When I was younger – in my teens, I thought I would never grow old. Ages like 30, 40, and 50 seemed ancient and eons away. People with careers, marriages, and children seemed to be doing boring things. I was just a rudderless youth enjoying life and going through the motions of school, home, and friends.
Yet with every birthday, the reality of growing older was dawning on me. As I matured, the responsibilities were adding up. Maybe at 12, I was carefree, but at fourteen, I felt much more was expected of me. I started noticing other young people like me excelling in academics and sports, and I felt pressured to do the same.
Indeed, I could see that I needed to make a plan. That in itself was overwhelming. If I knew then what I know now, what a big difference it would have made in how I lived my life.
The other day I asked myself what I would tell my younger self if I had the chance to communicate with her in the earlier years (does that make sense?). Here are some of the things I came up with;
1. Don’t sweat the small stuff
At any given moment, bad experiences seem like they will last forever. You will do yourself a great favor if you do not treat them like they are permanent. Life will always have its challenges. Take each bad thing, learn your lesson, fix what you can, and wait for the good times to come rolling in again. Because they will.
2. Take time to find out what you like and do it often
The earlier you learn about your likes and dislikes, the earlier you define your personality and character. Knowing yourself will help you choose a suitable life with the right education, career, and other life goals. Otherwise, you may waste a lot of your early years in confusion.
So start exploring who you are as early as possible by reading books, listening to music, journaling, asking questions, and exploring new things and ideas. With time, you will get a clear outline of who you are. Otherwise, you will become a flag that flies in whichever direction the wind is blowing, which is not a great way to live.
3. Choose one thing or skill you are good at and excel at it
In the course of exploring your personality by trying out new skills, you will discover things you are good at and love doing. You will identify these things by the compliments and results you get after doing them.
Pick that thing that fires you up and make a profession out of it. You are far more likely to make a difference in the world and make a great living when doing something you are passionate about. The earlier you find it, the better!
4. Don’t be afraid to cut off the wrong people from your life
Wrong company can ruin your life. That’s why you should never be afraid to cut off people you feel are not good for you, do not hold the same values or are generally toxic, from your life. Otherwise, you may waste many of your valuable years in the wrong company which is something you are sure to regret in later years.
5. Find mentors and role models and learn from them
There is always someone doing something you would like to do well. You will cut down on your learning curve by making these people your mentors and learning from their successes and failures.
It not only applies to your profession but also to your life. Choose an adult that is living their life the way you would like to live yours in the future and emulate them. Where possible, get guidance from your mentors, and you will avoid many pitfalls that are always waiting for you in our youth.
6. Continuously develop yourself for the better
No matter what you are dealing with or wherever you are, there is always some way you can better yourself. If you research, you will find lots of people that have perfected amazing skills while dealing with poverty, disability , conflict, and other challenging situations.
That is not to belittle what you are going through. It’s to remind you that if you only focus on a small way you can better your life every day, you will find that the quality of life you life gets better too.
7. Make time for fun and family
While life needs you to be serious, it also requires you to have some fun. Try not to take things so seriously. Once you put in your best effort at something, learn to let go and have fun. However, try choosing fun pursuits that are not detrimental to your health that you can explore with your friends and family.
Which brings me to my final point. Family is everything. Try your best to nurture great relationships with your family and friends. In the end, after you’ve achieved everything, they will be the ones you want by your side.
These are some of the things I would love to tell my younger self. What are some tips you would tell a younger you if you had the chance? Please share them with us in the comments. It will be interesting to see different perspectives and learn from them.
Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books–written by men–barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.