We asked 57 influencers to share what they would tell their younger selves.
Discover their insights below: everything from having a successful career and business, to happiness, to winning in life!
Founder and CEO, Mavens & Moguls
I would tell my younger self a few things:
#1 It really is a marathon, not a sprint so do not set arbitrary goals like being named 30 under 30 or 40 under 40 because it may take longer than Mark Zuckerberg to hit your stride and that’s ok.
#2 Your definition of success will change as you go and that is normal, your priorities change over time.
#3 Don’t be scared to fail, just learn from every bump in the road so you make better mistakes next time. That is where you learn the most!
#4 Be kind and always take the high road you will never regret it.
Hanalei Vierra, Ph.D., MFT
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist
What I would want to tell my 16-year-old self would be that despite whatever insecurities he has about himself as a guy and whatever personal inadequacies he was reminded of on a daily basis growing up in the family he grew up in, that he is indeed already a “good enough” person who does NOT have to smile and be the clown to get positive attention and tell people what he thinks they want to hear in order to get their love.
I would remind him that—despite his limitations, flaws, and imperfections—he already deserves love and never EVER needs to try and convince others of this fact.
Professor, Dept. of Telecommunication at the University of Florida
At some point or another, we all wish we could go back in time, knowing what we know now, and do it all over again.
The only problem is that only happens when you get can your DeLorean up to 88 miles-per-hour and generate 1.21 jigawatts to power the flux capacitor. But I am not Michael J. Fox and I can’t go back to the future.
So although I cannot speak to younger me, I am fortunate enough that as a professor at the University of Florida, I can pass on the advice to my students that I wish I could tell my younger self.
So every semester I tell my students the same thing: take advantage of the opportunities in front of you.
When I was in college, I didn’t do an internship until my fifth year. I wasn’t really involved in any clubs at school. And I didn’t take advantage of my breaks to travel and do new things.
I never even attended an away football game. And while I don’t quote my students John Greenleaf Whittier, look it up if you don’t know it, I do remind them that now is their chance to try different careers and different experiences.
I encourage them to attend conferences and networking opportunities. I encourage them to do different internships during the semester and during the breaks.
I encourage them to get involved in clubs and activities. And I encourage them to make connections with their peers, their professors, and people in the industry.
Basically, I tell them to do all the things I wish someone had told me.
And while I love what I do, and I am happy with the way things turned out, I do wonder sometimes what might have happened if I had had someone telling me to take advantage of opportunities when I was their age. I don’t know if I would have listened, but a little sage advice never hurt anyone.
CEO, Engine E-Commerce
I would tell myself to follow my passion and my skills, rather than pursue the safe route embraced by others.
I paid for medical school with an e-commerce business I started in my college dorm room. Even though I was making a “doctor-like” salary from my business, I spent seven years finishing medical school and a family practice residency.
I did this because 20 years ago, the world seemed to believe that being a doctor was a prestigious career path, whereas being an entrepreneur was far less admired.
After years and years of training, I stopped listening to the naysayers and ignored conventional wisdom. I walked away from my medical career to pursue my passion for entrepreneurship full time.
I’ve had a great career as an entrepreneur, raising over $100 million in venture capital, and don’t regret the decision in the slightest. Even though I did it seven years too late, walking away from medicine was the best career decision I’ve ever made!
Family Physician | Business and Entrepreneurship Coach
When you enter medical school a bright-eyed, and bushy-tailed idealistic student, what you don’t realize at that time is that you are also blind as a bat.
We go into this field to help people, but there are strings that we don’t count on being attached to that “commitment” to helping.
I’ve learned a ton of lessons along the way all of which have transformed my career and my life, and now I pay it forward by speaking and coaching other physicians.
However, if I had an opportunity to have a conversation with my younger self, this is what I’d say:
#1 Being a doctor is what you do, not who you are.
This one is a tough one because when you spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, 12 years + in training, and are surrounded with all the “propaganda” around what it is to “be a physician” it seeps into the deepest recesses of the unconscious.
However, tying my identity to being a physician proved to be dangerous very early on in my career.
At some point, I thought I didn’t want to do this, and I felt trapped like “this is all I know” I nearly took my own life. Fortunately, I was blessed enough to have just enough pause to pick up the phone before I threw back 20 pills of Lortab.
It helped me realize that I had to create a career that would work for me… that would fulfill me.
It was through that process that I shed the conditioning to realize that this is a profession, not an identity. I think if I had known that earlier, I probably would have shifted career paths earlier and pursued my true passion at least 10 years before I actually did.
#2 Invest early.
I wish I was told that as a doctor I should still invest early. Being a mid-career doc (who has, for the most part, left clinical medicine), I am still ridden with student loans.
While that is the most of my debt, I can imagine what it would be like if I had invested when I was in residency or even in medical school.
Perhaps I’d be debt free and have multiple streams of income. I feel like it’s never too late (and I’m making headway), but I know I’ve left millions on the table by not investing back when I was just out of school.
#3 Build your career around your life – not the other way around.
This one is so close to my heart, that I now lecture med students and residents (and even early career physicians) on this topic.
Perhaps I’d be debt free and have multiple streams of income. I feel like it’s never too late (and I’m making headway), and even though I’m doing well, I know I’ve left millions on the table by not investing back when I was just out of school.
I spent most of my life focused on my career. As a result, I have had many failed relationships and didn’t have my first child until 39. Though I have had a great life, traveled, and enjoyed some of the finer things, that was truly a missing. Now, putting first what’s truly important to me, I’m happily engaged and in addition to my wonderful preschool son I now get to have the complete family I’ve always desired.
I don’t regret a thing, however, I know that if I had put more energy into having a life outside of medicine and building my career around having a great lifestyle, I might have been able to do even more…travel more, spend more time with family, and maybe even have a couple more kiddos. What matters is I’m cherishing the time I have now, and mentoring those who have yet to get to this place in life.
