I never thought I’d turn 30. I always imagined dying in my 20s, living maybe to a maximum age of 26.
But I turned 30 today, and I’m still alive. That only shows me that you can’t predict the future with your present circumstances. You can only do that with your actions.
So, how does it feel to be 30?
To be honest, I feel great.
I’m full of excitement about the things that are going on right now. I know myself a lot better than I ever did in my twenties. I’m fitter, having shed off most of my problems with eating disorders throughout my teens and twenties.
My twenties were rough. I made a lot of mistakes I wish I didn’t. I lost a lot of money I wish I still had now.
But when I look back, I guess they them to happen so I can learn a skill I need in the future. Every skill I add into my life makes me stronger and readier for new and bigger challenges.
I’m sharing them today with you to let you know that when you make a mistake, it’s okay.
Don’t blame yourself. Don’t waste your time overthinking it.
Blaming yourself and overthinking things changes nothing about what happened.
Just collect the new skill and move on.
Now, let’s get on to the mistakes:
Spending six figures on travel. I lived by a YOLO mindset until I was around 26.
But after spending six figures of my money on this expensive hobby, I realized that I was feeding an unhealthy addiction that was bringing me further away from what I really needed to do: fix the problems inside of me.
If I didn’t, I’d continue spending money looking for something outside of me when that problem was inside of me. I wasn’t getting any younger – I needed to spend more time working on my business, fixing my relationships with my family, and grow myself as a writer.
So at 27, I decided to pull the plug and focus on healing things that were broken inside of me and also growing my business and myself.
Since then, I’ve made six-figures in my businesses, written a lot, gotten fitter and most importantly, repaired a lot of the brokenness inside of me as well as my relationships with everyone at home.
Through my writing, I’ve connected with hundreds of people in a way that made me feel like what I do makes an impact in the world. Even in just a small way.
So, do I regret spending so much money on travel?
In a way, I do wish I spent a lot less and saved a portion of the money to build my business instead. But do I regret it? I can’t say I do.
Travel taught me a lot about the world. I’m less quick to judge people, I’ve met great friends who I still keep in touch with today and I’ve learned how to be confident when talking to people outside of my own cultural experience.
It has also taught me how dangerous letting yourself fall into the comforts of addiction can be. No matter if the addiction appears ‘healthy’. An addiction is an addiction.
Becoming business partners with people I didn’t know that well. I did this not once, not twice, but three times. While I can’t delve into the details of each case, but thanks to this mistake, I’ve lost money, got money and projects stolen from me, and gained a bad reputation from being badmouthed.
Every time it happened, I felt dumb.
But when I look back today, I’m glad they happened. They taught me to be very careful before putting trust in anyone in business, to scrutinize over everything I do and not be too loose with my boundaries.
If a business partner starts showing red flags (e.g. taking advantage of you, dirty hands with money, or starts gas lighting you), it’s time to walk away. Don’t give anyone second chances.
Don’t be naive. If a deal looks too good to be true, let someone else have it. The cost of a deal like that will be very dear indeed.
One final good thing that came out of this was that I found myself getting better at getting over business mistakes after each one happened. I went from being upset for 6 months the first time, 3 months the second time and just 1 month the last time.
Again, I don’t regret this. It was painful but necessary for me to build myself to navigate the business landscape better.
When people who want to start their own business for the first time ask me for advice, I always tell them, just do it. You’ll always learn most by doing than reading a book or going through an online course.
Books and courses can guide you, but 90% of your learning happens when you take action.
Doing expensive things for free. As a young person in my twenties, I felt like I didn’t have much to give to the world. I wasn’t very skillful, I didn’t have status, I didn’t have any network.
The only thing I had an abundance of was time. So I started giving it out for free to people I really wanted to learn from.
It was pretty useful at first, but I should have stopped much earlier than I did. Instead, I dedicated more and more time to do more and more expensive things for free.
It was only when I gave away my marketing expertise and over 100 hours of my time to somebody who earned a cool six figures as a result of my help that I realized that I needed to stop.
Why was someone who was getting paid six figures not find it in them to pay me at least 5 figures?
I could only find one reason: because they didn’t see the value of my skills.
That, or that they were knowingly taking advantage of me.
I don’t blame them. I was too naive and didn’t value myself enough also.
So after that, I decided that I would do nothing for free. I needed first to learn to value myself so other people could start valuing me. I made a resolution to say no to all collaborations where I won’t get paid.
I used to speak for free all the time, but
I used to help people do marketing for free, but I dedicate my marketing time solely to my paying clients these days.
By doing so, I’ve made a lot more money and been able to work with people who respect me for what I’m good at.
Regardless, I don’t regret doing things for free. It helped me to build up skills I needed later in my businesses. The thing I do regret is doing it well after it stopped supporting my goals, and allowed myself to be taken advantage of.
There are lots more mistakes I made, but these were the main ones that made me lose sleep over.
Now, I’d like to share with you some of the decisions I’m happy I made in my twenties that made my life a lot better today:
Quitting a job I didn’t have a passion for. I grew up wanting to be a writer, but due to family circumstances, I decided to take the practical path of engineering and signed up for a job as an engineer to support my family.
It was a challenging job that helped me grow a lot, but over time, I realized I wanted to be surrounded with people who shared more of the interests with me.
Thanks to an opportunity, I left the job and have been able to grow a career in a field I like a lot better.
It does come with its own challenges, but I’ve made huge improvements in my mental health thanks to this career change.
Keeping in touch with my friends from high school and college. Although it has always been challenging, I do my best to keep in touch with my friends from high school and college. It’s not always perfect, but seeing how close I still am with my clique from high school and college, I’m glad I took the effort to spend time with them and grow with them throughout the years.
Until today, they are still some of the best people I talk to from time to time.
Spending time with my family. Up until the end of high school, I didn’t know my family that well. I spent my time mostly stuck in books, studying for my straight A’s.
I missed out on a lot of things I didn’t realize was that important at the time and only hit me when I reflected about it.
After quitting my job and quitting travel, I decided to spend a lot more time with my family. It was rough at first, but after spending more time to get to know each other, we managed to heal old wounds and are better with one another today than we have ever been in our lives.
This is probably the best decision I’ve made in the last 10 years.
10 years is a long time, but when you look back, you’ll mostly see the highlight reel and this was my highlight reel.
It’s been personal and if you’ve read everything, I thank for your time.
Finally: Happy 30th Birthday to Me and Thanks for All the Years.
And here’s to another decade of being alive 🙂
2 responses to “I Turned 30 Today. The Biggest Mistakes and Best Decisions I Made in My 20s”
Well first things first, happy belated birthday to you Lu Wee! Good to hear what you did well and didn’t in your 20s. Got a mixed feeling reading it especially after our conversation today. I hope I would look back in 6 years’ time and thank myself that I’ve chosen the right path. Only time will tell!
Hey Kuan, nice seeing you here! 🙂 Thanks for your well wishes. It was a good celebration.
Yeap, it’s all about the little decisions you make right now up to that point in your life. Keep questioning what doesn’t feel right and you’ll get the answer you want.