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Ask HN: What were/are you doing at age 25? What would you change?
126 points by gravy on July 23, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 168 comments
For those of us without something to compare this stage of our life to, I was hoping to get some insight on how people handled/are handling their lives at around 25. At least for me, only being 2 years into my job I still feel like I'm thrown into a pit (a consequence of the job offer I took, I suppose, and complacency).

As for the second question, what advice would you give a 25 year old you?




Advice to my younger self: Get really fit. Like do upside-down-handstand-push-ups fit. Fitness is an easy way to get status that requires essentially no luck. Women are attracted to high status individuals. It shows you are a hard worker, a trait that people respect. It gives you energy and health, and is much more fun than being on a computer.

Family advice: life after 40 for most people is about family and the children (that they presumably had in their 20s and 30s)

Biz advice: People will happily pay you much much less than your worth if you put up with it.


+100 to fitness. Especially since its much easier to get fit when you're younger. Maintaining the same level of fitness is much much easier than having to achieve it later in life.


There's so much to be said about the topic. Its a universal topic like food, pretty much everybody can connect over a fitness discussion. We inherit so much research and equipment. Arnold Schwarzenegger had to invent his own gym equipment, likewise somebody came along and figured out the Russians were getting huge results with kettlebells, all this knowledge and equipment just right there waiting for us. David Belle crafted freerunning, there's all these climbing gyms and knowledge, if your really ambitious you can learn the fun ariel moves from the wushu guys. Really amazing if you take it all in.


It really is amazing, and I feel like there’s lessons to be learned from understanding how your body (and mind) respond to stress by adaptation. It’s a remarkable feeling to be able to turn stress into a positive force in your life.


Do you think a 29 y'old skinnyfat is too late to get properly fit?


The best time to start getting fit is always yesterday. It is never too late!

Checkout /r/fitness on Reddit for some example beginner routines that were helpful when I first started out.

It's really easy to get overloaded with information when first starting out. Keep it simple, figure out what works for you.

I love heavy lifting so I focus on squats, deadlifts, bench press, etc but I also make sure I do at least 30-60 minutes of cardio to finish off a session at the gym to keep my heart in good shape too.


I started working out when I was 33 and I am in better shape now than I ever was including my teens and twenties. I can run for miles, lift for hour and half and hike for 12 hours straight. It's never too late.

I have read real world stories of people starting running at the age of 60+ and finishing marathons.

I urge you to get off your ass and embrace active lifestyle. You will not regret it.


Definitely better than 29 year old fat-fat.

Edit: In particular, my biggest problem regarding getting fit was some flexibility that I lost in certain joints, living an inactive life. That held me back more than fat loss/muscle growth.


Definitely harder than 20 y'old skinnyfat you but also definitely easier than 40 y'old skinnyfat you.

Just focus on the process and enjoy the ride, I guess.


I'm not a physical therapist so I can only offer kind words... hopes and dreams heh.

All I'll say is that its worth a shot. Its really nice to be fit, both physiologically, because it feels good and because you become more attractive.


As some who was really fit at 25 it is probably the thing I miss most now. I would like to try and get back to this level, but I just don't have the time.


AT 25 I was going nowhere, having dropped out of my expensive liberal arts college education and the ample financial provisions of my parents (my grades were good too, I just lost interest in normal life paths). So I worked menial jobs, learned to want cheap stuff (I have never had health insurance, 36 years and counting) and no doubt I did display antisocial behavior and talked wild crap.

SO now I am almost sixty,and nothing else ever happened, MENIAL JOBS CONTINUED, the most I ever received as official hourly wages was $12.50 per.

I was amazingly happy every day until just past age 50, what brought me down was DEATHS OF THE LOVED ONES, I seriously don't expect to be happy again , much, for the rest of this lifetime. I had a good run at THE LIFE OF A FOOL, somebody has to do it.

As for advice to younger me, I never listened to advice. AND even when younger I knew that you can't serve two masters, and so I fully expected that my monotonous hijinks would have to be their own reward. CUE some Edith Piaf music, let me grab my coat and I am just slipping out the door.

Good luck and stuff.


Thank you for your honest account. I hope you do find some happiness in this lifetime.


Unhappy in a relationship, stuck in the UK after a couple of glorious years working overseas. (I got real lucky in my early 20s.)

At 27 – I'm cheating, sorry – I packed it all in and went on holiday. Backpacker style, South-East Asia then Australia. Some time later I found myself in Melbourne, and I'm still here.

As a result, my career basically re-started. I'm now 41. It's worked out incredibly well.

You have to enjoy where you are. You have to enjoy what you do. If you have those two things, the success – whatever that means to you – will come. Don't chase something you think you should be chasing just because that's what you read in tech forums. That's bullshit. And don't stay somewhere you're unhappy because, in the history of the world, that never just magically got better. That's not how it works.

Find your place. Find your people. Don't worry about the rest.

Edit: I missed the advice question. Advice to younger self: leave relationships when you know they're not good. Stringing it out helps neither party.


In this highly connected social media world - wouldn't you say people chase the whole idea of backpacking/nomading in Asia?


Not that 25yo me would listen to any advice (I'm 45 now and I still won't listen to any advice), but my advice would be: forget about your career goals. Move to an island and be a bartender/scuba instructor/tour guide/beach bum. Get tan, get laid, and enjoy your 20s. Or 30s. Or the rest of your life.

Or you can burn yourself out in thankless failed startups, soul-sucking corporate offices, and an endless stream of high-paying jobs and then some day realize you're old and never had any fun.

Or you can be like me and alternate between those two extremes every couple years.

Or figure out some way to do both. And then let me know.


> get laid

That is mostly valid if you're at least decent looking and have a personality that's conducive to getting laid (social, outgoing etc.). Otherwise, you could set yourself up for frustration and misery.


Not to derail the conversation or fixate on this element, but being in the right place, spending time outdoors/being active (others have touched on fitness), and having a low-stress lifestyle all make anyone more attractive and provide more opportunities. I was being a bit facetious; "get laid" is more of a placeholder for "create some social bonds and have fun."


Would you tell me a bit more about how exactly you alternate?


Try something, get exhausted, take some time off, then get involved in something else.

Rinse and repeat until dead.


Pretty much. No kids, no mortgage, no debt. When I burn out, I quit and spend all my money traveling. Sometimes I just move and work somewhere else for a while. So I have no assets either, but that’s ok. Jobs are easy to find.

I’ll probably go full-time remote soon, live in an RV, bounce around North America for a while, winter in Hawaii/the Caribbean/anywhere warm. That’s the current dream, anyway.


I once heard a saying I liked: life is about making and breaking patterns. You do some stuff, get bored, change it up, keep it interesting, then when you had enough, try something else.


I had just moved to Ann Arbor and started at Arbor Networks after the failure of the first company I founded. My son was 2 years old and my daughter had just been born.

I'd have done a much better job handling my personal relationships.

Nothing I did at age 25 had really any material impact on my career. I liked A2 and the people I worked with at Arbor but I can sum the career value up as "can occasionally write an authoritative-sounding comment on HN about ISP backbone networks or DDoS attacks".

The relationship stuff though, that stuff stuck. It is kind of a miracle my marriage survived 25-year-old me. Lots of my friendships didn't survive.


25 years old right now, 3 year old son, and my marriage just ended several months ago. Not my choice. Would have done anything. Hardest time of my life.


That is statistically the most usual ending of your story in 2018, if that comforts you. Be strong.

Be aware that there are thousands of people who empathize with your situation, whether or not you succeeded to find life after separation from the mother, we actually gather together to discuss problems and potential solutions, because — most importantly — we (and I assure you there are many women among us) admire what divorced fathers do for society and we think you are very important to the betterment of this world.


At 25, (just before turning 26), I had been working for a startup for 5 years. I lived in an apartment with my brother who was in school. Kind of had a girlfriend. Good savings (10 - 20K). Car that had aged faster than it should have, it was like 8 years old, but was more like 15 in issues.

I was burnt out at work. Too many long hours. I would go to work and I could not motivate myself to do anything. Went to my boss and asked for 2 money leave without pay. His reply was I was too valuable to have gone that long. Not surprisingly my salary did not show that. So I quit. I was not really getting anything done and I hated going into work.

