I’m 20

Today is my twentieth birthday.  I’ve made it an annual habit of writing a rather self-indulgent post about myself on my birthday.  I’m going to take that opportunity to write about my last year, things that I have improved on, setbacks and future goals.  If you were hoping to read an article about productivity or self-improvement, you can skip this post and I’ll have another entry later in the week.

Last year was a great one.  There weren’t as many changes as the year before (when I moved to University) or the year before that (when I started this blog), but I still reached some important milestones.  Most of all, I had a lot of fun, and if you can’t do that, what’s the point?


In University, I kept up my average of between A and A+ for a GPA.  However I’m starting to take more courses which are based on participation and projects, which means keeping a spotless GPA will take more work.

Honestly, grades aren’t that important to me.  Although I’ll work on keeping them (a guy who wrote a book on studying, should still have a high GPA), I consider learning something valuable to be more important.  My lifelong goals are for entrepreneurship, where GPA and paper degrees aren’t going to matter, so grades have never been a focus of my effort.


I’ve kept up with regular exercising and gym-going.  Aside from a sprained wrist in March and my bout with mononucleosis a few weeks ago, I’ve been in great shape (far better than 4-5 years ago).  I’m still making improvements in fitness, but it’s more about being healthy and staying active than reaching a specific goal.  I’m happy with my physical health, so I mostly want to keep it that way.


I’ll keep my dating life private, to protect the innocent, but I’ve also been happy with this in my last year.  It can sometimes be hard to find the right balance between social life/relationship and your other goals, but it is worth the effort.  I’m still figuring out a lot of these questions myself, so I wouldn’t expect any articles on relationships for awhile.


A big area of improvement was in running this website.  I started this with the goal of earning a livable income.  Perhaps that’s a little presumptuous for a then-17-year-old, but I wasn’t going to wait until I was thirty to start doing what I love.  This past year has marked the start where I’ve actually been able to enjoy the income this website earns.

One immediate benefit was being happily unemployed for this summer.  I worked the year before, to raise money for tuition and living expenses.  However, as I’ve been earning more with this website than an entry-level full-time job for the summer, I’ve been able to enjoy a fun and relaxing four months between classes.

My 2008 income goal was $20,000 before taxes.  Based on my income so far this year, I’m nearly on schedule.  I have some plans to hit the target before the year end.  The specific number isn’t that important, but I believe it marks an important step in being able to live entirely off the income from this website.


My reading (in terms of total volume) is not nearly as high as was a few years ago, when I was reading 70+ books in a year (I expect 30-40 this year).  Part of this can simply be explained by reading longer books.  I read several books nearing 1000 pages, whereas my previous reading habits focused on shorter books between 300-500 pages.

Another factor might have been my switch off Amazon books.  I decided to switch to the library to save money.  Unfortunately, even a large University library makes finding the book you want to read a pain.  Amazon may be more expensive, but I can read exactly what interests me.

Still the drop in reading might just be a side effect of the busier lifestyle I’ve taken on.


A big time investment for this summer and the upcoming fall has been volunteering.  I’m doing work as part of a fundraising team, getting corporate sponsorship for student events.  I’m also running the website for the Commerce Business Banquet, in November.  Although these take away time, there are a lot of rewards.  I’ve had a chance to learn skills that would be difficult to practice normally, and I’ve made many great friends I might not have otherwise.

Future Goals

Looking back is useful, but I’ve always been focused on the future.  I have some important goals, and there are many other experiences I want to get that don’t fit on a timetable.  As always, I’m going to continue working hard on improving myself, which I think is the most important step in reaching any other ambition.

Thoughts on Goal-Setting

A lot of my goal setting philosophy has changed from when I first started around 5 years ago.  When I started, I was intensely motivated to reach my goals.  And when a goal didn’t look like I would make it, I would work even harder to reach it.  Often this meant stressing myself out trying to make impossible targets.

