24 Lessons From 24 Years

Max Parkin's 24th birthday in February 2022

In February I turned 24 years of age, naturally, that means I've had 24 years of experience on this planet. So I thought to myself, that makes me an expert in everything right!? Nope. It's taken me a long time to learn a lot of lessons and realise how much I don't know. However, I do feel like there are certain things I’m capable of sharing and people of a similar age may find useful in some way. These are some of the most impactful lessons I have learnt from my 24 years of being alive.

Failing is the best learning. Fail fast and you will learn earlier than the rest.

One of the most critical lessons I have come to learn from 24 years of life would be that failing is the best way to learn. Fail fast and in the public domain, you will learn earlier than the rest.

You’re never too old to learn something new. As long as you are breathing, there is something new to learn. Even if you have graduated with a degree in your chosen field, there is so much more to learn that no university can teach you.

It is ok to not know everything. You don’t have all the answers and neither does anyone else. Asking questions doesn’t make one stupid, but not asking questions does make one stupid.

You can’t please everyone and that’s fine. The more you try to please everyone, the more you become a puppet; the less likely people are to respect you.

Be selfish with your time and energy but not with your money or resources. You can’t pour from an empty cup – take care of yourself first so that you can give better of yourself to others later on.

You can’t beat old fashioned pen and paper

I have wanted to keep a handwritten diary/journal for many years, but it wasn’t until the lockdown of 2020 that I found the time to write one. I’ve now written weekly summaries of the goings-on in my life every week since February-March 2020.

It may be mundane now, but when you have entries that are 5-10-15 years old, it will be one of your most prized possessions to share with your future self & loved ones.

Leuchtturm1917 or Moleskine journal example

If you’re like me and very fussy about the equipment you use, I can personally recommend either the Moleskine 12 month weekly planner alternatively you could try the Leuchtturm1917 weekly equivalent. If you do go for the Leuchtturm option be careful to ensure you're purchasing the English version and not the German one, safe to say I've made that mistake. They’re both of superb quality and pack plenty of extra features other than just lined paper.

So if you haven’t started yet, stop reading this blog post and go start right now. Writing whatever comes to your mind at the time. Don’t worry about how long the entry is or how good your writing is. Just write whatever comes to mind and save it for future use.

You can thank me later!

You can take the boy out of the village but you can’t take the village out of the boy

I like to believe that the above statement couldn’t be further from the truth.

I try to live by the mindset that you shouldn’t be too heavily influenced by where you grew up or live.

I’ve socialised with people who’ve grown up in cities unimaginable to a countryside village dweller like myself, but more often than not these people are incredible closed-minded, restricting themselves from a wealth of opportunities outside the ‘city bubble’.

You might've come from a big city or a small town, my personal experience is the latter. Try not to let either experience dictate your mindset, make the best out of any situation regardless of where you are.

Don’t be afraid to take risks

Taking risks is a big part of what makes us human — if you're not taking risks, you're probably not doing anything interesting. It's one thing to take a calculated risk, it's another to be reckless, but even a reckless risk can pay off if you get lucky enough.

There are plenty of people who live their lives afraid of failure. Don't be one of those people. If you fail, pick yourself up and try again. You'll never develop your skills and experience unless you try new things and accept that sometimes it won't work out as expected.

What's the worst that could happen? You might end up making a mistake? So what! So what if people laugh at you or judge you? When they're older they'll realise that they've wasted their time worrying about other people in the same way.

Choose hope over fear

Your time on earth is limited, so don't waste it being fearful, hope is always the answer. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking.

Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your inner voice. And most important, dare to follow your heart and intuition.

They somehow already know what you truly want to become.

Everything else is secondary.

Wear the oxygen mask on yourself first before helping others (metaphorical sense).

I used to be very selfless as a person. And I believed that by doing so, I was being kind and helpful to people. That I was the one who was making the sacrifices and that they would appreciate it at some point.

But what I realised is that when you are selfless, you are hurting yourself. Because you are robbing yourself of your happiness. You push your own needs aside and prioritise others'.

When you do this, you decide to live your life for others which is not a healthy thing to do. It's not a sustainable way of being happy in the long run.