Kara Fasone, PhD
Co-founder and Chief Wellness Officer, Wise & Well Academy
#1: Slow Down & Freaking Chill!
I’d tell my younger self to slow down and savor every experience life has to offer.
I’ve always been stuck on the proverbial treadmill, running towards something (but not always certain what). When I started college, I saddled myself with heavy course loads in order to graduate in 2 years (instead of 4).
I promptly started graduate school and took on two internships in order to “gain good work experience.” After completing my master’s degree, I immediately dove into a Ph.D. program while transitioning into my first full-time job (and deciding I wanted to be a teaching assistant on the side).
When others asked me why I moved so quickly, I told them I wanted to build my career. I told them I was running toward success.
But I should have asked myself whether fast advancement and ungodly workloads were true requirements for “success.” I know the answer now, and I wish I would have allowed myself to slow down to enjoy the more social aspects of school and work, instead of retaining such a narrow focus on achieving as much as I could in as little time as possible.
Sure, working hard and stretching myself will always be a key part of who I am, but I’ve finally allowed myself to slow down from a sprint to a jog.
I’m still moving forward toward long-term career aspirations, but I’m not running at lightning speed (and putting myself at risk for emotional and physical burnout).
#2: Perfection Doesn’t Exist
I’d tell my younger self that striving for perfection is more harmful and helpful. High expectations can help motivate you to do incredible things, but it’s important to understand when you’re creating unrealistic expectations.
My younger self was infamous for setting unrealistically high expectations, which routinely resulted in:
- astronomically high stress levels
- a tendency to hoard my work until I deemed it perfect (read: sloooooow progress)
- a feeling that anything I did was never “good enough”
The continuous battle for perfection actually primed me for failure (instead of setting me up for success).
Over time, I’ve started living in alignment with a common mantra, “progress over perfection” and I’ve started recognizing when the goals I’m setting for myself are unattainable.
Now, I am able to create more manageable goals around my career, my health, and my personal endeavors.
#3: Say Yes More Often … And Say No More Often
I’d tell my younger self to say yes much more often.
… and I’d tell my younger self to say no much more often.
It’s not a paradox.
When I was younger, I felt the need to “prove” myself. I felt the need to fit in.
As a consequence, I said yes to a lot of things that I didn’t truly want to take on (like projects at work that didn’t fit my career goals or invitations to parties that I wasn’t up for attending).
I did things that I didn’t want to do because I was afraid I would stick out if I didn’t. I spent a good majority of my days doing things that I felt would please others instead of living in accordance with my core values and spending my time in ways that made me feel fulfilled.
I’ve learned the magic of saying yes to things I might have previously seen as “frivolous but enjoyable”, and saying no to things that I might have previously seen as “uninteresting or draining but necessary to please others.”
In other words, I’d tell my younger self to learn how to prioritize.
Speaker | Anti-Bullying Champion | Author, The Respectful Leader
Someday this will all be behind you.
All of the abuse you are taking will be over. Years from now you will be the first person to speak to a full assembly of all of the students in the new high school that was built tore place the decrepit one you attended.
Yes, the little kid who was afraid to say anything in high school for fear of getting beat up more than I already did, will speak to the entire school and get such a great response.
I will end that Powerpoint presentation with a montage of photos of me speaking all over the country; being on NPR and local TV news; hanging out with celebrities, big-name politicians; modeling and being in TVshows and movies; articles I have written for national magazines, the LA Times, etc.
You will tell the students that you included that slide not to say “Look how great I am, but to show you how great you can be if you don’t listen to all of those people who say you can’t. I didn’t let my high school experience define the rest of my life. You shouldn’t either.”
Principle Partner, Paul Glover Coaching
Invest time, energy and resources in accumulating knowledge and developing relationships because both provide a future compound return on the amount of those investments.
As soon as you start your first job begin a Daily Legacy Journal that sets forth what you want your legacy to be when you leave your new position in 3 years.
What do you want people to remember you for? How do you want to leave your “fingerprints” on your Team and organization?
Then, using reverse engineering, develop an Action Plan, with specific Action Steps and Quarterly Milestones that will allow you to reach your Legacy Outcome.
Take that legacy with you and continually build upon it through each successive career/job change.
Love and Relationship Coach | Author | Speaker
Invest! And save. And love yourself more.
If you start in your 20’s and even if you start at only $5/week, by your thirties you’ll have a LOT of money saved up! And when you take into consideration the compounding effect, you’ll be hundreds of dollars ahead than you would have been if you started in your 30s.
Now, as one who teaches primarily about self-love, I can tell you there is a strong correlation between self-love and self-worth and the amount of money in the bank account.
Read related article: Why is Self Love Important?
I wish in my 20s, I would have put less focus on the guy and instead focused on loving myself more.
Now, in my 30s, everything in my life has shifted and changed in the relationship world and also in my finances because I decided to do two things every single day:
- Focus on my self and what makes me happy and what allows me to FEEL good.
- Save a portion of every single cent that comes in.
I cannot stress it enough. If I could go back and do it all over again, I would have started saving from the first paycheck I ever made and I would have stopped searching outside of myself for validation and love.
Founder and Owner, VLB/VBJ Enterprises, LLC and 4-U-Nique Publishing
Hello younger self, I understand you have a goal of starting a business before you are 35 years old. My advice to you is, do not wait that long to start your business.
Work on starting your business now while you are working for others. This will keep you hungry and also teach you time management.
I advise you to learn as much as you can. Do not be afraid to ask questions and surround yourself with people who are established business owners and entrepreneurs.
In fact, stop hanging around people who are negative and like to waste time.
Save your money. Out of every paycheck, pay yourself. Take money to pay your necessities, take a percentage out to put into your future business, and take another percentage out to save.
Also, do not spend money on things you want now. You will find out those wants aren’t needs and those wants will cost less money if you wait.
