THE INC. LIFE

5 Pieces Of Advice I Would Give My 20-Year-Old Self

Apply these simple steps to get a jumpstart in life and your career.

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BY Maria Matarelli - 15 May 2018

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

I don't know many people that look back at themselves at 20 and think, "Yep, I had it all together!" Whether you were in school or working, you can probably think of a few things you'd have done differently at that age.

Personally, there are a few things I'd change. Don't get me wrong, my 20s worked out alright. Even mistakes I made in business gave me the knowledge and experience that makes me who I am today. But there are pieces of advice I wish I could give my 20-year-old self.

They would go like this.

1. Make your mark sooner.

When you're young, it seems like you have plenty of time on your hands. In reality, you do. So, make your mark sooner. Whether it's writing content, working on a podcast, or building a community--make a mark.

How can you do this?

Capture the value of every day conversations. Just by adding a little structure to conversations, you can post a blog or create a podcast. You can transcribe a podcast into an article. You can turn those articles into a book.

Or take your writing and your blog, and formulate it into something more impactful. As you document your expertise, turn it into something meaningful. Whether its a book or an online training course. Use your knowledge and interests to create something tangible.

2. Don't be afraid of your ideas.

Don't be afraid of being judged in this world. Just do your best and be authentic. I spent way too much time worrying about what other people think. You may never achieve the things you really want to if you're afraid to put yourself out there. Think about the impact you want to make or that dream you really want to achieve.

What's stopping you?

For many 20-year-olds, the fear of judgment or failure is a major stopping power.

Don't fear your ideas are not good enough. Be eager to always be learning. Share your knowledge, your ideas, and the things you learn. Do it frequently, and don't be afraid of taking a stand. You may get feedback that will help you grow and improve. Sometimes it may be harsh, but you'll figure out what the next step should look like. You'll discover how to improve.

Your ideas and your thoughts are worth something. Put them out there, get feedback, and grow one step at a time.

3. Prioritize your health.

Your mind and body have a very tight relationship. Living an unhealthy lifestyle will end up affecting your performance. Prioritize your health and create good habits. Stay healthy. Stay fit. Get enough sleep.

You may work hard in your 20s and your body needs to be in the best condition possible to keep up. That doesn't mean staying up all hours of the night to get work done. Set a bedtime for yourself and stick to it. Get enough rest. Find balance. Your future self will thank you.

Its not until you lose your health that you may realize how important it is. I ran myself so hard with too much travel, not enough sleep, little to no self care, and at an overall unsustainable pace that I found myself in the hospital several times in the last few years and have hired multiple health coaches to help get me back on track. This shouldn't be something you should ever encounter if you just take care of yourself and build healthy habits now.

4. Change your mindset.

Don't just trade your time for money. There are many people out there that may think:

"I'll work this many hours each week, and I'll get this much money for it. I'll continue doing that until I retire. Hopefully."

Changing your mindset is the first step to defining the life you really want.

I remember sitting in a cubicle wondering if there was anything more to life than the same 9-5 job. I eventually decided to begin taking risk and to be open to what is possible, rather than holding on to my own limiting beliefs. I began by building a business around myself. I consult, I speak, and I train companies about how to be more effective. I built a business that initially required a lot of effort from me, but now I'm sending out other trainers. I'm doing training online. I'm doing things that can reach many people at once. As I shifted my focus to scaling, I realized I needed to work smarter, not harder. That's advice that I wish my 20-year-old self would have heard and internalized.

5. Build a following.

We live in a day and age where having a following can really help your business. People who want to work with you may check your social media first.

Find people with similar interests. Engage with them, send messages, ask questions. Connect with people. Build a network. Having tens of thousands of followers can be valuable. It adds credibility to almost anything you want to do, whether that's starting a business, sharing your ideas, or creating your own platform. So start early and build over time.

When I look back at my journey, there are some things that I see now that I think could have helped me get to where I am today much faster and with a little less heartache. So if you're reading this in your 20s, I hope you find value in this advice.

I know it's what I needed to hear--maybe it's what you need to hear, too.