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10 Important Things People Wish They Understood In Their Youth

10 Important Things People Wish They Understood In Their Youth

Hindsight is a funny thing—it can teach you valuable life lessons or fill you with regret. The question is what are you going to do with the benefit of hindsight? If you draw lessons from experiences that have happened and take notes to self, hindsight can empower you to face the future.

Here are ten things many people wish they understood when they were younger.

1. You need to live your life for yourself (not others)

Many young people live their lives to please others. They pursue careers, start businesses and even pick marriage partners to please their parents, friends, spouses and even kids only to realize later on in life that was a big mistake. Back out of people’s plans for you and run away from dreams that aren’t your own. You only have one life to live. Live it in the most meaningful way for you.

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2. Your work can make you truly satisfied or truly miserable

Steve Jobs explained it best when he said, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” The sooner you understand this fact the better. It becomes increasingly harder and complicated to switch careers as you grow older.

3. Your education is always a good choice—whatever form it takes

Although formal education is often looked down upon by young people, many people who have lived through their youth wish they would have either gone to or stuck to college. One such woman laments, “Why, oh why did I not finish college and have a real career? I am 55 and qualified to do absolutely nothing. Just always thought something will come along. Now I will struggle to pay bills the rest of my life and will never retire. I caution my girls, 17 and 16 to work hard and value their education.

Whether it’s to land you the career of your dreams or to meet people from different walks of life or to learn to see things a little differently, take learning seriously and never stop educating yourself.

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4. You really need to marry well, or not at all

There is nothing worse than a bad marriage. It is almost impossible to do well with your life if your marriage isn’t working. That’s what many people say they wish they understood before getting into marriage. They would have done things differently if they knew this earlier—taken time choosing a life partner and not rushed into marriage. Marry well or not at all and it will spare you a lot of agony in the future. Any kids you may have will also be spared a lot of pain in a dysfunctional family.

5. You need to start saving sooner rather than later

Old age catches up on all of us faster than we imagine. Your 30’s, 40’s, 50’s creep on you and before you know it you are in your sunset years. And nothing is as heartbreaking as staring at the bleak reality of your 401K in retirement. You might find yourself counting every nickel and dime you wasted on frivolous expenses in your youth, and it sucks. Start saving now for retirement. No matter how little your income, try to save a small portion of it. Remember, as cheesy as it sounds, a penny saved is a penny earned.

6. You need to cut back on your debt from the start

Many people are burdened by debt and lament that they are forced to take any job they find because they are tied to monthly payments. Their advice is: TRY and incur as LITTLE loan debt as possible. No matter what they tell you, think long and hard before getting a credit card—it’s not free money. And no matter how high the credit limit, you shouldn’t go blow it all on designer duds and a fancy vacation. Developing large debt early limits your options and narrows your choices in life. Debt is slavery.

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7. You need to speak your mind and stand up for yourself

Believe it or not, many of the biggest regrets people have in life have to do with not standing up for themselves. People never seem to forget or forgive themselves for being too scared to speak up against bullies. And many of these bullies are in our work places. Maybe it’s a boss that you wish you had told off even if it cost you your job. Speak your mind boldly and confidently in front of others and never be afraid to stand up for yourself. You are your one and only true advocate. Besides, regret is terrible.

8. You shouldn’t worry unnecessarily about what others think about you

Many people, particularly when they are young, place way too much importance on what others think about them, which is unfortunate. They are constantly wondering: What will they think of me? Will they like me? However, people well past their youth offer this advice that they wish they had known in their youth: Take all those worries, tie them all to a balloon and cut it loose because in the end none of that matters. You might think other people’s opinions are crucial to your future success and happiness but that simply isn’t true. Other people’s opinions only affect you when you yourself allow them to.

9. Your travels will provide some of your best memories

Most people stay close to home. They don’t travel all that much. And yet, trips with family, friends or just by yourself to Disney World, to Africa, or even to the lake give you the sweetest moments of life. Traveling offers an opportunity to see the world, experience new cultures and have fun, even when it rains. You really remember trips so travel more often when you are young, advice people who have traveled a little more and lived a little longer. It’s the stuff that memories are made of later in life.

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10. Your health is a priority

Many people tend to take their health for granted when everything is okay and only acknowledge it when things go wrong. Sadly, this is one of the main reasons many people find themselves incapacitated because of their health—a problem that could have been avoided had they taken their health seriously. Adopt healthy habits now that lead to a long life where you’re healthy enough to do everything you want to do, such as eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Also, break bad habits like smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. Bad lifestyle habits have ruined more lives than most other causes.

What other things can you add that you wish you understood when you were younger?

More by this author

David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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Last Updated on March 14, 2019

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

How it helps you:

If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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How it helps you:

Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

How it helps you:

This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

How it helps you:

One word: hierarchy.

All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

How it helps you:

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Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

6. What do you like about working here?

This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

How it helps you:

You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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How it helps you:

What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

Making Your Interview Work for You

Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

More Resources About Job Interviews

Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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