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From the desk of Harsh Strongman
Subj: Things every 18 year old needs to know (Advice for teenagers)
I started my personal development journey when I was 16 years old. When I was 18, I had about two years of effort under my belt, while most of my peers were wasting their time away on video games and beer.
I wasn’t very consistent with everything at that age because I was still too young and distracted, but I was on the right track – I was lifting, reading whatever I could get my hands on, and was in the middle of my Chartered Accountancy degree.
Today I’m in my 20s, and I’ve made miles and miles of progress since I was 18 – physically, financially, mentally, and spiritually, I’m a completely different person than I was at that age. Life has been a blessing.
That being said, I’m young enough to remember how my peers and I were at 18 years of age, and old and experienced enough to know what can be done to set yourself apart for the future.
I did lay out the general premise in the open letter I wrote to all young men titled “Don’t waste your life”, however, with this article, I wanted to be a little more specific.
If I could meet my 16 or 17 or 18 year old self (or basically, if I was a high school or a college student), here is what I would tell him:
1) Stop seeking the approval of your friends
Peer pressure is a natural thing in your teenage years. Your hormones are pushing you away from your family to explore the outside world on your own terms, and you want to bond with people your age and create new friendships and alliances.
However, the reality is that most people you know and will ever know at this age will be with you for a short time – usually as long as you are physically in the same place together. Most of the friends you make will not be your friends a few years down the line when your education gets done and you enter the “real world”.
The very people you call “friends for life” are the people you will forget about and barely speak to once you are no longer in each other’s physical proximity.
A few rare ones will stick around over the years, but most of your current friends will not be relevant to your life in a few years – many, you will not speak to ever again once school/college gets done.
When you are doing something to impress your peers or seek their approval, you are investing in a sinking ship – something that will not be relevant in a very short amount of time and will have no payoff. It is a mistake to sacrifice your wellbeing to win the approval of people who you won’t even speak to once you are out of school!
Just go your own way, do what is best for you, use your own judgement, and let the “friends” who won’t accept you, reject you.
It is hard to care little about what people think of us because we are genetically hardwired to seek tribe/group approval as a long term survival mechanism – but remember, these people aren’t going to be around too long. The approval of your college and school friends is utterly irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.
You will be around you forever, and you will never regret investing in yourself. So put yourself first.
2) Don’t drink, smoke, or take drugs (including digital drugs like video games and internet porn)
In line with the previous point, use your judgment to do what is best for you, not what will seem cool to your friends or helps you fit in with them.
Drinking, smoking, and drugs may be fun, but they are immensely damaging to your body (especially in your teens), very addictive, and have a pretty good track record of getting out of hand and destroying people’s lives.
They should not be taken lightly, and you’re better off staying far away from them. You need to be focusing on building your career and life – you can always party later. Don’t worry; life has plenty of distractions for you when you have money in the bank – now is not the time.
These aren’t things you need to be spending money on at 18 years old. Especially if you have student debt.
Addictive habits aren’t something to be proud of, and everyone who goes down that path ends up regretting it. The line between casual and addict is blurry, and it’s a very slippery slope.
I’ve seen many ambitious young fellows lose all of their ambition and energy and become bums simply because they decided they liked weed and drinks too much.
As a young man, your ambition is your driving force, and without ambition, you’re already dead. Don’t put ambition killers in your body, they might kill you without you realizing it.
In more general terms, this applies to video games and porn too. They are ambition killers in the world of pixels.
The occasional video game with your friends is fine, porn is not. Keep the former under once a week, and completely eliminate the latter from your life.
3) Lift weights and build your body
Get a gym membership and make it a point to show up regularly. At your age, you have a large amount of testosterone and HGH in your body, and you have a lot of time and energy.
This is the right time to build a physical foundation that will serve you for the rest of your life. Lifting weights will not just build you a better body, but it will also develop self-confidence in you, and it will change your overall vibe.
Just make sure that you lift with proper form. I’ve injured myself twice, and both times it had to do with lifting more weight than I should have been lifting and with bad form. It’s best to have a trainer or a knowledgeable friend watch you over.
By the way, lifting weights will not stunt your growth. That’s a myth. Pay no heed and lift.
You will see a few friends of yours who get into “virtual marriage” style relationships off the bat, and in your more lonely moments, you might even be jealous of them. Don’t be.
The people who have those over the top stuck together type of relationships are people who failed to develop an independent sense of self and are hiding from the world behind each other’s backs. These people are neither strong nor formidable. They are mentally weak and break down the moment life hits them with anything unexpected.
As a man, falling in love when you’re very young is a mistake. You are only beginning to develop your true value. For any woman you can attract today, you can attract a better woman a few years later when you’re richer, fitter, and better connected.
