Life, Goals & Achievements! Things I Wish I Knew Before I Turned Twenty-Five

Looking back at the years since I left the University, I ask myself if I have achieved much. The answer is YES. Have I achieved the goal I set out for myself at my present age? The answer is NO. Am I getting there? Maybe. I am still at the bottom of the ladder looking up and definitely climbing fast.
But I know for certain that there are a few things I wish I knew years ago. Perhaps, I would have achieved more than I have.
So, here are my 7 things I wish I knew before I turned 25:

1. People are Willing to Help: People are more willing to help than you think; all you need to do is ask. This is very true, but fear of being turned down or lack of confidence in yourself would stop you from asking most times. I recently embarked on a project and while on it, I realised I needed help from people who are more experienced than I am. So I wrote a short list of the people I thought would help me achieve my goals. That was on paper. When it came to asking I developed cold feet.

“Why would they want to help? I don’t have anything to give in return. Why should they trust that I would not bug them to death?” All these questions ran through my mind before I asked myself a critical question: “What’s the worst that could happen?”
As long as I don’t end up dead, arrested or broke, I figured I didn’t have much to lose. I finally sent the e-mails and made the calls. The result? All of them agreed to help out and they were quite happy to. What did I do to get them to agree? Not much. I managed to convince them by showing a proof of my work and I promised not to be a pest.

2. You Will be Disappointed by People and your Own Expectation of yourself: It’s only a phase. I have been disappointed many times by my expectation of myself and by people who are close to me. During those periods, I would withdraw and refuse to talk to anyone. But it took time and a healthy dose of self-confidence to assure myself that things don’t always have to go the way I planned. If they did, life would be perfect and I would get bored quickly, wouldn’t you? Disappointments are a part of life that should be faced with courage. Did you fail at entrepreneurship? Give it time and start again. Did you receive a mail stating that you are not qualified for that job? Give it time and start applying again. It does not matter that your friends laugh at you behind your back; it doesn’t matter that your parents look at you with pity. Those too will pass away. The greatest disappointment is not failure; it’s not getting back up when you fail.

3.The First Salary You Negotiate Will Set the Pace For Subsequent Ones: When you are out of the University and done with your NYSC(in Nigeria), the world appears to be practically at your feet, but hold on…not yet. While your first job may not determine what career you will pursue subsequently, your salary may determine the subsequent salaries you will receive. Except you are extremely lucky. Even your talent may not save you. It is important that when negotiating your salary, you do not come across as naïve and timid. Try as much as possible to volunteer or intern in an outfit you would like to work in while you have the time so that you appear at an interview with the knowledge and experience that will carry you through to the next level. Remember I said: knowledge and experience.

4. If You are a Straight-A Student, People will Try to Decide the Direction of Your Life: Remember that everybody is entitled to their own opinions, you don’t have to follow their advice. This is so common in most Nigerian homes. If you ace your papers, everyone will decide you need to become a doctor, an engineer, a lawyer, etc. These are good professions to practise, but not necessarily the profession for you. If you have something else that stirs your passion, your family will become your biggest enemy for a while. But in the end, your passion will always fall through and when it does, you want to start early to run your race. The earlier, the better.

5. You are the Only One Who Can See Your Vision: Don’t blame others for not understanding. You can’t count on everyone to support your dreams. Forget it. Some may try to dissuade you with the best intentions; others may do so just to watch you fail. Only few will really be supportive enough to push you further to achieve your goals. And when you find those few, stick to them like glue.
6. Don’t Bother Competing with Anybody: It’s exhausting. Only compete with yourself. She just got a job that pays her millions monthly and she was your secondary school class mate. He just bought a new car and both of you graduated from the same set in the University. So what? Before you give yourself a heart attack for no good reason, you need to slow down and re-evaluate. The only person you should be competing with is yourself 1 year ago, 2 years ago, and so on. How much have you achieved compared with what you did a year ago? If there is no difference, I officially give you the permission to worry.

7. There’s No Rush in Life: Take your risks at the right time and finally, at every stage in life, you will face the opportunity to take risks. The older you become, the more responsibilities you will have and the greater your risks. In other words, take your risks at the right time and don’t keep postponing them. It’s always best to make your mistakes early so you can rectify them.

At the end of the day, decide where you want to pitch your tent and pitch the biggest tent you can find.

Happy Living!

Photo Credit: madamenoire.com
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Ifesinachi Okoli-Okpagu is a writer and marketing consultant. She is also the editor of Fabulous-city.com, an online brand expression to motivate women to be the best they can be. You can follow her on Twitter: @ifesinachio_o or send her a mail on ifesinachi.okpagu@yahoo.co.uk.