Remember every dollar and time wasted are dollars and time that could have been invested in your business.
Network and get to know as money people as you can. You will find out that you can learn a little something from everyone.
My last piece of advice is Calculated Risks and Have No Fears. There’s no such thing as failing, there are only lessons to be learned. Your future looks bright young. Keep Shining Bright!
CEO and Co-Founder, ProfileTree
Three things really stand out.
Firstly, I’ve discovered that helping people works hand-in-hand with your own goals.
College teaching and the people we find for the ProfileTree team have both shown that concentrating on the talent people have is priceless.
That’s because exploring how to help them grow that talent means being surrounded by people at their best who have been given the room to grow. And they’ll want to develop with you and help as you grow too.
I’d also tell my younger self that an old cliché is very true: dream big and aim high.
We spend our lives working, so it should ideally be something you love. And if your working day builds towards something you’d really love to achieve then all the better.
Why not make it a big goal, you have a lifetime to work towards it.
Finally, I’d recommend another simple thing to my younger self. That’s the benefits of building in a sense of community to what you do.
Our business works to support local industries and groups like tourism and parents, this means every day we can know we’ve worked towards our own goals but also been a part of something bigger. This makes every single day a success.
Author | Writer | Public Speaker | Coach
Luck is about the hidden magic in life: things that influence your life in ways you couldn’t have predicted.
After years of studying how people got lucky—big breaks, professional opportunities, discoveries, even finding the loves of their life—one of the biggest reoccurring themes is that most of our luck comes from other people.
You might travel, move, change jobs, and spend time with new groups of friends; you might have more independent periods where you spend more of your day-to-day time alone.
Regardless of how many people you interact with on a regular basis, overall, you’ll meet a lot of people in your life.
If you can make a habit out of keeping in touch with people you’ve met, over time, your world will expand. They’ll move all over the world, switch careers, and meet new people; over time, they’ll surprise you.
If you can make a habit out of keeping in touch out of a genuine interest in their lives, your life will improve in every way possible.
You’ll be on their mind if they ever come across an opportunity that might suit you. You’ll have a richer understanding of people, and less likely to be judgmental or biased.
You’ll be able to communicate better with others you meet and will have an easier time making friends moving forward. You’ll be less stressed out during hardships, knowing that you have a strong network that’s there for you, if you ever need help.
As time passes, I appreciate how rare great connections really are, which makes me more motivated to cultivate and maintain them over time. The younger you can start doing this, your life will become richer—and luckier—over time.
Lifestyle Expert | Writer, Grapevine
Whether it’s your family, friends or both, everyone needs a support system. We all need someone to turn to and ask for advice throughout our lives.
Your support system should include people that you trust and believe want the best for you. Those are the people in life who will encourage you to succeed.
In life, everyone needs to follow their passion within reason. Obviously, there are certain passions that will never make money but make those your hobbies instead.
When you find a job you’re passionate about, your life will be much more positive and fulfilling.
#3 Learn How To Make Decisions
There comes a point in life when your parents stop making decisions for you. As an adult, you need to learn how to make your own decisions, even if some of them are bad.
That’s how you grow, learn and shape the person you will become. Instead of relying on other people, you need to be able to decide what is right for you at this moment in time.
You also have to accept that every decision you make can have consequences.
Be humble, be patient and effort in equals results out.
These three lessons often seem very cliched and overused. Well, maybe not the last one.
However, the more time I spend meeting people, working on new projects, starting new businesses and ventures and putting sweat in, day in and day out, I know that there is no smarter lesson to learn.
Growing up in a not so fortunate environment, it is very easy to get angry at misfortune, envy others and wake up only to want to go back to sleep.
Over the last few years, I have been fortunate to start my own company, climb up the corporate ladder at another, start new ventures with amazing new people and overall enjoy what I love to term “the hustle”.
Why would I tell myself to be humble?
It is important to keep in mind that there will always be a bigger fish and as young entrepreneurs, it is up to us to learn from them, avoid their mistakes and aspire to influence society the way they did.
I have been fortunate enough to meet a lot of people in a very short time, ranging from Ministers to CEOs, Directors, Investors and more.
It is very easy to let influence, power, money, and charisma get in the way of something good.
Everyone has a dream, everyone may work hard. However, it is more often than later that I discover that humility is by far one of the most important virtues in getting ahead in life.
Why would I tell myself to be patient?
Life can be funny. At low points, it is very easy to victimize ourselves and proclaim that life has dealt us the wrong hand of cards.
We cannot leave life to faith and destiny, as these are shaped by our own doing.
Life really is a journey and even though sometimes we get these “are we there yet moments”, it is important to realize that things take their own time and events unfold themselves at due course.
Why would I tell myself that effort in equals results out?
This last one probably is the by-product of my other two pieces of advice.
If you decide to take life one day at a time, put your best efforts in from the moment you wake up to the minute you get to bed, believe me, you will see the results shaping up.
The other problem is finding out exactly what it is you want to put your efforts into! But that is a conversation for another time.
You don’t have to compare yourselves to others, you don’t have to get jealous, you don’t have to be rich to be my girl (I’m just kidding).
What you do have to do is be focused, find opportunities, connect loose ends and be the facilitator of good things, whether it is in business or personal life.
We can often get motivated by other people but it is important to understand that they are people too. Just like you, just like me.
They may have created history, they may have carved their names on the pillars of greatness, but hey, even they had to start somewhere.
What are you waiting for? Let’s start.
Find a mentor and don’t settle.
As you progress through your career, the key to your success and happiness is having a mentor.
Ideally, it would be the person that you work for as they control your economic destiny, but having someone who can share valuable insights learned over their career and has your best interests at heart will save you from having to figure everything out for yourself and they can be a great champion for you.