Packed up stuff on my bicycle and rode from Florida to Maine in 6 weeks - should have been faster but I was not in a rush. During which I turned 26 so I guess I need to stop telling my tale until you ask for what I was doing at 26...


Go on.....:)

I'm 25 and curious.


After reaching Maine, I realized I did not enjoy my trip as much as I should have. I was just obsessed with getting there, by bike, no rides. So I left by bud visited Niagra falls, had a great time at the Youth Hostel there. But it was cold, took another bus to Cincinatti.

Rode from there to Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and finally Memphis where I met another friend. Flew back then rode to Key West. In the end it was a great feeling to accomplish. I had many fun stories to tell for years to come.

Part of my decision to do the trip was the idea if I did not, when in my life could I. I had enough money, and was not worrid about finding work. When I was ready to look for work, the company I had left was on its dying gasps, closed by March. They had a lot of great people there, it did not fail because I left. But that is a different story.

It took me a few months to find a job, did contracting, making more money than I know what to do with ... so after working 9 months, and turning 27, 2 friends and I traveled to NZ and Aus for 6 months ...

My biggest regret was not getting a work visa and staying in Australia. Since I did not have one I would have had to leave, get the Visa and return.

Instead I went back to contracting, turned 28, tuored UK for 2 months, by bicycle of course. Then settled down to a real job ... house ... wife ... kids ... laid off etc etc

But I alwasy cherish the choice I made to quit and start seeing the world by bicycle.


- The stakes will never be this low again, so if you want a change (new city, job, relationship, etc.) make the jump.

- Make a diverse friend group. If you're in tech your college and work friends will generally be part of the same monoculture and it gets boring if you can't escape it. Non-technical hobbies are important too.

- Be active. Once you're in your mid 20s health isn't something you can take for granted.

- Don't stop reading just because you're out of college and nobody is forcing you to anymore.


Well, this falls nicely into the "bucket of common experiences lots of people can talk about". :P

Turning 25 in two-ish weeks. Currently just past my 3rd year at a FAANG after failing to figure out a "path more interesting than just a software job"* during college.

Life isn't rainbows and unicorns, but I'm building a nest egg while figuring-out-what-I-acutually-want-to-be-when-I-grow-up, learning, and playing with pixels (aka "doing AR stuff at work"). I've got a handful of (less close than I'd like to be) friends, my family is doing okay (even with a breast cancer-y mom; thank goodness that got caught early), and I'm managing to stay reasonably active. I'm probably going to break up with the person I'm seeing soon; the "breaking up" part probably won't be so fun, but least there will be some good memories.

The formerly straight-A student, state champ mathlete me sometimes wishes I could just be that good at things, that easily, again. But life is life, and I really don't want my existence to have peaked at high school. ;)

As for advice to 25-year-old me.. seeing as how I'm not there yet, I can't really say. I'm just hoping to glean some advice like the rest of us youngin's in this thread. :P

*18-year-old me knew she'd be good at CS, but wanted to avoid the cubicle life that both her parents had. Almost-25-year-old me... is fine for now, but there's something about fields of open-office desks that makes a person feel like a cog. Maybe I'll go to grad school or join in on a startup (assuming I can find/make one that I don't cynic-the-idea-to-death) in the next few years.


I'd love to hear more about your experience as a mathlete, as someone whose bad at math trying to be decent at it, I'd love to know how you got good at math. What sorts of things did you do (aside from just spending a lot of time doing math).


To be honest, I've always been "good" at math (cue memories of learning how to cont to 100 as a 3 year old, being forced to memorize multiplication tables at age 6) so I never "got good".

That said, years of math competition did teach me how to study. You don't just go through problems blindly - you have to first diagnose what is at the cusp of your knowledge and then do those problems over and over again, reading the answers if need be until you understand that "class" of problems.

Sadly, the"over and over again" bit is the part that I seem to have issues with these days...


I never thought about the negatives of open office areas.


Even with all the negative articles about them on HN? ;)

On a more serious note, I don't have any opposition to the open office layout in themselves... But they do have a feeling of "cows in a cowpin" that rivals the fields of cubicles of old.


I was at an amazing job that I loved and debating about proposing to my girlfriend. The catch was I knew if we were going to stay together I’d have to move for her Masters and therefore leave the awesome job.

I choose the girl over the job, and while it took me a long time to not be sad I had to make the choice I have never regretted it. 10 years later I can say is I’ve ended up in an awesome place and enjoy life immensely.

I don’t have much to tell 25 year old me.* I made the right big decisions in defining and pursuing my priorities.

What I do generally tell 25 year olds is to think clearly about WHY you are making decisions. Write it down- there is something about writing or typing that feels like commitment. If you do that, you can end up still making decisions you regret, but you are less likely to make them, and even when you do you won’t find yourself as frustrated at where you ended up.

*Mine Bitcoin, I do wish 25 year old me had known to mine bitcoin.


>> Mine Bitcoin

God, yes, this. I could have been a millionaire by clicking on an .exe that I had downloaded into my Downloads folder.


At 25 I got the first job I was good enough enough to have a real positive impact in my company. I'd been programming video games since I was 7, then got my first professional job at 16. Building business software in the late 90s exposed me to a bewildering sea of horrible technologies, overcomplicated architecture and process, and a lot of people much older than me pretending they knew what they were doing--and I didn't know any better at the time. The software world at that time was beige, mean, boring, and way, way too complicated. Moats at this time consisted of massive proprietary projects with vendor lock-in the main objective. The magic of the tight knit 80s hacker scene the had enchanted me as a child had faded and the excitement of the post dot-com bust was still to come.

But the dot com bubble burst and just a few shitty years later I turned 25 just as a new era was starting, there was so, so much I had still to learn, but now I had 18 years under my belt and secured a senior position at an energy company a few days after my 25th birthday. I wrote an important control system, the first program I'm still somewhat proud of/not completely embarrassed by over the next few months, today the oldest software I have written still in production now, 11 years later. It was the start of a beautiful age of software development, of increasing simplicity, openness, and kindness, and the world we developers live in has bloomed with color and been framed in elegant design. The logos of the companies we work for, our offices, our computers, our IDEs and our code are a delight for the senses. Code has bled into popular culture, and the social stigma that being a programmer once carried has been replaced by a certain amount of respect. It is an amazing time right now to be a programmer, and at 25 you missed a lot of misery.

Having said that if I could go back I'd say to myself, enjoy yourself more. Figure out where you want to live and move there as fast, put down roots, make good friends. Friends get very difficult to make past your 20s. Don't waste your time on people/projects/technology/companies/features that aren't worth it. The greatest asset you have is time, it is easy when you have so much to squander it. Get really good at your core skills. A job you are really good at and people respect you for is 1000% more fun than the same job you suck at.


Currently 25. Not really sure where I'm going or even what I'm doing (remote dev job, currently), but I think one thing I'm starting to learn and appreciate is that personal meaning and fulfillment matters a lot more than money or even "career". (Though I also appreciate that a majority of people can't flexibly make such a choice and need to provide for their families.) Also that I shouldn't hesitate leaving jobs I'm seriously dissatisfied with.


What do you do for fulfillment? I'm 25 too and the only fulfillment I experience is from thinking about/eating good food which is just sad. I've forced myself into reading a lot of books and doing a lot of hobby programming but it feels empty.


Personally, my children provide more fulfillment for me than anything else ever has. It's mind boggling how the tiniest gesture from one of my kids can send me over the moon.

I relate to your comment; I've read a lot of books, put thousands of hours into hacking on side projects, played an obscene amount of video games. But nothing, nothing, has come close to filling my heart as much as spending time with my children. As far as I'm concerned, my career is a means to an end. The goal is to achieve financial security so that I can spend as much time as possible with my kids.

I'm not saying to go have kids willy-nilly, but this is my perspective.


This read to me as if you were putting my thoughts and life into text.

I am currently 24 and an exchange student in München, Germany. I will soon leave Bavaria and return to Sweden in order to finish up my masters. Been working on the side in a field I am interested in but I feel like I am so incompetent that I can hardly contribute anything useful. It is demoralizing.


books and typing never did fulfill me in that way, making programs and books were among the endless things that rived me, it was going out there, running, hiking, learning things that i thought i never would learn about, talking with people, living, making memories, staying outside beyond the screen to let the sunset walk into your eyes, to stay outside of the house, to scream, to love, to forget, to live.