76 Comments on Life, Goals & Achievements! Things I Wish I Knew Before I Turned Twenty-Five
  • Biola February 20, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    this is so true……

  • Brittany February 20, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    well said

    • Rukky February 22, 2013 at 2:01 am

      Took the words right out of my mouth! Thank you for this column BN and Ifesinachi .

  • Sue February 20, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    6. Don’t Bother Competing with Anybody: Life is not a race!

    • Lani February 20, 2013 at 7:38 pm

      Thank you Sue I needed to read this again. Since the start of this year my prayer has been for God to teach me contentment. I have two undergraduate degrees and I am currently doing a masters. All my friends are working and many have really good jobs. Its so easy to get jealous and feel discontented with my life. I just remind myself that its not a competition. We all have different destinies and I am getting to mine. Life is indeed a race! But we are all running different races on different tracks.

      • Mosun February 25, 2013 at 1:05 pm

        Honey, life is not a race. we just all choose to run. just do your best and leave the rest. that’s what i believe

    • nene February 20, 2013 at 8:57 pm

      GBAM! Competition spirit in Nigeria is causing trouble. NSOGBU DIKWA!

    • bafy March 7, 2013 at 2:42 pm

      It is! A long distance race though.

  • dealjw February 20, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    I have a problem choosing a career path. I am currently a pre-med student in the US(straight- A student) but recently, I noticed that I am not in love with this profession. I would like to major in political/ international relations. My parent are trying to lure me into engineering, finance, and information technology. They claim that with a political/international relations degree I would be jobless in Nigeria. Am stuck and I do not know what to do.

    • Peace February 20, 2013 at 5:49 pm

      and you would be jobless in AMerica with the economy as it is now…at least get an education in a field that would secure you financially, and then you can think of doing stuff that makes you happy

    • Life February 20, 2013 at 6:01 pm

      Better do what makes you happy. Pray to God and ask for guidance. Sometimes parents just want they can use to show off to their friends. Don’t let them control you too much.

    • Partyrider February 20, 2013 at 7:53 pm

      My dear friend,Passion is key. Like the writer said family will be your biggest enemy when you want to go a different way from theirs,but in the long run your happiness is what should be most important to you. Live life on your own terms.
      You find people who earn millions a month but are not happy with their job,the irony you wonder.do what makes you happy,that’s one step in living a fulfilled life.
      And pray about it!

    • X February 20, 2013 at 9:02 pm

      Please go into politics/international relations, if thats what you love. There is so much opportunity in that field. My only recommendation is that you do internship and get involved in related activities outdid of the classroom. I would also strongly consider picking up another language like French or Spanish. Don’t be discouraged! There is so much opportunity in the world, and you can create one for yourself. Look up people like China Okasi. Creativity is the key. By the way, I’m a medical student in the US, and I love medicine with my whole being, but this journey is not easy and it is expensive too. You don’t want to be someone who ends up dropping out of medical school because you are not motivated (this happens!!)

    • beeess February 20, 2013 at 9:11 pm

      I Feel you…My mum tried to get me to go into medicine, when I am not good in science or math classes..I did my undergraduate degree in Government and Public Policy and now I am currently doing my Masters in International Commerce and Policy. I can’t say the grass has been green through out but the grass has been green where I have watered it. I dabbled in several types of internships, paid, unpaid, contracted positions, work with your professors too to get research experience, they will hook you up with their contacts. In this America ehn, it is not what you know oh! It is also who you know…Follow your heart but at the same time, know that you will have to work HARD to obtain your dreams…O tan!

    • sedkt February 21, 2013 at 2:57 pm

      Dear oh dear, do not make the mistake. Take a break from all the studying possibly a gap year or some months off studying to re-evaluate things. talk to your parents and discuss those things you have always loved doing since childhood. Pray about this seriously. I have come accross several people like you, who are good at every subject. This is a good problem, however it could lead to confusion. Please sort this out now, as I personally know of people in their forties, who still do not know where they are going!

  • linda enwerem February 20, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    its so motivating, tx ma’am!!

