10 Years On - 26 Things I Would Tell Myself the Day I Finished High School - Phil Hawksworth

10 Years On – 26 Things I Would Tell Myself the Day I Finished High School

Fuck. 10 years since I finished school. That really makes me feel old.

A decade is an awfully long time, a lot of stuff has happened and I am a completely different person to who I was at 16.

Excuse the self-indulgent horn-blowing, but I think it’s important for context, to see how far I have come. Over the past 10 years I have:

It’s not all been roses mind, and that’s part of the point of this article

I’ve also…

  • Dropped out of university, been arrested more than once, been banned from driving.
  • Been completely broke and had to borrow money all over the place, accrued debts it took years to pay off.
  • Been lonely, doubted myself and been beaten up (more than once).
  • Failed in a number of businesses, lost money and pissed people off.
  • Been rejected more times than I can count (for a variety of things), been hurt, and done things I’m not proud of.

Point is, there’s many ups and downs. Or rather, if you’re doing life right- a harsh dip while you figure shit out, followed by gradual projection upwards.

So what advice would I give to my moody, bad-haired, 16 year old self..?

My somewhat less moody, equally bad-haired, 18 year old self...unfortunately I pre-date Facebook and thus don't have any older picture!

My somewhat less moody, equally bad-haired, 18 year old self…unfortunately I pre-date Facebook and thus don’t have any older picture!

  1. It’s ok not knowing exactly what you want to doMost people never know…and then have a mid-life crisis when they realise this. Life is an ongoing journey and there is no ultimate end purpose. What you are supposed to be doing, passionate and deeply satisfied by today, will likely not be the same in 5 years time, let alone 50. Do what feels right now, you will learn and evolve as you gain experience and feedback from the world. There’s always going to be a new dream to live.
  2. You will fail, repeatedly. It’s breed in to you throughout school that failure is bad. You are rewarded for being a good little cog, preparing you for life as a worker bee in a factory (shame this is the early 21st century, not 19th). Memorize these things, take this test, be rewarded with a secure and mundane life. Screw that.Innovate, be creative, risk and put yourself out there. It’s the only option if you want to be fulfilled. Failure isn’t an end, it’s just a step along the journey. It took me a few years to move that from academic understanding to actually living it, but it is liberating. When you have power over yourself, you are immediately head and shoulders above 98% of the world – no joke
  3. Back yourself. Whatever happens, you land on your feet. Shit is temporary and if you keep growing you will keep progressing. Frankly nobody else defaults to believing in you, apart from family. Are you going to live off your parents for ever? I hope not.If you keep going, you will get there. If it’s important enough and you never quit, you will get there. The more things you achieve; the more confidence, experience, skills, network, etc. you have to leverage. Every new thing becomes easier to succeed in than the last. Success is a habit that is built over time. Nobody gets it right first time around.
  4. Nobody really cares. You like to think everyone is watching you, because you’re so damn important. You’re center of the world. As an introvert you tend to live in your head a lot, to assess and judge every little thing that happens.Reality check: nobody is watching and nobody cares. Live your life and you will attract the people in to it that resonate with you. It’s called the spotlight effect, where you think everyone is watching and judging you. It can be crippling, especially socially. They aren’t. Do you.
  5. Knowledge is useless without actionLearning is great, but it doesn’t change anything. Indeed knowing more is available, which you don’t currently have, probably makes you feel worse if you’re not actively moving towards it. Take action. Implement. Get shit done. Maybe it goes wrong, maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to start with, or you just suck at the start.No shit. Nobody walks in to the world an expert at everything. You have to practice, fail, learn from experience and adjust. It all starts with action. Reading books, gaining knowledge but not actioning on it for years is a recipe to going nowhere fast.
  6. You’re different to most people – that’s a good thing! It takes getting older and a lot of self-exploration to really get to know yourself. A lot of general dissatisfaction and being passive aggressive as a teenager is just this searching for meaning and expression. Keep on moving forwards, following your path and it all becomes clear over time.The fact is, most people are ‘stuck in the Matrix’. The significance of that movie is beyond belief. Unplugging is painful, you see the world in a new light, but feel all alone. It takes time to find and connect with other people who’s belief system and values align with your own, but you will and it’s more than worth it.
  7. Every unrelated area ends up connecting eventually. Literally every failure, experiment, lesson. Every success and every hurt, is all building your experience and knowledge. It all funnels together and aligns towards your purpose in time. Keep walking the path and it will come.
  8. It’s worth it, do the work now. You’re gonna end up doing the work eventually, when the dissatisfaction with the status quo overpowers the comfort of being lazy. Might as well get started.The best time to plant a tree was 20 years and all that bollocks. As you gain life experience, you start to actually believe all of those cheesy proverbs.
  9. Follow your own path. Don’t let other people influence you away from your goals. Sometimes they are right, but you need to learn the lesson anyway. Especially family and people who are close to you, they will get frustrated that you don’t listen and probably love to say ‘I told you so’ at the end.It’s coming from the right place, they want the best for you. Just keep doing you and it will work out in the end. You will be grateful that they care.
  10. Be a leader. Nobody ever achieved anything by being passive. Take action and go for it. People will follow you. Maybe not straight away, maybe it takes dozens of rejections before anyone gives you the time of day. Who cares? You’re a leader. Act like it.
  11. Connect with more people. It’s easy to fall in to a ‘me against the world’ type mentality when you’re doing your own thing that most people disprove of AND you’re naturally introverted.While most normal people are morons and you don’t need to bother with them, you absolutely must be striving to meet people like you and better than you. It will accelerate your growth like nothing else. Life is better shared.
  12. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. People love to help worthy people. Stop feeling entitled to things, being pissy when you don’t get what you want and start offering value and gratitude.People will go out of their way to help you when they know that you are well intentioned and prepared to do the work.
  13. Change environment. I moved to London and it was the best thing I ever did at the time. 5 years later and I was stuck there. I wanted to go travelling, but I felt like I had unfinished business in London. Like I had to ‘make it’ there before I could leave.It wasn’t what I wanted and I didn’t need to be there. It was holding me back and it took me at least 18 months to realise that. As soon as I took action toward leaving, everything fell in to place. The universe aligned and I created something out of nothing in next to no time at all.
    Looking for answers...in the washing machine?