Living for others may seem like the right thing to do but it's also selfish because you're giving them an excuse to treat you badly when it benefits them. And don't ever think that they will be nice to you when it doesn't benefit them because they won't!

It's not about being selfish or selfless, it's about putting yourself first in every situation no matter who it is. But at the same time respecting other people's feelings and boundaries when it comes from them (not someone else).

It’s okay to go at your own pace, no matter what

This one has hit home in the last few years as my peers are taking huge life steps such as getting married or purchasing a property.

What I have learned in life so far is that it’s okay to go at your own pace, no matter what.

You don’t have to start a company because everyone else is starting one, you don’t have to jump on the bandwagon and do something that works for others, but not for you.

Ask yourself – what do you want? What are you passionate about? And then do that. Not because it will make you rich or popular, but because it will make you happy.

It’s okay to take a break from everything and just do nothing at all.

It’s okay to work towards something that might seem like a small win at first, but will bring great dividends in the long run.

It’s okay to go slow and steady because at least you are moving forward and not running backwards!

Make physical activities a habit!

You don't have to run a marathon or go to the gym every day to make physical activities a habit.

What you want is to simply be more active in your everyday life.

This could be something as simple as going for a walk during your lunch break rather than sitting on your phone for an hour.

Very fit msucly runner person
Clearly, this isn't me, but maybe one day if I stick to my habits... 

If you do that, you'll see results in both the short and the long term. Long term benefits include:

You will lose weight or maintain the one you have if you're already in a healthy weight range.

You will improve your circulation and heart health.

You will have more energy during your day, so you'll feel less tired when it's time to sleep. You will also sleep better, which means that your brain will work better the next day, so it's a win-win!

You will strengthen your muscles and bones, which prevents injuries and makes you stronger. This is great especially as we get older and our bodies start showing signs of ageing like loss of muscle mass and reduced flexibility due to weakened bones.

Personally my biggest motivator for staying active; You will feel happier because physical activities reduce stress levels by increasing endorphins (the "feel-good" hormones).

Don't take yourself too seriously

If you don't take yourself too seriously you won't feel embarrassed to take risks or be fearful to see yourself fail when you do take risks.

Meet different people. Don't judge, stay open, and observe.

It's a pretty simple concept, but most people don't do it enough. We tend to hang out with people we already know, who are like us in some way (same age, same job, same interests), or who we already know we like.

But that doesn't help you learn and grow! A conservative person hanging out with conservative people isn't going to change his or her mind about much of anything! A person who is afraid of meeting new people isn't likely to walk into a party where they don't know anyone and just start talking to random strangers.

To learn new things, you have to approach the unknown – and you have to overcome your fear of rejection. Most rejection isn't that bad at all – it's just someone saying no to something you asked for. But sometimes it can be painful when you're vulnerable and ask for something important like love or a job.

The key is to keep trying, keep putting yourself out there, even if your initial experiences aren’t the best, in the long term you will thank yourself.

Learn a language

Learning a language is a fantastic opportunity for growth. Not only does it open up a world of cultural experiences, but learning a language can also boost your career opportunities and even improve your brain health.

Learning a language doesn't need to be intimidating or expensive. There are free resources to learn almost any language online — all you need is a computer or smartphone and an internet connection.

Live in a foreign country

Living abroad is a dream for so many people, but few are brave enough to try it. Living in a foreign country, even for a short time, can help you discover new things about yourself and the world.

At first, it's going to be hard because, let's face it — moving thousands of miles away from your family and friends won't be easy. But you will adapt to the new culture, you will make new friends, and you will become part of that community.

The hardest part is taking the first step. But once you do, you'll soon realize that all those fears were unfounded. So if you're thinking about living abroad, here are five reasons why you should go for it:

You'll see the world differently

When I moved to Spain in 2019 I had no idea what to expect. I was nervous and excited at the same time — and my initial fears turned out to be unfounded. Sure, I had some hard times adjusting to the culture at first, but after a few weeks, everything felt normal. My perspective on life changed completely and it opened me up to so many different opportunities.

You'll meet people from around the world. Most of these people will become your friends for life.