Part 45 – Five Things I Would Not Tell My Younger Self

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WARNING: This is meant as humor.

I’ve seen a few posts online about “advice to a younger self”. Most of these are squishy, feel-good, and mostly commonsense. This got me thinking. What would I not want to be told if I were young. I’d want the truth. Here are my top five.

1 – Get up early and exercise. Your health is important.

The last thing you want to do is get up early and go for a run or workout at the gym. This would just raise stress levels when you could be relaxing or sleeping in bed. Everyone knows stress reduces your life expectancy. Similarly, there has been no reliable science that says you actually live longer than the time you spend exercising. You just spend time exercising instead of living. Also you need to be as relaxed as possible to take on rush hour traffic.

2 – Remember the little people on the way up, for you will meet them on the way down.

This is hockum! [A term of art.]

This assumes everyone acts this way. If that were true, people would be nicer than they are and help you up. You have to claw your way to the top over the crumpled bodies of your co-workers. Also, this assumes you want to get to the top. You should be happy and content with your position in life. Finally, this assumes you want to go back down. Any military strategist will tell you it’s easier to hold the high ground once you’re there. Never show weakness.

3 – Get out of your comfort zone

Everyone knows this is just professional suicide, or at least asking for a stick in the eye. Just look around. Everyone in your company is trying to protect their own jobs. They don’t take chances, they tow the company line, and never leave the safety of the corporate policies. That is, except for the weird guy/gal who keeps trying to do things their way, tries to “improve” the system, keeps trying to get everyone to use Kanban, and uses Linux instead of the company Windows machine. They will be the first to be “downsized”.  Don’t stand out by trying new things.

4 – Keep learning

Learning is a waste of time. Well, not completely. Remember the punchline to the old joke: “I don’t have to outrun the tiger, I just have to outrun you.”  It helps if the tiger is old as well. So you just need enough learning to be smarter than your co-workers. No one got promoted for taking classes or going to conferences. If learning was important, your company would send you to training and conferences (and pay for them). Don’t waste your time learning. You’re more useful when you help to clear the paper jam in the printer.

5 – Your personal life matters.

If you have a personal life, you’re already a loser. If you’re living, you’re not working. You’re not being productive when you’re enjoying time with your friends and family, or on vacation. How else are you going to afford your new smartwatch? Work should be your all. People who don’t work are failures and will never succeed. They will never be happy.

So remember, sometimes it’s just as important not knowing as it is knowing. Life is full of nasty surprises. A boring life is a happy life. Finally, if you ever want to go back and tell your younger self what you have learned, you will change the timeline and you won’t be the wise person you are now. Everything is awesome.™

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