When I look back on my life, I realize there are a few things that I had done, consciously, and different from what many of my friends were doing when I was younger. When I now look back on these things, I realize how much they had helped me over the years. I was lucky enough that an older person passed this information on to me, making the suggestion that I follow this advice and it would serve me well.
Make a committed effort in life to be something - Don't just go through life haphazardly. Think what you are going to do; even if in a general sense. Don't just live life from day to day with never a care about tomorrow. Though that's okay, just don't think ahead at all; at very least, have a general understanding and agreement with yourself that you want this, or that, or plan on...SOME thing. Otherwise, ten years pass and nothing has changed. Then twenty years pass and suddenly, you are retiring and you have, nothing.
When you start something, complete it & do a good job - if you start, say, a collection of DVDs of all the episodes of a series, complete it. Make it a "thing" that you will eventually have all the episodes. Otherwise, you will end up with a series of DVDs, with none of them a full set of anything. This is the same in life. If you start something, try to finish it. If you start a book, don't start it unless you plan to finish it, and even if you don't like it, finish it. Perhaps read faster, read a minute here and a couple there; push through it, but finish it. If you build a habit in life like that, you will have more knowledge, more of a sense of completion, more of other people's respect for you. It will come back to do good things for you in life.
When you do something, choose the hardest way possible to get it done - in that way, you will learn the most you can from an effort. This is mostly important when you are young. As you pass into your 20's and 30's it becomes less important in my opinion. But let's say you are studying math. Learn the hardest way to do it. You will find that you get fast at it. You understand it better than those taking the easiest route. Later on, you may find that you are doing things related to that, faster and with more understanding than anyone around you. You are also building brainpower and mind muscle and flexibility. These are things that are incredible useful, time saving, powerful, and make people thinking highly of you. Also, when you need to take shortcuts, you will fly through them.
If you want something, then WANT it - everything in life I ever wanted, I believe I received within a few years. But it was the things I really wanted to my core, that I just said, I'm going to get this. I tried to work toward it, kept it in the back and sometimes the front of my mind. I was open and honest about it. Networking helps. Sometimes just telling people you want something, gets you that thing. Being good and helpful, makes people want to see you have what you want more often than not. Hanging with the right people helps. If you want to be a writer, don't hang out with a bunch of urban camper heroin addicts, though that can be fodder for the writer's block later on.
I even tested it this thoery. I picked a few things in my life that were kind of foolish to want, but were nothing any young man may decide to want to experience and sure enough, within a couple of years, I found myself sitting there in the situation I knew I could never achieve. When I think back on it, it happened time and time again. When I think of the things I didn't get, I realize, I hadn't wanted them all that bad, and sure enough, I didn't get them.
I also think its possible that the older you get, the longer it takes and the more reasonable you may have to be on these things, but still, nearly anything is possible. It does help though, to be reasonable with life, and life will be reasonable with you. If you want to be King of the Universe, well, it may take longer than you have years to be alive. If you want to be master of an ant hill, perhaps you should set your goals a bit higher.
These are only a few of these things. But if you take these up and run with them, you will start to recognize other things like this. By following these things, your life with go more smoothly and you will get farther, faster.
At first, doing things this way was time consuming, difficult, frustrating, but I took it as a challenge, because I decided I respected the person that told me about this, decided they were a good example to follow and that helped me keep this up when I was tired, bored, and didn't want to go any further down that path. But after a while, I stopped noticing I was doing things in these ways and got to not only enjoy them, but they became second nature to me.
After decades of this, I found I didn't really need to do things this way any longer, because I had advanced enough in life that it was no longer really necessary. But if and when I might have to do things in the harder ways, it wasn't such a struggle and I was better able to do it, than many around me.
A little effort in the beginning of things, can often save you a lot later on.