Also currently 25, and working tech support at an eCommerce company. I wish I had done more coding earlier on, but I've also matured a lot more because of the path I chose. I also understand technology as a whole, and I'm not in college debt.

The position I'm in involves some basic coding, but it has the possibility for more involved work. I can understand the fulfillment you're speaking of, which is another reason I chose a different path. Life's a balance. There's no right answer to this, but I'm sure OP and ourselves will find our way.


1. Playing World of Warcraft all day, every day.

2. Stop.


Why stop? I’ve found the community great and it very relaxing.


If you play WoW every waking moment you have no job (and presumably no house). You have no time to do anything but WoW. I agree that MMOs or any other social activity can be very good for you, but you need to be moderating your usage at least enough that you can exist as a full-featured human being.


AT 25 I was going nowhere, having dropped out of my expensive liberal arts college education and the ample financial provisions of my parents (my grades were good too, I just lost interest in normal life paths). So I worked menial jobs, learned to want cheap stuff (I have never had health insurance, 36 years and counting) and no doubt I did display antisocial behavior and talked wild crap.

SO now I am almost sixty,and nothing else ever happened, MENIAL JOBS CONTINUED, the most I ever received as official hourly wages was $12.50 per.

I was amazingly happy every day until just past age 50, what brought me down was DEATHS OF THE LOVED ONES, I seriously don't expect to be happy again , much, for the rest of this lifetime. I had a good run at THE LIFE OF A FOOL, somebody has to do it.

As for advice to younger me, I never listened to advice. AND even when younger I knew that you can't serve two masters, and so I fully expected that my monotonous hijinks would have to be their own reward. CUE some Edith Piaf music, let me grab my coat and I am just slipping out the door.

Good luck and stuff.


Thank you for sharing.

If I may ask, why are you on Hacker News? I'm curious. You don't seem like the typical type. I'm curious what draws you to it.


Why did you post twice under two different throw aways?


25 and a half now:

Working on my CPA certification - 1 more test to go!

Proposing to my girlfriend of 7 years next month.

Quit my public accounting job in March to do a bootcamp - finish up in a month or so.

Complacency is what I felt in my job. I just got promoted in December and was on a pretty easy path to senior, when I realized that I was unfulfilled professionally and that was leading me to waste my personal time trying to find fulfillment. I probably played about 15 hours+ of PvP videogames to try to scratch the competitive itch I have each week. I was a pretty mediocre friend, and a rather uncommitted partner. I quit PvP videogames, started working out 5+ times a week, and committed to being a better partner to my hopeful fiancé.

My only advice as a peer would be to stop optimizing for what is impressive and optimize for what makes you fulfilled. Fulfillment will lead to satisfaction and purpose, which I think will lead to happiness. I've been trying to live by the same advice for the past 4 months - and I've never been happier.


>> Proposing to my girlfriend of 7 years next month.

Advice from an older person here - don't wait until you are 30+ to start trying, if you want to have kids. You will all benefit from having more health and energy when under 30.


Sure health and energy are helpful when raising kids. But what about wisdom and perspective? I would think it really depends on the person and how prepared they feel with respect to having kids - mentally and physically.


Wisdom and perspective are not necessarily correlated with age.

Your second sentence is correct, each individual needs to judge roughly the right time based on mental,physical and financial situations.

For me there was never going to be a right time so I'm glad it happened when it did (29) as it's tiring and I want to have as much good health as I can to enjoy my children.


In my experience, Extreme sleep deprivation defeated any wisdom and perspective that I might have otherwise had.


As a 46yo with kids 7 & 3. I endorse this point of view. :)


I'm 25 too and thank myself every day I didn't go into public


I had been working on a really cool map viewer tool for Windows 3.1. It had a C backend doing the rendering and map file parsing (Intergraph design files, PITA to parse), and a VB3 UI. It was a huge improvement on existing tools for viewing IGDS files at the time. I saw it demo'd on stage at a MS dev conference in front of Steve Balmer. Basically peak of my career. In 1994. After that I quit the job, for no good reason. Moved across the country, and did next to nothing for a couple years. And I regret that decision every day since.


Go out more, meet more people, take more chances. Your social life will likely never be as lively as it is now, especially if you build a family at some point. Try different things. If you don't like your job, quit; your best moments always come when you overcome laziness enough to throw yourself into deep waters.


Had a degree, a spouse, a house, had done some traveling, nominally I was moving along in my career but I was impatient, restless, and unhappy with it. Was trying to figure out how to get a side hustle started.

At 40, my advice to a 25 year old would be: -- Considered carefully the life-changing nature of marriage and children. -- Invest well and live frugally. Even if money comes to you, continue to live within as small a budget as possible. -- Eat well and exercise. This should not be underestimated. -- Seek career opportunities not just based on income, but also on the connections and experiences it can give you. -- Consider going abroad. There's a big world out there, not only for travel but also for career opportunities. -- There is no time like the present to undertake your life's work.


25... that was 8 years ago.

I was studying computer science, working at a small software company.

I had an open relationship with my girlfriend of that time, but she didn't like it.

What would I tell myself?

Don't start relationships with people who don't approve of your lifestyle. I only do polyamory now and stopped dating monogamous women entirely 5 years ago.

Also, don't let people who don't really know you tell you what you can and can't do. I had a bunch of such nay-sayers at work/university.

Do your own thing, but try to become good at it. People have houses and children? Who cares! Define your markers of success, but don't use them to hide from work. You won't be happy if you live under a bridge just so you can tell people "getting rich isn't my thing", you will onl be happy if you really believe in your life choices


Spend more time getting laid and less time at a terminal. Youth is wasted on the young.


I'm 25. In the last year, after dating for 2 months (with a person that I knew for more than 15yrs), we married and decided to move into Italy, without much planning. I had a great job in Brazil, since 2010, and they let me keep working remote.

We struggled a little to live in Europe with only my salary from Brazil, but in general, I'd said that its being an incredible experience. We are traveling a lot!

After the bureaucracy to get the visa here, I've found a nice job in a start up and I've been working here for 3 months now. My wife also found a job as a engineer.

Now, things are becoming more stable and hopefully soon we are buying a car. Although, I don't expect to become rich anytime soon.


Suffering from untreated anxiety/panic disorder, still working on finishing a BS. I would gently and firmly tell my former self to take a break, get some help, and return to school when I was better.

And more generally, to anyone struggling against personal problems (mental illness, substance abuse, family issues, etc.) while trying to achieve a career goal: at some threshold of severity, it's a better use of your time to focus on fixing those issues, and only _then_ returning the focus to career. Not to mention that it will save you some suffering.

Luckily for me, things eventually worked out, but I wasted several years trying to ride two horses at once.


At age 25 I was trying to figure out how to really get into the game. I had a promising job offer in the mountain west and decided instead to move to Portland and wait for the awesome tech job offers to flow into my inbox.

I ended up moving to PDX and burning through my savings, finally taking a job at a company that turned out to be deeply unethical. They spied on personal phone calls, asked employees if they were on birth control, you name it. The IT guy was something of an Edward Snowden who opened up an encrypted channel with me just to vent. What he shared with me blew my mind.

A few short months later my in-laws offered to let my wife and I live in their home rent-free in a town in California that no one's ever heard of. We had weirdly good "vibes" about this offer even though we couldn't explain it. We had no jobs lined up but my wife knew lots of people there and the in-laws were traveling internationally and free rent would allow us to stretch our little savings for a while longer.

After we moved here I started working as an independent hire-a-webmaster. It's so rural here that people still use that term. It turned into a very successful business and I found out that I really love living in a rural area. I also hired a coach and had an amazing experience working with him to understand my business and learning to make the most of who I am.

My life changed a lot after that and I'm now a coach myself, but for 20-something-years advice: I'd say I think I could have done a lot better for myself had I more readily shared my problems with others and listened to them more. I wish I would have hired my own coach earlier, someone who would hold me accountable, and help me accelerate my self-knowledge.

If you're in a pit, keep doing what you're doing here, consulting outside sources and listening to what they have to say. Then try out the ideas, make observations, and develop theories. Soon you'll have a reliable model for who you are and what powers your problem-solving and achievement processes. It's important to actively test out others' ideas and reflect on the results, because most advice you get will be of the "be like me" variety; it's not necessarily suited to your personal psychology. Good luck.


