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Get the best out of your 20s, 30s and 40s

Photo: Gerd Altmann/Pixabay
This is a fictional story that might just as well be true. For, it contains an important lesson for young people.

A college once invited a famous motivational speaker and author to deliver a talk to the final-year students on overcoming their limitations and fulfilling their dreams. He stood on a raised platform and surveyed the auditorium packed with over a hundred students, many of whom were ready with pens and open notebooks. This pleased him. He was a note-taker, himself, and he encouraged others to take notes. He offered a simple reason: “It helps you to store what others have to say. You never know when you might have to dip into your little book of wisdom and apply the things you learned to your own life.”

He began to speak.

Good evening!

I have already been introduced by my gracious host. But who I am is not as important as what I have to say.

You’re all very young and you have your entire lives ahead of you. I presume, most of you are going to study further and that’s a good thing because learning never stops. Not even after you acquire degrees with spectacular grades and percentages.

But someday, all of you are going to leave academia behind and step out into a world full of exciting career possibilities and opportunities. Some of you will ace interviews and land jobs of your choice; others will be brave enough to start their own enterprises. Whatever you choose to do, I wish you luck.

Over the next several years, you’re going to be busy doing the things we all do as a matter of routine — work hard, earn money, start dating, go to parties, switch jobs, earn more money, get married, raise a family, educate your children, take annual vacations, look after ageing parents, get the children married, help them settle down — and before you know it, you’re out of your 20s, 30s and 40s and your family and friends are throwing you a surprise 50th bash.

Happy as the occasion is, there’s something oddly unsettling about ringing in your golden birthday. You will have mixed feelings about it. For the first time in your life, perhaps, you will pause and like an inventory manager in a factory take stock of your life up to that point. My guess is that you will reflect on three things, none of which are pleasant. But that’s only natural in the circumstances. First, you will feel as if you’ve suddenly been robbed of those three decades, a period many of us take for granted. Second, you will have many regrets for not achieving more than you have. And third, you will start thinking about your future, the inevitability of old age and mortality.

If it’s any consolation, you wouldn’t be alone in having a midlife crisis. Everyone has one at some point in their lives, usually in their mid-40s or later. I did too. Turning fifty might seem like the beginning of the end because you’re not getting younger and you probably think you don’t have a lot of time left to do all of the things you meant to do when you were more youthful. While there’s some truth in that, you can make your fifties as fabulous as you want it to be. But about that, some other time.

For now, let’s talk about your 20s, 30s and 40s for those are the stepping stones to a future you can be proud of and call your own.

Photo: Ian Stauffer/Unsplash
How you live these thirty invigorating years of your life, both personally and professionally, will determine where you’ll be when you hit fifty and the years after. You have 24 hours, 1,440 minutes or 86,400 seconds each day of each year and decade, and it’s up to you what you do with all that time at your disposal. You can either live an ordinary life and get by with occasional sparks or you can take control of your life and do extraordinary things. The choice is yours.

I’m reminded of what Pope Francis, the head of the Catholic Church, said during a visit to Poland in 1986. Addressing the large crowds who’d gathered to see him, the pontiff counselled the youth not to waste their lives seeking empty thrills in order to feel alive. He said, and I quote him, “It is disturbing to see young people squandering some of the best years of their lives.” Although the Pope said these words in a different context, they’re relevant in any scenario and apply to all of you.
Young people often approach me for advice on how they can achieve their goals and get more out of life. I tell them there are no shortcuts. None whatsoever. But I also tell them they can accomplish whatever they set their hearts and minds on provided they have the will and the enthusiasm to see it all the way through to the end.

Before I take questions, there are a few things I want you to remember from the time you launch into your careers till the time you turn fifty. You might want to write them down.

Don’t waste your most productive years.
Swap your mundane existence for a truly meaningful life.
Rise above the mediocrities that surround you.
Think big. Aim bigger. Reach for the skies.
Don’t just live your life – live your dream life.

Stick to this five-point principle and success and so much more will be yours for the taking.

One last thing. Don’t be too pleased if, on your birthday, people tell you age is just a number. It is that. But it also adds years to your life. And it adds them quickly. You don’t have a lot of time. None of us do. So get out there and get the best out of your youthful years.

Thank you. Any questions?

© Prashant C. Trikannad

© Banner Photo: Chang Duong/Unsplash


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