25 life-improving Christmas gifts for under $10

25 life-improving Christmas gifts for under $10

If you’re like me, you’re always looking for ways to give cheap but meaningful Christmas gifts for under $10. Yes, I’m a cheapskate, but I’m a happy one.

I’ve always been into improving my life, and if I can help the loved ones in my life do the same, without spending a lot, I’m very happy.

I asked my Zen Habits readers for some suggestions for inexpensive gifts, and boy did they deliver. 

Read on, then choose the ones that your loved ones will like best, for an inexpensive Christmas (unless you have six kids like I do … then Christmas is never cheap).

Christmas gifts for under $10

1. Service

This is actually free, unless you consider your time worth something. Anything that you can do to help someone out, give them some free time, make their life better, reduce their stress: cleaning, chores, errands, garden work, fixing things, cooking, anything you’re good at. One of the best gifts ever, in my opinion.

2. Ebooks

There are some good ones out there, some for under $10 … my own Zen To Done and Bron’s Screen Freedom are good examples of course. 🙂

3. Baked goods

Ingredients don’t cost that much, and if you make a few batches and give them to a bunch of people, the costs will definitely be under $10 per person (even if you have to buy a few cookie tins or something). Try one of these suitably festive recipes:

A new classic: Raspberry rum balls #rumballs #Christmscooking #Christmasrecipes

4. Moleskine notebook

I don’t know anyone who owns one of these who doesn’t love them. I love mine. They’re so beautiful, tactilely wonderful to write in, and useful. There are many choices (I recommend one of the pocket notebooks so you can carry them around everywhere).

5. Self-improvement books

I love to read books of all kinds, but self-improvement books seem to be a great choice this time of year. Buying books in ebook form will keep the costs down. Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman (recommended by a reader), Getting Things Done by David Allen, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective PeopleSimplify Your Life. These might be slightly over $10, sorry.

6. Pedometer

Encourage the loved ones in your life to get healthy this coming year. A pedometer is one great way to do that … most are over $10, but you can find some for under. 

7. Homemade salsa

Make your own salsa, can it, wrap the jar in some photos printed from your computer. Recipe from Zen Habits reader Matt Q:

Kirk’s Killer Kickin’ Salsa

1 29 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
4-6 cloves garlic or to your taste chopped fine
1 handful or more of crushed red chili also to your hot taste
¾ large chopped onion
Salt
1 tablespoon of olive oil

Stir this good and add a little water if too thick. Tomatoes have lots salt so check before adding , then add to your taste. If you like oregano or cilantro that can be added, I don’t care for it. Make ahead of time as it s flavor will be much better in 2-3 days. Good on eggs and corn chips.

8. Healthy cookbook

Great way to get someone to eat healthy while trying out some new delicious foods. Unfortunately most good cookbooks are over $10 (like my favourite: Vegan with a Vengeance : Over 150 Delicious, Cheap, Animal-Free Recipes That Rock), but if you try a used bookstore, you should be good to go.

9. Mixed CD

How will this improve someone’s life? It can be a relaxing CD, or one that picks them up in the car … music is always a great gift! Or try making them a wellbeing podcast list or create a playlist just for them.

10. Movie night gift basket

Purchase items in bulk and divide them into multiple baskets. Items for a movie night: popcorn, lollies and a download gift certificate ($5).

Movie night Chrismas gift ideas for under $10

11. Scrapbook

Make it yourself… great memories that will last a lifetime. Be creative and have some fun! This is a priceless gift.

12. Massage

Do it yourself… free, wonderful, relaxing, and… well, wonderful. You can find amazing massage tutorials on YouTube – like this one. If you’re not keen to DIY, get your friend a massage ball.

13. Babysitting

Another service, but I mention it here specifically because as a parent, I know how awesome this gift can be. We parents need a no-obligations night on the town sometimes too!