Marc - it's a small world; I'm nearly certain we went to kindergarten together. Glad to hear you are finding success in life.


Really! Which elementary school did you go to?


Any advice on how to find a good coach?


Most coaches are pretty good. I feel fortunate to have met enough of them to be able to say that. They all have different models and approaches. I derive my own coaching models from personality psychology. Another coach I know uses the Co-active model. Yet another uses her own model based on athletic performance.

I advise people to spend the time and actually experience the coaches they find--try it out--then reflect on how the experience went. This gets the subjective and objective concerns in the same space so you can see how things shake out. The objective concern (concern about the coach and their qualities) needs to be balanced with the subjective concern (how can I make sure I'm capable of being coached, and not undercutting myself, not shooting the messenger as a defense mechanism, etc.).


And how do you go around finding one? I feel like Google would just be too hit-and-miss and too open to scams, etc.


If Google seems scammy, it might be better to reach out to friends for referrals. Otherwise feel free to get in touch if I can help; I added my coaching website link to my profile.


be prepared to move where the action/great people are and optimize for learning. the connections/friendships and knowledge you acquire now will compound over the rest of your career.

i'd rather work with people i like working with on interesting things, than "dig holes" for slightly more compensation.

disclaimer: current 25 year old.


I agree with you wholeheartedly. For the record, I'm now 36.

For me, after turning 30 it became much harder to attend meetups, learn new things, build side-projects, work on open-source stuff. I now have so many more commitments, and my brain seems to have slowed down.

So my advice is to take advantage of all that free time and mental energy you typically have in your mid-20s. As you said, your bank balance will thank you later.


Strange, I'm 35 and I feel like I can write code faster than ever, I have started many more open source projects in the past year than in my whole career, and they are in late stage development at the moment. Also, I'm about to launch my first mobile app, developed in React Native. At the age of 35, I am more responsible & less distracted than I was at 25.


At 25 I had just started my first job as a web developer that actually paid well. I had spent 4 years studying and preparing before I even allowed myself to apply to the kind of job I wanted, and when I finally got hired I knew way more than anyone at the company. If I had believed in myself at the time I could have saved myself a few years of working $12/hr jobs. I'm 33 now.

There's been some good advice here, and I'll just add that it's really important that you take time regularly to think about what you're doing. Not a couple hours, but a week, or month if you can swing it. Something that gives you enough time to get adjusted to being yourself outside of work. You can get so wrapped up in being busy and trying to get stuff done that you completely lose sight of yourself and what you want out of life. I didn't get a chance to do that until paternity leave when my daughter was born and I had 6 weeks away from work. It was like finally coming up for air after swimming underwater and I was shocked at where all those hours of work had gotten me, which was nowhere I really wanted to be (professionally).


Working on megayachts as a deck officer spending summers in the Med and winters in the Caribbean. Eleven years later I'm a lawyer working in house.


I imagine you have no regrets?


Zero regrets.


I was in a similar situation. I took a break from work and rediscovered the reasons I got into software. Then, I went back to work after a nice long break.

My advice: Don't just save money, invest it in an S&P 500 index fund.

Time is going to fly by and if, like me, you put money away each month, the interest will be a nice reward to yourself and give you new opportunities when you start to look for them.


Currently 25.

Been developing a game as a one man project for the last 11 years, dropped out of school at 18 and started to focus 100 % on the game.

Been going very well, but I'm in constant fear of things changing like they did in early 2010s when a lot of players moved to mobile and thereby really dragging down the average play time per visit.

I should probably really try marketing and throw together a couple of other services and see what sticks, so I don't have to worry that much about entertaining people.

Not sure if I'm regretting dropping out of school(electronics) as my GF just got her master's degree in software development, mostly by just having fun, and her current company seems like fun and nice place to work with superb food, benefits, hardware and so on.

I'm currently earning quite a bit more than most developers, and I sure can get more or less all the work related toys and tools I want, but I'm not sure if the extra stress is worth the extra money and toys. The income tax is also really high in Norway so... Maybe a normal job would be better.

If shit hits the fan and it's game over, then I guess I might get a job as I have 11 years of professional experience with advanced systems. I've never had an IT job, so I have no idea if I would get a good job or how well I'd compete with others though.

Money is nice and fun, but it isn't everything.

And one lesson that has become very clear to me so far: gamers are most likely the worst customers in the world. The amount of people who tries to gain the system by using eg. chargebacks or just has no respect as "it's just a game and I needed money for something else" is really high compared to every other business type, at least based on my and PayPal's experience. Also, don't use PayPal. Use something with 3Dsecure.


I hope you haven't made the game part of your identity.


What game are you developing?


At 25 I was in Iraq about to leave the army because my now ex-girlfriend was pregnant with my first child.

I had no 'civi street' skills and no job prospects, only wished to bring up my unborn baby, actually be there; with all my limbs.

Up to that point I had drifted through life with no plans and only joined the army because I lacked the skills or qualifications to do anything else.

I'm still drifting through, doing what I need to survive. I can't offer anything by way of advice. I had no idea what I wanted to do while at school or after. Being poor growing up meant I didn't touch a computer until I was about 24; having not grown up with them I never bothered with them. I was given at that time a second hand laptop and that was it for me, I was fascinated, I just wanted to understand how 1s and 0s could do what I was seeing.

Working on a degree at the moment so I can, hopefully, do something I'm actually interested in at some point in my life.


You don't need to make a relationship without a solid foundation work just because you had a child.

You can be a great single dad.

You can have a healthy relationship with your entire family, ex included, even after separating.

Negotiate your salary, as far as income is concerned negotiation skills can often be more important than technical skills.

Follow the breadcrumbs that come along, talk to people, everyone, listen to their advice, look for opportunities, seize them. Believe in your ability to execute.

Life can change incredibly fast. Six months can take you from bottom to top or the other way. Sometimes this may involve a perspective change more than anything.

Work Hard. Be Kind.

-----

At 25 I was barely supporting my little family, with very little hope of living beyond check to check..

At 33 now, I am doing better than I ever imagined possible


Don't buy a new car with every large raise. Seems obvious, right?

If you take a 10 year span, 25 to 35, and say you are moving from junior to intermediate roles in IT/Software you are going to see some decent pay bumps.

Instead of getting a new car every 3 years get something reliable and double down on payments when you get pay bumps. In year 4 or 5 you will have a paid off car. Years 5-10 of that span you will just have maintenance and any repairs.

This could be thousands of dollars saved. Apply the same concept to all other expenses: don't upsize anything with pay raises - stick it in retirement accounts. This increases the luck of being able to retire earlier than most, wish I did this.


Doing 2 master degrees and 1 bachelor degree at the same time. My advice: drop the bachelor degree. Keep the masters and don’t wait for the perfect thesis to come along. It takes too much time. High grades don’t matter and you didn’t want high grades in the first place. You just wanted useful knowledge. That’s a good thing.

Try to get as much work experience as possible.

Keep the relationship you have with your GF. Yes you’re going to break up in 2 years but it will teach you a lot, you need it.

Be more convinced of your own thoughts, you listen to other people too much and forget to formulate your own opinion. Other people their thoughts are interesting but so are yours. You know more than you think.

I am 29 now.


I'm 28 now and I switched jobs 3 times at the age of 25, got my first serious girlfriend, moved out of my parents apartment.

Back then it felt like everything happens super fast, three years down way more things happen even faster.

Could I give a 25-year-old some short-sighted advice? Probably, but 25-year-old me wouldn't listen, I've always believed everyone is different so you can't really just hand advice like it's a life manual, things eventually happen to you. I think(much like others in this thread) that most things you do at that age will probably not impact your life as much as you might think.


I'm 25 now, so can't really answer the advice question. As for what I'm doing:

* Just ended a 5 year relationship that I felt was ultimately going to hold me back in life * Saying yes to more things that scare the hell out of me -- those things are often the most fun (a way to beat the anxiety out of me _shrug_) * Working as a machine learning tech lead at a large tech company and considering the possibility of going into management soonish * Working on being really intentional with my time and who I spend it with * Working on health in all aspects (physical, mental, emotional, and financial)


working on being intentional with your time is so important!

i find if i don't actively try to be intentional, i become too reactive and time melts away -- i'll do some things i want to do, but also a decent number of things i never did.


