At 27 years young what are the top 3 things you can do before you turn 30 to be able to say at 50 I have made it in life? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Kynan Eng, Tech startups & research: neuromorphic engineering, mobile big data, VR, on Quora:

The question can be rephrased more generally as follows:

I am young and in a critical period of setting up my life trajectory. What three things can I do in the next three years so that I can look back in satisfaction 20 years later?

The top three things will depend on one's life experience, but there are universal decisions that almost everyone faces sooner or later. I did the following things between the ages of 22 and 26, which seem to be working out OK so far. If nothing else, they have definitely stopped me from getting bored.

  1. Exile yourself. This isolation could mean moving to another city, another state, or another country. The more things that are different in your new environment, the more you will learn about yourself, and the more useful skills you will pick up as you try to survive. (In my case, it was moving half-way around the world, but still within nice cozy prosperous Western democracies).
  2. Start something you don't understand. The consequences of many decisions cannot be fully predicted or even imagined. Even if people tell you how it's going to turn out, you won't understand until you have done it yourself. Better to learn from an ill-informed decision than to not decide and never know. (In my case, I started a Ph.D. - not that I'm saying it was a bad idea).
  3. Think a lot about (a) what you would pay to do if you were rich, and (b) how to get paid for doing that. The emphasis is on the word "do" - just sitting on the beach doesn't count. But of course, you can do lots of that too. (In my case, I'm quite successfully avoiding the problem of having too much money.)

It might be interesting to note that every refugee does at least (1) and (2). The ones that are lucky enough to survive and prosper can truly say that they've made it.

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