I’ve since changed my perspective.  Working hard and persisting towards goals is important.  Having goals is especially important, even if you can’t reach them.  But, a lot of life is outside my control.  Stressing over goals that you couldn’t reach isn’t the point.  The point of having goals is to stay focused, motivated and feel alive.  I feel if I can accomplish that, I’m not going to worry that life isn’t conforming to my timeline.

I’ve found that if you set goals, come up with a strategy, and work your ass off, you tend to reach them.  However, it often isn’t on your deadline, so you need patience to keep going even when progress is slow.

Going Digital

My biggest goal (although it’s more a lifestyle than a goal) is to live completely off my laptop, and travel around the world learning new things and having new experiences.  I expect that this will need around $30,000-$40,000 per year to be comfortable.  I’m sure I could do it with less, but this is my comfort zone.

So my first goal is to move my income from slightly below $20,000 per year to twice that.  I have another two years of University with my degree in commerce.  I’ve also been considering another degree in computer science, an passionate interest of mine for the last several years.  I’m planning on reaching that ambitious financial goal by the time I’m done University.

My ideal lifestyle needs more than just money.  I think it needs a lot of other skills and qualities that are hard to pin down.  Languages, travel experience, being socially outgoing and independent are all just as important.  I’m looking into doing a student exchange in another country to get some experience before I graduate.

I don’t have any other big goals that I’ll be working on in the near future.  I think splitting my focus between many different goals will mean that I won’t accomplish any of them.  And a digital lifestyle requires many minor goals across different areas, so I’m not worried that part of my life will be neglected to reach my ambition.

Overall Thoughts

All of this doesn’t really matter.  What matters is that I get to wake up each day, do what I love, learn something and feel like my energy was invested wisely.  I’m lucky enough that I get to do this most of the time.  I definitely have bad days, and things are never perfect, but most of the time, I’m having fun.

  • Aurooba

    Happy birthday, Scott! I really enjoy your blog, having followed it for quite a few months…although I’m not so big on commenting. 🙂

    “I’ve found that if you set goals, come up with a strategy, and work your ass off, you tend to reach them. However, it often isn’t on your deadline, so you need patience to keep going even when progress is slow.”

    I find that is quite true, sometimes life has a slightly different plan for you.

    May you reach your goals in good time and find happiness in every nook of life. 🙂

  • msd

    Happy Birthday man, you’re an inspiration!

  • Mike

    Happy birthday Scott, and thanks for blogging.

  • Salman khan

    Happy b’day Scott.

    I feel you have really lived your life to optimum.
    Surely your’ll beat your goals.

    Best of luck

  • Glen Allsopp

    Happy birthday, I really thought that you were older than 20. You are a year older than me and I’ve been earning thousands online for over a year now so you can definitely do it (on track for about $40k), although I’ve spent a lot of that investing in other projects.

    I have no doubt that you’ll be able to reach your figures 🙂


  • Dave Fowler

    Happy Birthday Scott!!

    It’s brilliant that you know what you want. And it looks like you really do know what you want.

    I can’t say that I did at 20, I just went where the wind took me.

    Don’t get me wrong, as a result I’ve found a beautiful wife and I have four beautiful children.

    Now that I’m about to turn 40, I’ve only just come to realise what I want from life, and fortunately I’ve set about actively pursuing the lifestyle I want.

    It’s truly impressive that you’ve achieved what you have.

    You have every justification to feel proud of yourself.

    I hope you have a great day, Scott.

    All the best,


  • Shanel Yang

    Wow! Wish I was that focused at your age! But, no time like the present. You inspire me to make the most of what I’ve got right now; and, since I expect to live to 120, there’s plenty of time left. Happy 20th! Can’t wait to hear about all that you have accomplished by your 21st birthday! : )

  • Scott Young

    Thanks Everyone. It’s been a great day, and I appreciate all the excessive flattery.


    Amazing stuff on the website, is that your blog you’re on track to 40k for? Right now I’m on the track to 20k, so you’ll have to give me some advice for reaching the next milestone!