  • cynthia February 20, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    i like

  • dont mention February 20, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    i am 25 right now u just made me feel bad bc while all that u say is so very true, u hav made me reexamine the life which i know all too well that it is not where i want it to be. i am def not competing with anybody but i sure hope that God can set me on my path i have chosen for me once and for all. but its never too late, so i will incorporate all you have said going forward and i hope to be a success in my own right, not the standards of the wolrd
    vikkycreed.blogspot.com

  • neon February 20, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    people will try to decide the direction of your life – - this right her is the story of my life, i started out interning at an investment bank, moved to lagos 2years after and naturally joined an investment bank, i kept thinking im not sure this is what i want to do, but as i rose up the ranks, i got power hungry (i always say investment banking is like an evil spirit sometimes), i wanted more. 5 years in, i said i wanted to try something else, everywhere i sent my cv too offered me yet another portfolio management or corp finance position, 10 years later i realised i actually hated investment banking, but with 10yrs worth of solid experience on my cv, all i get is still investment banking jobs. fedup.com

  • ehi February 20, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    LOVE! Such an inspiring message. I needed this. Thank you :)

  • skinnygirl February 20, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    “Looking back at the years since I left the University, I ask myself if I have achieved much. The answer is YES. Have I achieved the goal I set out for myself at my present age? The answer is NO. Am I getting there? Maybe. I am still at the bottom of the ladder looking up…” This is so me… Not so sure about climbing fast. Learnt a few things… Thank you.

  • sedkt February 20, 2013 at 5:49 pm

    Seriously under 25! Wishing to have known all this. when did you even escape from your parents’ armpit, let’s say age 18 or 21. Please permit me, experience and most especially FAILURE is the greatest teacher. To all my under 25′s out there please chillax, get your nose bloodied and knees scraped. Get on your feet and keep trudging…………

  • AWEsome February 20, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    Wow great read! Am 21 and @ crossroads. This is one article I am jotting down. Thank you. Sometimes I read all these and get so inspired but forget to apply when I really need to. By 25 I hope to write to BN to share my success story and I pray you all will too. God bless you all.

  • Dee February 20, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    It is nicely crafted but remember the unemployment rate..I have people who left school 10 yrs ago that don’t have a job.it is well..May God help the youth..despite the people doing their own gig ,do u know how many people that can’t make headway.This is the reason why churches are so full not because of actual love of God.The most important thing is o hold on to your deem and trust in God.

    • Ready February 27, 2013 at 10:47 am

      But there are jobs out here! Check the papers everyday; investigate how much some people are getting paid…employers will pay for great minds. In my opinion, if a person is qualified and willing to go across borders, while jobs don’t abound, there is no reason for being jobless for 10 years. Underemployment though is another matter.

  • sj February 20, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    THANK YOU SOOO MUCH! I am Currently at university studying Law and i Just needed these wise words.
    Bless You

  • Myne Whitman February 20, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    So true!

  • Ugah Jacqueline Ezinne February 20, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    This post just echoed my thoughts. Following through with a dream or passion is no child’s play. You need commitment and hard work to take you there. Sometimes you may even have to go it alone(sad but true). The voices of others both well-meaning people and people of bad will may threaten to drown out your own voice. Staying on course and sticking to it will require courage and discipline. Above all, it’s important to always stay true to yourself. I’m hitting 25 in a number of months. Am I where I hoped I’d be? Not really, but I’ve achieved any milestones? Oh most definitely. The hustle continues.

    • Banke February 20, 2013 at 7:15 pm

      Your words are so inspiring. I’m 21 and I hope that by 25 I can look back and smile at how far I’ve come in achieving my goals and dream. It’s really hard when nobody shares your dream or goal with you not to even talk of encouraging you. One thing I know is for sure I have a HUGE DREAM which can be achieved with hard work and persistence. I pray that God helps us all walk our path.

  • deetz February 20, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    very well spoken, its something i can read each and everyday to remind myself that true happiness comes from within. I love the message about the career too because i’m a high student is also very confuse in what i wish to major in college. Btw, the model is everything, she is beautiful !

  • Tarisha February 20, 2013 at 6:58 pm

    This really inspired me. Thank you Ifesinachi

  • Toyin February 20, 2013 at 7:30 pm

    Very inspiring, just a reminder again of what I’m already thinking. I have to say, that model in the pic is STUNNING. Does anyone know her name? My brother saw it too, and he wants to know.

  • x factor February 20, 2013 at 7:39 pm

    Insightful……weldone Ifesinachi Okoli-Okpagu

  • Partyrider February 20, 2013 at 7:58 pm

    great post..

  • @ajiriavae February 20, 2013 at 8:46 pm

    Your biggest cheerleader must be yourself. You can’t allow yourself be discouraged because you don’t have anyone to ‘encourage’ you. What if nobody does? Does that mean you will not chase your dream?
    ajiristyle.blogspot.com/

  • Ada February 20, 2013 at 8:49 pm

    So in line with my own life…great write-up, thank you!

    adainprogress.blogspot.com

  • Lol February 20, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    Thank you jare..I have forcing myself to come out of the shell I’ve been hiding in to talk to people.Even just calling people to check up on them could pave a way for someone.You just need to start one day.I used to assume a lot of things but I am now learning to ask (which is different from ‘beg’) and it’s so amazing to see how valuable some people can be .