With the staggering statistics that suggest that people quit their boss and not their company if you find a boss who’s willing to invest in you and seeks to understand you as a human being and not just as a ‘resource’, treasure that.
Alternatively, if you work for someone who only views you as a number on a spreadsheet and doesn’t care about you as an individual, don’t settle – find someone else to associate with. You deserve better.
Atty. Gennady Litvin
Associate, Moshes Law Firm
Patience and execution.
Having patience in the long term for that big goal that you have while you execute on your small goals daily.
Like Gary Vaynerchuk says “Macro Patience, Micro Speed” and it makes so much sense.
You can’t control how fast the long-term goal happens but you can control the speed at which you get things done.
Because even if you’re knocking out all you short terms goals quickly you may not see that long-term goal come to fruition anytime soon.
Have patience for the long term but grind every day.
Founder and CEO, Floom
I’d tell my younger self to believe wholeheartedly in her florist marketplace idea no matter what anyone says, but also be objective enough to take the right feedback on board.
And really believe in it, as you’ll get tested more than you can possibly imagine. Rejection will come – but you definitely need to get used to it.
It’s difficult at first, but just don’t let it mean anything – it’s a fact of life (and definitely business) that not everyone is going to agree with you.
Founder, Blu Skin Care, LLC
I would tell a younger Zondra that life will be good. Not always, but mostly.
And when it is not so good, I can rest in knowing it will get better.
Also, It’s a good thing that I didn’t know everything that’s going to happen to me. If I had known all the pains and heartaches I would encounter in life, I would have avoided the pitfalls, subsequently missing all the joys and victories that would have followed.
I would also tell my younger self that all of that hard work in school was worth it.
The 2 things I would suggest to my younger self would include:
#1 Look With Rather Than Blaming Others
There was a time when I would blame someone else for anything that went wrong in my life. This may be a friend, the college, a family member, the government, the economy.
If I get to meet my younger self, I would tell it that I should focus my energies (much sooner) on what I can change and what is in my control rather than finding a scapegoat.
By ensuring that one is proactive and can look within to bring improvement is what differentiates winners from sore losers.
#2 My Health is More Important Than Money
I have had to suffer some health issues during a time when my business was booming. The reason was that I was often spending 16 hours a day at work and not working out nor eating right.
While at the time it felt necessary to work that much, it later damaged not just my health but also causes issues at work and at home.
I would suggest my younger self-ensure that my biggest investment remains on my health as being ill negatively impacts all areas of one’s life.
Elizabeth Melendez Fisher
CEO and Co-Founder, Selah Freedom
They say that by sixth grade what you truly want to do lines up with your natural gift.
I would say to my younger self that the big dreams and incredible desires that you have are truly real. The dreams to be a television reporter or an attorney are innate for a reason.
Don’t let go of them because of circumstances. Often times, we listen to the voices around us that redirect us and say, “Oh that’s not a wise path,” or “That would be a horrible career.”
Bit by bit we undo what truly resonates in our heart. I would tell my younger self to hang on to every bit of a dream that comes from deep within yourself because that inner voice within you is the voice you never want to lose.
I would also say to trust your gut. If anything makes you uncomfortable, say something immediately.
Never carry a secret because the worst things build out of secret. There is a saying, “That which happens in the dark, stays in the dark and continues to grow, but once it comes into the light, it ceases.” This is so true!
President and Founder, Ring Communications
Believe in yourself.
As a young girl, I was constantly struggling to find my value in this world. I was by no means shy, but I was completely insecure. I was so harsh on myself, always feeling like I was falling short in life with what I had to offer people.
The woman I am today is completely different. I’ve become assertive and confident, kind but tough, self-respecting, inspired and inspiring to those around me.
If I’d discovered that inner strength earlier, perhaps it would have helped me realize just who I am.
And who I am now, I love.
Owner and Broker, Myers & Myers Real Estate
I bought into the SMART goals concept of Attainable and Reasonable goals at a young age. This was a huge mistake.
How are you ever going to be the best you can with this approach?
If you are looking for average, SMART goals are fine. If you truly want to be the best you can be, set massive goals.
Massive goals keep you motivated to be the best you can.
It is better to set massive goals and miss them than to set achievable goals and realize these reasonable goals did not challenge you to be the best you can. Every truly successful person has set huge goals in their life.
I would tell myself: Your thoughts, charged with emotional energy, spoken of with authority (you are the author) and acted on with conviction (faith) become your reality.
Rather than spending so much time thinking about what other people are thinking of you and sabotaging yourself with the judgments and opinions of others, be loving toward yourself in your thoughts, words, and actions.
Speaker | Author
I would tell my younger self that no matter what, everything will not only be okay but, in fact, be better than I could ever imagine.
Looking back, that has been true in my life. One example: Since I was seven-years-old and taken to my first Broadway show, I wanted to be a scenic designer. Many years later I got into Yale Drama School to study design.
After a year, I was asked to leave. I was devastated. But I went back to New York City where I got into the scenic design union.
I was then hired by CBS-television. I was designing national television shows, my fellow classmates were still designing college productions.
Everything did indeed work out for the best.
#1 Embrace the real you
Growing up, I was involved in so many activities. As a talented athlete with the academics to follow, I did not truly know who I was.
I was involved to hide the pain I was going through. As a “popular girl”, I did not love myself. It’s so important to embrace and love who you are because despite how you feel, you are YOU for a reason.
#2 Live with no expectations
There are so many things that happen in life that you do not expect. I would tell my younger self to live life day by day.
Don’t overthink anything. Make conscious decisions, but if something changes unexpectedly, don’t panic. Just know it was supposed to happen that way and you can’t control it.
#3 Get to know your elders
As a child and young adult, you don’t realize how important the wisdom from older family and friends can impact your life. Learn more about what your family has endured.
Find out from their perspective how they would handle a situation. Even though the younger version of me was very prideful, you have to put that to the side in order to fully understand how a decision can impact your life.