    Looking for answers…in the washing machine?

  14. Sales and influence is the single most useful skill in the world. Seriously. If you can sell and persuade, you can do anything. Whether that is actually ‘selling’ product or not. Land your dream job? Sell yourself. Get laid? Sell yourself. Get opportunities in life? Sell yourself. Get money? Sell something/yourself.
  15. You ARE creative. I always thought creativity was painting, drawing and music. What is called ‘art’ at school.I didn’t realize that idea generation is creativity. That problem solving is creativity. That entrepreneurship is creativity. That building a dream life is creativity.If you’re more intelligent than a 2×4 you have creativity within you. It just requires the confidence to release it.
  16. People will like you when you like yourself. When you care what people think, when you have a negative mindset or try and impress people, they don’t like you so much. When you don’t give a shit, live for yourself and be unrelenting in your principles and values, people love you.Nothing is more attractive in a man than self-confidence. Build yourself up and everything else falls in to place.
  17. Start saving money today. “I will when I earn more/have more to spare”. Let me tell you, the time never comes. You just upgrade your lifestyle and remain on the breadline like everyone else. Even ‘rich’ people flaunting it on fancy cars and champagne.The act of saving and investing money compounds supremely quickly. Just suck it up and do it, even if it’s only £10 a month. The habit of doing it, the education of being able to manage money is the point, not the actual amount.It took me years to actually start. As soon as I did, life improved – literally overnight. Freedom is having free time and access to whatever you desire.
  18. Go get rejected as many times as you can, as quickly as you can. Apply for 10 jobs you’re not really qualified for. Go network with people better than you and ask them to mentor you. Get on the phone and have 10 sales conversations.One of them will say yes. Then you tweak, you take the lessons and the confidence and you get better. Zero out of zero is still zero. Do something.
  19. Protect your energy and creativity. Most people are time-sucks and energy vampires. Social media, the internet and TV are worst. You’re now interacting with the time-sucking, energy draining normal people who don’t make the cut of atually spending time with in real life – or worst who you don’t even know.Sit in the corner of a cafe and get to work. Put your headphones on and build a body in the gym. Hike up a mountain and sit in a cave reading a classic. Save socialising (in real life and digitally) for people who improve your life, educate you, or at least pay you.
  20. The internet is the single best tool in the world. You can learn anything. you can apply your skills and knowledge from anywhere in the world, to anywhere in the world. You can automate almost anything you do. You will find an audience somewhere, no matter how obscure.Get to grips with it today. It’s not for wasting time on social media and silly games. It’s for free or low cost access to any information and any person in the world.
  21. Don’t just read; make notes, do the exercises and take action. That book you read when you were 20, but didn’t implement until you were 24 changed your life in a huge way. Fucking do the exercises when you’re 20.Stop ego-reading. Nobody is impressed by how many books you’ve read or how much knowledge you can regurgitate. Use the wisdom of the ages to take action, implement and really learn things.
  22. People come and go, YOU are the only constant. Nobody in my every day life was in my life even just 6 months ago. Don’t forget your friends and family, and the people who help you up.
    Be grateful, care and do what you can to improve their lives. Don’t let them dictate yours though. Do what is right for you.You only have to live and rely on yourself for ever, so work on you. Impress yourself. Care what you think about yourself. Do what is right for yourself. Everybody else will be better off and happier this way, anyway.
  23. Money is abundant, open yourself to opportunity. It’s tough being broke, but there is nothing like being backed in to a corner to amaze yourself with the hustle you can produce.Stop worrying about what if I fail, what if I go broke and start pursuing progress. The worst comes to the worst, you take a step back, collect yourself and go again with something new. Nothing bad happens. Seriously. You have enough intelligence and work ethic to quickly get back on your feet.
  24. Trust the universe. Shit works out. Sometimes you have to have faith. This isn’t ‘the secret’ bollocks. It won’t fall in to your lap – you must do the work. Having the faith to start is a prerequisite to being able to do the work and ensure that it goes to plan.
  25. Take the step, follow your dream, work out the how along the way. You don’t need to know exactly how to do something. Do you think any invention, revolutionary business or breakthrough in life comes from knowing how to do it?Of course not! If the how was already known, it would already be done. Try things, learn and adjust. Find your 10,000 ways how not to make a light bulb.
  26. Reject society’s presumptions and learn about yourself as soon as possible. Introspection and understanding your core values and personality will align every part of your life. All dissatisfaction comes from living out of line with your values. If you don’t know what they are, you don’t know who you are or what you want; how do you expect to achieve anything?It’s not ‘woo-woo’ and it’s not time that could be better spent fruitlessly working on something that isn’t right. Invest some time in exploring your psyche and figuring that shit out as early as you can. Repeat periodically as you grow and life changes.

While I do sometimes wonder what would happen if I had taken a different path…done or not done certain things, or just dropped the fear and got on with things quicker…

I really do not regret anything. I think that’s a pretty empowering place to be. I hope that if you’re reading this, at least some of it resonates with you and gives you the confidence to make your life what you want it to be.


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