Women are born high value; men must make their value. A 19-year-old woman is already in her physical prime and desired by lots of high-value men, but a 19-year-old man is still worthless and has a long way to go before he hits his prime.
This is not an “unfair curse” on men. As a man, your value side has no upper bound. If you take life seriously, you can take your sexual market value (SMV) higher than ANY woman on the planet.
As a man moves up in the world, his value goes up. Unlike a woman’s beauty which is inherently valuable but burns fast as she ages, a man’s value is built by him over time and lasts far longer. Therefore, it is a mistake to “sell too soon”, especially when you’re as young as 18.
The world is full of women. Women are neither rare nor special. You can always get a woman (or women ;)). What’s rare is dominant men who make a lot of money and have their shit together. That’s what all the women want anyway – a MAN, not a boy.
The problem is that men at that age overvalue women and thus get attached to them out of a scarcity mindset, and end up committing to a raw deal.
Furthermore, most of the people who “fall in love” at that age burn a lot of time and attention and money that could better be used elsewhere. Men will burn thousands of hours talking to, thinking about, and dealing with a woman(‘s drama) at the cost of their own personal progress and goals.
All women distract men from their purpose, and the younger you are, the more prominent this will be on you.
I’ve seen men give up on their entire ambition and potential after they got married because they got too comfortable and complacent and that drive within them went away.
Women are generally not ambitious. Women are consumers. This is plainly evident in the real world where they buy whatever they can get their hands on that only a true fool would dispute it. Women make men too comfortable, and at a young age, you do not want comfort, you want your ass to be on a fire so hot that it always keeps you up and running.
There will be plenty of time for love when you are a bit older. 18 is not it. Build your foundation first – physical, financial, and spiritual.
Strong foundations get you the best women anyway. So be smart and don’t be too emotionally attached too soon.
You will never lose women chasing your dreams, but you will lose both your dreams and the woman when you chase the woman.
P.S. – Most girls are very similar, and most guys think their girl is an exception to the norm. For any girl you’re in “love” with, if you remove the emotions from your equation, you’ll find that you know about a dozen girls almost exactly like her. In other words, your darling babe is replaceable, there is no “the one”, so take it easy with the “I can’t live without her” crap. Be complete in yourself.
This is not to say you shouldn’t be loyal to your woman. I just wish to tell you to be a man, know your value, know your options, and know that your value is higher tomorrow than it is today. Being in “love” is not an achievement, and as Victor Pride said, your college sweetheart is not one in a million, she’s one in a hundred at best.
5) Learn to fight
I only recently started kickboxing, and I wish I had started sooner. I did learn karate (Goju Ryu) earlier, but karate is mostly useless in real life. Pick something that is used in actual competition, like M.M.A. or wrestling or kickboxing. Spar safely (especially in boxing – since hits to your head cause brain damage).
You are not learning to fight because you want to pick fights with others, but because knowing how to fight gives a man a lot of confidence in high-stress situations. If things ever get down to it, you know that you can handle yourself.
Lift and get big and learn to fight and be deadly – you will both be and look like a very dangerous man. This will translate into your body language and vibe. This is a good thing. Men and women both will want you on their side.
Strong people always get support. They don’t have to ask for it, it is given to them.
6) Take college seriously, and don’t major in bullshit (or don’t go!)
I never went to a proper college. I pursued chartered accountancy (it’s a distance education course). This was a good choice, experience later showed me that accounting is far more useful for entrepreneurs than an MBA or modern “entrepreneurship degrees” (read: learning to swim on LAND).
I cannot imagine paying $100k for a gender studies degree, turning 22, and then hoping the world makes a place for me. That’s not how the world works.
If you decide to go to college, firstly – find out whether your degree is worth the money it costs or not. Not all of them are, and nowadays, most aren’t.
If you strongly feel inclined to study a non-remunerative subject, use the internet and buy the books and study them yourself. You don’t need to pay for college to learn history, philosophy, literature, etc.
If you are in college – don’t waste time. You are paying tens of thousands of dollars a year to be there. You are there to learn and grow, not to party. You can always party later.
“College is supposed to be fun” is a huge myth pushed down on young people by unserious people. If you find college easy and fun, you are not pushing yourself hard enough.
7) Create an online cash flow source as soon as you can
I’ve been over this before, so I won’t beat this horse any further.
Read these articles:
- Why you should start an online business
- How to make money online
- How to start a startup (CS183B Stanford, Y Combinator)
- Types of Income Streams: A Broad Overview
If you already have a marketable skill or product, find a way to sell it using social media. The Art of Twitter (that’s my guide to building a Twitter audience) can help. Twitter is just one way, I talk about it because that’s how I promote LMM, but there are numerous ways of making money on the internet.
Ask yourself this question: What is something that I can help others with?
- Can you provide them the information they want?
- Can you teach them a skill they want to have?
