My little sister is finishing her first semester of college. In an attempt to pass on some of the wisdom I’ve acquired in the past several years, I sent her a handwritten letter yesterday. Much of what I’ve learned took place during my four years, much of it since. In these situations, I imagine what I’d tell the past version of myself if we ever had the opportunity to converse. Sometimes I write notes to my future self as well, a strange practice that has proved to be incredibly useful at times. Though I had a lot to say, I boiled it down to three main points and fit it all on the front and back of one page from my favorite notebook. This is what I’ve learned so far:
It’s easy, probably even natural, to get into routines. While routines may help develop discipline, they often take the thought out of action, and that’s not good. Remaining aware of what you’re doing, your surroundings, the effects you have on other people and what affects you will help you develop into a smarter, wiser and kinder person. It’ll take all of your focus, but unlike routines, focus is pure.
Tap Into the Resources Available to You
People like helping you when you’re young, and might not like helping you again until you’re elderly. That’s because there’s no investment in this world with more potential upside than a young person. The right resources were once in your shoes and already know this. Pay no mind to those who don’t understand, they were unaware and their time has passed.
Develop Your Instincts, Then Trust Them
By definition, instincts are innate behavioral patterns, biological in nature and not based on prior experience. For humans especially, though, I believe most instincts are heavily influenced by experiences and can be improved, maybe even perfected. Take time to experiment with different methods for getting from A to B, an exercise in trial and lots of error. When you find patterns that work best for you personally, commit them to memory and upgrade your arsenal. Once you repeatedly get the same positive results using a particular method, it will become second nature, or instinctual. When necessary, this will allow you to act out of what I call “calculated impulse,” a practice faithfully relying on the time you’ve spent crafting your instincts.
I hope this is helpful for some of you. For almost two years, I’ve been practicing my perhaps oxymoronic philosophy of “calculated impulse.” Since I’m still not wealthy or successful, I can’t yet claim it’s anything but theoretical. That being said, I do believe it works and encourage you to utilize it in your own life and report back.