At 25 I was setting unrealistic goals for myself and then struggling to live up to them.

8 years on, I've realized it's wiser to set long-term goals and sticking to them. Saving money, losing weight, learning new skills ... it all happens gradually, so keep at it!

I used to work till late and reply to clients no matter what time they emailed or called. My thinking was, "if i work hard today, I'll have less to do tomorrow". But the truth is work never ends.

Now, I check my email only thrice a day. Never reply to clients after 6pm or on weekends, and never eat lunch at my desk.


What I would tell my 25 year old self (just turned 35)

1. Hire a good personal trainer and go consistently.

2. Your thinking should always be in decades, not years: Investing, relationships, career, etc. Patience is something most 25 year old lack, esp in our modern world. Its now a skill you have to learn.

3. Travel WITH YOUR FRIENDS while everyone's free time is vast.

4. Open and max out your Roth IRA

5. Make sure to acquire a new skill each year: playing an instrument, learning web design, coding, cooking, video editing, scuba diving, painting, flying drones, etc.


I never would have let myself get -- seriously and chronically, without remedy -- injured, trying to be nice and helpful to other people. (Who went on with their lives unperturbed; it wasn't necessary.)

(Help people -- sure. I find it very rewarding. But trust your intuition, know that what you are doing has true value (again, trust your intuition, in addition to your intellect and empathy), and don't sacrifice yourself doing it.)

I wouldn't have listened to people who told me I needed to do this, for now -- what they wanted -- with the idea that there would be some vague payoff or switch to what I wanted, in the future.

E.g. We don't offer this at the undergraduate level. Do this, instead, for four years, and then transfer at the graduate level.

(Oh, and the future of work is "collaborative". Enjoy the incessant "group study" theme we're promoting, in manifold ways including those shared spaces in the redesigned library, and all the talking and distraction and time-wasting they promote.)

Um, fuck you.

P.S. Another way of putting this? Most self-identified "experts", aren't. And "authority" does not indicated wisdom, nor even sometimes much intelligence.

P.P.S. See the above P.S., with regard to this comment. Think and evaluate for yourself. If it resonates, explore that further, for yourself.


I am 25 now. Until 3 years ago, my dream was to become really good at computer science, move to the US and join Google. I have always had interest in ancient history so I tried to look more into Indian ancient history since I am Indian. I sincerely tried to understand the oldest scriptures which I could find which led me to commentaries & books written by people ranging from millennia old to present living and surprisingly most of them talking about the same thing ( at least the authentic ones ). I wouldn't say that I have become more religious and I am totally against any kind of belief. Currently, I would say that I have committed my life to find truth (not facts) and filtering out lies from my life, mainly through personal experiences and propelling my search by looking at pointers from others.

I will still continue to learn cool things in the domain of computer science because I enjoy doing it, but after all the reading and understanding I have done in the past three years I already feel more open and accepting to everything that comes my way, which was earlier limited to only a handful of interests.

I definitely do not have a time limit set until which I plan to work and retire and then decide to start living. I know that I am living a pretty good life and I am making it more wholesome as it comes.

My advice to a 25 year old would be to take time out, if you aren't already, to see what you have been doing and what you really want to do, irrespective of whether you see that as a passion or not, but when you get to do what you have decided to do, do it wholeheartedly so you can enjoy the act itself instead of waiting for the fruit of that action to enjoy. Happiness is not "there" and "then", it is always "here" and "now".


What scriptures or other ancient texts (even scientific ones) did you read? Does one need to learn Sanskrit/Brahmi for it? Can you suggest some good one? I have been thinking of reading arthashastra sometime, any opinion on it?


Currently 25. I'm currently working full-time as a programmer in a startup, and working another job on weekends. Have been trying to spend an hour or two every day in exploring the domain of Machine Learning. The rest of my free time is spent in reading (I try to read a book a month), watching a TV series or just browsing various tech and business related websites.

I've never been busier in my life. And yet, I feel like I haven't been able to accomplish a lot with the limited time I have at my disposal after work and a long day's commute. As a result, I have to cut back on my sleep. I average about 5 hours of sleep a day every week, which is not nearly enough. I do get burned out from time to time, following which I take a day or two off every month or so to recuperate.

My plan for the next few years is to start my own tech business. At 25, everything I do on a daily basis is my attempt to attain financial freedom so that I can spend the rest of my life doing what I really want to do and no longer work for money, but work because I want to on things I find meaningful.


I left 25 a few days back. The closing note was shooting an erotic art music video experiment thing, and in another few weeks I'm heading to a letterpress program in Switzerland. Life takes unexpected turns.

Looking forward, how can I imagine where I will be in five, ten, or twenty five years if I don't even understand how I got to now? I only started learning letterpress eight months ago and am—at first glance at least—almost a stereotypical programmer. Part of me is afraid. I have met with so much success that where is there to go except down? Part of me is hungry. I want that next challenge, to take things to larger scales. And as I don't think I will live very long, why wait? When I start to feel that I am already behind, I have to remind myself that I am only 26. And I try to stop and ask myself, "If this isn’t nice, what is?"

Advice for future me from the present:

- Remember what it feels like to be on the outside.

- Don't dismiss, or be beholden to, or fall back on past you.

- Look out of the spotlight for people doing interesting stuff that they believe in. Try to help them, or at least say hi.


Currently 25 myself, though I turn 26 tomorrow (well, 2 and half hours, now). I'm in a job (secondary mathematics teacher) I don't hate, but don't love. Really, I wish I could get over my fears. Fear of failure, but mostly fear of my student loans. I want to move and work abroad, specifically Ireland, and I feel that going back to school would be the best way to get a job (mostly because it would give me time and an easy path to network) since all my technical skills are self-taught (I've built a few websites using Python, Django/Flask, and Javascript/varying frameworks as well as some unpublished/unpolished Android apps).

As I said, I'm afraid of my loans more than anything, and the fact that I'll have to take out more loans to do this, unless I wait even longer... at which point I then worry about age issues with hiring, etc.

Really, I just needed to vent; definitely not in the best place of my life currently, and maybe someone here will have some good encouragement/advice or be able to at least sympathize.


> I feel that going back to school would be the best way to get a job

The best way to get a job is to apply for one. Don’t mean to be snarky. Have you seriously tried? Lots of talented people are self taught.


Happy birthday for tomorrow/today!


Living in a beachfront apt on the East coast of Florida with my gf/wife (we were married when I was 25). Trying to learn how to surf. Working on a glorious tan. For a kid from Appalachia it was a glorious time.

I made the rent via my first post-college job as a fresh EE in a miserable military contractor firm. Did I make huge career strides? No way & I wouldn't change it.


I was teaching HS math at a NYC public high school. A great job in many ways, miss it except for the low pay. Did that for 5 years before quitting to travel/cycle.

Was sitting at my parents' place (unemployed) after the traveling and read a NYT article about baristas becoming developers after a boot camp, so figured I could teach myself...

Fast forward to now, I'm 32, a developer...it's ok, I'm proud of the career change and what not but I do find staring at a glowing rectangle 8+ hours/day to be existentially vapip.

Advice: - broaden perspectives (by traveling, interacting with people outside your social/economic class) - exercise and/or commute by bicycle - be kind to people; you never know what someone might be going through - read novels - cook most of your meals

I don't think I'd change much tbh...I'm grateful to be able to day that, but it doesn't mean I've got it figured out!


So, I'm in a similar position. I turn 26 tomorrow, being hte only difference I'm a HS math teacher and, well, I enjoy it, but I -hate- the area I'm in. I do enjoy the job and there's none of the usual BS that goes along with teaching, thankfully. And it's in a high-need field in a low-income district, so my loans will be repaid after 10 years.

But, I'm not really enjoying it. I would love to move to Ireland, and have taught myself some developing skills to do that. I've applied to developing jobs here in America, but because I live in the rural South, I haven't been able to network much. I'm seriously considering going back to school in Ireland and trying to use that to network but more loans scare me.

Overall, I'm just not in a good place, and feel like I need to make a change. What advice would you have to give to someone who's in a roughly similar situation to what you were 7 years ago?


26, Worked up from a 17 y/o clueless helpdesk body, through sysadmin, currently an Oracle Consultant.

London is an amazing city and i would encourage anyone to come here.

