Since I graduated from high school more than 40 years ago, a lot has changed. I’m older, wiser, richer, and a lot more successful than I used to be.
I’ve built a business worth many millions of dollars and am the CEO of seven privately owned businesses. But you can always get better, even at 61 years old. To do this, it’s important to recognize and learn from past mistakes.
When I look back on my 20s, I see that I didn’t know much about money. I spent what little money I had on useless things that did nothing for me. Here are the four things I wish I hadn’t spent time or money on:
1. Drugs and alcohol: If I could go back in time, I’d tell my younger self, “Your education doesn’t end after college.” I became obsessed with all the wrong things after I graduated from high school. I used money to buy drugs and alcohol, and I even became addicted. I should have spent that money on things that would have helped me learn new skills, get more information, and meet important people.
In the real world, a high school diploma is useless, and a college degree won’t get you very far if you don’t have the skills to keep up with the market. Investing in yourself will only make you more valuable and help you make more money. I didn’t know any of this until after the fact.
At age 25, I spent my last $3,000 on an audio program that taught me about sales and how to close deals. I can say for sure that my success today is due to the money I put in and my decision to go “all in.”
2. Traveling:—- I agree with Kevin O’Leary that taking a gap year to travel is not a good idea. Early on in my business career, I took so much time off that it almost put me out of business. I also paid for flights, hotels, and food with money I didn’t have.
A lot of millennials are in the same situation right now. They want to go on a trip because their jobs don’t give them anything to do. They think that taking a break will help them find “something” missing in their careers. It’s easy to put your life on hold, go backpacking, stay in hostels, and eat ramen when you don’t know what to do.
I’m not saying that you can never take a break. Today, I can fly anywhere in the world because I finally decided to put in the hard work. If you’re really focused on your goal, you’ll realize that your travel plans can wait. The enemy of plenty is comfort. Don’t let an $800 plane ticket to Europe stop you from being free.
3. Sleeping in:— When you’re young, it’s easy to be lazy and not feel guilty about it. But guess what? The rich and successful get a good night’s rest, but they don’t sleep in. Let everyone else in their 20s sleep like they’re rich. You should be up at the crack of dawn.
One of my biggest regrets was not taking advantage of all the hours in a day. I allowed myself to feel content when I should have been mapping out my goals and figuring out how to achieve them. Had I realized my full potential in my 20s, I would have reached my first million a lot sooner.
Let everyone else in their 20s sleep like they’re rich. You should be up at the crack of dawn. Speed is power, and when you’re young, patience is not a virtue. Today’s marketplace is changing at the speed of light, so you need to be nimble to get ahead.
4. Being too comfortable in my jobs: I wasted half of my 20s working low-paying jobs that didn’t challenge me to grow and develop valuable skills. I’m not saying low-paying jobs are wrong; sometimes you have to start at a lower salary. But being content and without any drive won’t make you successful in life.
I used to work at McDonald’s, making $7 an hour. For me, it was simply a way to make money. But for the guy working next to me, it was a way to learn the business and one day open 100 franchises. The “why” is important. I didn’t know “why,” so I was wasting my time. My co-worker wasn’t.
You should constantly be asking yourself, How can I earn more money? It might mean asking for a raise, switching to a new job with a higher salary, or taking on a side hustle. Be a money fanatic. The acceptance of the idea that eight hours invested in your job are enough regardless of your financial situation is a misunderstanding of epic proportions.
Grant Cardone is the best-selling author of “The 10X Rule” and CEO of seven privately held companies. He goes all over the world giving advice on how to grow businesses to Fortune 500 companies, small business owners, new businesses, and governments. In 2017, he was included in Forbes’ list of 25 Marketing Influencers to Watch.