7 min read

Twenty One

Twenty One Sketch

Today is my 21st birthday. Yikes. I promise I won’t bore you with the details of what I’m doing for my birthday, but looking back at two decades and one of my life; I want to spend a few minutes and write about some of the things I’ve learned.

Every person will live in their own way, so don’t take my experiences as your own – make your own decisions, and do what makes you happy.

If you don’t want to read all this, the important takeaway here is to, above all else, be yourself, be creative.

Keep Your Promises

If you make a promise, keep it. Make it a point to always do things you say you’re going to do, and people will (over time) honor and learn to respect you.

This might seem easy, but it’s a lot easier said than done.

Before you say you’ll do something, think very carefully about what you’re committing to. Try to be very picky about what you say you’ll do, and always deliver.

Develop Great Relationships

Relationships are a source of emotional support, love, security and protection. Healthy relationships help provide a unique sense of belonging and value that cannot be found anywhere else.

The love and support from relationships motivates many people to continually strive to be better people. It helps develop a strong moral character, an important benefit that builds bond between families and friends.

You may find it amusing that most jobs are gotten through great networks nurtured over the years. Connect with people, connect with life! While relationships are more important than anything else, you should be weary of bad relationships, they are worse than not having a good relationship. They can mess up your view of what relationships should be like.

Have a great relationship whether it’s with your Boy/Girlfriend, Mum/Dad, Friends, Colleagues or anybody.

Do Something You Love, Do It All The Way

It’s really easy to half-ass things. Whether it’s working on designs, an open source project, finishing your project, helping your user, dancing, whatever.

There are always a million little voices inside your head saying “You’ve done good so far, you deserve a rest! Stop working on this!” It’s really easy to have a pity on yourself and do a lousy job.

There’s always one voice that says to keep going. Listen to that voice.

If you work hard at things, you’ll feel happier with the outcome, and you won’t have any regrets. You should never give yourself too much credit for trying to solve a problem that thousands of people have already faced.

Be Understanding

Every single person is different in some way. Each person was born into some circumstances out of their control, and their life experiences shaped them into who they are. This means that no matter how you see the world – what you think is right, what you think is wrong, what you like, what you don’t like – other people will see things differently, and there’s no changing that.

Given that everyone lives in their own little world, you should be understanding and compassionate towards others. If someone does something rude or unpleasing to you, don’t feel offended – just realize that each person is who they are, and try to accept them the way they are.

There’s no point in trying to change people or convince them to act a certain way. If people want to change, they’ll do it of their own accord. So be understanding.

Read Books – Read Something

One of the best ways you can improve yourself is to be conscious of your thoughts and actions. While it may sound cheesy, reading personal development books is a great way to make you think more about yourself in a different ways, and encourage you to become a better person.

It doesn’t matter what you start with, just that you start. Pick up a book on meditation, happiness, organization, procrastination, designing, programming, cooking and a book on talent (to start). Read them through, and think about how you can change yourself to make yourself better in each of those areas.

Don’t Listen To Other People

Instead of listening to someone’s words that might be wrong at times, observe their actions. Everyone loves to talk about things, but very few people like to do things.

Finding genuinely amazing people can be hard if you only listen to a person – by observing their actions, you can see their greatness.

This is an incredibly hard thing to do, but it pays off substantially. If you befriend great people who do things (as opposed to just talking about them), do whatever it takes to hold onto those relationships – those are the type of people you want to make long term connections with.

Accept Reality

Unhappiness is derived from expectations.

If you expect other people to let you merge into the next lane over, you’ll be unhappy when the guy next to you speeds up to prevent you from getting over.

The solution here (of course), is simple: accept things as they are – don’t create an alternate reality and expect things to work exactly the way you want them to. Life is chaotic – things won’t always turn out according to your expectations or plans.

If you want to be happy, then you have to work at it. Let go of your expectations or plans, and embrace things the way they are. The only thing you can really control in this world is yourself. Make good decisions, live your life the way you want, and be accepting of outside influences that you can’t control. This is the key to happiness.

Trust Your Instinct

There have been many occasions where I’ll be doing something (working, speaking with someone, etc.) and get a tingling feeling in my stomach. I then start feeling nervous.

I’ve come to realize that this specific feeling is my instinct telling me that whatever is about to happen, it isn’t good. Unfortunately, I don’t trust it at times.

Don’t make the same mistakes as me. If your instinct is telling you something bad is going to happen, listen. Don’t work on projects you know will fail, don’t work on things you don’t believe in, and don’t allow other people to push you into accepting things you don’t want to accept.

Don’t Waste Your Time On People You Don’t Like

If you don’t like someone, end the relationship quickly. Whether it’s a business partner, a friend, a stranger, an acquaintance, whatever – if you don’t like the person, don’t spend time with them!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve let relationships drag on for far too long, allowing them to suck away my energy and drain my happiness, and for what? To make the other person comfortable? To make them like me? To avoid an uncomfortable situation? It’s just not worth it. Life is way too short.

If you can tell you don’t like someone, make an immediate decision to exit that relationship. This will not only free up your time, but will save you from a lifetime of stress and unhappiness.

Save To Your Last Dime

Consciously saving before spending is the best way you can improve yourself; this shapes your spending habits.

You could have a different bank account for saving purpose; do away with Debit cards, Mobile or Web banking. Once you get payments from jobs you’ve done, save at least 35 percent first before spending. If there’s any dime left after paying bills and handling other financial stuffs, save it up.

The earlier you start saving for the snowy days the better. You can always withdraw when need be.

Final Thoughts

Hulk Stand Ground Sketch

I spend a lot of time thinking about how to better myself. Over time, I’ve come to realize that the real fun in living is constantly improving yourself, keeping to your promises, building stronger and long term relationships.

When I’m not actively working to improve myself, I just don’t feel happy. To me, the momentum of moving forward each day is what drives me to continue living, working, building relationships, and enjoying my life.

Over the next 21 years I’d like to keep moving forward: be healthier, happier, creative, more compassionate, smarter, open minded and more.

Life is about creativity, it’s magic, I’m Akinjide, I’m creative :)