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AP/Matt Sayles
Shake it off.

The most useful life lessons you learn in your twenties (and beyond)

This question originally appeared on Quora: What are the most difficult and useful things people have to learn in their 20s? Answer by Rich Tatum, marketing director.

Here are some things I really, really wish I knew when I was twenty.

  • Love hurts, but not as much as not loving.
  • The friendships you nurture will have a greater effect on your life than where you work or what you earn.
  • You are not your job. You are not your bankroll. You are not the sum of your possessions.
  • The company does not love you. It has no heart. You are replaceable. Keep your parachute handy.
  • Few decisions will ever shape your future life more than who you choose to marry. To marry well, you must choose well.
  • Love is a commitment.
  • Your passions will grow out of your values. Make early, wise choices to value what (and who) is good, trustworthy, and praiseworthy.
  • Integrity preserved is honor won.
  • Rejoice in your health. It fades fast.
  • Find a passion. Pick a hobby, own it: photography, juggling—whatever. Get your 10,000 hours of perfect practice in early and change your life.
  • Don’t bother comparing yourself to others—this only leads to heartbreak, anger, and disappointment.
  • Most disappointments arise from unmet expectations. Set realistic expectations for yourself based on your strengths, then strive to exceed them.
  • Don’t drive others to meet expectations they’ve committed to—lead, inspire, and help them do it.
  • Don’t set expectations for others when they have not or cannot commit to them.
  • Expectations you never communicate and negotiate will rarely be met—except by accident.
  • Don’t complain. Either change your situation, learn to cope, or change perspective.
  • Don’t worry about getting a big salary in your youth: first learn to execute tasks with skill, excellence, and grace.
  • Little stuff matters—even in lowly jobs. The boss notices—and even if not, your peers and colleagues will.
  • Ultimately, privacy is a myth: God sees everything. The cloud records everything. NSA files everything. So, live transparently and don’t waste useless energy hiding failures.
  • Don’t look down on others because they don’t have what you didn’t earn: your intellect, your beauty, and your culture of birth are undeserved gifts. Stay humble.
  • Failure is an opportunity: no great man or woman ever achieved significance without great failures. Fail forward.
  • Never withhold an apology when it’s merited. Deliver it quickly, sincerely, and personally—before resentment festers.
  • You don’t need to nurture old guilt when you’re forgiven. But remembering the shame can help you avoid repeats.
  • Mere belief in anything signifies little more than assent: trust and behavior reveal where true convictions lie.
  • The main thing you need to do quickly is to stop doing things quickly. Trade hurry for calm, confidence, and precision.
  • Everybody needs an editor. Everybody. Especially editors.
  • Get your work done first so you can play without guilt. Even better, make work play and the fun never ends!
  • If you want to develop your passion and gift, stop worrying about the things you do poorly. Go with your strengths!
  • Avoid fights. Seriously. Avoid them like a plague: nobody wins in a fight, even if you walk away unscathed. But when a fight picks you, leave everything on the mat and give it your all. Hold nothing back.
  • If you’re bored, you’re doing it wrong.
  • The skills that will help your career most are the abilities to assimilate, communicate, and persuade. Keep learning.
  • Nothing in this life—no pain, no agony, no failure—compares to the eternal joy of heaven. Live in light of eternity.
  • Protect your joy. Nothing is easier to lose by over-thinking, over-analyzing, and second-guessing. On the other hand, always consider the long-term consequences of your choices: stupid decisions made in the moment can rob you of years of joy and happiness.
  • Your purpose in life determines how you frame events. You can maintain your joy in the most dire circumstances if you find meaning for your life. Dig deep.
  • It truly matters what you think about. Think well by reading good books, having good conversation, imitating great people, and building good, loving relationships.

I’m still learning—in fact I haven’t fully appreciated most of the list I made myself. And I’m still adding to it. But I’m getting better.

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