I'm not the best person to ask advice from. I feel most here have CS degrees from top universities. I feel like i'm the exception to the rules who shouldn't be followed.


I'm very proud of my younger self. My advise is to not compare yourself with anybody else. Just try to be the best version of yourself everyday. Things I did right: Save for the future, spend time with family, take care of health, loyalty with my inner believes. Just my 2c.


I left the UK for Spain whilst working remotely. Best decision I ever made, wouldn't change a thing!

You have to take risks if you want to lead an interesting life. 25 is the perfect age to do some "crazy" things like moving to another country.


I applied for an exchange program in the States, that's called Professional Fellows and spent a good 4 months learning US business practices and just being a bit exposed to a different way of doing things. I'm from Zimbabwe btw. Part of my stipend at the time, I saved it to buy a car which I still own to this day. 4+ years with, i'm 29 now. At 25, I was staying on my own and trying my hand at a startup after quitting a job i had been offered with a good salary.

I'd tell my 25 year old self to be more patient and play a more long game, backed with knowing that even good investments justify themselves after a few years down the line.


I had been at Microsoft for four years, and I was getting ready to quit to join an early stage startup.

As for the second question, what advice would you give a 25 year old you?

Stay the course, but be sure to have interests and hobbies that don't involve sitting in front of a computer. I wouldn't change anything about my career trajectory. I'm glad I spent four years in a huge corporation, and I'm glad that I've had the opportunity to work in (and create) companies of all different sizes subsequently.

It's not even a regret, per se, but I wish I'd gotten more serious about photography in/around 2007 instead of dithering for another six years.


Hi everyone, thanks a lot for the advice. You have no idea how valuable it is to me and everyone else in the same boat (and neither do I, time will tell). I think my biggest takeaway so far is to take advantage of my youth, which I think is something I never really thought of since I'm as old as I ever was.

My biggest disappointment is my cubicle software engineering job. I'd much rather have a web development job since I seem to want to stay up all night making websites and web apps but not at all excited for work. I will start working towards fulfillment and not simply hoping the days pass faster.

Again, thanks for the advice (and future advice!)


I was working at a coupon code website in Austin, Texas. I don't have any good professional advice for me back then. I'm pretty sure I did all the right stuff. I had a company fly me out to the Bay Area for a job interview, and then snuck some time during that visit to interview with another company for a job with a better title and salary, a relocation bonus, and a less despicable vertical (the other one was in "debt relief").

It wasn't a great job, but I stuck it out until I didn't have to pay back the relocation bonus, and then enjoyed a couple of amazing jobs in SF before having my fill of the Bay Area.


I had left the Peace Corps, started grad school and met my on my 25th birthday. Advice? Don’t worry about the future so much, don’t get buried in comparisons to others, and find work that is meaningfully involves your mind and spirit


Thanks. :)


Be in a business area that is expanding, where you are working with and continually learning from top quality people (colleagues and clients)

If you feel like you're treading water, or are in a back room kept far away from clients, move on !


I'm 30 now.

At 25, I was working at an awesome financial firm making great money. I spent a lot of it repaying student loans and building my 401k, but because I was single, I had enough to go out all of the time. I thought I'd never move out of the city (I didn't think I could afford to, and I didn't think that Dallas had the same job opportunities). That made me sad.

Advice? Find a job that will pay you to travel out of college (i.e. go into consulting). Your career trajectory will go up, you'll still make great money, you'll develop a lot of experience and you'll save A TON of money along the way.


People who seek "great money", especially after college, usually end up very miserable in my experience. It's way better to go where you will learn something and enjoy, even if you have to be underpaid. It pays off much more. But don't forget to sharp you negotiation skills afterwards :)


I'm pretty happy in my pursuit to great money and where I'm at with that so far.


When I was 25, I moved from the DC area to San Francisco, South of Market. It was 1999. I had some money saved up and was living with a friend. I would go to Internet cafes and work on my resume and apply for jobs during the morning, and then I would spend a lot of time just wandering around and exploring the city randomly. It was amazing.

Advice I would give myself: Buy some kind of real estate. No, $300k is not too much money for a house. And your crazy plan about living in an RV in the city during the week, but buying a house in Tahoe and visiting it on the weekends - that's a good plan, do that.


I'm 30. 5 years ago I had just quit a job I hated and moved internationally to work in another industry for a while.

Advice: quit faster. I've got a hang of it now, but quitting (relationships, jobs, hobbies) that are getting you down is the best.

I've learned quite fast (only started working in industry at 23) what jobs I like and don't like, been involved in 2 startups (didn't quit those - they just didn't work out), and am now a manager in a job that lets me work on my startups in my ample free time. I also own my own home, and have a really sweet girlfriend.


At 25 I just moved sideways from doing embedded software development to web application development prior to the dotcom boom.

That led to solid IT skills and a very interesting career. I don't think I'd change anything.

Biggest piece of advice would be to save half of what you earn. (or try and live off half of what you earn) At 25 I'd just become debt-free, but it took me a while to figure out how to reduce my tendency to spend whatever I earned.

If you could do that, then at 40, your expenses are covered by what you earn in investments. That frees you immensely.

Oh, and take time out to enjoy it all. That's key.


At 25 I was completing my sophomore year in college. This was because my father decided to stop filing his taxes for the 10 years (1995-2005) that my sister and I would have gone to college, so we had no ability to even apply for college loans. Her and I have no idea why he did that, and I'm not sure how to ask him today.

So I worked at Safeway until I could start paying for college at 23, then could file as an independent student at 24 and started getting financial aid.

The advice I'd give myself is to go back to when I was 15, when this all started, and file my parents taxes for them.


Don’t worry about girlfriends/boyfriends, focus on yourself. Plenty of time for it later.

Put energy into:

Being fit

Building your creds (either a big name firm or prestigious degrees) in case you fail at the next step

And then jump into a startup if you are so inclined, or just keep climbing the ladder at a nice company.

Studying whatever you like for the hell of it

Learn a language and travel somewhere, drink coffee/beer and talk to people in said language

Meditate, go within, introspect

Cook yourself and some friends a nice meal, with a good glass of wine

Don’t give a shit about anything and just enjoy a bit with some friends who you can be yourself with and just clown around a bit (or a lot)


> Don’t worry about girlfriends/boyfriends, focus on yourself

I am 23 and I have been focusing on coding/studying over the last 3 years since I broke up with my now ex-gf. Now I believe I will have a promising developer career but I feel disconnected to people as I'm not used to hang out anymore (except w/ my friends) and enjoy small talks..

I have recently discovered personal development and I'm getting over that step by step but it was a harsh time.


Spent most of 25 having freshly broken up by my long-term girlfriend and quit my job, flying around the world in first class on miles & points, while doing a bit of consulting work and investing, and a lot of spending down my savings (mostly by angel investing all of it).

I don't regret any of it. Grew up quite a bit, doubled how much of the world I'd seen (and I started out already being well-travelled), and got to know myself a bit better by opening up to more new people and relationships than I had in years prior.


How did you have significant money to invest by 25?


Modest liquidity from previous startup successes (low six figures).


That's modest to you? I'm poor by comparison but I still consider myself to be very well off (especially when I compare myself to my colleagues and uni friends).


I was working at a large defense contractor, living in DC, going to school at night getting my master degree.

Looking back, I should have made more of an effort to exercise (I didn't get into running and real exercise until I was 27), read more, drank less, and picked a better girl friend. I should have learned Spanish or Swedish also -- I lived in Columbia Heights and it was the main language, gf spoke the ladder. Also, even though it didn't exist in 2007, if I could go back I would show my younger self SRS (ANKI).


stay off your phone in bed. read those books you're collecting. if you're doing nothing at home, clean up a little.

if the question were advice for a 20 year old me, the list would probably be longer. but i think at 25 these 3 things would have paid off in a big way - a lot of not obviously related problems would probably have lessened or disappeared entirely by doing those. and despite the passage of most of a decade, that's the same advice i should be taking now


I was 25 when I took my first big "risk" of my career - leaving my comfy job at Amazon to work at a startup. This took the form of a 'forcing function', to get me to learn new coding skills and hone in on my chosen industry.

I'm 28 now, and after 3 such startup gigs, I've finally landed one with a lot of promise and upside, and have also tripled my income. Seems that your 20s are a great time to take a big risk.


(I'm 28.)