- How can I use my existing skills to add value to someone else over the internet?
(This only works if you have some or the other skills. People will not pay you if you’re a total idiot who knows nothing – so hone your skills before you sell them.)
Having an extra source of internet-based cash flow will open your mind up to the possibilities, give you more ideas, change your mindset towards money, and make you think like an entrepreneur from an early age.
99% of people will take this point lightly, and 99% of people are broke wage slaves for a reason. The internet is the present and the future, and if you’re not selling online, you’re living in the dying and dusty past. China Virus has only accelerated the inevitable dominance of e-commerce.
8) Don’t watch TV, Netflix, Hulu, etc
Life is too short to be wasted, and when you stare at cable TV or internet TV, that’s what you’re doing: wasting life and time.
Turn it off and get to work. Leave the zombie TV watching to the zombies. You don’t have time.
9) You don’t have time
Life is not a dress rehearsal. Men at 18 think that 10 years can scarce be spent until they spend it all.
Unlike money, which you can earn and burn, time is a one way street.
You do not get to live life twice. If you waste a day, you have wasted it forever. If you waste a week, you have wasted it forever. If you waste a decade, you have wasted it forever.
Years go by faster than days, and if you’re not serious, you’ll waste them quicker than you realize. There is no greater regret.
When you are 18, the world thinks you are full of potential. You and everyone around you has “potential” – it’s sunshine and rainbows and a participation trophy for everyone.
This is not the case when you get older. When you hit 25, no one cares about your potential anymore. You are either making it happen or you are a topic your family tries to avoid talking about with others.
If you are serious about your life and have big goals and aspirations, you don’t have time to waste on any “normie activities”. You are either obsessed or destined for failure.
If you are shy and introverted, go out more and try to be more extroverted.
If you are outspoken and extroverted, meditate and learn to look inward.
If you are a low IQ person, read books and philosophy to develop your wisdom.
If you are aggressive, learn to be more controlled, deliberate, and calculative.
If you are slow and indecisive, work on your confidence and learn to take chances.
Give yourself a bigger toolbox than the one nature gave you. This will make you more mature and take you far ahead of people who only rely on their natural disposition.
“The height of perfection. No one is born complete; perfect yourself and your activities day by day until you become a truly consummate being, your talents and your qualities all perfected. This will be evident in the excellence of your taste, the refinement of your intellect, the maturity of your judgement, the purity of your will. Some never manage to be complete; something is always missing. Others take a long time. The consummate man, wise in word and sensible in deed, is admitted into, and even sought out for, the singular company of the discreet.” – Baltasar Gracian, The Pocket Oracle and Art of Prudence (India, UK, USA)
11) Don’t burn bridges for no reason
I used to be hot headed and burn bridges when I was younger. Don’t do it if you can help it.
You never know when you might end up needing a favor out of someone, so even when you are angry or pissed, be nice and polite. Your relationships are your assets, so don’t burn them for no reason.
This doesn’t mean that you let people walk all over you, it just means that as far as the situation permits, strive to maintain warm relationships. I’ll admit, I’m still not very good at this, but I have gotten better with time (that’s all a man can do anyway: keep getting better).
Your parents want you to be safe, your friends want you to fail, and your girl just wants you to be stable.
But very few people actually want you to be wildly successful.
(Most of) Your mom and dad would rather see you working a safe job that pays your bills, rather than experiment with businesses that have a good chance of failure.
Your friends want you to do well enough, but not much better than them (it makes them feel jealous).
Society wants you to be a cog in the machine, to simply go on without causing problems. Just like billions of other forgotten cogs before you.
But whatever everyone else wants, you are alone in this world. You were born alone and you will die alone.
You must make your own choices (it’s fine to take advice, not fine to delegate decision making authority – the crown must be on your head, not your parent’s, not your minster’s, not your friend’s), for that is the only way you will truly live a free life fit for man.
You must be the CEO and largest shareholder of your life, not an employee.
Everything else is bondage and slavery, whether you realize it or not.
13) Read (a lot)
I’ve spent a lot of time over the years reading, and nothing has served me as much, except maybe lifting.
Reading lets you tap into other people’s experiences and makes you knowledgeable much faster than you would have been otherwise. There is really no substitute for reading.
By reading, I don’t just mean books, but I also mean blogs, articles, forums, etc. (except newspapers and news websites – that’s mostly misinformation and brainwashing nowadays) – now is the right time to bombard your brain with information and create new patterns and connections. It will serve you for the rest of your life.
P.S. – if you’re new here, read the rest of my website. See the archives button in the top menu. And tell your friends about LMM too!
14) Don’t travel and backpack your life away
I don’t understand what everyone’s obsession is with “I want to travel”, but your teens and 20s aren’t the time for it.