14. Yoga mat

Great way to start the new year… with the peace and fitness of yoga. Get them started with a mat (it’s possible to find them under $10 … here’s one for $4.50) and an introduction to Yoga with Adriene.

15. 10 Reasons I Love You

Framed. One of the most special gifts you can give, I think. Of course, I’m very sentimental, so if this is not macho enough, go for something like Nos. 23 and 24 below.

16. Homemade cloth grocery bags

You can buy them for under $10, but if you’re handy with the sewing machine, recycle some old sturdy material and make it yourself.


Drawstring bags are also useful


 

17. Moneyband

I’ve been using this minimalist wallet myself and love it — just a rubber band, really, but sized perfectly to hold your cards and cash. That’s all I carry around. Check it out here.

18. Tao Te Ching

Several readers suggested this classic of Eastern philosophy, and I recommend it myself. There are many versions … here’s one for under $1. You might also try Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

19. Build an emergency kit

Buy a container bag, put in it whatever other small items you’d normally forget to pack for a trip. Tie with ribbon. Print out some instructions to expand the emergency kit.

20. A care package

Keep it simple: a favourite magazine + a mug + real chocolate (or someone’s favourite tea). That’s a great little way for a friend to spend an evening at home.

21. Spend time with them

Absolutely free. You can’t beat this gift. Shower first. Alcohol optional.

Spending time with friends is a great gift

22. Homemade cookbook

Find your favourite recipes on the internet (or ones you made up yourself), format them up real nice, print them out. Bind them in a nice cover. Voila, instant customised cookbook.

23. Towels

Random, but as we all know, towels are the most massively useful thing you can have. Discount stores like Big W and Kmart have cool towels that cost less than $10.

24. Relaxing soak

Don’t underestimate the power of an old favourite like Radox for melting cares away. Cheap is very cheerful in this instance.

25. Jar of Gratitude

A beautiful idea, from reader Lyn:

A few years ago I made a jar of thank yous for my parents, and that could easily be adapted to a Christmas gift.

I just typed all the things they’d done over the years that I was grateful for in point form on the computer, then printed the sheet out on coloured vellum.

From there I cut them into individual stripes and gently curled then before putting them into a glass jar that I’d decorated with ribbon.

I think you could just as easily do a Christmas memories jar, recalling all the silly/strange/memorable times from Christmases past.

Reckon they’ll know we got these Christmas gifts for under $10?

Feature image by Brigitte Tohm; Movie night image by S O C I A L . C U T; friends image by Misunderstood Whiskey

How to be someone others want to be around

How to be someone others want to be around

I’m writing this guide for my kids as they grow up and go out into the world — but it’s for anyone who wants to connect with others. To be a connected, fulfilled person, we have to be someone others want to be around.

I’m writing it for my teenage self, who was shy and awkward and self-conscious. I’m writing it as a reminder to my current self, who is still those things.

But I’ve been lucky enough to make a handful of good friends, awesome people who are sucking the juice out of life, who wake up every day with gratitude and energy. I’m lucky to have them, and it makes me reflect on what I’ve done right, and what they do all the time when making connections with people. What makes them someone others want to be around?

Here’s what I’ve learned. It’s not a comprehensive guide, nor will it work for everyone. I still hope it’s useful.

How to be someone others want to have around


Start at home: 100 fun, quirky, important ways to bond with your teen


How to be someone others want to be around

In my experience, people (generally) want to be friends with other people who follow these general guidelines:

1. Be positive, not negative

While it’s okay to share your struggles with people (in fact, I recommend it), if you’re complaining all the time, and are generally negative about other people and life in general, then people get tired of the complaining and negativity. We have enough trouble in life without having friends who are negative all the time. That said, a good friend will always listen when you’re in need, so don’t take this as “never complain.” Instead, just generally try to be a positive person, and if you have struggles, also try to show how you’re tackling those struggles with a positive outlook. Perhaps instead of wondering ‘how to someone others want to be around’, we should simply ask ourselves ‘how can I be a good person?’