#4 Use your resources wisely
If an opportunity presents itself that can help get you to the next level in life without jeopardizing your safety or moral…then consider doing it!
The younger version of myself had so many opportunities for free education, but unfortunately, there was not much knowledge passed down as mentioned in #3.
So many individuals are drowning in debt due to decisions made when they were younger. It’s unfortunate, but yet true.
Nutrition Educator | Author and Creator, Superior Self series
I was so focused on getting straight As in elementary, middle, high schools, and college, that I sometimes became anxiety ridden.
I forgot to play and be a kid or teenager doing normal things. I was not prodded into this pressure by my elders. It was self-induced overachiever syndrome.
I would tell my younger self that once I finished schooling, I would no longer be judged by the first 6 letters of the alphabet. Those letters didn’t say how kind or helpful I was.
They didn’t share my reading skills, my writing skills, my leadership skills. Those letters didn’t tell if I was clean or unkempt, fast or slow, loving or selfish.
You are not good if you get an A and bad if you get an E or F. (Yes, we had E as a grade in my youth.) You are always good and beautiful because God knows your soul and your heart.
So, lighten up and have a little fun!”
When I think of tips for aspiring entrepreneurs, I go back to the beginning of my journey.
Hiring the first ten employees was incredibly easy for me. I had a wide portfolio of hard-working friends from engineering school and previous places I worked that I picked from.
We also happened to all be relatively young, early in our careers, and able to jump at risky opportunities.
However, when that available talent pool was exhausted, I didn’t have the structure or the culture in place to ensure the next wave of talent was as good.
So be careful with your hiring, take a lot more time, look at a lot more candidates, check a lot more references and don’t just make a hire out of desperation.
A bad hire is more painful than no hire.
A mediocre hire can be the worst because someone just doing the minimum and taking up space on the org chart and payroll is preventing a good hire from being there for years.
As a business owner, the advice I would give to my younger self would be to focus on company culture.
Thoughtful planning and execution are required to build and maintain a great company culture. Don’t ever skimp on the recruiting process.
Hiring the right people based on cultural fit and skill are critical to success. I would much rather hire a hard worker that is a cultural fit than a highly skilled person with no cultural fit.
It boils down to being able to work well with others in a team environment. If you’re unable to collaborate, the chance of innovation and new opportunities are diminished.
Spend the time and money to recruit employees who will enhance your culture.
Managing Director, LeaseFetcher
Although it sounds a bit of a cliche, I would tell my younger self to slow down and not spend so much time working.
I think we can often get so caught up in the demands of work that we fail to spend enough time with our family and friends and end up not appreciating those small events that make life worth living.
My advice would be to slow down and realize that you can’t build Rome in a day.
Founder, SFR Digital
I dropped out of college and jumped into entrepreneurship in 2007. If I had the chance, I would tell my younger self to find and head into highly relevant and vibrant communities in my neighborhood and online to connect, engage and build a relationship with the fellow entrepreneurs.
I did what I had to do ultimately, but it took me at least 3x more time. The people I met in these communities not only profoundly impacted me as a person but helped me grow my business.
I found partners, employees, and even customers in these communities and most of them happened to be the best of best.
Melissa Picoli Philips
Founder, Skin and Sky Intelligent Beauty | Esthetician
You are an intelligent, badass, curious wild-child. Do not go with the flow. Pick your own line. May the force be with you.
They will not always understand you. The one that does is magic. It will not be easy. It will be a life thoroughly well-lived.
p.s. In case you were wondering, all that intelligent skincare you’ll do throughout your twenties and thirties is totally worth it. Your skin is strong and glowing as you hit your forties.
Owner and Founder, Top Notch Nail Files
It’s all going to turn out great.
No matter what happens, just keep thinking positively and keep focusing on the outcome that you want, not on the problem or challenge at hand and you can create the beautiful, magnificent life and solutions that you desire.
If you only read one book, make it 17 Laws of Success by Napoleon Hill. Know those 17 principles by heart and apply them daily and watch your life change.
Your thoughts contain magic. What you think is what you will get, so think big, think happy, think positive.
By being the best version of yourself and creating the best life for yourself, you can help others along the way because no one can do it by themselves.
You can’t get to the top without helping others get to the top and remember that the top is different for everyone.
Support and meet people where they are at in life, don’t put them down and don’t let anyone put you down or try to hold you down. Get away from those people. With them well but cut them out of your life.
Make this your daily mantra for the rest of your life, ‘Every day in every way, I’m getting better and better.’ You will.
Fitness Trainer | Health Coach |Founder and CEO, The Knockout Room
Fall in love with yourself.
You are beautiful inside and out. How you feel about yourself will be your compass in life. External validation will never fulfill you on a deep, meaningful level.
Remember that less is more.
Quality is more important than quantity. Slowing down and being present in the moment will allow you to have meaningful experiences.
Have the courage to pursue your dreams.
Do what makes you happy and block out the noise around you – criticism, judgment, etc. – because there will always be someone out there who has something negative to say about your decisions.
You are responsible for your own happiness. Don’t dim your light because someone else cannot handle it.
People are afraid of you as much as you are afraid of them.
Public speaking is feared more than death! Everyone has fears and insecurities about being judged and rejected by others.
Remember this the next time you hesitate to step outside of your comfort zone. Take a deep breath and step forward. People will be secretly admiring you and wishing they had the courage to do the same!
Remember to let emotions subside before taking action. You cannot take back your words.
We teach people how to treat us.
Be firm about your values and your worth. You are worth it – worth the time, worth the effort. You have to believe this before others will.
Shanda Domango Brown
Personal Trainer | Fitness Instructor
Overall Lesson: OWN YOUR TRUTH.
Throughout High School and College, I spent so much timing trying to make everyone around me happy whether that was participating on a team or event I really didn’t feel led to partake in or just simply expressing how I felt.
