What can people start doing now that will help them a lot in about five years? originally appeared on Quora -- the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.
Someone once asked, "What can people start doing now that will help them a lot in five years?"
Here's my list of seven things that can help you launch your life into greatness:
1. Learn to sell.
It's a shame they don't teach this skill in most colleges. Selling is one of the most universal skills you can learn and is hard to replace in an automated world. If I could have spent my four years in college differently, I would spend a lot more time learning how to sell by starting a business.
Want to get that scholarship? You'll have to sell your story. Want a promotion? You'll have to sell yourself internally. Want to start a business? You'll have to sell the idea to investors and to customers.
Learn to sell.
2. Learn to be a storyteller.
Speaking of selling, one of the best ways to do it is through storytelling.
Want to inspire someone?
If you tell them 10 ways to get more inspired, they'll probably tune you out. No one usually remembers more than just one or two of those bullet points. Work harder. Network more. Great, all tips I've heard from 1,000 other articles before!
If you tell them a story, though, they'll remember it. For example, one inspirational story I use is John Paul DeJoria's. He was sent to a foster home as a kid and eventually grew up to sell shampoo door to door with a $700 loan, all while living out of his car. This shampoo company is called John Paul Mitchell Systems, and annual sales now approach $900 million (according to Forbes). By the way, he also created Patron tequila and sells over two million cases a year. Feeling inspired now?
3. Just go -- go. Start. Now.
But what if my new Wi-Fi-enabled smart shoes don't end up taking off on Kickstarter? What will I do then?
I don't know. Probably another idea, I suppose. But it doesn't matter. Not yet at least. Not until you actually start.
People love to spend a lot of energy on what-ifs. I once spent a month wondering if I should start a T-shirt company with a friend. I became really concerned about managing inventory, the marketing message, the design, and our lack of experience.
Would it have worked out? I have no idea. Because I never started.
I really wish I had that month in my life back.
Don't overdo the planning. Start creating.
4. Learn to create habits.
How long does it take to create a habit?
In 2009, Phillippa Lally, a psychologist from University College London, and her research team published a study on how long it would take to form a habit.
The study involved 96 volunteers, and each of them had to choose a healthy behavior (such as eating, drinking, or exercise) that they wanted to make into a habit.
Twenty-seven chose an eating behavior, 34 chose exercise, 4 chose the "other" category (like meditation), and 31 chose drinking (don't worry, we're talking about water here, folks).
The results? On average, it takes about 66 days to form a new habit.
So what can we take away from this?
Give it time -- how many times have you tried that morning routine and given up after only a few days? We've all been there. Make sure you give yourself enough time to really turn it into a new habit. Understand that it's a journey. It won't happen overnight.
Don't worry about making a mistake -- yes, you'll probably forget to do the habit once or twice. Don't panic. Slip-ups happen. We're human. What's important is that you need to get back on track. Go make it happen!
5. Always eat with someone.
Everyone has to eat. Why spend that time all by yourself when you could get to know someone or strengthen an existing relationship? Reach out to an old friend, family member, co-worker, client, or your loved one. During the workweek, I always try to book a lunch meeting with a client or an old friend. If that doesn't happen, I definitely make sure I grab a bite with a co-worker.
I get it, sometimes you'll need alone time. Take those days for yourself when you need to.
But the other days when you're feeling social, don't be shy and grab a bite with someone.
6. Be insanely curious.
When Richard Branson first started Virgin Airlines, he knew nothing about starting an airline.
In fact, Branson came up with the idea for Virgin Airlines during a flight to the Virgin Islands. Unfortunately, that flight was canceled. He said, "Well, I had a pretty girl waiting for me and so [I] was pretty adamant to get there that night."
So instead of waiting around for the next flight, Branson began calling around for a charter plane. After ordering the plane, he wrote "$29" and "Virgin Airlines" and he sold off the rest of the seats to buy the charter plane.
Branson said, "I knew nothing about air travel, but as I'd flown back and forth from Britain to the United States on business for Virgin Records, I'd become convinced that there had to be a better way. The prices were high and the service was dreadful."
This intense curiosity on how to create an amazing flying experience led him to Virgin Atlantic.
"Replace the fear of the unknown with curiosity." --Penelope Ward
7. Learn to enjoy the moment.
"If you're always racing to the next moment, what happens to the one you're in?"
When I first moved to San Francisco for my first real job at Cisco, one of my co-workers (we'll call him Stan) took me under his wing. He would introduce me to his group of friends in the city, give me career advice, and would always encourage me to challenge the status quo. Most of all he taught me the importance of enjoying life to the fullest. He was a mentor and a brother to me. We became really close after a few years.
When I left for a job with more responsibility and better pay, I became completely consumed by work. I began to neglect our friendship. I barely hung out with him. There would be a sporadic Facebook message here and there, but that was it. I had changed. All that mattered was getting the next raise. The big title. The responsibility. The recognition.
One day, about eight years later, I received a text. It was a message from one of my good friends, Andrew (name changed). What I read next crushed my world.
Stan had been diagnosed with cancer. Things were not looking good.
I called him -- many times -- but he would never take my call. I left voice mails telling him that I was here to support him and that I would do anything I could to help. I later learned he never wanted me to carry the burden of worry and grief.
A few years ago, I was incredibly sad to hear that we lost him to cancer. The day I went to his funeral was one of the saddest and hardest days of my life.
I made a promise to myself that day that I would do everything I could to help do what Stan did for me: to bring a smile to people's faces. To appreciate life. To enjoy the moment.
So take a moment and enjoy it. You'll be better for it.
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