Perhaps instead of wondering ‘how to someone others want to be around’, we should simply ask ourselves ‘how can I be a good person?’

2. Be interested and a good listener

Be interested in other people! Someone others want to be around doesn’t only talk about their own stuff, and they definitely aren’t bored and unimpressed with what other people are doing. I try to find the interesting in everyone, even if they lead a relatively uneventful life, there’s always something fascinating about them. When someone wants to talk, listen. If they only talk about themselves all day and don’t want to hear your stuff, then they probably aren’t going to be a great friend, but still give them a chance and be interested for as long as you can.

3. Be excited about life, have energy

We generally don’t want to hang out with someone who is bored all the time. Someone who is excited about life, interested in things, has good energy … that’s someone others want to be around. Not super hyper, necessarily, but just containing a positive energy.

Be someone others want to be around

4. Do interesting things

If you’re excited about life, you manifest that by doing new things, learning, creating, exploring, trying out new experiences, meeting new people. If you are this kind of person, you’ll be interesting. If you shut out life, people might not be as interested. 


Be interesting: 100+ engaging, non-cringe things for teens to do at home


5. Tell good stories

No one wants to listen to someone who tells long boring stories. After the first two such stories, people generally start tuning you out. So try to keep your stories shorter, unless you can tell people are interested. Find something interesting to hook their curiosity, and then draw them in with that curiosity until you satisfy it with a good ending. Practice your storytelling when you meet people, and try to get better at it. It’s not one of my strong points, to be honest, but I recognize that and am trying to be better.

6. Smile

I’m not saying you should have a fake smile, but a smile puts you in a friendly mood, versus frowning at someone. Don’t smile all the time, or at inappropriate times. Just generally have a smiling disposition, as it signals that you like the person (also try to genuinely like the person, moving away from tendencies to judge them or complain about them). If you’re feeling good on the inside, try to show it on the outside.

7. Put yourself out there

Be willing to try things, even scary or silly things. Sing in public even if that scares you. Try new food, new experiences, new ideas. This open-mindedness attracts others who are looking to get the most out of life.

While it’s great to have a lot of energy, people who are overly dramatic about little things can be a turn-off.

8. Be calm, not overly dramatic

While it’s great to have a lot of energy, people who are overly dramatic about little things can be a turn-off. So learn to react to most problems as if they’re not a big deal (because they usually aren’t), and handle them with calmness instead of overreacting.

9. Be authentic, don’t try to show off

All of the above recommendations might seem like I’m recommending that you be someone you’re not. I’m not recommending that at all. Instead, I want you to be an authentic version of yourself (there are lots of versions of ourselves) — but choose the version that is more likely going to make you someone others want to be around. If there is a positive and negative version of you, generally choose the positive version. But most importantly, don’t try to impress people all the time — if you’re confident in yourself, you don’t need to impress. Instead, be a genuine person, not just the “best you.” When this recommendation is in conflict with any of the above recommendations, choose this one.

10. Be happy with yourself and confident

This is just something that’s good to do for yourself. Be happy with who you are, even the flaws. If you are, you can be confident that you’re good enough when you meet someone else. People generally don’t respect someone who is always harsh on themselves. How can you learn to be happy with yourself? In general, become aware of any tendency to be harsh and critical of yourself, and don’t let yourself stew in those kinds of thoughts. Start to see the good in yourself, the genuine heart and caring nature, and let that be the story you tell yourself about yourself.

I don’t claim to be an expert at any of this, but this is what I believe to be true right now. I hope it helps, and if you find yourself lacking in any of these areas, see it not as confirmation that you suck, but as an exciting new area for you to explore and grow.

Do you reckon you’re someone others want to be around?

