From the day we are born until the day we die we are mostly making it up as we go along. Sure, our elders can impart wisdom all they want, but we can choose whether or not to listen to it.
As I’ve got older I’ve had the time to reflect on some things that I’ve done that, if given the chance, I wouldn’t do again. If I could write a letter to myself as a 20-year-old, this is what I would say.
Well done you, you’ve landed yourself a job and the joys of a regular income. Now, don’t let it go to your head. Firstly, put £100 every month into a savings account, without fail and do not touch it on pain of death.
By the time you reach the age of 40 you’ll have £24,000 plus interest, probably closer to £30,000 thanks to the magic of compound interest, sitting in a bank account ready for any rainy days or any midlife crisis. If you can stretch to 10-15% of your pay, all the better.
On the subject of money, never borrow money –ever. Definitely don’t borrow money for your first car, or your second car and never buy a car new. Better yet, never buy a car. It’ll make you fat, miserable and skint. Get a road bike instead. If you’ve put money away in savings like I told you to, you should be able to buy somewhere to live before the housing market takes a turn for the ridiculous.
Next, whilst gadgets can be fun, sometimes useful, they’re a money pit. Learn to make the best of what you have and stop waiting for the next iteration. Put your money in investment funds instead. Open-ended investment companies are magic. Yes, there will be a crash in 2008 caused by sub-prime mortgages in the US, but it’ll pass and the stock market will recover in time.
Money aside, if I can impart one piece of wisdom, one thing to live your life by, it’s this. Our minds have a wonderful way of filtering out the mundane and the routine. If you are not careful you’ll wake up one day wondering where the time went.
We only have one shot at life, but it ticks by one second at a time –use it wisely. The things you’ve wanted to do, whether that be to learn a language; learn to code; move to a different country…don’t wait. If you leave now you’ll get to miss the UK imploding under the weight of a decision it made in 2016 that it was never equipped to make.
Most importantly, your instincts are usually correct. If something doesn’t feel right, there’s probably a good reason.