I hate anything which has ‘never’ or ‘always’ in the title. It triggers me and I can’t help it. There are few situations where any advice is universal because life is so much more nuanced.

Of course, there are exceptions when it comes to things like the laws of physics. “Never jump off tall buildings” is definitely something you should follow. When it comes to success and happiness, the rules are less set in stone.

Sinem Günel is only 24 years old but already has half a decade of entrepreneurial experience. People mistook her youth for naivety and tried to tell her what to do because they thought they knew better. Part of her success is knowing when to follow and when to ignore.

She realized most online personal growth gurus were white men who had a different set of privileges to her. English is Sinem’s third language and she grew up in Vienna with a Turkish heritage. Rather than trying to copy others, she has played to her strengths instead.

Even if you fit all the same demographics as the person giving advice, you need to make sure it’s right for you. 

Choose your vision of success

People say ‘success’ as if everyone wants the same things from life which isn’t true.

Some people want to be billionaires, others couldn’t care less.
Some people want to be playboys, others seek their one true love.
Some want to explore the world, others are happy at their local cafe.

The first step should always be to work out what you want from life. Not what your parents or society wants but what you want. When you know this, it protects you from all the toxic success porn online. You can scroll past because no matter what rhetoric people use, they can’t pressure you into feeling unhappy with yourself.

Sinem is like me and fancy designer goods don’t make us happy. I know I could have higher social status if I flaunted my cash around but to what end? I don’t want to impress people who are impressed by such superficial things.

I mean no offense if you are motivated by expensive things. I have my opinion and you have yours. The key is to act in line with what matters to you rather than what matters to me.

Life is a constant iteration

You aren’t the same person as you were a year ago. You might not even be the same person you were a week ago. Last weekend, I sat down and reassessed what was important to me and changed what I prioritized because of my conclusions.

These little shifts in your actions can stop you from spending years chasing something you don’t even value at the end. This isn’t an excuse to change plans when things get hard but to make sure you’re only putting in the effort if it still matters to you.

During the pandemic, Sinem was working almost every waking hour of the day in her small apartment. For this period, her business was the most important thing in her life. She was lucky to live with her partner in business and life so she always had someone to share her struggles.

Today, her life is the opposite. She’s found a balance where she only works a few hours a day but these have a high yield. Sinem did the hard work and now she’s reaping the rewards of a lifestyle where she’s in control.

Many people don’t know when to stop running on the hamster wheel. They keep chasing out of compulsion because they can’t see when they have enough. Sinem advises you to surround yourself with people who do something similar to you who seek the same lifestyle you do. They’ll be able to keep you on track and give you perspective when you need it.

I hope you found these tips useful and can see ways you can apply them to your own life. If you’d like to hear Sinem talk about it with me in more detail, check out our conversation in the video below.

This article is based on the Mindful & Driven episode with Sinem. You can listen here.

Image courtesy of Sinem Gunel

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