16 Things I Would Tell My 16 Year-Old Self

  1. Get a paying job immediately in a field where you can gain soft and hard business skills.
  2. Instead of spending your money on music or books, get Spotify/Scribd accounts and build a self-sufficiency fund that will allow you to move out.
  3. Stop apologizing so much and being so overly formal. Don’t use your politeness as a coverup for cowardice or low self-esteem.
  4. Put your writing and your creative work where people can see it. Stop hiding your talents in school. Build and maintain a website and blog.
  5. Take a walk and exercise every day. Set a normal sleep pattern. You act like you’re tired every day, but really you just suck at maintaining and building your own energy.
  6. Seek out opportunities for rejection and embarrassment. Go do something new and uncomfortable every week.
  7. Stop letting your parents do things for you. Take responsibility for your decisions.
  8. Learn technical skills immediately. Instead of watching late night shows, go learn how to code, do graphic design, or build websites – or at least how to use a computer proficiently.
  9. Stop trying so hard to be accepted by the cool kids. It makes you less honest and less forthright and less bold. That makes you less interesting and less attractive to be around.
  10. Stop being so cynical about the world around you. You know nothing about anything, and you have yet to see how good the world can be when you work on yourself and remove the plank from your own eye first.
  11. Stop arguing with your parents. You don’t argue with people who don’t have power over you. Learn how to claim power over yourself instead of fomenting conflict. Learn how to transcend your parents and your culture properly so you can learn how to appreciate your parents and your culture properly.
  12. Spend lots of time around people who are older than you and who can give you perspective on this time in your life. Provide value to them.
  13. Practice some kind of sales, even if you’re just selling vegetables on the side of the road. This is a skill you’ll need later.
  14. Build a freelance online business that can supplement your income and teach you important skills. Develop streams of income that you can control that don’t come from an employer choosing you.
  15. TELL THE TRUTH, even when it’s inconvenient. The only good time to tell the truth is now. There is no later. Live with integrity to what you believe and value – people will respect that.
  16. Once you’ve built a basic network, skills, savings, clientele, and personal integrity, drop out of high school. Focus on educating yourself and building a better path to a career.

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James Walpole

James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, and perpetual apprentice. You're reading his blog right now, and he really appreciates it. Don't let it go to his head, though.

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