9 things I wish I learned as a teenager

I think everyone experiences this at some point. Maybe at a certain age. Maybe when you’ve had some sort of epiphany in your career, sport or relationship. Maybe it’s not such a big deal or maybe it gets you down completely. That typical “If only I’d known-” thing that occasionally pops up.

All we can do is apply what we’ve learned and teach others.

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Other people’s views and troubles can be contagious. Don’t sabotage yourself by unwittingly adopting negative, unproductive attitudes through your associations with others. The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.” – Epictetus. Mindsets are contagious. Don’t focus your attention on the naysayers. Surround yourself with people that help you up. Find a combination of inspirators and realists. Find someone who’s been where you are now. A coach, a role model or both. Along the way you will find people to inspire, people who will look up to you. Take them seriously and realize that you may mean the same to them as your coach/role model/inspiration means to you. Lastly, find other athletes/entrepeneurs/succesful people who are around or slightly above your level and train/learn with them. Some will say that sharing your goals and efforts with people will empower and motivate you through accountability. Others will claim that people who boast about their goals and efforts are less likely to succeed. Whichever works for you is fine, but I am under the impression that the former claim is based on people who share their plans with those who are supportive and the latter claim is based on people who share their plans with indifferent, pessimistic and cynical people. The latter can easily poison your mindset.

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Repetition of words is incredibly powerful. Marketing experts know this and psychologists know this, yet it’s so easy to forget this when when we talk to ourselves in our heads. Telling yourself you are lazy, weak, ugly or stupid often enough will inevitably trigger something in your head that will make you believe it more and more. I’m not into the whole “Look into the mirror and tell yourself that you’re awesome” thing (although it seems to work for some), but simply focusing on achievements and goals rather than wallowing in self pity for any perceived flaw can go a long way.

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For that same reason, considering people’s criticism and making it work for you yet not against you is incredibly important. I’ve written a more in-depth article on that here. Basically, you discard people’s unproductive bitching but take genuine criticism to heart to improve yourself.

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Engaging in discussion can be an enormous waste of energy. Many people are more concerned with being heard than actually having a productive discussion. They don’t ‘listen’, they wait for their turn to speak. Or they just speak. Others are offended or get emotional too easily to have a productive discussion with. Be mindful of where you invest your energy.

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You can take away the meaning of ‘sorry’ by following it up with ‘but-‘.

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Consistency, focus and hard work are essential in anything where you want to achieve a lot, whether that’s strength training, career or something else. Don’t try to rely on luck since it can’t be measured or influenced. Don’t try to rely on “that trick that worked before”. Circumstances change, plans change, but consistency, focus and hard work will always be valuable assets in achieving your goals.

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Adapting to your environment in terms of behavior or looks does not necessarily make you a faker nor does it make you an opportunist. Well, maybe a bit of an opportunist. Social interaction is a game that is played all the time, with or without your consent and you can’t really bend the rules. You can, however, learn to properly play the game while staying true to yourself.

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Momentum of continuous action fuels motivation, while procrastination kills motivation” No idea where I first read this. I’ve had this quote saved for a long time apparently. This point is best illustrated through examples.

Example 1: It’s Saturday morning. You wake up early, get dressed, drink a cup of coffee, head to the gym for a quick workout and go back home to shower and eat a good meal, all according to plan. You feel good about yourself for waking up early and training hard. You do a few small but important tasks you had planned. The tasks make you snowball into a productive groove, you feel even better and within no time, most of your to-do list is finished and it’s only lunch time.

Example 2: It’s Saturday morning. You sleep in. You drink a cup of coffee. You want to hit the gym but realize you have some small tasks to do for today. You browse Facebook for a few minutes while thinking what you should do first. Fuck, all those hot cleavage pictures of funny cats have taken half an hour of your time. You should probably get to those tasks, but you’re starting to get hungry. You eat. You start getting frustrated so the first task you started takes longer than it really should. You finish your first task around lunch and realize that you’re not sure if you’ll make it to the gym today. What a shitty day. Fuck it. I’ll go and do something fun. I still have Sunday to do the rest of my stuff. and try again tomorrow.

There you go. Momentum breeds momentum. Achievement breeds self confidence. These two principles reinforce each other.

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Perceived shortcomings and failing to meet your own standards, promises and plans are great triggers for a depressed state of mind. Take your own words seriously and don’t take promises lightly. Otherwise you will become unreliable to others (which is bad for relationships) and to yourself (which will mess up your self esteem and perceived potential).

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“Of course some will be outraged that I insinuate that, but all you have to do is ask yourself, when is the last time you believed that the reason you aren’t where you want to be in your life, or your training is because you simply haven’t done the things to earn that yet?” – Paul Carter