I'd tell myself to focus a bit more on finishing up my PhD than following dead ends. That and go outside more and eat better. It took ~2-2.5 years after graduating to regain sanity and lose ~50 pounds.

And I'm pretty happy with my current job.

Generally, I'd say that's advice I'm going to try to stick to (whether it's a job, PhD, whatever): focus more, go outside more, and maybe eat some vegetables every once in a while.


I'm 29 now and I feel so old... I feel like it's already too late to get really fit (I'm skinnyfat) or change careers. Despite having a bit interest in machine learning, I don't have the time or skills to keep improving and I'm stuck in mediocrity. Then I come here and read all these 25 year olds that beat me on every single metric I could conceive,


“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”

― Ernest Hemingway


It was 2009, and I was working odd jobs to support myself while trying to be an artist. I was incredibly depressed at the time. I had graduated with a fine arts degree in 2008, and the recession made it extremely difficult to find even normal work, much less anything arts-related.

The best advice I would have for myself, both then and now, is to work smarter, not harder.


Moved to London, started several side projects, joined a startup that was actually paying very well and was doing an interesting technology.

What would I change? Probably nothing, but I would want to change what I was doing at ~21, where computer games were dominating my spare time, I wish I started working on side projects early on. Nowadays I find building things more rewarding.


Advice to younger self - take the boring Federal Government job and in 30 years you'll have a pension and can "retire" at 55 and do whatever you want - hobbies, travel, second career, ... You'll find out they call it "work" for a reason. I've had exciting and boring jobs - but at the end they all felt the same.


Financially: don't have debt and have $30.000. You are now the top 1% richest on the world.

Health: eat fruits every day, don't run marathons or be to fanatic. Talk with people, this makes you live longer. Get enough sleep if you can

Relations: with over a billion people, don't worry. You can get a new relationship within 2 weeks if you brute-force it.

Finally, find meaning.


Well, I just got married that year with a daughter on a way that we didn't entirely plan.

My biggest advice would be along the lines:

* your parents love you, and you should ignore all of their well-meant advice, because it will bring you mostly stress

* bringing up a kind is hard, but awesome

* you and your wife will need both time together, and time apart

* rewiew where you are in life and where do you want to get


I'm 25 and I should say: invest more money, take risks. And think about your health. If you got money, try to get personal fitness asap. It can only improve you and your body. Oh, and take more risks. Years go by fast and investing in stuff that give you a fixed interest is better than putting it (and keeping it) on your bank account.


Finished my masters and working my first software eng job at a mid-sized company. Had loads of money (relative to my needs back then), bought my first car, I decided that it was too boring and wanted to challenge myself. Enrolled in a PhD program the following year.

Advice to myself - better work out a balance between all the different sides of life.


at 25, i dropped out of college and moved to san jose for a job @ nasa ames. 21 years later, i'm still here and after many good tech jobs (and many crap ones), i found a great tech job @ a university!

what i'd do differently? that's easy:

0) start saving for retirement immediately. :) 1) if you're in a bad relationship (or job) just GTFO!


Working on my CS degree, working full time (or at least 20h per week) at the same time.

What would I change? Maybe try to be really frugal with my money and not work as much but get university done quicker. I might have only saved a year, maybe two, but still would've started working earlier full time for better conditions.


I had about finished the work at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17552027 and about to move to Ann Arbor in 1975. Second job there was writing code generation phase of a compiler. Much fun.


My advice to my 25-year-old self: Focus on your career NOW. It might seem fun to be footloose and fancy free but the stress of being in poor finances in the future will cut you down.

Get a good job. Move for it. Anywhere. Don't worry about friends/relationships at this point.


On my second job, learning how to code better. Still needed to learn how to be less of a jerk...


Living in a share house in London (I'm Australian) with my fiance while earning decent money working for a tech company and taking every opportunity I had to go to gigs, travel Europe and attend music festivals.

Wouldn't change a single thing... :)


I'd gotten a job as an RTOS kernel developer, gotten married, and had a kid due in a few months.

Advice: Take the evil mother-in-law's threats seriously, and just move out of the state ASAP. Don't let a romantic wife crack your knee joint.


Worked at university as researcher and on my PhD, unsuccessfully. Should have had kids and spent more time on my side projects instead (one of which got turned into a very successful business 2 years later).


This is such an interesting response to me as it's a little different than a lot of the other ones. Why do you say you "should have had kids"?

It's interesting to me because many I speak to wish they had waited longer. Is it just the value they bring to your life? Or a timing thing?


What followed was a 15 years long entrepreneurship „crunch“ that wrecked my private life and at 40+ it‘s a little late to start planning for a family (or 2). People with comfortable 9-5 jobs really have it much easier, despite the worries w.r.t. job security.


Ah, makes sense, thanks.

I obviously don't know your situation, but if it offers anything my dad was 44 when he had me and 47 when he had my brother. He's been a great dad. Sure, I wish he was younger so that I'd have more time with him, but I also think we kept him younger (both mentally and more physically active).


Don't stay longer than 2 years in that company, accept that bitcoin extra payment from your early-adopter boss, quit trying to become a professional boxer, marry and have children already.


I was writing COBOL for a banking software firm. I wouldn't change it, it's been a good ride.

BTW, I waited 'till early 30s to get married. I think that was a good decision, too.


My advice to 25 year old me would be to spend more time on relationships: romantic, friends, and professional, and less time on other BS.


> only being 2 years into my job I still feel like I'm thrown into a pit

I think it will always feel like this. The best you can do is learn skills to make this easier to manage (whether they be about learning how to break projects up, wrangle in the right people, or learning technology)

When I was 25 I was one year out of grad school and starting my second job. What worked:

* Living cheaply. My expenses at the time were 2-3x cheaper than what they are now. To be fair though, I also make 2-3x more and my quality of life is much higher.

* Focusing on open source and skill building. I've consistently put in the time after hours and it has really paid off over the years. I've learned lots of small important skills through it. Most importantly I've learned how to GSD which is possibly the most important skill of all - you'd be surprised how many people know tons but just can't produce

* Having a narrow skill set. I've been with Ruby companies most of my career and, while I want to be doing more technical work, I'm now extremely valuable and competitive in the market

* Forcing myself into the toughest problems at companies. At every position I've been in I've talked my way into working on what I viewed as the hardest problems. Unfortunately a lot of these problem areas have little support (few people want to work on them) and it has led me to burnout multiple times, but the technical lessons I've learned working on large, difficult legacy systems have been invaluable in the long run.

* Dating. Having someone to balance me out has been really important. Now I'm happily married.

* Stopped binging video games. I was bad for awhile. In high school and college I played WoW a lot and had relationships through that game that I didn't want to give up, but my personal life suffered. Even if it wasn't WoW I would just play something else. I eventually went cold turkey on it all. I did and do still play some games occasionally, but I'm not up until 2AM with my face to a screen burning brain cells. Breaking this addiction has given me more time to focus on other things I care about

* Maxed out my 401k. Your 401k is an easy and strong investment vehicle. Take advantage of it while you are young

Here would be my criticisms to myself:

* Read all of the documentation. My next job was doing some integrations work at a company with heavy Cassandra use. Nobody knew how to use Cassandra and had I become an expert early then it would've paid dividends later

* Nobody will teach you anything - you need to teach yourself. Software is a tough field as it is very individual and self-driven. I always thought that a good technical mentor would teach me things but that has never happened throughout my entire career. Anything I've learned has been through my own sweat (although, to be fair, companies have enabled me in several cases by putting me in charge of projects)

* Focus on velocity. I've always read that staying productive is good (e.g. good TDD cycle, strong automation, etc), and I've done it from time to time on my projects and it has always been great. You really need to ruthlessly optimize for your time though and that means streamlining your day-to-day so you can do more

* Learn more about personal finance. I bought a new car when I was younger and spent money without really thinking about my goals. Now I'm wanting to buy property and having to budget much harder than I would had I thought about things years prior. Loans and investing can be tricky at first

* Focus on your personal happiness. This sounds obvious but who you are outside of your career is really important. You need a place to go to get away. For me that was playing guitar but I neglected this for a long time. Today I'm picking up more hobbies as well like baking bread and electronics. It's important to disconnect. I tend to fluctuate between things (1 month of after-hours career growth, 1 month of baking, 1 month of guitar, etc)

* Eat and drink well. Seriously, it's not worth living off of peanut butter & jelly and hot dogs. This is the shit I grew up with so I didn't know any better. My wife taught me about good food and it has really improved my life both in terms of health and happiness

* Read books. I used to read technical books but I never read many novels. If I could go back in time then even a novel a year would've been nice

* Burnout is real and it will happen to you if you don't actively manage it. "Working hard" is unproductive and stupid. You want to work smart and that means properly planning things out for exponential automated returns later instead of linear returns that require your sweat and blood as input

* Follow your motherfucking dreams. I've created BS excuses for myself over time and while I've been happy with my career and life there are things that I missed the boat on because I didn't stay dedicated (e.g. playing guitar out with bands trying to hustle and tour). Put in the time now. Don't put it off

* The "superstar team" surrounded by people of passion is a lie. Well - not really a lie, but it's not what you think it is. Quit trying to find the job with "amazing people". Putting expectations on other people to make a job is a recipe for disaster - join a place you like and that has growth and be the bar-setter


What I would say to my 25 year old self. “Aren’t you lucky the girl you picked was kind and loving as well as good looking”.