Feature image by Joseph Pearson; trio of girls by Priscilla Du Preez; line of teen boys by Matheus Ferrero 

Try Peaceful Parenting to help calm the farm

Try Peaceful Parenting to help calm the farm

There is no such thing as stress-free parenting. Peaceful parenting isn’t a place with no stress, but a place where you take the stress as it comes, in stride, and don’t let it rule you. You let it flow through you, and then smile, and breathe, and give your child a hug.

Parents will always have stress: we not only have to deal with tantrums and homework and refusing to eat anything you cook, but we worry about potential accidents, whether we are ruining our kids, whether our children will find happiness as adults and be able to provide for themselves and find love.

That said, I’ve learned that we can find peace.


Related: The end of the angry mum


 

There is a Way of Peaceful Parenting, but it isn’t one that I’ve learned completely. I’ll share what I’ve learned so far, with the caveat that I don’t always follow the Way, that I still make mistakes daily, that I still have a lot to learn, that I don’t claim to have all the answers as a parent.

The Way of Peaceful Parenting

The Way of Peaceful Parenting is only learned by walking it. Here are the steps I recommend:

Greet your child each morning with a smile, a hug, a loving Good Morning! This is how we would all like to be greeted each day.

Teach your child to make their own breakfast, get ready for school and be independent in the mornings.

Teaching these skills takes patience. Kids suck at them at first, so you have to show them about a hundred times, but let them try it, correct them, and let them make mistakes. They will gradually learn independence and you will gradually have less work to do caring for them.

Older children helping younger children

Older children can help younger children — it’s good for them to learn responsibility, it helps the younger children learn from the older ones, and it takes some of the stress off you.

Read to and with them often. It’s a wonderful way to bond, to educate, to explore imaginary worlds.


More on this: How to keep older kids reading


 

When your child asks for your attention, grant it.

Parents need alone time, though. Set certain traditions so that you’ll have time to work on your own, or have time with your partner in the evening, when your child can do things on their own.

When your child is upset, put yourself in their shoes. Don’t just judge the behavior (yes, carrying on and screaming isn’t ideal), but the needs behind the behaviour. Do they need a hug, or attention, or maybe they are just tired?

Model the behaviour you want your child to learn. Don’t yell at the child because they lost it. Don’t get angry at a child for losing their temper. Don’t get mad at a kid who wants to play video games all the time if you’re always on your laptop. Be calm, smile, be kind, go outdoors and be active.

Find the humour

When a stressful time arises (and it will), learn to deal with it with a smile. Make a joke, turn it into a game, laugh … you’ll teach your child not to take things so seriously, and that life is to be enjoyed. Breathe, walk away if you’ve lost your temper, and come back when you can smile.

When your child asks for your attention, grant it.

Let your child share your interests. Bake together. Sew together. Exercise together. Read together. Work on a website together. Write a blog together.

Know that when you screw up as a parent, everything will be fine. Forgive yourself. Apologise. Learn from that screw up. In other words, model the behaviour you’d like your child to learn whenever they screw up.

Boundaries are key

Patiently teach your child the boundaries of behaviour. There should be boundaries — what’s acceptable and what’s not. It’s not okay to do things that might harm yourself or others. We should treat each other with kindness and respect. Those aren’t things a child learns immediately, so have patience, but set the boundaries. Within those boundaries, allow lots of freedom.

Give your child some space. Parents too often over-schedule their child’s life, with classes and sports and music and clubs and the like, but it’s a constant source of stress for both child and parent to keep this schedule going. Let the child learn to hang out and make their own fun. Free time is necessary. You don’t always have to be by their side either — they need alone time just as much as you do.

Peaceful parenting is about giving your child space

Exercise to cope with stress. A run in solitude is a lovely thing. Get a massage now and then.

Be a peaceful parenting team

It helps tremendously to be a parenting team — one parent can take over when the other gets stressed. When one parent starts to lose his temper, the other should be a calming force.

Sing and dance together.

Take every opportunity to teach kindness and love. It’s the best lesson.

