9 Uncomfortable Facts About Life I Wish I Knew in My 20s

Growing up, I believed some idiotic things.

For instance, I assumed that most politicians wanted the best for us. I also thought that the #1 goal in life was to drive an expensive sports car, live in a big home, and regularly go out for $500 dinners.

How many of these facts of life did you know in your 20s?

I was dreadfully wrong, but those examples only scratched the surface.  I’m convinced that understanding these nine things in my 20s would have made me twice as wealthy. Maybe more.

1. Happiness is a choice

For 99% of us, we choose our disposition in life. Yes, it’s psychology.

There’s a segment of the population that secretly enjoys being angry. “There’s a perverse pleasure in getting mad,” wrote Ph.D. psychologist Leon Seltzer. When you’re angry, that anger subconsciously “affords you considerable gratification.”

If we choose to be angry, we can also choose happiness. We can choose to see the bright side of life. Focus on the positives.

We can't always control what happens to us, but we can control our reactions.

Choose to be happy.

2. Risk builds wealth

When we put our money at risk, we stand to make a great deal of it. But when we never risk our money, it’ll slowly get eaten away by the incredible power of inflation.

There are different types of risks, including:

  • Real estate
  • Stock market
  • Cryptocurrencies

And:

  • A new job
  • Moving overseas
  • Going back to school

To build wealth, put your money at risk. To build character, put yourself at risk.

3. It is easy to look good

My dad always used to tell me that showing us is half the battle. He was right.

It's EASY to look good these days, both inside the office and outside.

  • Show up every day
  • Act like you belong
  • Speak confidently

Showing up creates opportunities because people want to associate with those who show up and do a good job. All you need to do is take those opportunities.

4. Your competition is weak

Throughout my career in information technology, I noticed a remarkable commonality between all the places I worked.

Most people were unpromotable. They would complain incessantly. They would always take time off of work. And when they did show up, they would spend more time chit-chatting with coworkers than doing their jobs.

Only about 5% of people are high-performers. These were people who showed up every day and did their jobs well. They would ask questions, get involved, and care about their job. These people get promoted all the time.

5. Most millionaires are self-made

A common misconception is that millionaires inherited their wealth. But, the numbers clearly show that’s not true.

A Ramsey Solutions study of 10,000 millionaires found that only 21% of millionaires received any inheritance. 16% inherited more than $100,000, and only 3% got more than a million. The evidence doesn’t stop there.

“Most rich people got that way by providing us with goods and services that improve our lives,” wrote Cato. The notion that most millionaires got their wealth purely by chance is a myth.

And this realization puts front and center the importance of being proactive and determined throughout our careers rather than relying on “luck” to get rich.

6. Your potential doesn’t matter

This seems harsh, but it’s true. Our potential doesn’t pay the bills. I firmly believe that all of us have tremendous potential, but potential does not always equate to success.

The world only cares about what you've done. Results and actions speak louder than our potential to succeed. And this is why employers pay handsomely for marketable skills.

Accomplishments will make you successful.

7. Most people are self-absorbed

Most people only think about themselves. And that is why we shouldn't care what they think about us. Because they aren't thinking about us. Ever.

  • That Rolex watch you wear
  • The degree you have
  • The BMW you drive

People aren't discussing you at their dinner tables. So forget about keeping up with the Joneses.

8. We don’t value free things

Everybody wants free stuff, but we don't value those things as much. Science proves that out.

Paying for things helps us to appreciate them. We don’t value many of the things we get for free. Without skin in the game, we lose interest. Moral of this story? Never give away your:

  • time
  • eBook
  • secrets
  • knowledge
  • experience

When you do, they become worthless. People will not value them.

9. Your family is more important than anything

Most of us think we understand this, but sometimes, our actions tell a very different story. For instance, BMWs won’t put food on the table. Huge homes don’t magically bring our families together. Diamond bracelets won’t automatically mend a broken heart.

One of our most important jobs is building a happy and healthy family. If you didn’t come from one, that doesn’t mean you can’t build one. Start now. Trust me that it’s more important than the new car or expensive jewelry.

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This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

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Steve Adcock is an early retiree who writes about mental toughness, financial independence and how to get the most out of your life and career. As a regular contributor to The Ladders, CBS MarketWatch and CNBC, Adcock maintains a rare and exclusive voice as a career expert, consistently offering actionable counseling to thousands of readers who want to level-up their lives, careers, and freedom. Adcock's main areas of coverage include money, personal finance, lifestyle, and digital nomad advice. Steve lives in a 100% off-grid solar home in the middle of the Arizona desert and writes on his own website at SteveAdcock.us.