My oldest nephew is going to graduate high school in a few weeks. He’s going to the same college his parents did to study electrical engineering. Since he was in an advanced study program all the way through high school, he already has most (if not all) of his general education requirements out of the way. This post is my advice to him (and other 18 year olds) about life after high school. I’m doing it as a list of things I’m glad I was told at 18 and things I wished I knew in high school. Here goes.
Things I Knew At Age 18 That Most People Didn’t
Don’t feel guilty if you don’t want to get married or have kids. Marriage and kids aren’t for everyone. Focus on your self development and early career first.
Dating is more dangerous and difficult now than it was in previous generations. It only takes one out of wedlock pregnancy or one accusation (even if it’s false) of misconduct to ruin your entire life. Don’t feel guilty if you struggle with dating. Sometimes it’s not worth the trouble.
Never stop learning. Especially now.
You’re probably going to change careers and even industries several times in your working life. Forget about retiring at age 62 like your grandfather. Social security alone won’t be able to support you in old age. Life expectancy could be crazy long 40 years from now.
If you truly want to get rich, your best chances are with starting your own business. Even then, the odds are against you. Some of the best business leaders would make terrible employees.
The industry you will be working in at age 40 might not even exist yet.
Be flexible when it comes to working. This is even more important now than twenty years ago. Entire industries can rise and go obsolete within ten years.
Don’t expect loyalty out of your employer, employees, government, etc. The world is changing real fast. It’s going to be even more insane twenty years from now.
Don’t participate in any conversations you wouldn’t want going viral on TikTok
There are no secrets anymore. It no longer pays to be a jerk in business. If you are unethical, you will get found out by the entire world. The internet never forgets.
Things I Wish I Knew At Age 18
You can do everything right and still fail. Chance and luck play more into life than anyone wants to admit. No such thing as a truly self made man.
Divorce isn’t necessarily a failure or the end of everything. But, it’s the kids who get hurt the most.
Getting laid off from a job isn’t a failure on your part. Getting laid off is normal now. We’re all independent contractors and hired guns now.
Coworkers are not your friends. Office politics are real and exist everywhere.
Don’t feel guilty if you don’t own a house by your 30th birthday. As much as the job market changes, it might be best to be a renter and able to move to another city or even nation for job opportunities.
Don’t dismiss working overseas. Cost of living is lower in many nations, most developed nations have universal health care, and many countries have better attitudes towards work life balance.
You are competing against the entire world now. If your job can be done cheaper overseas and or by a machine, it will be eventually.
You will probably be worse off financially and standard of living wise than your parents and grandparents. It’s no reflection on you. It’s just a sad fact of living in a declining culture. Hence, don’t rule out moving overseas for your career.
Land is a good investment if you can afford it. But even the Chinese are making man made islands anymore.
Investing in the stock market isn’t necessarily risky. Being short sighted and trying to time everything makes it risky. Don’t panic when the press tells you to panic. Screw the press. You want to be buying when everyone is selling and selling when everyone else is buying. Bulls make money. Bears make money. Sheep and Hogs get slaughtered.
Don’t watch 24 hour news channels. They will only make you bitter, hopeless, angry, and fearful. In fact, don’t even own a TV unless you own a gaming console.
Don’t major in something that can be learned in a few years of binge watching youtube or Khan Academy. In fact, don’t even go to college if you aren’t studying something for a specific career or industry. Many employers are dropping their college degree requirements.
Don’t major in something that can easily be automated or outsourced.
Sometimes the best education is free. Even more so now than ever with internet.
Don’t feel guilty about drinking Starbucks instead of putting the 5 bucks a day in a 401(k). You’re probably not going to retire at 65 anyway. In fact, you could probably easily live to 100 with as fast as medicine is advancing. Expect the social security age to be much higher than 65 before long. Sticking 5 bucks a day in a retirement account probably won’t make you rich. You’re better off trying your chances with starting your own business.
Keep up on science and technology advancements. They can provide good ideas for undervalued investments. They can also make you tougher to replace with robots become our overlords.
Don’t be nostalgic for the past. Your elders are full of crap when they talk about the ‘good ol’ days.’ The world wasn’t better in the past. Those elders were just in better health and less cynical and bitter. Actively fight against being a grumpy old man who complains about everything.