  • Lol February 20, 2013 at 10:25 pm

    ‘Have been forcing’

  • Tutu February 20, 2013 at 11:13 pm

    Wow…this is very well spoken. It resonates very well with life experiences. Particularly, I think that straight-A students have to be also careful about expectations from family after graduation…they always expect a blue chip company job even though one might not be interested in sedentary work life. Very nice write up!

  • Healtipsandfitness.com February 20, 2013 at 11:46 pm

    well said. cant say it better

    healthtipsandfitness.com/

  • xoxo February 20, 2013 at 11:56 pm

    Loveeeeeee every bit of this article, I so needed this. Keep it up girl

  • NNENNE February 21, 2013 at 3:00 am

    Great article! I like.

  • Just sayin.. February 21, 2013 at 5:01 am

    Hey dealjw im currently in the same predicament. im also a pre-med student in the U.S and my parents swear that im meant to be a doctor..im trying to fall in love with this field but so far it has’t happened. My true passion is to study dietetics. For now, my advice is to stick to pre-med and get your degree then pursue your passion. That way you have more than one option if one field doesn’t work out. Also, ask God for guidance which is what im currently doing, only God can see the future..you never know, one day, that pre-med degree might just open doors.

  • michael February 21, 2013 at 6:25 am

    i love it. 2 &6

  • Fashionable Babe February 21, 2013 at 8:03 am

    Thanks Dearie! You just spoke my mind. More Grease to your Elbow.

  • nnenne February 21, 2013 at 8:36 am

    well said. nice!

  • Temitope Adewoye February 21, 2013 at 9:16 am

    Thanks for this article, I turned 22 today and I think d article is timely…I am Not competing with anyone and following my dreams and working out my goals is a priority…Yes there might be hurdles along the journey but I choose to enjoy the process and have fun while @ it.

    jeenager.com

  • Gold February 21, 2013 at 9:36 am

    I LOVE THIS!!

  • Stella Kashmoney February 21, 2013 at 9:55 am

    Lovely article. Spot on. I wish I knew all these things.

  • Ademoore February 21, 2013 at 10:51 am

    Nice one Ify.. I know for certain you have achieved a lot since you left school.. I’m inspired.

  • IJEOMA February 21, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    FANTASTIC MOTIVATIONAL TIPS

  • PH Boy February 21, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    More people should write about this. Fact is that most people, especially those close to graduation do not know what the world has in store; outside the school. People should know, so they don’t get disappointed easily. I was lucky that I had folks and older friends that prepared me in advance. Three things that have always stuck at the back of my head are; (1) There is time for everything (2) Hard work and perseverance always pays (3) Do not ever despair; because God shall never abandon you. One should never show fear before others and always speak up; no matter what.
    It’s been quite a journey so far and over time; I have come from four digits to eight digits; from trekking to driving; from ABC to Arik; from tenant to landlord; from indomie to buffets e.t.c. This takes a little time, patience, hard work and the grace of God. I know I shall achieve all the goals I set out for myself; probably not as per my calendar but in due time. The journey not only strengthens you but teaches you the greatest lesson of all……Life.
    Exert yourself totally in whatever you do and the rest as they say is history.

  • Beauty February 21, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    Thank you, very educative!

  • Lizzie February 21, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    This is a great piece. So relatable.

  • bewise February 21, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    Do not get involve in any major that would not get you a job. The reality outside of school is harsh.check the statistics of job prospects and current job market before you embark in a course of study. The love of whatever you studied will never pay any bill. A salary earned from a job that requires a skill set in demand will do. You might be surprised by the things you will be willing to do for money in desperate times. And if you just cannot find anything you like among the fields that actually will get you a job upon graduation, at least target a man that will support you. Ultimately, get internship experience. The gap between the reality out there and the info you are fed while on campus can be so wide, you would think you have been living out of this world.

    • igbo canadian February 22, 2013 at 3:48 am

      I support this statement to an extent. Get into a major with good job prospects and then from the earnings of that job fund your dream job.

    • zsa zsa February 22, 2013 at 6:31 am

      “target a man that will support you”…..what?!?!….”target?”…i’m just speechless.

      • lala February 22, 2013 at 7:25 am

        naija babes…smh

  • Queenhannah February 22, 2013 at 3:31 am

    Thank you girl for this piece. You hit the nail in the head and i am inspired.