I don't know, I'm 20. Going to use this thread to get some good preparatory advice though.


Backstory: When I was ~21 I was in an accident and after that had some remaining health problems and got depressed. This led me to in effect drop out of university and not do anything productive until I was 25 (this was in europe and I lived on 'on sick-leave student assistance' and an inheritance).

At 25: I had just gotten a part-time job at the university (which I managed since my depression was being dealt with, and some underlying medical issues had been diagnosed and started treatment) and was aiming at working there while catching up with my degree. The job was semi-related to the degree. In practice I made myself irreplaceable at the job and moved up to full-time and getting fairly consistent promotions (my effective salary has been raised by on average ~60%/year since I started working there), while ignoring my studies for my degree (but taking some courses in my new field).

Current status (early 30s): I have effectively topped out at my university position unless I move into management / political (getting funding) positions, which I don't want to do. Also I have grown tired of the limits of academia (and my department) and feel that I need to move into the industry. I recently failed some interviews with some FAAMG companies (due to not taking taking preparations seriously enough, and not thinking that I actually had a chance of getting the positions even though I moved onto later-stage interviews). I just signed a contract for working at a company in the financial sector and am currently doing the hand-off at my current job.

Tips for myself at 25:

I will give advice specific to me as well as a more generic version that applies to anyone at that age (or, probably, any age).

- Be more honest with yourself and realize that you will not finish your degree, and put more effort towards your work. Generically: Reflect on your (career) goals and how you will realistically fulfill them. From this build objectives that are not redundant or useless. Reevaluate your goals periodically.

- Be clear to your boss about what your plans for the future are, since he is in the best position to help you with your career development[1]. Generically: Don't be afraid of accepting help from people who offer to help. Your boss is supposed to be your advocate against management, and to help you reach your goals within the constraints of your current company/position/... (this is dependent on your boss being a reasonable/good person/manager).

- Be less passive in fixing your problems outside of work. Generically: Strive for having a good balance between your work life and your personal life. Either will affect the other, both your performance at work as well as your interpersonal relationships.

- Take your health problems seriously, get all of them checked out. Generically: You are your only health advocate. Any health professional you meet will be overworked and have a big incentive to dismiss your problems as not relevant/serious. They also will have their pet issues that they will try to fit you into. Investigate your symptoms online if you can be somewhat objective about yourself, and know how to read lists of symptoms.

ETA: Thank you for asking a great question by the way. It has gotten me to reflect on my last couple of years in a very productive way.

--

[1] - this only applies if you have a good boss, YMMV


Thank you for this great response! The "generic" versions apply to me immensely. I'll definitely take these to heart.


At 25, my career was just starting, but I felt like I was so old that I'd missed my shot. I remember thinking "I'm a quarter century old, that's ancient!"

I had dropped out of college to start a music magazine. While it never made me rich, it was my full time job for a while, and I wouldn't change that experience for anything. By age 25, I'd been running it for five years and it was clear that I'd have to shut it down and get a job.

Luckily for me, one of the writers at my magazine had just started a web design company with his journalism professor. I joined him, and we spent the next few years together at what would eventually become Razorfish San Francisco.

This was in 1996. My life was upside down and chaotic at the time, and stayed chaotic for the next decade. I tried launching a couple of startups—a hardware one, building a home MP3 player in 1998; and a photo sharing community a few years later.

To be honest, I didn't start to feel like a proper "grownup" until I was in my mid-thirties. I moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles to London to NYC, trying different roles for myself both professionally and personally. I moved to London to make music and join the Britpop scene! Yeah, that didn't happen. At one point I spent four months traveling the United States on a motorcycle, writing a book about small-town outsiders. I went back and forth between corporate gigs and my own projects, taking sketchy clients sometimes and even running a bar for a while.

But I'm glad I did all the things I did. At the time, I thought I was unfocused and treading water, but in retrospect, I was building a diverse set of skills and experiences that I use to this day.

I'm 47 now, and I do think about the advice I'd give to myself at 25.

I have three things I'd say:

1. Don't be afraid to commit to one thing. You'll always feel like you're missing out on something, but that's your brain fooling you. No one can do everything, we're all lucky if we get to do even one thing well. Instead of trying to find out what your passion is, grab what's in front of you and become great at it. Once you do, in retrospect it's going to look like your destiny.

2. Never worry about how old you are, whether you've "done enough," or compare yourself to what anyone else has done.

3. Don't over-plan. It's tempting to come up with a vision for your future, and all the ways you want everything to work out. All that does is set you up for disappointment, because reality never happens the way anybody plans. And it makes it harder to appreciate the great things that do come your way if they don't look just like the plan you'd made up in your head.

Good luck, and thanks for a great question. I enjoyed thinking about this one.


Thank you for this thoughtful response!


Getting married young is pretty much always a terrible idea


I have a ton of advice for the 25 yr old me, but I think most of it wouldn't generalize well to other people.

The one thing I'd stress to everyone is - don't take your (good) health for granted, it's really the foundation for everything else. Late 20s is about the time when random issues start popping up. Personally I wish I'd taken the MMR vaccine before travelling...


Get a good accountant


State at 25: Pursuing a PhD, in large parts because I won a non-negligible prize for my Masters thesis and the non-PhD billionaire prize-maker encouraged me to pursue academics instead of business; also, nobody in my family had ever pursued a PhD. Overall a waste of many, many years. Should have followed his example, not listened to his words.

Advice: Don't waste your time with academics and the petty politics of university faculties. Go create; market and sell; make money.

[added] Up to the end of college I had been writing code since high school, fully financing my studies with software sales and royalties.


This ^^.

I got a masters at one U, and was ensconced at another U for the Ph.D. by then. Actually that was the year that I started at the new U, and they told me, 2 weeks before I started, that they expected me to take and pass the Ph.D. qual exam. Which was in 2 weeks.

I did, but it was not a fun 2 weeks.

That was ... er ... ah ... 28 years ago.

I've used the Ph.D., outside of press releases and presentations, mebbe a few times since then. Has nothing to do with my career.

My advice to people considering Ph.D.'s ... if you seriously want to be called Dr., then sure. If you want to pursue tenure track, have your head examined, and then sure. Just remember, similar odds to lottery games. If you want to do industrial research, sure.

I actually wrote about this recently, with some observations about Ph.D.s in industry[1].

More seriously, I do occasionally reflect upon the opportunity cost, the lost earning time, lost wages, the later start to my family, ...

[1] https://scalability.org/2018/07/typecasting-and-the-trust-us...


What would you say to someone who is around that age working full time and halfway through a CS masters (struggling through it)?


I think a CS masters is very valuable career wise. Totally different than a PhD. Maybe you should consider transferring to another school.


Most crucially: why are you doing it? Second: what will it add to your life and to your business abilities?


1: to learn. 2: saying I accomplished it & deeper cs knowledge, not sure if aligns with goals to be in management though.

another note: I can't really afford an MBA without going into substantial debt. My CS masters is completely covered by my company


Sounds good, if you enjoy it (if not, ask yourself why). Make sure you are proud of your acquired knowledge and related achievements. Worry about management goals as a later pursuit; you don't need MBA to learn management, only to enter select networks.




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