Kiss your child goodnight, no matter their age. And give thanks for another amazing day with your beautiful, unique, crazy child.

What does peaceful parenting mean to you?

Feature image by Gregory Hayes; Screen by Annie Spratt

Are you neglecting the most powerful act of self-care?

Are you neglecting the most powerful act of self-care?

Many of us are (rightfully) focused on taking care of our health, eating nourishing whole foods and trying to be active … while meditating and flossing and taking some time of disconnection, away from devices. These are each a wonderful act of self-care, and they are necessary and important.

But there’s one act of self-care that is very often neglected, and it might be even more important than all the others: the practice of loving yourself.

We should give ourselves at least eight doses of loving ourselves every day.

In fact, this is so often neglected that when I mention “loving yourself,” many people don’t know what that means. Many of us have never consciously done it. If we have, it’s so rare as to be a forgotten memory.

But it’s my belief that we should do it throughout the day, like trying to drink eight glasses of water. We should give ourselves at least eight doses of loving ourselves every day.

What is this self-love? Imagine pouring out love in your heart to someone you love dearly — what would that feel like? Now try doing the same thing for yourself. That’s self-love, and it’s a completely foreign concept for the vast majority of people.

Try this act of self-care


This one too: 5 ways to be kind to yourself


 

Why self-love is so important

I coach a number of people, 1-on-1 and in small and large groups — and pretty much everyone I meet is hard on themselves in some way. In some kind of stress and pain. Disappointed in themselves, angry at themselves, constantly feeling inadequate.

Do you relate to this? I think most of us can find a good chunk of this in ourselves.

This is the basic problem that most of us face, every single day: we don’t love big portions of ourselves.

This is the basic problem that most of us face, every single day: we don’t love big portions of ourselves. We beat ourselves up, all day long.

We stress out about uncertainty because we don’t think we’re good enough to deal with it. We don’t trust ourselves to stick to something, because we’ve formed a really bad picture of ourselves over the years. We get angry at ourselves for eating too much, drinking too much alcohol, messing up in a social situation, getting distracted and watching videos or playing video games, and so on and so on. We are harsh on ourselves, and don’t like how we look or who we are, in many ways.


Related: Self-care for parents: why a bubble bath just won’t cut it


 

Everything else isn’t enough

This affects everything in our lives. It makes us more stressed, less happy, more anxious, depressed, stuck, procrastinating, less happy in relationships, less focused, more likely to reach for comfort foods or distraction or shopping to comfort ourselves from the stress and pain of being who we are.

But if we could give ourselves love, it would start to heal all of this. Everything could shift. We could deal with uncertainty and chaos and difficulty in a much more resilient way.

Giving ourselves love is such an important act of self-care, and yet is rarely ever done.

How to embrace this powerful act of self-care

Set reminders for yourself, everywhere you go. Put reminders on your fridge, on your computer, on your phone, on your bathroom mirror, in your car, at your desk, near your TV. The reminders only need to be two words: “Love yourself.”


More on this: To be a good mum, you’ve got to raise yourself first


 

When you see the reminder, the act is very simple (even if it doesn’t feel natural to most people yet — give it time):

Pause and allow yourself to stay with any stress, pain, self-doubt, anger, frustration, anxiety you might be feeling. Let yourself actually feel it, physically in your body, for just a few moments. It’s OK to feel this.

Now give yourself the balm of love. As weird or silly as it feels, just try it. Imagine first that you are sending love to someone you love very much — your child, your parent, your best friend. Imagine them going through difficulty, and send love from your hear to theirs, hoping to make them better. Notice how that feels in your heart. Now try it for yourself, generating the same feeling in your heart, but sending it to yourself instead.

Feel the love as a healing balm. No matter how little you’re able to generate, feel it wash over your stress, pain, anger, doubt … like a thick, syrupy liquid soothing the pain. Let yourself receive this love like the love you’ve been craving.