Don’t get me wrong, a week or two here and there are fine and good for you and will give you experience and knowledge, but scooting away to random locations for months and years is a mistake.
I’ve said before, you need to be building your career and network around this time (it gets harder as you age), and if you are never around you will not be able to develop any strong ties or advance your business.
You need a base to operate and grow from. Every empire needs a capital.
You can always travel once you have your life figured out (and you’ll have enough money to spend too and won’t need to sleep in tents).
It has to last you longer than you think.
Lift with good form so you don’t get injured (and wear training shoes, not running shoes while lifting).
Stretch regularly (especially your posterior muscles) – this will prevent imbalances and improve your posture.
Spend 30 minutes per day in the sun and take cod liver oil to prevent arthritis later in life.
Minimize chronic stress on your body. Stress ages you and damages your body. Mediate regularly – it helps more than you think.
Get LASIK done, it’ll improve the quality of your life.
Get proper sleep. No, being able to message your friends all night isn’t worth living on 6 hours of sleep a day. Long term sleep deprivation messes up your hormones and causes problems in the long run.
Do cardio regularly and keep your heart strong.
Keep your body fat percentage low – obesity and excess fat increase your risks for everything negative. Fat cells release estrogen, and lots of fat causes all sorts of problems for your body. The longer you stay fat, the more problems it will cause.
16) If you want something, go for it
If you want something, ask. Don’t be afraid of being turned down, and don’t be embarrassed of failure.
You are no longer in school where it’s a small world and everyone is watching or judging you. The reality is that one cares about you.
You could get hit by a car tomorrow and most people wouldn’t care.
No one cares what you are doing – you are not a celebrity – this is a good thing.
If you want to go out with a girl, ask her. If you want to start a business, start it.
Don’t be afraid of rejection or failure.
If something doesn’t work simply move on to other things. People are too busy and self-absorbed to remember or care about you and your failures. The fear of judgment and embarrassment exists only in your mind.
(And if they do make fun of you? Who cares. Keep at it and laugh all the way to the bank.)
P.S. If things don’t work out, fail fast. Don’t try to make broken things work. And be smart enough to know the difference between just regular hard times and a broken business model.
Save a part of your money and invest it so that it makes more money for you.
Spending $1000 on shoes to impress your friends and owning expensive phones is a mistake.
Don’t spend money you don’t have to buy things you don’t need to impress people who don’t matter.
Don’t borrow for consumer goods. If you can’t pay for it in cash, you can’t afford it.
Don’t inflate your lifestyle to your income. That’s a trap. Keep your lifestyle relatively constant and let your income increase. You don’t suddenly need 20% more stuff because your income increased by 20%.
Also, have the right mindset about money. Money is not “hard”.
You think money is hard because you’re thinking in terms of selling time for money. Think about how you can create the infrastructure, products, and business assets (digital or otherwise) that automatically make money – even as you sleep (this gets much easier once you get the first one right).
Money grows on trees, you just have to make the tree. With almost every man on Earth connected to the internet (will be a reality in a decade or so), the sky is the limit, and your only problem is your lack of initiative and ability to capitalize on it.
18) Don’t listen to soy-boy weak limp-wrist music
Music is catchy and repetitive and gets inside your head.
Most modern music is just people being weak:
“Oh love is the prize I can’t live without you I am weak someone save me from the world blah blah blah”
If you blast that in your head all the time you’ll eventually turn your brain to mush.
19) Don’t be a lefty
That entire ideology is retarded and based around blaming other people for your own problems.
Your problem is not racism, sexism, discrimination, etc. Your problem is that you’re a moron who thinks the world owes you something.
Here’s a little secret for you: No lives matter. A meteor hit the earth and wiped out the dinosaurs. You are not special. The world does not care about you.
There are no winners in the victim olympics. Protesting does not make you special or enlightened. Safe spaces are for losers and wimps. You are not “brave” for “coming out” – you are in an environment where everyone, from your professors to your peers actively supports that stuff – so quit the fake bravado.
If you are a leftist – you are a part of a crazy cult, and it’s in your best interest to get yourself out of there before you turn into a fat blue-haired feminist or a limp wrist soy boy.
The fix is easy: Lift. Heavy. Weights.
No one stays a lefty once they start lifting weights because lifting forces a man to bring the focus on himself (and the extra testosterone helps).
Here’s a bonus #20) Start taking action today. Not tomorrow morning, not 1st January or some other arbitrary date. Today. For life does not guarantee us a tomorrow.
Phew, that’s all for this piece.
Hope this helps.
If you have any questions or anything to add, leave it in the comments.
P.S. if you’re looking for a structured program to help you be more productive, to improve your discipline, and to help you be the best version of yourself possible, check out Live Intentionally: Discipline, Mindset, Direction – A 90 Day Self-Project.