If I could go back to my 20s, there are three things I would do very differently.
First, I would focus much more on my health, in particular sleep and exercise. I slept five hours a night for most of my 20s and I'm paying the price now. And I didn't start exercising until I was 35. So I would tell my 20-year-old self to take much more care of his body.
The second thing I would change is, I would've invested more in my relationships. I would've spent more time with my friends and family. I didn't attend most of my classmates' weddings because I was working so much. I didn't see much of my brother because we were both running around building our careers in different cities. The idea of taking time to hang out with people seemed like luxury. Now, looking back, I regret the time that I lost with them. If I could do over again, I would be much more intentional with my relationships.
The third thing is, if you see a megatrend, you should jump on it. In my case, even from my vantage in India, I was an early believer in the internet and the power of software, but I only came to the Valley in 2000. What I would my younger self is, he should've come to Silicon Valley in 1992 right after graduating from IIT. Because when you feel like there's a clear opportunity, you should be willing to take the risk. There are times when it makes sense to jump off the edge of a cliff, and when it's one of those times, you should just do it. Be more willing to take risks is my biggest advice to past me. What I didn't realize in my 20s--but I ask myself now--is "What's the worst that can happen?" If you're not going to die, take the risk.
As a bonus, my career advice for any 20-year old now is, spend your 20s acquiring the following core skills:
- Problem solving
- Project management
Independent of what you do, whether you're an engineer or sales person, these skills will be critical to the rest of your professional life. The easy way to pick them up is to go work for organizations like McKinsey and Google, which have good structures, practices, training in place to help you acquire those skills. Even more importantly, find exceptionally good mentors to learn them from. You don't have to learn from just one person, since you'll probably have a few jobs in your 20s. in your 20s. But find a couple of good anchor stints (of 2-3 years) with great people who will teach you how to be a professional.
This question originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter and Facebook. More questions: