I started writing a journal when I was 12 (now I’m 26). I’ve always enjoyed writing and in the beginning it also served as a creativity outlet (very colorful journals with glitter, stickers etc!). With 16, I started to realize that these little treasures between two hardcovers had more to give than I initially thought. Going back 3 , 5 or even 10 years, allowed me to recall forgotten experiences and linking my present self to my past self by simply reading my thoughts when I was younger. It also turned out to be a very helpful tool to see patterns in my thoughts and my life in general — being aware of those patterns, was the first step to change them or develop them further.
Journal excerpt: “Now that I think about it while writing my application: I can’t offer the “hard tools” like a large network in that industry or 10 years of experience, but I have many tools in my tool box I can develop further … maybe that’s just as valuable?” Instead of acquiring resources only, focus on resourcefulness! Resources, like money, business partners, etc. can come and go and while its important to keep those in mind, too— don’t forget to cultivate your resourcefulness, too. Resourcefulness is about adopting to new situations, keeping an open mind and just be willing to experiment.
- Journal excerpt: “I’m pretty content with my journey so far, but every time I see someone in my network who have achieved way more than I do, I stop and think what I’ve done wrong..” If you feel the desire to track your “success”, don’t let the comparison with others be your ultimate yard stick. Some say “Comparison is the root of all unhappiness” — I felt this unwelcome feeling many times. School, university, hobbies and even advertisements-they all render very potent fields for comparison with others. While it motivated me to accomplish new goals and push forward, it also made me feel frustrated and sad when I was performing poorly comparing to others. When I realized that, I started focusing on my own growth only. This was not only more rewarding but also allowed me to see the next steps instead of feeling lost.
- Journal excerpt: “It took me some time to regain confidence in my own abilities and strengths.” Transitions often come with doubts. Sometimes it‘s a break-up, sometimes it’s as new work environment where you feel small and unexperienced, sometimes it’s a significant financial loss. Self-confidence (at least to me) came only through mastering tough situations. I really think of it as a muscle that we can train.
- Journal excerpt: “I felt insecure and not at the top of my game that day — I just got refused for a job I felt excited about and didn’t feel any motivation to continue sending applications”. Having a healthy self-confidence doesn’t mean you will always feel confident about yourself. There will always be moments where you feel insecure. It helped me to realize that this feeling comes and goes (just like most other feelings, too) and that I shouldn’t bother concentrating on it.
- This goes hand in hand with #1: Ego! Why do we want to compare ourselves with others, why do we want to be “better”? It’s because we have this drive in us to be and do something “special”. Our ego can be a pretty nasty thing — while it can be a motor in life, it can also lead to feelings of depression, frustration and anger (towards others and ourselves). Sometimes, we make stupid decision based on our ego. I studied finance major for 2 years in my bachelors because I wanted to work in investment banking, which I regarded as very prestigious at that time. Pretty soon though I realized that finance is not something that brings me joy. Today, I ask myself WHY do I want to start a new project? If I can’t see any benefit in it beside an ego stroke, I’m out.
- ASK many fu**** questions! When I was younger, I was too afraid to ask questions. I was afraid at school and beyond to ask questions, out of fear I might be labeled as stupid. Especially the basic questions are crucial. If you don’t get the answers to those one, you are making your further learning pretty inefficient & unpleasant.
- Take care of yourself first. Although that may sound selfish , it is actually a prerequisite to help others. You know these security instructions on planes, right? First, you have to pull the oxygen mask over yourself before you help kids and other people in need. This is true for many other situations in life. Like many others, I have a desire to help people in need (not just with 2 Euros but on a larger scale like famous philanthropists) . The truth is though: You can’t help anyone unless you help yourself first (make sure you are in good health, financially stable, mentally healthy etc.).
- Journal excerpt: “If I’m honest with myself, I spend the entire evening worrying about the outcome of my Bachelor exams instead of enjoying my birthday party…such a waste!” If you can’t influence it, stop worrying about it! For me, this is the toughest one! Although I would consider myself an optimist, I would sometimes keep thinking about everything that might turn out “worse” than I want. It helps to ask yourself: “Can I do anything about it?” Being aware of the fact that you can’t influence a certain outcome, is the first step to a peaceful mind. Another possibility is to embrace the “worst” outcome and ask yourself, what is actually so “bad” about it. Maybe this outcome holds valuable possibilities to grow or start anew.
- Journal excerpt: “The entire room was crowded and everybody looked so sharp! Everybody was super dressed up — except for me! I started to feel slightly uncomfortable and thought about all the possibilities to get a nice dress somewhere near and sometime soon…”. Everybody is way too busy with themselves to care about you or your dress! Especially if it’s at a casual party…the only thing that counts is your own perception. How you feel is how you will look like.
- Journal excerpt: “And again I ask myself: what the hell am I doing here? It’s super expensive, many successful people haven’t even studied and my Bachelor maybe already enough to start the career I have in mind right now…” I think I can say I didn’t waste my time by getting a Masters degree. While you’re at it, the hype of the “unconventional” super kids might distract you and make you question your “lost” time on formal education. Our education system is not perfect by far but we are still living in a system, where formal education is required to get into many jobs…a proper degree just gives you more options and it’s worth the time. Plus, these “Wunderkinder”, who started coding at 6 and sold their first company at 16 are rare!
- Making bad decisions sometimes (hurt someone you love, lying, cheating in an exam..) doesn’t make you necessarily a bad person! What counts is that you realize when you fucked up and apologize and/or don’t make the same mistake again. But don’t let one mistake define who you are. I believe that most of us out there are honest, good people who make mistakes sometimes.