Things I’d Tell Myself at 18 That I Now Know at 26


2 min read

Here are a few things that I’d tell my 18-year-old self about money and life that I now know at 26.

Pay attention to things that are easy for you, but hard for others. This is where you’ll make money.

Ever notice how you fly through your stats homework while most of your classmates struggle with it? That’s a sign that you’re naturally good with numbers and equations. Take note of this and double down on it. You can make good money by applying your knowledge in this field since most people find it difficult.

What is obvious to you is not obvious to others.

Share your knowledge online. You’ll be surprised at how many people can benefit from information that you consider to be common knowledge.

A high-freedom job brings more satisfaction than a high-status job.

It will feel good to say “I’m a data scientist” on the weekends at cocktail parties, but it’s not worth the terrible feeling you have about the job during the five weekdays.

You’ll be much happier in life if you have a high-freedom job – one that doesn’t require a commute, a dress code, specific hours, or shitty bosses – rather than a high-status job.

Learn SEO.

SEO is the field that is concerned with how to write articles on the internet that show up on the front page of Google for certain search phrases.

Learn this skill. It will change your life. You’ll see that you can spend one hour writing an article that can rank on the front page of Google and help you earn completely passive income for years to come.

Learn how to write well.

The better you become at writing, the better you can communicate online, and the more money you can earn. This article from Scott Adams will teach you 80% of what you need to know about how to write well. Follow this up with On Writing by Stephen King and Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.

People only care about what you can do for them.

To succeed in business, you must internalize this truth:

Nobody cares about what you can do. They only care about what you can do for them.

A company won’t hire you if you can’t help them earn more money. A customer won’t pay you if you can’t provide a service or product they find valuable. An audience won’t read your work if your writing doesn’t add value to their life.

Recognize that nobody is tracking your failures.

The world isn’t watching you as closely as you think. Take more chances. Your failures will mostly go unnoticed. And those who do notice rarely care.

There are no shortcuts. Just do the work.

James Clear once said, “If you added up all the time wasted searching for shortcuts trying to cheat the process, the hard work could have already been down by now.”

Stop looking for shortcuts. Just put your head down and do the work.

Be impatient in the short-term and patient in the long-term.

Be impatient in the short-term: Show up each day to work on your craft. 

Be patient on the long-term: Show up every day for years.

Understand the difference between assets and liabilities.

Assets are things that pay you each month. Liabilities are things that require monthly payments from you. Acquire assets. Avoid liabilities. This is the path to wealth.

Keep investing simple.

You will learn that it’s nearly impossible to predict which individual stocks will perform well over the long haul. Fortunately, you can just invest in index funds – funds that hold hundreds or thousands of individual stocks – and avoid the need to pick individual stocks.

Practice negative visualization.

Negative visualization is the art of imagining how much worse your situation could be and then becoming grateful for how good things actually are. This simple practice brings an absurd amount of joy.

Nothing feels better than freedom over your time.

You think you want a million dollars. What you actually want is the freedom to wake up and do whatever you want each day. That can be had for much less than a million dollars.

Life is about finding fulfilling work, not saving up enough money to never work again.

You think you want the financial means to never work again. What you actually want is the ability to do fulfilling work. Recognize this fact and you won’t have to spend your time in a cubicle for 15-20 years attempting to save a million dollars.

Zach

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