Things I Learned This Year

One of my assignments for this week was to put together a blog post about all the things I’ve learned in the last year. It was surprisingly difficult to remember everything I did and learned over a full 12 months, which makes me think I should do this more often. I probably learn so many lessons every day, but I likely retain so little of it. It ended up being a fun project, though, and I wanted to share what I ended up putting together for my assignment with all of you. Maybe you will learn something from it too!

1. We make our own luck

There are some things where this isn’t true. For example, somebody randomly buying a lottery ticket and randomly hitting the jackpot. That was probably pure luck and that person didn’t really make their own luck.

Outside of that, however, almost everything is an expected value calculation. The more auditions an actor goes to and the more he trains to improve and the more he tries to meet industry veterans, the more likely he will be to get a “lucky” opportunity come his way.

I have had friends who complain that their friend was so “lucky” because she was referred into a job by somebody she had met at a networking party. He had gone to the same networking party and is still jobless. What he failed to mention, however, is that she had gone to dozens of networking parties with no results, but practicing how to meet people. Did she get “lucky” when she found the right person that gave her a big opportunity? Yes. But she also created that luck. My friend had gone to only 1 networking event. She had a 10x better chance of getting lucky than he did.

This happened to me earlier this year too. I recently got into writing poetry. I joined a club with a group of my friends and we all decided to share some poetry online and see if we could piggy back off of Rupi Kaur’s success. I mean if she could do it with pretty easy phrases, how hard could it be? No disrespect to Rupi though. I loved Milk and Honey. We all decided to post Instagram poetry. Out of our 3 person group, however, I was the only one who decided to go a bit further. I looked into the poetry community and found other amazing places to post as well like Commaful, Tumblr, and Medium. Of our group, I was the only one who posted on all 4 sites, cross-promoting between them. Interestingly enough, my work caught the eye of one of the influencers on a different site. From a shoutout by that influencer, my following on every site skyrocketed. I sure got lucky, but that luck came from going the extra mile.

2. Read the fine print and pay close attention to your finances

Personal finance should be taught within schools. I was lucky to be pretty good at math, but if it weren’t for that, I’d be in a world of trouble. I have an Aspire Student Loan and was not so good at factoring it into my budgeting. When I was told my yearly salary, I just divided it by 12 and subtracted rent. That was my spending money for the month. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was totally wrong.

There are taxes at the whazoo. And then after taxes, I have to pay off my student loans. And boy….does it take a long time to pay those student loans back. And then after that, I’m supposed to save up for retirement? How the heck is that possible?

I decided to spend the weekend really digging into the terms of my loans and looking into the meaning of my credit scores and credit cards.

Turns out, I was losing out on a bunch of money long term by not paying out my student loans faster and not paying off my credit cards quickly.

My financial learnings could be literally this entire article, but to make a long story short, I have increased my loan payments and set aside some money for saving and investing, which I plan to do through Wealthfront or Robinhood.

3. Always have goals

For the last 3 years, I’ve just been getting through classes. Doing what showed up in front of me. If I got homework. I’d do the homework. I was reactive. This was the first year where I was proactive rather than reactive. I set goals for myself and created plans to reach them. I made a dream board and a Trello board to make clearly daily tasks to help me reach those goals.

The difference is huge. I am much happier and have made huge amounts of progress for my career and future. I have met incredible people and a lot of things I thought weren’t possible have become possible.