How many would like to revisit our past and write a letter to our “younger selves?”
Something that encapsulates all of our past and present missteps (and victories!) in one little Cliff Notes Guidebook.
Wouldn’t it be awesome to be presented with a handy little roadmap to success based on the life teachings you have now?
Who would like to offer something to our Younger Selves, from our Future Selves, to help avoid experiencing the pain and inconvenience of bumps in the road, wrong turns, and epic failures that are yet to come but also just a part of life as we know it?
Though a nice thought, the reality is that there is no crystal ball for us to use to predict our future path to success. It’s no secret that these impending “bumps, bad turns, and epic fails” are something we’d just rather avoid, but we also need to remember that they are vital in forming and shaping who we are and who we will be in the future.
These “teachable moments” in our lives are necessary and invaluable, no matter how uncomfortable.
Rough seas make stronger sailors. ~Old sailor’s wisdom
As this current year comes to a close and the New Year is just around the corner, I encourage everyone to stop and appraise the past year.
What opportunities would you have given me?
Which ones never came?
What parts of life would you like to “do-over” to soak up the bliss or make a different choice?
We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails. ~Jimmy Dean
This quote by Mr. Dean is a powerful reminder that while we may not always be able to control our circumstances, we can always control our response to them.
I encourage everyone who is committed to a better and brighter New Year to take some time to adjust their sails, recalculate their journey, gather their wits, learn from their past mistakes, and keep moving forward.
Back to the idea of a letter to Younger Me. If I was to share any wisdom with Teenage or Young Adult Becky, this is what I would say:
1. Stop Flying By The Seat of Your Pants:
Please write down your dreams and form a plan around them. Actually writing down and verbalizing them is an important step that should be addressed. I promise that once your dreams are on paper, they get more believable. The new roadmap of steps you just created will propel you toward the days when your plan becomes real. If you don’t do these steps, your dreams will rattle in your brain and never see the light of day.
2. Ignore the Naysayers:
Our lives are chock full of people who want nothing better than to tell us what we can’t do. Choose your confidants carefully and seek advice from mentors who have been down a similar path.
Our inner voice is the wisest, but it’s also the biggest culprit when second-guessing ourselves and filling our brains with self-deprecating thoughts. Run with those who build you up, not tear you down, and adjust your thinking when you become your worst enemy.
NOTE: I’ve been called “weird” more times than I can count. That’s okay. I am 100% OK with being weird, and I know I am not alone. “Normal” is just a setting on the dryer.
3. Treat Others How you Wish to be Treated:
We begin hearing this rule as early as Kindergarten (if not sooner), and I agree it’s a fantastic rule to live by. Treat everyone with the same respect and kindness as you wish to receive, and you will rarely go wrong.
It took me until my mid-50s to understand that walking around from toxic people and situations is act of bravery and sanity.
As much as I’d like to tear a few people a new one on social media (weekly), I need to protect peace and mental health first. That applies to offline situations and people as well.
Don’t feed the trolls. Though I would never walk away from someone who needs help or is in pain, many conversations online these days are from people who are either determined to be right or just looking to start drama.
Take Away Lesson: Know when to walk away or say “no thank you.”
4. Good or Bad, Attitude is a Choice:
Everyone has the option in the morning, as their feet hit the floor, to focus on the dark clouds in the sky or the fact that the sun is peeking around them.
Practice positive thinking as often as possible so it becomes a habit. If you’re always looking for something to complain about, you’ll always find it. Do the opposite. Then repeat.
5. Your Past Doesn’t Always Determine Your Future:
We all come from “somewhere.” If your history is filled with turmoil, uncertainty, pain, or loss, it can be a springboard to a bright future rather than a boat anchor that weighs you down.
Ask for help or advice, visualize what you want from your life, do something daily to move towards that goal, and continue until you reach your destination. Even if it feels like millimeters, each small step adds to a life lived and dreams realized.
And if you find yourself needing to shrink yourself down emotionally, mentally, and spiritually to fit into places/situations/jobs/relationships that you’ve outgrown, stop. Shrinking is a form of survival and you deserve to bloom, sprout, grow, and flourish.
6. Live the Moment:
The present is a gift, so it’s called “the present.” We are all guilty of wasting time wishing instead of doing. Or wishing for when “things will get easier.”
“I wish my daughter would get past this stage,” or “I wish next month would come faster so I can go on vacation.”
If you’ve caught yourself wishing life away, I have a newsflash for you: today is gone…, and there’s no “reset” switch. Live in the moment as often as possible; we know this is sometimes easier said than done.
Consider your daily minutes like money in the bank; if you don’t use that, money loses it daily. Everyone has 1,440 minutes each day to invest in their life and future. Wishing that time away, which includes living in the past or worrying about the future, pulls us all away from the joy of the present moment.
I am not suggesting you live with an “it’s all butterflies and unicorns” outlook, but we encourage you to slow down, unplug, and open your eyes to your day and those around you.
7. Friends for a Reason-Friends for a Season:
Great friendships are like gold. Our friends are often a massive part of our support system and sanity keepers, but losing a few is OK.
“Friends for a reason” are friends who have seen us through our most extensive trials and tribulations and still love us unconditionally and without judgment.
“Friends for a season” are those we meet at certain times in life but slowly drift away from for various reasons. Before moving on, they show up in our lives for a specific person or reason. And that’s perfectly okay.
Save your best energy for those who don’t waste yours, and walk away from relationships that don’t serve you well.
