While listening to my 20-something analysts at Keating Advisors vent about their stresses, I know that no matter how sound my advice may be, there are certain lessons that need to be experienced and not heard. As I listen, I find myself reflecting on things that were told to me, and things I wish I knew earlier. Which is why, on this day, I have decided to write them down to help out those whom I only wish the best.
My first and longest employee at Keating Advisors turns 30 today! I can honestly say that she is the most brilliant, self-sufficient,and continuously thoughtful woman I have ever met. Having watched her grow from a 22 year-old fresh out of college, with no idea of what she wanted to do with her life, to a talented and professional consultant has been one of my greatest rewards. So in honor of her special day, I offer her what my years of experience have taught me and serve as a tool of inspiration for those confused 20 and 30-somethings trying to figure it all out:
1. You've got some experience under your belt
Find comfort in knowing that the years where you have tried, failed, experimented, bombed, been there and done that are behind you! Now that you've got all that out of the way, you can focus your intentions on your highest goals.
2. Your network is your net worth
I don't think it can be stressed enough how important it is to network, especially while you're young. The older we get, the less time we have to network. Careers, partners and family obligations often take up more time, making it harder to stay connected. But all of those connections you made while you were younger have grown and your friends have started to flourish in their own fields. The returns of staying in touch with them can pay off in ways you can't imagine.
3. Explore the world
Swim with the dolphins, drink tea in England or hike the Grand Canyon. You are a global citizen; take advantage of your passport before you have to be responsible for people other than yourself.
4. SAVE, SAVE, SAVE
Bad habits die hard. If you discipline yourself early about saving and spending, create your own personal philosophy about money -- it will save you a lot of financial issues in the future. Think of the saying, "if you can't buy it twice, you shouldn't buy it once." Create a budget and respect it.
5. Don't ask for money and shoes, ask for stocks
Wall Street may not be the most fascinating thing to look into, but instead of dropping $400 on that new leather bag, drop it in a high interest savings account or purchase a few shares of stock. Think ahead about the financial freedom you want to have as you get older.
6. Cultivate a balance between work and personal life
It's important that you work hard, but don't neglect your family, friends and love life. Too much focus in one area isn't optimal. The beauty of life is in its diversity, so try to get the most out of every piece of it.
7. Don't forget how to be a kid
This is the decade where everyone officially transitions from self-sufficient young person to full fledged grown up. But as "grown-up" life sets in (e.g., mortgages, marriage, kids, etc.) and your obligations begin to add up, make time for the things you love doing. Be a kid -- go for an adventure in the area around your house, make new friends with warmth and optimism and just be yourself with no holding back.