  • Vlad Dolezal

    Happy Birthday ScottMeister!

    Since this post is all about you, I’m going to write a Scott-indulgent comment too 🙂

    The first time I came across your blog, I felt a pang of jealousy. Basically “damn this guy is exactly what I want to be. And he’s about a hundred miles ahead.”

    Well, since then I found out that there’s plenty of room for bloggers. I found my own unique voice, and I don’t feel worried anymore that some successful blogger will say all the things I want to say myself.

    Oh, by the way, I also have a goal of achieving a digital lifestyle. I think I’m about a year behind you, that is, I could achieve what you’ve achieved now when I’m 21. (I’m turning 19 this week)

    Good luck with all your efforts! You’re a living success story to me.


  • Scott Young


    Don’t worry, I have exactly the same feeling when I see other people I view as being ahead of me. If I feel a moment of envy, I try to channel that into my own goals and use those people as inspiration to look forward too.

    Besides, I’m sure there are lots of things you could teach me too!


  • Bob

    Scott, Happy Birthday! You’re way ahead of other 20 yr olds and even most 40 yr olds. Keep up the good work and best of luck. You’re an inspiration. If you always do what you love then you won’t have any worries going forward.


  • Maureen Brennan

    Happy Birthday and thanks for sharing your goals. Very inspirational! Good luck in achieving your goals!

  • J.D. Meier

    Happy Birthday Scott

    >… entrepreneurship, where GPA and paper degrees aren’t going to matter, so grades have never been a focus of my effort.
    I like your precision and distinction. I’m a fan of learning from the school of hard knocks where what works is the real measure.

    What have you found to be the most effective techniques for generating your online revenue?

  • dian

    you’re 20? you’re very young! Happy Birthday Scott!
    after i stop reading steve pavlina, i started reading your site for a couple of month now and i love seeing your writing.

    Cheers Mate!


  • Brice

    Don’t fall for the trap that library collections are limiting!

    I work for an academic library and we pretty much guarantee that a person can get practically any book/article ever published in the history of man for free. Your university has a Document Delivery service that is similar, but I’m not sure if they’re as zealous as us in their offerings.

  • Scott Young


    Libraries are certainly useful, perhaps I just haven’t been using mine to the fullest.


    That’s a post for another day. Actually, my online business keeps changing as I learn more about what creates value for my readers. I’m still learning, so I won’t comment on a final decision. I think the key is to experiment and find out works for you.


  • Glen Allsopp

    I run another website (http://www.viperchill.com) and a couple of affiliate projects where my money comes from 🙂

    Feel free to email me if you want any tips or suggestions

  • Shama Hyder

    Happy Birthday Scott!

    LOVE LOVE LOVE seeing Gen Y have their stuff together so nicely. Go us!


  • Chris O’Donnell

    Happy birthday Scott. Still can’t get over the fact you are only 20..

  • Gert

    Happy Birthday Scott!!! Congratulations with all your great achievements so far, and thanks for the great blog!

  • Casper ter Kuile

    Hey Scott,

    So great to see other young, passionate and intelligent bloggers!

    You have a knack of making me want to be a better person – thank you.


  • DanGTD


    As you say, the important thing is that you wake up early each day, to do what you like.

    Many successes in the future.

  • etavitom

    Happy Birthday my brother. Thanks for all the profound wisdom!

  • Tabs

    Happy Birthday 😀 I am so very proud of your accomplishments, especially since I have been a fan of your blog for over two years now. Keep up the good work.


  • Alejandro Sierra

    I knew you were young but not so young. I have been reading your blog just since two weeks or so. Very inspiring. Happy birthday!

  • ambika

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY & Wish you the best in whatever you want to achieve.

    Thanks for all that i gained from your blog.

  • Henrik Edberg

    Happy birthday, Scott! You seem to have had an exciting year. Hope this one will be even better.

