25 Things I Would Tell My 25-Year-Old Self -- A Man’s List

I’ll turn 57 this year, and one of the things about getting older is I tend to think a lot about what I wish I had known when I was younger. In hindsight, I think knowing these things could make a big difference in a young man’s life. I thought I would write them down, in case any actual 25-year-old guys want to read them and follow my advice.

Sure, you’re thinking, but here goes anyway (in no particular order)…

  1. Don’t spend a lot of money on an engagement ring or a wedding. You’ll wish you had it back to spend on more important things.
  2. Start saving a few bucks out of every paycheck, and don’t touch it, ever. It’s only a few bucks … you won’t miss it.
  3. Say “NO” to yourself more often. Start with once a day, and you’ll improve with practice.
  4. Learn to play the guitar, at least a few chords. You’ll always be popular, or at least appreciated.
  5. If you can’t learn the guitar, learn the harmonica. It’s not bad in a pinch.
  6. Play with young children every chance you get, yours or somebody else’s. It’s impossible to have a bad attitude while you’re rolling around on the floor with a couple of toddlers.
  7. Buy good quality tools, including power tools, and learn how to use them to make things that will last. Try feeling bad about yourself after you’ve built a piece of quality furniture.
  8. Focus on other people, and look for ways to make them feel better about themselves. You’ll be less self-conscious and more confident in social situations.
  9. Have a zero tolerance for debt of any kind, especially credit cards, but even for houses or cars. So-called experts will tell you it’s impossible, but where there’s a will, there’s a way.
  10. Marry your best friend and cherish only her for as long as you are both breathing. There’s no substitute for true intimacy, and I can think of no better intimacy than that.
  11. Read the Bible all the way through. When you’re finished, read it again. Repeat until you understand every word.
  12. Buy a good quality black tuxedo and look for occasions to wear it. A man looks and feels great in a tux, and it’ll do wonders for your self-image.
  13. Stay off Facebook except for maybe once a day to keep in touch with those closest to you. Your attitude toward your fellow man diminishes in direct proportion to the time you spend on social media.
  14. Ask questions, and I don’t mean “How was your day?” Show genuine concern about what other people think, and politely ask them to back up their opinions with evidence. You’ll learn a lot that way.
  15. Respect those who are in authority, even if they don’t deserve it. Respect the office and you’ll avoid a great deal of trouble.
  16. Purchase a gun and learn how to shoot it, safely and accurately. You may not like guns, but you shouldn’t fear them, and you should know how to handle them should the need arise.
  17. Find a good cause and give your money and your time to it. It should be something you really care about, and you should do more than just send a check.
  18. Try to read at least one worthwhile book every month. History, commentary, classic literature, or some topic you’re truly interested in. You’ll be a sterling conversationalist, and people will invite you to more parties.
  19. Trust God and ask Him for help every day. He said He would help when we ask, and I’ve discovered that’s exactly what He does.
  20. Be kind, whether people deserve it or not. Kindness costs you nothing, unless you’re the type of person who feels better about himself by putting others down. If that’s you, I can’t help you.
  21. Remember, kindness starts at home, with those you care about the most. See #20.
  22. Try new things. When you find something you would like to try, find someone who is already doing it and ask them if you can tag along. You’ll broaden your circle of friends and your breadth of experience at the same time.
  23. Keep a journal, and write in it regularly. You’ll be continually fascinated by the things you were doing and thinking even five years ago.
  24. Find a job where you have to sell something, and stick with it for at least six months. Dealing with people like this is better than a master’s degree in psychology, and you might just enjoy it well enough to make a lucrative career out of it.
  25. If you still haven’t figured out what to do with your life, learn a skilled trade like welding or electrical. You may decide to do something else, but you’ll always have a fallback.

I could have easily written 50, but 25 is more than enough to give you something to chew on. Some of these I have followed, some I haven’t, and I’m not going to say which. You’re more than welcome to pick any you think will help you build a fulfilling life, and discard the rest.

And by all means, leave a comment and tell me what you would add or subtract!

Tom Dunn is  a husband, father, grandfather, small business owner, freelance writer, and lover of good bourbon and fine cigars. He can usually be found working on behalf of his clients or reading a good book. You can reach him through LucidPage.