start an exercise journal. I recently have been doing this and it is fun to keep track of my progress. For example, I have been doing pushups every day and each day I do one more pushup than the day prior. Writing is a great way to decompress at the end of a long day and can help get one’s mind clear. Plus, it will lead to a really fun blog one day and who knows what will come after that. Just be brave enough to put yourself out there.

Try Out Yoga and Meditation

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. How did I become a hippy? Well, the world has changed. We have a reality TV star for President, Pokemon will become popular again and people are protesting McDonald’s running out of Szechuan sauce. It all went downhill when they shot that gorilla. Rest in peace, Harambe. Maybe the insanity of this world drives you to yoga. I honestly don’t really know what started it. Either way, it is life changing. Yoga is about flexibility of your mind as much as your body. And meditation will help you find quiet in a world filled with noise. Overall your twenties are great, but there are definitely a couple bumps in the road. One particularly big bump, yet this really shapes you into the person you were meant to be. It is often these moments of adversity where we feel like our world is falling apart that show the clarity of your own purpose.

Keep an Open Mind

You were very close minded in your early years. As smart as you are, you haven’t lived enough to have it all figured out. Focus on your own journey and let others do what they feel is right. Everyone has their own path and it is perfectly normal to not understand someone else’s journey. Your journey gets pretty weird but don’t sweat it. You worry too much and everything will work out great. The hard work and long hours pay off eventually. There is so much more to life than your career and materialism. You really wouldn’t recognize me after just a few years, but trust me, it will all work out. If I told you all that happens you would freak out, but it is one fun ride and each year you’ll get a little happier and a lot more fulfilled. Also, you’ll find the right woman eventually and it will be worth all the headaches and chaos. Most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy your life.

 

P.S. Buy all the Bitcoin you can. Don’t ask why. It will just sound stupid if I try to explain it.