It’s that simple. It only takes a few moments — feel your stress and pain, send yourself love, let yourself feel it. Do it eight times a day. Or a dozen, if you can.

You need this act of self-care. Don’t hold it back from yourself any longer.

Images by Allie Smith

10 things that will help your child decide ‘what to do with my life’

10 things that will help your child decide ‘what to do with my life’

I had a 15-year-old write to me and ask about figuring out ‘what to do with my life’.

She writes:

‘As a high school student I’m constantly being reminded to figure out what to do with my life, what career I would like to have and so on. I definitely feel huge amounts of pressure when my teachers and parents tell me to figure out something now. I’m young and I don’t want to make a mistake and ruin my future. I know what I like and what my interests are but when I read about a job related to those interests I always feel as if I wouldn’t enjoy it and I don’t know why.’

What an extremely tough thing to figure out: what to do with your future! Now, I can’t really tell this young woman what to do, as her parents might not like that very much. But I can share what I’ve learned looking back on my life, and what I would tell my kids (oldest is 21 and still figuring things out, but I also have 17- and 16-year-old boys and a 14-year-old girl).

Here’s what I’d say.

Instead of ‘what to do with my life’, ask HOW

1. Don’t focus on the future.

Even young people who have a plan (be a doctor, lawyer, research scientist, singer), don’t really know what will happen. If they have any certainty at all, they’re a bit deluded. Life doesn’t go according to plan, and while a few people might do exactly what they set out to do, you never know if you’re one of those.

Other things come along to change you, to change your opportunities, to change the world.

Other things come along to change you, to change your opportunities, to change the world. The jobs of working at Google, Amazon or Twitter, for example, didn’t exist when I was a teenager. Neither did the job of Zen Habits blogger.

So if you can’t figure out the future, what do you do? Don’t focus on the future. Focus on what you can do right now that will be good no matter what the future brings. Make stuff. Build stuff. Learn skills. Go on adventures. Make friends. These things will help in any future.

2. Learn to be comfortable with discomfort.

One of the most important skills you can develop is being okay with some discomfort. The best things in life are often hard, and if you shy away from difficulty and discomfort, you’ll miss out. You’ll live a life of safety.

Learning is hard. Building something great is hard. Writing a book is hard. A marriage is hard. Running an ultramarathon is hard. All are amazing.

If you get good at this, you can do anything. You can start a business, which you couldn’t if you’re afraid of discomfort, because starting a business is hard and uncomfortable.

Do things now that are uncomfortable and hard, on purpose. But start with small doses.

How do you get good at this? Do things now that are uncomfortable and hard, on purpose. But start with small doses. Try exercising for a little bit, even if it’s hard, but just start with a few minutes of it, and increase a minute every few days or so. Try writing a blog or meditating every day. When you find yourself avoiding discomfort, push yourself just a little bit more (within limits of reason and safety of course).

What to do with my life - may not be the right question

3. Learn to be good with uncertainty.

A related skill is thriving in uncertainty. Starting a business, for example, is an amazing thing to do … but if you’re afraid of uncertainty, you’ll skip it. You can’t know how things will turn out, so if you need to know how things will turn out, you’ll avoid great projects, businesses, opportunities.

But if you can be okay with not knowing, you’ll be open to many more possibilities.

If you’re good at discomfort and uncertainty, you could do all kinds of things: travel the world and live cheaply while blogging about it. Write a book, start a business, live in a foreign country and teach English. Learn to program and create your own software, take a job with a startup, create an online magazine with other good young writers, and much more. All of those would be awesome, but you have to be fine with discomfort and uncertainty in order to achieve them.

If any opportunities like these come along, you’ll be ready if you’ve practised these skills.

4. Overcome distraction and procrastination.

All of this is useless if you can’t overcome the universal problems of distraction and procrastination. You might seize an opportunity because you’re good at uncertainty and discomfort, but then not make the most of it because you’re too busy on social media and watching TV.