  • Brigitta February 22, 2013 at 9:08 am

    Wonderful! thank u for this…came at the right time

  • Foluke February 22, 2013 at 9:42 am

    Great article!

  • koch February 22, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    i ll be 23 in couple of months and i just left the university i am waiting for service but currently i am following my passion with parental backing.one thing i have learnt is that the knowledge u need to make it in the real world is never taught within the walls of the school!

  • HOPE February 22, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    GREAT WRITE UP.I WOULD LIKE TO SAY STUDY HARD, WORK HARD AND PRAY HARD.
    GOD, USES SITUATIONS TO PULL US TO HIM , AND THEN WE FIND OUT HE IS GOOD AND WE STAY WITH HIM.ALSO REMEMBER ,THE WORLD HAS ALWAYS EXPERIENCED FAMINE.RIGHT FROM BIBLE DAYS.i.e FAMINE WITH FOOD.IN OUR DAYS IT IS LIKE GOOD JOBS ARE SCARCE. BUT REMEMBER ISAAC. HE SOWED IN THE TIME OF FAMINE AND HE REAPED A GREAT HARVEST.DO YOUR SOWING WHICH INCLUDES STUDYING ,PRAYING,RELATING WITH FOLKS WHO ARE OLDER AND HAVE MADE IT.ALSO LEARNING ON YOUR JOB.VERY SOON GOD WILL CAUSE YOU TO REAP A GREAT HARVEST. DON’T LET THE STATISTICS OF THE UNEMPLOYED WEIGH YOU DOWN.PEACE.

  • ada February 22, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    This is wonderful. I find your write up very inspiring. This is very practical. Thanks

  • sweet fancy February 22, 2013 at 11:30 pm

    God bless BN and Ifesinachi, i make enough money but was at the point of almost giving up on my dream and concentrating on the money, now i feel so encouraged.

  • Pauline~_~ February 22, 2013 at 11:39 pm

    Aww! I love this piece… “people are willing to help; all you need to do is ask”. I am 21 and still in college. I know I actually have problem with asking people for help, my reason “I don’t want to be indebted to anyone”. Thanks for letting me in on that one.

  • Dammie February 22, 2013 at 11:41 pm

    Gosh…….I find the article very inspiring…..more inspiring are the comments….it feels so great to know we do have so many wonderful, sensible and focused peeps out there. God bless us all and lead us into our promise land…..:) Cheers everyone!

  • Sadiq Daniel February 23, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    Great Post i must confess. I wanna add one more thing and that is “Revisting Your Strategies” the fact that the goals you set for yourself is not working out the way you want them to doesnt mean you should abandon them. Instead alter the path you are treding. you can check out this post to read more…….
    How 5 Stones Made History http://tinyurl.com/au9onz9

  • December9designs February 23, 2013 at 11:33 pm

    thanks for this wonderful and inspiring article

  • Oresiaa February 25, 2013 at 9:04 am

    This is a fantastic article.
    A lot of people get caught up in self pity if they don’t achieve their goals.
    The road to success is never that easy, you’d would have to go through various obstacle.
    So at the end of it all it was worth your while.

  • Tsarah! February 25, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    I feel so privileged to be among the under 25′s getting this information! God bless Ifesinachi!

  • doll February 27, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    my own two cents is: study anything you like even if it is yoruba….
    Just make a first class or 2:1

    your bsc doesn’t necessarily shape you, your first job does…the likes of kpmg, pwc, accenture (i am an alumni of one of them) and many other firms will as well….check out most of the entry level ads and you will notice they are very broad…its on the subject matter of grade that they are more specific…

    You can also write an professional exam in the field you end up in….

    As for hard work…hmmm… im not sure it really pays off in a country like naija….all our thieving politicians are they hard workers…that’s not to say dont work hard….definitely work hard but work smarter, pray for favor from God, open your eyes and ears for opportunities to accelerate yourself to glory

  • snazzytop February 27, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    Dis is wow. As if u knew wat was on my mind. Thanks for the piece. Evryone has a differnt question paper, giraffing is nt allowed. Evrytin is jst a matter of time, it wld smoothen out wit perseverance and direction.

  • UBERCHIC February 28, 2013 at 5:06 am

    BEST QOUTE OF ALL; At the end of the day, decide where you want to pitch your tent and pitch the biggest tent you can find.

  • ALIYU BUSAYO March 1, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    I’m so inspired!

  • Shaloma May 27, 2013 at 5:53 am

    I LOVE this piece… Am a young Jamaican n I wasted 3 yrs of my life already… Full time I wake up n knw my potential….

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