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5 For 25: Five Powerful Life Lessons I Learned at 25

5 for 25

Today, I turn 26 years old. Birthdays are not only a time for celebration, but also a time for reflection. So I want to share five powerful life lessons I learned as a 25-year old. At 2400 Expert, we use four principles in our SAT & ACT prep courses: Strategy, Example, Practice, and Review. So I’ll follow a similar format below.

#1 The Law of Attraction is Real
Strategy – Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret describes the law of attraction — the idea that you attract what you think about. However, it’s not enough to only think about a goal. You must feel like that goal has already been achieved.

Example – When I was a junior in high school, I would randomly have this excited feeling come over me and I would say out loud, “What if I got a 2400 on the SAT?” (weird, I know). I also visualized my goal by writing “2400” next to my name in my SAT prep notebook. I really felt like I had achieved a perfect score on the SAT, even though I hadn’t yet. When I was a senior in high school, I did get a 2400 on the SAT (something only 0.02% of students achieve). This does not mean I didn’t spend hundreds of hours in the library studying for the SAT; hard work is essential. But you must feel like you have already achieved what you are working hard for.

Practice – Do you have a goal that you would like to achieve? Begin by writing the goal down and visualizing it happening. However, you must also feel like that goal has already been achieved. This is the same concept outlined in Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, which I believe should be titled Feel and Grow Rich. If you continue to feel broke, incompetent, or unhappy, the law of attraction will bring more of that into your life. But if you really feel wealthy, intelligent, and happy, the law of attraction will bring more of that into your life.

P.S. I have an even better personal example of the law of attraction working in my life. However, I can’t share it for a couple months — but be on the lookout for an epic blog post!

#2 The Power of Now is Real
Strategy – Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now states that the key to happiness is to focus on the present moment. In addition, one of the key messages of Dale Carnegie’s How to Stop Worrying and Start Living is to “live in day-tight compartments.” Essentially, both of these books assert that people become stressed because they regret the past or worry about the future, rather than focusing on the present.

ExampleI’ve often had trouble sleeping and used to take melatonin to help me sleep. However, I now realize that many of my sleeping troubles were due to anxiety about what I would have to accomplish the next day. Now, I never have a sleepless night. I have practiced focusing on the present moment. I don’t let my mind wander off to have thoughts about tomorrow. There is only today.

Practice – Become conscious of your mind. When you find that your thoughts are becoming about yesterday or tomorrow, try to refocus on today. When you begin to focus on the current moment, you will be much happier.

#3 The Art of Storytelling is Real
Strategy – Two of my favorite Malcolm Gladwell books, Outliers and David and Goliath, are told through a series of anecdotes. Gladwell is able to connect with millions of readers because he tells interesting stories with powerful takeaways. People love stories.

ExampleI used to dislike the fact that 2400 Expert is so attached to me as the founder. Not only does it make the company virtually impossible to sell (not that I want to), but I also thought it makes the company less professional since Princeton Review and Kaplan are faceless. However, we’ve found that students love having a tangible story they can relate to. I personally struggled with the SAT, but through focused preparation was able to raise my own score from average to perfect, which resulted in some excellent college acceptances and scholarship awards. My personal story helps inspire students to work hard in our courses and achieve their own college and scholarship goals.

Practice – Do you want to appeal to an audience for business, school, or otherwise? Tell a story. Most people have a compelling personal story to share, but few have spent the time putting it to paper.

#4 It’s Better to Be Interested Than Interesting
StrategyMy AP U.S. History teacher told us that his mother would often tell him that “it’s better to be interested than interesting.” This is a perfect synopsis of Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. Carnegie stresses that one of the best ways to have great conversations is to talk about the other person’s interests rather than your own.

ExampleI am an introvert. I used to be very shy and would struggle to come up with conversation topics. I no longer have that problem. I now put myself in the other person’s shoes and talk about what he or she values. The result? People really enjoy the conversations.

Practice – The next time you’re at a cocktail party or networking event, ask the other person multiple questions about their background and interests. Chances are, you won’t say much during the conversation, but the other person will feel like you are a great person to talk to!

#5 Listen to Audiobooks
StrategyYou might think that I am a bookworm given the number of books I have referenced above. However, I have only read 1 printed book this past year. But I have listened to 30 audiobooks. Since everyone believes they are too busy to read, listen to audiobooks instead during your daily commute.

Example – I used to take pride in not reading. I would only read what was assigned for school and sometimes not even that (I was a SparkNotes aficionado). I’ve gone years without reading a book. But I’ve since discovered audiobooks. And the more that I listen, the more I realize how little I know.

Practice – Stop listening to music on your daily commute and start listening to audiobooks. The average American’s daily commute time is 1 hour. The average audiobook length is 6 hours. If you listen to audiobooks at 1.5x speed, you can finish a book every four days.

The final concept at 2400 Expert is Review. Review the powerful life lessons you have learned this past year. Publish a post on it and send it to me at [email protected] I’d love to read it!

Shaan Patel

Shaan Patel is the founder of Prep Expert Test Preparation, a #1 bestselling SAT & ACT prep author, an MD/MBA student at Yale and USC, and winner of an investment deal with billionaire Mark Cuban on ABC’s Shark Tank. He raised his own SAT score from average to perfect using 100 strategies that we teach in our Prep Expert SAT and ACT courses.