Actually, distraction and procrastination are just ways of avoiding discomfort, so if you get good at discomfort you’re way ahead of most people. But there are some things you can practice — read more here.

What to do with my life

5. Learn about your mind.

Most people don’t realise that fear controls them. They don’t notice when they run to distraction, or rationalise doing things they told themselves they wouldn’t do. It’s hard to change mental habits because you don’t always see what’s going on in your head.

If you are prepared, you can do anything you want.

Learn about how your mind works, and you’ll be much better at all of this. The best ways: meditation and blogging. With meditation (read how to do it) you watch your mind jumping around, running from discomfort, rationalising. With blogging, you are forced to reflect on what you’ve been doing in life and what you’ve learned from it. It’s a great tool for self-growth, and I recommend it to every young person.


Start with habits: A quick guide to creating good daily habits for kids


 

6. Make some money.

I don’t think money is that important, but making money is difficult. You have to make someone believe in you enough to hire you or buy your products/service, which means you have to figure out why you’re worthy of someone believing in you. You have to become worthy. And you have to learn to communicate that to people so they’ll want to buy or hire you. Whether you’re delivering pamphlets or selling your app in the Apple store or trying to get a job as a cashier, you have to do this.

++ 50+ jobs for teens that will benefit them for life ++

And you get better with practise.

I worked as a clerk at a bank and then a freelance sports writer when I was in high school, and those were valuable experiences for me.

Protip: save an emergency fund, then start investing your earnings and watch it grow over your lifetime.

7. Build something small.

Most people fritter their time away on things that don’t matter, like TV, video games, social media, reading news. A year of that and you have nothing to show for it. But if you did a sketch every day, or started writing a web app, or created a blog or a video channel that you update regularly, or started building a business … at the end of a year you’ll have something great. And some new skills. Something you can point to and say, “I built that.” Which most people can’t do.

Start small, and build it every day if possible. It’s like putting your money in investments: it grows in value over time.

'What to do with my life' may not be the right question

8. Be trustworthy.

When someone hires a young person, the biggest fear is that the young person is not trustworthy. That they’ll come in late and lie about it and miss deadlines. Someone who has established a reputation over the years might be much more trusted, and more likely to be hired. Learn to be trustworthy by showing up on time, doing your best on every task, being honest, admitting mistakes but fixing them, trying your best to meet deadlines, being a good person.

If you do that, you’ll build a reputation and people will recommend you to others, which is the best way to get a job or investor.

Take risks — that’s one of the advantages of being young.

9. Be ready for opportunities.

If you do all of the above, or at least most of it, you’ll be amazing. You’ll be way, way ahead of pretty much every other person your age. And opportunities will come your way, if you have your eyes open: job opportunities, a chance to build something with someone, an idea for a startup that you can build yourself, a new thing to learn and turn into a business, the chance to submit your new screenplay.

These opportunities might come along, and you have to be ready to seize them. Take risks — that’s one of the advantages of being young. And if none come along, create your own.

10. Be prepared.

The idea behind all of this is that you can’t know what you’re going to do with your life right now, because you don’t know who you’re going to be, what you’ll be able to do, what you’ll be passionate about, who you’ll meet, what opportunities will come up, or what the world will be like. But you do know this: if you are prepared, you can do anything you want.

Prepare yourself by learning about your mind, becoming trustworthy, building things, overcoming procrastination, getting good at discomfort and uncertainty.

You can put all this off and live a life of safety and boringness. Or you can start today, and see what life has to offer you.

Lastly, what do you do when your parents and teachers pressure you to figure things out? Tell them you’re going to be an entrepreneur, start your own business, and take over the world. If you prepare for that, you’ll actually be prepared for any career.

Does your kid know what they want to be?

Feature image by Elena Koycheva ; 2 by Riccardo Mion; 3 by Mael Balland;  4 by chuttersnap

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