As a young person, there is so much energy inside of us, so much vibe, so much strength, so much potential to do great deeds. But at times, we tend to channel those energies into something frivolous. and in some cases might get involved in things that could potentially ruin our lives for a long time if not forever. Yes, of course, youth is a time of experimentation but does that mean you have to waste energy on things that have no value at all? I admit that mistakes can serve as learning curves but some of those are avoidable and a number of factors could be responsible as well. For instance, a lot of young people have no one to guide them, advice them or to engage with positively with them. They may have no role model to look up to or someone to lead them. This can result in time wasted, a lack of productivity, feeling of uselessness, lack of focus, experimentation with banned substances, engagement in violent conducts, negative peer influence, gangsterism, to mention some of the very obvious ones.
As I mentioned earlier, the youths have so much to offer, they are such a creative bunch with big visions to change the world. Doubt me? I might mention that some of the technological changes of the 21st century are pioneered by youths – Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook is a case in point. Pakistans Malala Yousafzai born in 1997 is a champion of girls right to education and human rights. She was shTalibanlibans for expressing her belief. Today, she is a United Nation’s Nation’s messenger of peace. 17 years old Xiuhtezcatl Martinez is a champion of climate change. He is also a youth director for the environmental group Earth Guardians. He has given Martinez has given TED talks and by age 15 has addressed the United Nations three times.
There are such numerous examples in history but I chose to highlight these three persons because their story is very recent and modern. I want to bring home the point that we young people of today can do great things if our energy is properly channelled. But these things can’t happen in a vacuum. Nothing cannot beget something, which is while I have put up this guide to assist young people in their journey to reach their potential. Many of the ideas expressed came from other people’s insight as well, which I summarised. I hope you learn something that you can apply in your life. I would also like to hear your opinion as well in the comment section.
10 simple guiding principles for young people that can add value to your life.
1. Read, write, and keep learning
Reading keeps your mind sharp. Understanding the written word is one way the mind grows in its ability. As a young person, you have a sharp retentive memory, so, leverage on it and read extensively. Don’t dwell only within your area of study or career. Be a voracious reader. Read about philosophy. Read about nature. Read about motivation. Read biographies. Read about current affairs. Read about politics. Just read and sharpen your mind. There is a lot you don’t know that you can read about. You can develop a reading schedule. Read 2-3 hours a day, read 1-3 pages a day, just do what works for you. We all know the popular saying that goes ‘readers are leader.’ That statement does not seem substantial. Hence, Harry S. Truman puts it this way, “not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”
Also, learn to write. I call it ‘winning on paper.’ Writing equips us with communication and thinking skills. When we write, it simply makes our thinking and learning visible permanent. You tend to remember what you wrote more than what you did not write down. If it’s important, write it down, you will likely remember it. Writing also gives us the ability to make references. Once it’s on paper, you can go back to it anytime you need it. Writing is that important.
Research suggests that reading books, writing and participating in brain-stimulating activities at any age may improve memory. So, why not keep learning. It does more good and no harm.
2. Stay healthy and keep fit
Learn to take care of yourself by eating healthy and engaging in activities that can boost your metabolism. Don’t get lost in eating chunks as food. If you are eating the right food and always exercising, your body will be strong and help you to cope with stress and also fight illness. Your diet can help you to reach and maintain a healthy weight, reduce your risk of chronic diseases (like heart disease and cancer), and promote your overall health. Choose one activity that makes you breathe harder and increases your heart rate. Exercises like skipping, basketball, football, running, etc, will do you a lot good. Drink plenty of water, have enough fluid in your system to avoid dehydration. Also, learn to get enough sleep. Don’t spend your night watching television, playing games, or pressing your phones. As a young person, try to get 8-9 hours of sleep every day. And very importantly, stay clear of alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, or other harmful substances.
3. Know your circle
Surround your self with people who know where you are going and seeks to make you a better person. Have no sentiments in choosing your circle. Choose wisely. Anyone who has no positive vibes for what you carry should not be found within your circle. If you want to go forward in life, then, you must be picky about the friends you bring into your life. “Show me your friends and I will tell you who you are.” Any friend of yours should have what they are bringing to the table or what you are learning from them. To be on the same side, choose persons that add value to your life. They may not be of the same age or age bracket with you. Go for sharp minds. Go for brilliant and intelligent minds. Go for sound minds.