I consider my closest besties my A-Team and they are my support system who support me, “get” me, pick me up when I’m down, cheer me on when I’m kicking butt, and call me out lovingly when I’m being a knucklehead. They are all keepers.
With this in mind, choose your own A-Team wisely and confide, rant, brag, be vulnerable, and share with those in your circle and try not to listen too much to others when making decisions.
Don’t let the people who don’t matter too much, matter too much. ~Wes Moore
8. Minimize Clutter:
Studies have shown that clutter at home or work is a huge factor in creating stress, anxiety, and even discontent for yourself and those around you. It’s healthy to purge your belongings (and purge often) to avoid getting weighed down by clutter and ‘stuff.”
Only keep necessary things, precious keepsakes, or those belongings that make your heart sing. The rest must be “blessed and released” and donated, passed on, or discarded.
9. There is no Prince on a White Horse Coming to Save You:
One of the hardest lessons I learned was advocating for myself, standing up for myself, and asking for what I’m worth.
I entirely admit that I had secret fantasies that someone would magically swoop into my life to pay my bills, tell my toxic boss to go pound sand, and kick my narcissistic mate to the curb. Dream on, honey.
Once I stopped wishing and hoping for something that would likely never arrive, I realized that I needed to be fierce, strong, and independent.
No one was coming to bail me out, so I better figure life out alone. That’s the mantra I’ve passed on to my kids as well.
In a jam? Figure it out.
Not sure how to fix an issue? Figure it out.
And I encourage you to do the same. If you meet a soulmate that you can build a partnership for life with, I am so incredibly happy for you.
But that doesn’t happen to anyone. Please ask for help when you need it, but spend time figuring it out on your own instead of waiting for something or someone to make it right for you.
My point is to try, try so hard, to not fall into the pattern of letting someone toxic into your life because you are afraid of being alone.
Don’t freely give away your time, heart, faith, or sense of being to someone, or something, that will forget you the moment you walk away.
Cover your own needs FIRST so if you need to, you can rely on you and only you.
10. Be wise to money matters:
We’ve all experienced buyer’s remorse over purchases we shouldn’t have pulled the trigger on. You know, the ones; instead of being a one-time purchase, it’s an ongoing financial vortex of endless payments we can’t afford. Many people get into a financial pickle because of rash, impulsive, and uninformed decisions that could have been avoided.
To prevent money pitfalls or financial flops, take the time to research your more significant purchases (or purchases that commit you to long-term obligations) and consult the Internet for reviews or even use social media to poll friends.
When in doubt, stop and ask hard questions like, “Is this worth it?” before pressing the “Buy Now” button.
11. Volunteerism is Important:
Referring back to #10, there is an exception that you should consider if time, money, and energy allow: volunteering.
Giving your time or money is one of the most extraordinary things we can do for others and ourselves. Being of service to people, places, and projects that serve a high good will not only fill your soul, but it could help someone who truly needs it.
Volunteerism is not only giving back but also a valuable way to expand our horizons and meet amazing people.
12. Be Kind to You:
Don’t take your body’s energy, flexibility, and beauty (at any age) for granted. Eat right, sleep enough, get out into nature daily, exercise whenever possible, fill your brain with positive books, shows, and information, and hang out with the people you love.
13. Put Family First:
No one puts “I wish I would have spent more time in the office'” on their tombstone.
And if you’re a Marvel fan, you’ll remember this “odd pearl” that Tony Stark shared with his father in End Game: No amount of money ever bought a second of time.
Strive to make a living on your terms, but always to put family first. Children grow so fast, and our parents and siblings age as well. If you have a deadline for a project that conflicts with little Billy’s softball playoffs, ask yourself, “In 10 years, which will matter the most?” and adjust your activities accordingly.
14. Never Stop Learning and Growing:
Just because we are aging doesn’t mean we need to stop growing. Honing existing talents and learning new ones should be a life-long adventure.
Learning how to ski, belly dance, or Geocache is always possible. Continue to reap the benefits of learning a new language, traveling to a new country, meeting new people, or trying a new hobby. Challenge yourself often and keep your spirit, mind, and body young.
15. Failure is not Always Bad:
Many people view failure as something to be ashamed of, but those of us who have “been there” beg to differ.
Failure to is proof that at least you tried. It’s easier to sit on the sidelines and judge those who tried and failed than to join the game and be accountable.
Many notable people in history repeatedly tried and failed at certain things but used those lessons to rise above and become even more inspiring. Failures are teachable moments in an awkward and uncomfortable disguise. They suck, but they teach us so much and make us better humans.
Wear your past failures like a badge of honor instead of a scarlet letter of shame.
“Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.” – C. S. Lewis
16. Taking the Road-Less-Traveled, or Not, is Perfectly Okay:
Some of us are born to follow in the footsteps of those successful folks who went before us, and others are born to hack through the jungle and blaze new trails.
There’s nothing wrong with either option.
If you’re taking a familiar path, please don’t hesitate to put your own personal spin on it.
If you prefer not to follow a conventional path and actively pursue your own, that’s also pretty awesome.
Some of the most influential people in the world are the ones who dared to be different (Steve Jobs, J.K Rowlings, and Mother Teresa), and their determination not to follow the conventional path led to changes that affect the fabric of today’s world. Embrace your uniqueness and Own.It.
What life lessons have you learned that made you who you are today?
“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”-Mark Twain