1. Keep some form of spiritual grounding in your life. I started this process by bringing you to church, and whether or not you continue, I hope you remain spiritually centered. A foundation of faith, not religion, can bring a type of inner peace and strength that nothing can replace. Cultivate this.
2. Education is the gift that keeps on giving, and the one thing, once earned, that no one can ever take away. Complete the concrete steps you need to move on with your goals, and never stop learning. There is always something new to learn.
3. Ask for help when you need it. The only people that will think less of you for asking are the people that already thought less of you to begin with. Those are people you need to avoid if at all possible. Conversely...
4. If you can do it yourself, do it! Self-reliance is not a dirty word. The trick is in knowing when to do it yourself, and when to ask for help.
5. Surround yourself with people who love you and value you for who you are, not what you are, or what you can do for them. As you work towards personal and professional successes, many more people will enter your life. It is my hope that you will develop Discernment to know which relationships to nurture, and which people to allow to walk away.
6. Change is inevitable. Never fear change. Stay flexible, especially on the job. This will come in handy more often than you realize.
7. Feeling fear is normal. Wallowing in it, or allowing it to dictate your choices in life is limiting. Tempting as it is to not do things based on fear of the unknown, taking calculated risks (where you measure the possible outcomes against the size of the risk you are taking), might actually be some of the best decisions you ever make.
8. Knowledge is easy to obtain; Wisdom is not. You will gain both as you get older: Knowledge through study, application and practice; Wisdom through a painful teacher called Experience. The only people that don't gain Wisdom are people that don't want to. On that same note...
9. Proper money management is critical. I didn't learn about what credit really meant until after I turned 30, and I have paid dearly for that lack of knowledge. It is crucial that you realize there are a lot of little ways to stumble, and seriously damage your financial future. Nothing to fear, but a few things to know in order to have secure finances.
10. Failure is not the end. Look at setbacks as the opportunity to reassess your goals and methods. Then you can either try again from another angle, or go on to your next goal. The point is always to keep moving forward, even if only an inch at a time.
11. Working hard and working smart are two different things. Both are required to have a happy and successful life, and you will learn when to do each.
12. There are worse things than being alone. This goes for friendships and relationships. This also goes along with #5 above. Red flags are exactly that: an internal warning that something is not right, and from there you can make the choice to either explore it further, or leave it be. But to be in negative relationship with people that either don't really like you, or are envious of you, or are unnecessarily and overtly competitive with you is emotionally draining. In these cases, it is better to be alone than to wish you were.
13. Kindness and decency are the meat and potatoes. Intelligence is gravy. Pretty is the dessert. If she respects herself, and treats you and everyone else around her with respect, courtesy and kindness, she's a keeper. If she is smart about the things that count (her strengths hopefully complement your weaknesses, and vice versa), that is an incredible bonus. If she's also pretty, you hit the jackpot!
14. Do pay attention to the world around you. There is always a lot going on in the world. Know enough about the world outside of your bubble of friends and interests to be able to speak intelligently about at least a few other subjects. Notice when people are hurting or in need, and learn to be there for them. Also notice when people want to be left alone, and respect their wishes. The practice of empathy with the condition and circumstances of others will lead you to a better understanding of the world you live in.
15. Take care of yourself, too. You already know that eating right (all things in moderation) and exercise are important for physical and mental health. Take little time outs for your emotional health as well. Spend a little time alone. Unplug. Listen to soothing music. Read a good book. I guarantee you will find yourself refreshed by the downtime.
Above all, know that I love you, and am truly looking forward to seeing the man you are becoming.