As someone who has gone through his fair share of ups and downs, I know the secret to a successful life isn’t often taught at schools or universities. There really isn’t one fool-proof formula. Rather, it is more of a sense you develop; knowing when to ask for advice, when to put your foot on the pedal and when to cool off. What follows is the sum of my experiences and those of established leaders and academics who have shared their own life lessons and wisdom with me. I’ve directed my advice for the first decade to parents – for obvious reasons.
0 – 10: Create a strong sense of values: These foundational years are pivotal. Providing your children with a solid system of values will give them the ultimate toolkit to navigate the good and bad times ahead of them. Easier said than done? Trying using acronyms which are a great way to ensure your kids remain anchored to your core family values. For example, if Confidence, Solidarity and Respect is important to you, teach your kids to remember ‘CSR.’ Or etch the word ‘CORE’ in their minds – so they remember to always be Curious, Open, Respectful and Empathetic. A catchy and memorable acronym will stay with your kids over the years and keep them on the right track.
10 – 20: Experiment, experiment, experiment: At this point, you should nurture your interests. Do as many odd jobs and internships as you can. It doesn’t really matter what you do – stay committed to getting as much exposure as possible. Also if you’re unable to get proper career advice from your parents and friends, get professional help (if it is possible). I’ve seen first-hand how career counselling has helped save young adults a lot of time and effort.
20 – 30: Figure out what motivates you: Forget about earning the big bucks; focus on understanding your personal traits and weaknesses. Find work which resonates with you. Only work for someone or something that keeps you challenged and gets your heart racing. Volunteer and learn more about yourself as you give back to your community. Don’t compare yourself to what your friends are doing or the titles they have accumulated. Focus on yourself instead. Be agile and stay open to change – there will be plenty, trust me.
30 – 40: Double down: Welcome to the consolidation stage. By now, you should have had a rough understanding of the direction you’d like to take your career towards. Work on what you’re best at and what is best to you. Focus on building a family and working smart. I say smart because working hard will make you compromise your work-life balance. Keeping this delicate balance is the pre-requisite to having a fulfilling life. Also at this point, you need to develop your network, skill sets and reputation to get to the next level of your career. Save money to live well and provide a good life for your family.
40 – 50: Reap what you’ve sown: As you climb up the corporate ladder, don’t forget to keep learning and developing. Find a solid mentor and take time to reflect on how you want the last two decades of your working life to pan out. Also, this is the time to build your wealth, invest your money and build a financial cushion for a rainy day. If you are not destined to accumulate wealth, that’s OK – it’s not for everyone. Be happy and build meaningful and deep relationships with peers, friends and family. Remember, this stage is all about maximizing your own potential in life. It’s about starting to build your legacy and personal brand. What will people remember you by?
50 – 60: Mentor and stay relevant: As you wind down, start to invest time and energy to stay current and to be on top of the latest trends. Be humble enough to learn from those younger than you – and provide them with mentorship and guidance. Dabble in projects by consulting for work you know can bring a lot of value. Practice your hobbies and passions. At some point we all must admit that life is short, not all of our dreams can come true…so carefully choose what you have the best shot at and commit to it.
60 onwards: Maintain your legacy: You did many great things, worked both smart and hard. Now you’ve reached the age where your energy and circumstances no longer allow you to aggressively pursue your purpose. It’s time to enjoy the finer things in life. Travel the world, potter in your garden and give back to your community. Spend time with friends you never really had enough time for in the past. Tick those remaining ‘to-do’ things off your bucket list.
No matter where you are in a life, remember there’s a time and place for everything. Every now and then, you may feel like you’re stuck or ‘failing at life’. Rather than be dismayed, congratulate yourself. Learning is only possible through failure – so the more you fail, the more you stand to learn. Don’t let the threat of failing ever hold you back. Take as many risks as you can and when it doesn’t work out for you, learn, laugh and move on.
At the end of the day, your success in life comes from the amalgamation of your unique set of circumstances, mistakes, relationships and experiences. Forget about having the perfect life or making the right decisions. Trust your intuition and success will be yours.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn Pulse.