As much as I hate to admit, I can be petty sometimes. The subway I just missed. The cup of coffee I spilled. The client call that didn’t go according to plan. While largely unavoidable, these things have not only, embarrassingly, ruined my day but have caused me to divert my attention from things that actually matter.
Eventually, I decided that this was no way to live. I was an adult. I had to start taking responsibility for both the good and bad things in my life, while also accepting that this world doesn’t cater to our individual needs/wants.
Time and time again, these are 10 pieces of advice that I have had to remind myself of. These are things that matter. These are things that don’t. Let go. Exhale. Move on.
 — If you do not get your financial affairs in order while you are young, you will pay for it the rest of your life. If you have debt, do not shirk your payments. Pay it off as soon as possible. Delay making big purchases. Wait until you have your affairs in order before you start upgrading your lifestyle. It’s okay to continue living like a student after you graduated from college. You’ll thank yourself later.
 — People sweat the small stuff — do not be like them. Do you know how many times I see someone complain because a car cut them off or a person didn’t hold the door open for them? It’s as if they’re gobsmacked to think that that there are some assholes or inconsiderate people that live out there in the world. This isn’t a revelation nor is it something that’s worth your time. Letting these insignificant things bother you to your core says more about you than them. Don’t be petty. Adjust your expectations. Put things into perspective. Move on.
 — If you want to be average, do what everyone else is doing. If you want different results, have the courage to go against the grain and do things how you see fit. We take our cues from others — if our friends hit the bar on Friday night, we feel that we also have to do the same. That’s all well and fine if that’s what you want, but if you truly want extraordinary results for yourself (whether it be in your career, money in the bank, or personally), you have to be prepared to be different. You have to be prepared to sacrifice. You have to be prepared to do things that others aren’t willing to do.
“There is another apt Latin expression: Materiam superabat opus. (The workmanship is better than the material.) The material we’ve been given genetically, emotionally, financially, that’s where we begin. We don’t control that. We do control what we make of that material, and whether we squander it.” — Ryan Holiday
 — People aren’t thinking about you as much as you think. Every ‘upvote’, ‘tweet’, and ‘like’ are passive actions on social media — in a fleeting moment someone may think about an idea or an opinion you conveyed but will ultimately disregard that a few moments later and continue with their day. The worst thing you can do is develop an inflated sense of self from online affirmations.
 — Further to the last thought: Stop thinking that the car you drive and the clothes that you wear says something about you as a person. No one cares. If someone were to tell you that the only measure that people used to assess whether they liked you was how you treated others, how would that impact your priorities in life?
“ It is easier to purchase products that denote superiority than to actually be superior in economic achievement.”
— Thomas J. Stanley, Millionaire Next Door
 — Show me the books you read, your credit card statement, and the 3 people you spend the most time with, and I’ll show you who you are. In the words of Seneca, “Associate with people who are likely to improve you.”
 — Self-pity is the least useful and attractive quality in a person. We aren’t able to control the cards we’ve been dealt — and trust me, I’ve seen people who’ve been dealt an incredibly crappy hand — but we have control over how we play them. No matter how faint the light shines at the end of the tunnel, run towards it with everything you have. Seize the opportunities, no matter how small or insignificant they seem, because you never know just how they might lead to something else that will completely change your life. In the words of the late John Gardner:
“Self pity is easily the most destructive of the non-pharmaceutical narcotics; it is addictive, gives momentary pleasure and separates the victim from reality.”
 — The #1 reason most of us don’t get what we want is because we’re impatient. We think we’re owed things that we want within the time-frame we’ve set for ourselves. Life doesn’t work that way. Whatever you want to accomplish necessitates a slow, gradual journey rooted in hard work. Don’t let this discourage you. Appreciate that most people are unwilling to put in the same effort, which will make it easier for you in the end.
 — Take responsibility for your f*ck-ups. People will forgive you for making a mistake, but they won’t want to work with you if you fail to take ownership over what you did. Don’t blame others. Apologize, fix the problem, and move on.
 — There is no such thing as an overnight success. Yes, luck is always a factor in our outcomes, but behind every ‘successful’ individual are years of unrecognized blood, sweat and tears.
I won’t deny that this advice is blunt. But once we see life as it is rather than what we wish it to be, we can start to create a sense of peace within ourselves and devote our energy to putting in the real, practical work of making the world a little better. Step by step. Brick by brick. It starts with us.