Lessons to my 20 year old self

Recently, there are many similar articles floating about the internet that talks about the things that people wished they knew when they were at a certain age. There have been many variations; each is as interesting as the other. I thought I would do something similar as a means to look through my life when I reached 20 till now and to do some personal reflection and also discuss What-Went-Well.

A brief story about my Twenties

I celebrated my 20th birthday at the range during National Service. I was in 1 Guards then serving as an NSF. I ORDed in the same year and started working in a temp job doing data checking and earning $7 an hour. I entered NUS shortly after I turned 21 and studied in Electrical Engineering. During my 4 years in NUS, I started a tuition matching website and also attended a Great Eastern Entrepreneurship Course. I graduated at 25 with a Bachelor in Electrical Engineering (Hons) and starting working for the RSAF. It has been 3 years and I am currently 28.

What went well for me

  1. Placing emphasis on my studies. I studied really hard during the semesters but I studied smart too. Using various study methods, I was able to get a good honours which helped me in my career. The starting pay does differ between classes of honours, and you do get noticed and given “slightly” more opportunities to develop yourself. But of course,
  2. Doing something I was passionate about. I was passionate about web site design and development. I also wanted to build a “business” or “something” for myself. I combined the two to create a Tuition matching site where parents and tutors could meet. I gave it functionality that I thought would be useful and there were many users despite me not doing a single thing actively to promote the site. It was really fun watching something grow as a result of my own effort and I was really proud of myself. It was a sense of accomplishment upon completion and I learnt that we could never stop in innovating and improving. I was glad that I took the chance to do something I loved and it was something I never regretted doing. It also gave me something to speak about at job interviews which differentiated myself and the rest of the applicants. It was so exciting talking about the things I enjoyed doing that a particular interview stretched beyond an hour!
  3. Getting into something even when others would advise you not to. By this I meant learning about the insurance business. There is a lot of negative publicity on insurance agents, primarily because many people have been mis-sold in the past on insurance policies and that there was a lot of friendship that went in each deal and the ending of friendships after a while when people felt cheated for whatever reasons. There was a lot of warning flags, but my friend egged me to try it out and so I did. There was an Adam Khoo talk at the “recruitment”. The talk was a basis of getting interested people to join their Entrepreneurship program where you would learn more about the insurance business through lectures at Great Eastern and some short getaway to learn other interesting things. I was glad I joined even though I didn’t join as an insurance agent after the completion of the business. It widened my perspective on things and I learnt that there are always a chance that something is believed to be a certain way due to some misconception. It also allowed me to get started on my financial policies and my outlook on financial planning.

What I wished I did Earlier

  1. Financial Planning. Even though I got to learn about money, investment and insurance during university, I really wished I started a little earlier. There is plenty of time in University to do learning and to kick start my portfolio. There is definitely more time in school than at work!
  2. Picking up Soft Skills. As mentioned, you could still pack in many things in University and get fabulous results. I wished I started on my journey of self improvement much earlier. Imagine the things I could do with the power of mind mapping, for example. I might be able to study smarter and have more time to do other things that I loved!

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