Something that may seem so trivial followed me through Post Graduate School and my adult life.
As I became older it became second nature to blend in by catering to the happiness of others or even keeping my feelings (especially if I thought it would cause conflict or disagreement) to myself.
I found myself stuck in unnecessary relationships and friendships because I simply found it easier to not “rock the boat” or just upset someone.
I figured I was better off keeping my feelings to myself and everyone would be happy- but wasn’t I included in everyone? Why wasn’t I happy?
You’ll learn that eventually, life catches up with you, emotions build up, and if you’re not careful you either break or lose your voice. I’ve missed so many job opportunities and experiences because of not owning my full voice, desires, and wants.
OWN YOUR TRUTH. Express how you feel.
People who are truly invested in you and your potential for greatness may not like what you have to say but they will respect it. You will feel free. Be conscious and considerate in your expression but own how you feel.
OWN where those feelings come from. OWN the past mistakes, hurts, and most of all LESSONS that comes with it.
Don’t hide from who you are to please others. You’ll lose the most magical and important part. YOU.
Musician | Author
I have devoted the first forty-nine years of my life to prepare to be the person I am now.
I started working on my skills in orchestration, improvisation, and writing so that I could be the musician, author and composer I am today.
Yet even with the older me demanding that the younger me sacrifice so much of his time and energy, there is still something I would like to tell that poor kid.
You really are going to be ok, once you figure out what “ok” means.
There’s no place of safety that you reach. You’re either safe in your own skin wherever you are, or you’re not safe anywhere.
As long as you are safe at the moment, cognizant of the immediate threats, and have options, you can’t ask for more safety than that.
Life creates unexpected tragedies and you don’t want to waste time living in those moments before they happen. Be aware that there will be sadness and pain, and enjoy its absence to the fullest of your ability.
That person I forced myself to become? I’m still not that person, and I always was that person, so there’s nothing to stress about.
Hopefully, the older me is talking to me I am now (assuming I live that long) and telling me, “If you’re not enjoying the trip, you’re wasting your time.”
Business Coach, Stacy Caprio Inc.
I would tell my younger self there is no need to be anxious in any situation, and that everything works out for the best.
I would tell her that anxiety leads to a worse outcome anyway, because even if everything goes perfectly, and you are anxious, at the end your energy will be drained, and the result is likely to be less fun.
Additionally, even if everything goes horribly, at least in your current opinion of the situation, you will be anxious at the end, and the outcome likely would have been better if you had been calm.
Likely looking back you’ll see the outcome was exactly what you needed, even if at the time you thought it was a less than ideal situation.
She needs to realize that she is taken care of, and being calm leads to the best outcome for her health and for the situation at hand.
Owner, Mattress Cleaning Melbourne
It took me 30 years of dead-end jobs and mistaken career paths before I finally got proactive and started my own business.
Unfortunately, the mistakes didn’t stop there, my earliest goals in business were to survive, stay small and make enough money to pay the mortgage and put my kids through college.
It wasn’t too long before the business was booming, I found myself working 12-14 hours a day and I thought that I’d found the key to happiness. Money was coming in and my business was becoming stable and profitable.
Like most people, I have interests and hobbies outside of work but my fear of failure in business pushed me to the point of obsession.
I spent every waking hour building my business so that I could one day enjoy those interests and hobbies once again. Day after day, month after month, that idea of enjoying the fruits of my labor started to become a distant mirage.
If my initial planning had been better I would have I would have set up a blueprint for minor expansion within the first couple of years of my business. If I was clear-headed and confident enough in my business plan I would have employed 2 more people early.
I would have delegated some of the responsibility and a bigger chunk of the workload between a small team rather than absorb all the pressure myself.
I guess what I’m trying to say is this. My business can often take unexplored paths in new and exciting directions.
Whatever your early goals are in business, learn to be flexible.
Keep asking yourself why you went into business for yourself. Have more than one goal in business and keep adding goals that not only benefit your bottom line but also make sure those goals benefit the biggest asset in your business… YOU!
After all is said and done, you are the brains of this outfit. If you are happy and relaxed in your business life it will have a flow-on effect.
Everyone makes better decisions when your head is in a good space, don’t let your business run you. I’d like to have a conversation with my younger self at the end of every year just to make sure that we’re both on the same page.
Co-Founder and President, Quality Logo Products
From a personal development perspective, I’d tell my younger self DON’T change your college major from a computer science to business degree.
Development skills are in high demand and that won’t change any time soon.
From a career and company insight, I’d tell college self to invest or work in a business that doesn’t rely on the likes of Google or Facebook for customers.
These gatekeepers are getting increasingly greedy at the cost of small businesses. Sadly, in 2018, it’s not a matter of who has the best product or service anymore. It’s about who has the most eyeballs, or users, and for many, that’s an impossible mountain to overcome.
Business and Investment Writer | PR consultant | Owner, Key Financial Media LLC
I would tell my younger self to read, Power Vs. Force by Dr. David Hawkins, and practice unconditional love. This is the most influential book I’ve ever read and I wish I had read it sooner.
Reading Power vs. Force taught me the power of practicing unconditional love, forgiveness, gratitude, and compassion.
In practicing unconditional love, one operates at a higher level of consciousness and energy. I learned to swap out my depressing, negative thoughts for a completely new mindset.
My backstory: I had abusive parents. I, along with five of my 12 siblings, was placed in foster care when I was 9-years-old.
The childhood abuse gave way to depression and anxiety throughout much of my adult life. During college, I used to sit in the library and cry while studying.
I wished I could have my childhood memories erased like in that Jim Carrey movie, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I went to therapy for years but was none the better for it.
In practicing unconditional love, you attract kindness and joy.
I know this sounds very hooey, but I challenge everyone to try this for themselves just to experiment. When I started extending unconditional love to everyone I encountered, I received random acts of kindness.
