Today is my birthday. I’m forty-two years old now, not really a significant age — my milestones now revolve around watching my children achieve theirs. But I don’t want to spend the rest of my time on earth just waiting to die. One of the ways I try to make my life meaningful is by talking to people who are twenty years older than me and asking them about their regrets and goals.
Now if I ask a 62-year-old what his regrets are; what things he wishes he’d done and he says something like skydive — the conversation is over. Not that I think that jumping out of planes isn’t potentially fun; but I don’t want an answer I could get from a teenager.
What I care about is finding out what the opportunities were that you passed up on. What didn’t you do that would have potentially altered your legacy? What were you too afraid to try but wish you had?
Here’s my advice to a 22-year-old:
If you want to be a writer, do it. Don’t just start blogging, start sending your work to magazines. You’ll get rejected, sometimes they won’t even answer you. Do it anyway. Start with subjects you know about, get a copy of Writer’s Market, find out what the guidelines for the various magazines are and submit.
At first it’ll be tough, you’ll have to do some articles for free, just to hone your craft and get your name out there. Don’t be afraid to submit to paper publications either. If you go strictly online, you’re at the mercy of that publication and if they go under, all of your work will disappear.
Frame the first thing you get published and hang it as a reminder that you can do this. Most of all, don’t give up. You’ll thank me in twenty years.
And come find me, I’ll have advice for you about retirement options by then.