  • Karthik

    Hi Scott,

    Belated birthday wishes. 🙂

    May god bless you with all happiness & long life in the world.


  • Scott Young

    Thanks for all the comments everyone!

  • Thor

    Congratulations on your birthday, a thought about your study. You are doing what most do, use your “best” years, that is to say years when you are physically/energetically at top performance, to go to college. If your goal is entrepreneurship where grades and degrees dont matter, why not use those prime years doing that instead? As someone who started college at 30 I can state that in regards to actually studying it is preferable because I’m more mature now but it is of course something of a handycap to be a decade older than the rest.

  • Thor

    Handycap to be older when it comes to socializing I meant to say.

  • Nikki

    Happy Birthday!

    It’s amazing at 20 years old you could accomplish so much!

    I’m 21 & have not accomplished anything quite as amazing as you.

    I have no idea how you do it, but you’re definitely an inspiration.

  • Diego

    A very Happy Birthday Scott!

    Thank you for so many lessons!

  • Senthil

    Many more happy returns of the day

  • George Yuen

    -i enjoy the topics you cover on your blog- you definitely ading value to yoour readers;
    – in terms of goal setting, i think it is important to reset your goals to take into account real life changes;
    i am 48(feel like 35 in terms of mindset;
    i had a stroke and luckily i still have my speech, memory and cognitive brain but am learning to walk again;
    i view this as an opportunity to start over;
    i got lemons, so i have to make lemonade!l;
    but i feel like an artist in front of a blank canvas and i am overwhelmed by the tyranny of choice;
    that’s why i find your blog useful because your age brings a naive passion to finding and building a life that is fullfilling;
    hope you have a great day and theyear ahead brings you good health, prosperity, and peace of mind!

    i had a very successful life in business(wharton mba), lived abroad

  • Karen

    Regarding your online revenue goals, entrepreneurship, and travel goals, you might find it worthwhile to check out Chris Guillebeau’s site, The Art of Non-conformity. I don’t know him; I just discovered his site recently and was impressed, and I think you two are of like minds.

  • Scott Young


    Excellent suggestion, I’ve added AONC to my feed reader.


  • Kakalina

    Belated Happy Birthday 🙂 Joyeaux Anniversaire (I hope I spelled that right…)

    I read somewhere else here that you’ve started reading more fiction. You might want to try Elizabeth Kostova and Haruki Murakami. They’re both contemporary and very different from one another, but are wonderful writers.

  • Jess

    Happy birthday..!

    I’d just like to say that I stumbled upon your blog very recently, and that I find what you do really inspiring. I thought nobody my age (at least no-one I’d be able to find) thought much about personal development, seems you proved me wrong 🙂 I’m sixteen now, and I started blogging about this too. Your success encourages me, thank you 😀


  • Diana

    Happy Birthday Scott. I just came across your website today. You’re an inspiring guy and I hope you meet all the goals you’ve set for yourself.

  • Tara

    Happy Birthday, Scott! You’re the coolest 20 y.o. I know (of)!!

  • Frank90

    Hello Scott, it’s great to come across a spectacular like you.
    Happy birthday and may your goal be accomplished!

    You have been an excellent blogger !
    I have been reading your book entitled “Learn more and Study less”. It would possibly change my life as my current learning strategy is rather conventional and ineffective. This book really gives me a better insight on how to study. Thanks again 🙂

    Your engine is accomplished or you never start :p

  • Success Professor

    Hey Scott,

    Happy Birthday. What school are you at? And what major?

  • Cassie

    Hey that’s cool; 20000 for this website and your even handling other people’s websites – awesome.

    Question though, what kind of computer science stuff/languages do you know; in order to do all the stuff you do?

  • Scott Young


    I have some computer science knowledge, and I have basic/moderate skills with HTML, PHP, CSS and MySQL.

    However, the only time I used any of that was when I redesigned the website. If you get someone else to do your design work, then you need very minimal skills.


  • Cassie

    Great. Thanks for letting me know…