For example, a bus driver let me ride for free on New Year’s Eve. A gourmet taco shop owner gave me my to-go order free. My sister asked me to be her maid of honor.
A woman sitting next to me on a plane bought me wine. Another woman on a flight swiped her credit card on my screen on a domestic flight in which you had to pay for entertainment.
Fellow guests at a ski lodge in Canada invited me and my husband for drinks when we walked past their opened door. Kids in my neighborhood come by my house to hang out with me and my dog. People offer to help me with directions when I look at my map when I travel abroad.
Public Affairs Specialist | Freelance Wellness Journalist
When I was in my 20s, I did not think 2 seconds about “exercising”. I had endless energy. I didn’t need to sleep and could eat whatever I wanted and whenever.
Yet by the time I’d hit my 40s, I’d gained more than 20 pounds without any perceptible change in my diet or lifestyle. I no longer had the energy to go all day and, in fact, was exhausted all the time.
Now at 60, having developed a significant exercise habit, I can only imagine how much easier it would have been to get one in my 40s when I needed it if I’d already understood what it meant to exercise.
Most women I know in their 40s, 50s, and 60s joke about not exercising – but the thing is, it’s not a joke. Today’s 20-something women may still be finding their way in the world, but they’ve got it together in the gym.
Getting a significant exercise habit has enhanced every aspect of my life, making me better at everything I set out to accomplish or even do on a daily basis as I age, including how to bounce back from a loss and adapt to change and, ultimately, how to age youthfully.
Founder and CEO, Cheekd
My advice to my younger self would be that if you truly believe in your ideas, your mission or whatever it is that you want in life, to give up excuses and doubt, surround yourself by an amazing support system, bulldoze forward and DON’T. LOOK. BACK.
Eight years into the entrepreneurial hustle, I’ve learned that entrepreneurship is being on a mission where nothing can stop you.
It will take twice as long as you’d hoped, cost exceedingly more than you’d ever budgeted and will be more challenging than anything you’ll ever try but if you give it your all and refuse to give up, you can trust it will be the ride of a lifetime.
I could be the poster child for the age-old phrase, “what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.”
No matter what… this has been the most rewarding journey of my life and in the end, I’m going to have a magical story to tell.
My advice to other aspiring entrepreneurs is to be brave and follow your instincts. You can’t cheat the grind, but if you give it your all, you can trust that the payoff will be worth it.
Content Marketing Associate, The Zebra
There probably is no singular secret to life.
No one word, or special phrase, that unlocks the meaning of it all — except perhaps for 42.
Baring any alien adventures, being an adult is pretty much a series of these three phrases: “Oh shit, I forgot to do/pick up/find that,” “Sorry, I missed your call! I’ll try texting you in a bit,” and “I owe HOW MUCH?!”
I was raised by a single mom who worked full-time and neither my brother or me is in jail or dead. So, hats off to her.
However, some things managed to slip through the cracks — things that perhaps seem obvious, but as there is no guidebook, no one ever really says them out loud.
Here is a couple:
Change your oil every six months.
Just do it. Write it in your calendar, put it on your phone, have your mom call you to remind you. Because she loves you and wants to hear more from you than she currently does.
Open a savings account, like yesterday.
So, apparently, that thing where you could put in money to a bank account and little by little, it grows simply because of compound interest — yeah, those types of savings accounts don’t exist any more (*insert image of apartment on fire and the dog saying, “this is fine.”) but it’s just good to have a savings account regardless.
It’s money you don’t touch and while the bank doesn’t add money, you can still toss some extra dollars in there at the end of the month and call it a day.
If you are someone who likes to shave their legs, use skin-moisturizing soap.
The razor will glide right through and you will have the most phenomenally soft legs. Don’t (like me until I was 14) shave just with warm water.
If you see a bedspread with matching sheets that you like, buy ‘em.
Bedsheets are one of those seemingly inconsequential things that need replacing only in the event of a catastrophe — like a tooth brush — but when you’re almost 30 and have the same bedsheets from college, you’re going to wish they had been more of a priority.
Drying your hair in a towel is actually better for your hair than a hairdryer or ringing out your hair.
Plus your hair dries like a zillion times faster.
Let go of shame.
My entire life, I’ve been sure to space for other people. I care so much about the feelings and emotions of others that I’ve turned it into a weapon against me, one that further drives my self-acceptance into the shadows.
It’s okay to have needs and express those needs, my therapist tells me, but I don’t believe her because I am not worthy of being taken care of.
My anxiety doubles down and tells me that the man I love will one day leave me because no one wants a needy freak. If you please people, they won’t leave you, my shame says. Well, my shame is a liar and I’m learning to let go.
Certified Master Coach
Be courageous and trust your instincts – they are as good as anybody else’s.
Over time and with maturity, we learn to support our instincts with experiences, prestige, titles, and more.
However, I believe that I would have achieved more, faster, had I been willing to trust my instincts and be more courageous at a younger age and not looking for validation from others – particularly older people in the workplace who saw me as less significant.
It wasn’t until I had the strength of will to speak up and fight for the ideas that I believed were the right ones directionally that I began to understand how powerful and accurate my ideas truly were.
Owner, Blitz Public Relations | Public Relations Media Specialist, Menorah Park
I would tell my younger self, hang in there, don’t give up on what you believe in, don’t let people convince you to bend on your principals, and you are never at the end of your learning and experiencing life, until you are dead and buried.
Age is not chronological, it’s personal, as is the journey to the end of your life.
You will meet many people in your path who will have faith in you even when you don’t know it. You will have angels on your shoulder to guide you when you feel lost and alone.
Older people are far wiser and you should really listen to their take on life. Learning is a lifetime endeavor and you should never stop reading, studying, researching, or reaching for a higher IQ and EQ.
People will also come into your life who are not good for your soul. Send them away. Don’t feel obligated to waste your energy on those who abuse or mistreat you. It’s ok to say, or scream if you have to, NO!
