How I wish I had spent my time when I was 18.

To all my students and young adults who are enjoying their window gap of 6 months to 2 years before the start of college, here are some thoughts I would like to share with you.

I wished I had read this article when I was your age. I was struggling a lot when I was in your position right now as it was the first time in my life, I had to make a decision on what to study for the next 3 to 4 years in my life. For the past 17 years of our lives, it was largely dictated guided by our parents and the Ministry of Education. We barely had to decide what we want to learn. Faced with an avalanche of information and choices right now, I am sure you must be feeling confused and perhaps apathetic about your choices and decision.

I just want to tell you that IT’S OK not to know what you want to do in life right now. It doesn’t really matter down the road 10 to 20 years later. Regardless what course or path you have chosen, received and will be taking in the next 3 to 4 years, it will most likely be one filled with challenges, regrets and eventually, accomplishments. At some point of time, especially during the tough periods, it will dawn on you that the grass on the other side looks greener. The key is to learn how to deal with this thought.

What can you do right now to help you make more informed choices and deal with the new challenges that will be coming your way?

Here are 5 habits/tips that I want to share with you that will change and uplift the trajectory of your life in every aspect.

1. Read

Read anything and everything. I am sure there will be a topic that you are interested in, be it cooking, game development, video games, basketball, photography, animals. It can be anything and everything. Pick up an autobiography of someone whom you admire and make it a goal to read it for 10 mins a day for the next 3 days. If you enjoy the book, finish it. If not, move on to the next book. Stick with a book, book-hop. It does not really matter. If you need book recommendations, sign up on Goodreads or just google on a topic and start reading. You will find yourself returning to the book when you are bored and lazy rather than switching on Netflix or surfing social media.

Everything I am sharing with you here is not original. I merely followed the advice of all the different books that I had read over the years and re-sharing what had worked for me. I am just standing on the shoulders of the giants. As you wander into books, you will start wondering how you can take charge of your life and career. You will find yourself returning to books whenever you are stuck or confused, coming out feeling refreshed and inspired. While at times, the books may not have the answers to your questions or problems right away, you will find that they will steer you towards the solutions eventually.

2. Write / Journal your thought

As you are reading more, you will find yourself generating more thoughts and ideas every day. They are the gems of your learnings and you should find a way to systematically record them down. You can write it out, type or doodle them out. The key thing is to get them out of your system and head. Over time, you will have a collection of thoughts and emotions, otherwise known as data, which you can access to make more informed decisions. For example, if you find yourself thinking of applying to another course even though you have already accepted or matriculated in your current course, you should pen it down every time this thought occurs. By the end of the semester, you would be in a better position to decide if you should act on this thought because you have found a different calling in your life or it was just a fleeting thought that flashed into your head because you were anxious about your exam and results. This is just an example of how journaling can help you figure out what’s bothering you and guide you to your actions and decisions.

3. Date more people

Yes, you have not heard me wrong. I am telling you to go out and ask people out. If someone asks you out, go. If you like someone, ask him or her out. If you are meeting someone for the first time, meet in an open public place like a cafe instead of secluded places like his or her home.

Meeting new people will expose you to the thoughts and lifestyle of people out of your social circle. You will get to meet people who have varying levels of ambitions and outlook in life. You will learn the best from people and hopefully, meet someone who dazzles you and makes you want to become the BEST VERSION OF YOURSELF.

If you are an introvert, this is the best time in our society to seek a partner. There are a plentiful of dating apps and platforms available and it is easier to be connected with like-minded individuals thanks to algorithm.

However, if you are looking for a short-term relationship, our conversations shall end here. I would suggest that you should not bother as you will only be attracting someone of equivalent mindset and quality. In the long run, short-term relationships are going to demand more energy with negligible returns other than the risk of Sexually Transmitted Diseases(STDs) and maybe heartaches.

4. Exercise everyday

Go to the gym. Build those muscles and abs. They will come in handy when attracting a potential mate. Take walks in nature. Cycle. Play duo sports like badminton, tennis or team sports like basketball or soccer. The idea is to move your body everyday so that you can increase your energy level over time. You will experience muscle and body aches at the onset. However, if you can persist in this habit, you will certainly reap rewards in many aspects such as looking flattering in most outfits, having higher energy level than people who do not exercise and having FREE dosage of dopamine every day.

5. Save $$$

Depending on your family circumstances and your access to funds available in the community, you may have to spare time to earn money to fund your education and living expenses. If you fall into this category, you can skip the following point as you are unlikely to be frivolous in your spending. If you happen to fall within the privilege group in which you are still receiving support from your parents, it is ever more important for you to start cultivating the virtue of savings. When I say saving, I mean being disciplined with your own expenses but not at the expense of showering your love towards your family and friends.  Saving money does not mean that you have to become a miser, it just means that you should start evaluating every desire that you have in your heart and questioning yourself if it is worth your time and energy to possess or enjoy it. The concept of opportunity cost will be a perfect way to start scrutinizing and pruning your expenditure.

 

To sum it up, I am laying out a habit plan that you can start today to change your life. You don’t have to take any of the advice here, but you should ask someone older whom you respect if he/she concurs with any of the point here. Trust me, these are the 5 things I wish I had started doing when I was your age. Right now, I am going to ask someone 10 years older than me what he/she would have done at my age now. Hope to hear from you in 10 years’ time.

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