4. Discover purpose
Growing up, you may have known what you wanted to be when you grow up. You may have mentioned things like, ‘I want to be a doctor, I want to be a lawyer, I want to be the president, I want to be this or that.’ Growing up as a young person or as a young adult, you may tend to start looking for your path in life, or start looking to discover who you are. Everyone has a life purpose or assignment, and discovering it and fulfilling it is one way you can become a fulfilled person. Take note of what makes you happy, your hobbies, your passion, your likes. Do a throwback to your childhood, discover those things you have always loved. Have in mind that your purpose is not just about it, it’s about the people you were born to influence. Next, you have to step out of your comfort zone. Do not be complacent about life. Take the bull by the horn. Take one step at a time until you finally actualise that dream. It’s unimaginable, the fulfilment you get when you are on the right path in life, part of something big, and positively affecting other people’s life.
5. Do only what makes you happy
Just like the preceding point, you have to engage in activities that bring the best of you to the table. The life we live here on earth is once, so you have to learn to live the best of it by doing what makes you happy. I am not saying you should engage in illicit habits, attitude or behaviour just because you feel happy doing them. What I’m saying is, as it pertains to a job, a career or anything you wise to be a part of, make sure it is something that positively brings you loads of joy and happiness. Don’t get stuck to a job just because you wish to make money. You are more productive in a job that you love doing. Another way of phrasing that is to take up jobs that you find challenging with a set of goals to achieve. There is more to life than money. Do not lose sight of what is important just because you are pursuing money. Just do what you love doing, what makes you happy.
6. Learn to always conquer your fears
As young persons, you have loads and loads of fear that you battle with daily. From fear of failure to fear of life, to fear of facing crowds, to fear of achieving success, name them. There can be so much that you wish to accomplish in life, but with fears all around you like a wrapper tied to the waist, you may achieve nothing. Be bold enough to stand firm and conquer that fear of yours. If you sit and do nothing about it, it will only limit you and of course, tie you down from becoming a better person. First of all, develop an inner strength that can help you cope with any fear or anxiety. Secondly, know your fears, then, you can be able to battle it.
7. Don’t let go of your friends
When I mean ‘don’t let go of your friends,’ I mean the ones that add value to your life as we established in the point 3 (Know your circle). A time will come when you will start feeling like dropping some friends or letting go of some people, however, don’t ever let go of the ones that were there in your cooking period. These are your real friends and it is not easy finding these kinds of friends as you climb the ladder of success or as you grow in life. Hold them close. Learn to value their company.
8. Live within your means
Permit me to exhale a bit…….hmmmmmmm! This is where most young folks miss it. Take note, you are not in competition with anyone. You are just you. Do not try to impress anyone by doing stuff that ordinarily you are not supposed to do. Spend on what you can afford. Don’t become extravagant just to fit in into ‘a particular class.’ Why spend so much on credit when you can just get the needful. I know the weight of peer pressure and how it affects your personality. But, be yourself. There is still so much you can do, mountains to conquer, investments to make, properties to buy, etc. Close your eyes to what you can’t afford now, move on and keep living.
9. Practice public speaking
As you grow in life, you will have scenarios where you are required to speak to someone or a group of persons. What about that your life purpose, it might need you to address a public, crowd, or a certain audience. Learn the art of speaking, not speaking to your friends, but public speaking. Enhance your skills if you have one. Master the art of communication, take up a course in public speaking. You can have someone tutor you or you can go online and learn. Remember, you have to keep learning, and this one part of becoming a better person that you need to learn and develop. Do away with every shyness by constant practising. Stand in front of the mirror and pretend you are addressing a crowd or a group of persons. As the times goes by, you will discover that you are growing gradually.
10. In addition to a role model, find a mentor
This may be the most important tip, finding a mentor. It very beautiful to have a role model, we all do. But, with respect to that path of life you are treading on, that area of interest, you need to find someone who has been there before and has succeeded or is successful, to mentor you. A mentor is someone who can guide you, teach you, instruct you, correct you, counsel you, etc. A mentor may share with a mentee (or protege) information about his or her own career path, as well as provide guidance, motivation, emotional support, and role modeling. “No man is an island.” You need to find that person who embodies the values you desire and who is willing to lead you on the path you should go. He or she can use their life experiences as a case study while teaching you what you need to know concerning that field of life. Go get a mentor.