You will shine in your own light, in your own time, and in your own way as long as you remain committed to helping those around you who cannot help themselves.
Standing up for the underdog is a good thing and taking a stand against evil and corruption is not always easy but it’s the right thing to do.
Heartaches will inevitably come and go, and those you love will sometimes hurt you, but forgiveness doesn’t mean acceptance, you don’t deserve to be abused, no one does, and complete strangers can change the entire course of your life with just one chance meeting.
Be open to miracles. Keep the faith, and share your light with others.
There is always a chance to right your wrongs, and to say you’re sorry, take it when it comes.
Don’t be afraid to work different jobs and to explore new ideas and professions. The culmination of experience over your years will be much more valuable than a piece of paper saying you went to school for a long number of years.
It’s the life experiences that move you along in your journey.
Look up, look around, and look people in the eye. Know that there has to be some good in all humans at some time or another, even if it’s when they are infants and not adults.
Hold on to the energy of the good. Spread good cheer and happiness. Lift others up. These things you do will keep you in a place of happiness and faith, even when you are sad and feel like giving up.
Tomorrow is another day, and there will always be other days that can and will be better.
This I learned the hard way. Perhaps it is the only way I would have learned these things. I would give my younger self a hug, wipe away her tears, and promise her it will get better.
But it won’t always be perfect. Our attitude is the compass that guides us, let it take us to the good places, and steer us away from the negative and bad.
My parents were murdered within a few years of each other when I was 10. Growing up as an orphan who was abused by an alcoholic stepfather, we were finally adopted, then, after his death, again. With my two younger siblings in tow, I felt the heavy responsibility of looking after them.
I had all the plans of graduating high school, going to college and beginning a successful career as a meteorologist or a professional writer by the time I was out of college.
I did eventually become a damn good writer, but not on my timeline. I dropped out of college due to lack of finances or a loan, and was discouraged knowing I would never be able to try my hand at becoming a ‘weather-girl.’
I moved to Florida from Indiana. I learned that living on your own in a resort town with little work experience wouldn’t offer many opportunities.
You had to go out and make and take your own opportunities by ‘selling your talent’ to someone who would believe in you just enough to give you a chance.
I was hard on myself and felt lost and not as good as others who had accomplished more than I had. I was waitressing part-time and working for the same club as a ‘p.r. media representative’, which allotted me one time on camera talking about a robber that got away from the club with a small amount of cash.
As time went on, I fell in love, married and had kids. I continued to dream of being a writer and began taking pictures as well. I submitted my pictures and writing to local papers and magazines, and they bought them for minimal money.
I kept submitting, applying for freelance stringer jobs, and eventually built up a great portfolio, and eventually wrote for the top magazine and papers in my city, as well as for the Associated Press.
A longtime dream come true. Today, I work at one of the nation’s top nursing homes and senior healthcare agencies as a PR Media Specialist, and I get to write all the time, interviewing amazing seniors as old as 108, and photographing daily life here on campus as well.
Another amazing experience. I get to listen to the wisdom of those who have lived much longer than I, who have seen more and who have learned more and are willing to share it.
It is a wonderful job I have held for nearly 12 years, while still doing freelance work in writing, photos, and design.
All my dreams came true, except for the weather-girl one, and guess what, my 29-year-old daughter loves watching the storms and fronts come in and keeps me informed.
She inherited my passion for the weather, and we share the weather report every chance we get, it’s a great conversation starter.
I tell my younger self, it will all turn out ok. You will be happy in the end.
And as I age, I will remind my younger self, age is just a number. You can defy it. You can still enjoy it.
You can still shine your light on others, as long as you shall live. Learn to love yourself for who you are and for how God has your life planned out, and follow your heart. You won’t be sorry.
Laura M. Morganelli, CFP
Financial Advisor, Abacus
I often think about where I am and the path I took to get to the place I am in.
As a female in a predominantly male industry, I am proud of how far I have come but the path was not a smooth one.
If I could go back and give myself one piece of advice, it would be to be more confident in my voice, my knowledge, and myself. You do not get noticed sitting quietly at the table.
I would tell myself not to talk for the sake of talking but to be thoughtful in my contributions. I used to think I should just be grateful I had a seat at the table, but I wish I had demanded more courage of myself earlier on.
Freelance Writer | Blogger
If I could go back in time, the most important advice I could give my younger self is not to care what other people think.
I spent so much time worrying about other people’s opinion of me that I didn’t pursue what was most important to me. This includes people’s opinions about my job choices.
If I had been true to myself I would have pursued writing sooner than I did.
Unfortunately, I let people tell me creative careers were not sustainable.
I spent far too much time trying to figure out my path to success listening to well-meaning people. While advice is always useful, it’s too easy to let that advice sway us from our real paths in life.
Dear Brian circa 1980,
Hey there- it’s me! Brian from 2018!
I write this letter to you today from behind my computer. (Not only do you have a computer, but a mobile phone too!).
The more technology advances, the more I think of how thankful I am that you chose a career path that did not include sitting behind a desk.
I have some other helpful advice from the future. Are you ready for it?
Technology can be very helpful at performing tasks, connecting with people and learning new things, but it never replaces the warm feeling you get with face to face interaction.
There will be times when doors are slammed in your face. But hang in there! The feeling of a door opening towards opportunity is 100x better.
Jack of all trades is a master of none. Stick with what you’re good at, and where your strengths lie.
You will be tempted to expand your business into other realms, but remember why you started it in the first place, and what has brought you success.
Remember to laugh.
There will be long days ahead of you. Especially in the beginning when you’re trying to launch your business while still working full time.
Find the bright spots in your day and enjoy them. The hard days will pass and you’ll end up looking back on them fondly knowing that you learned from each difficult experience.
Stop and smell the roses. One of the best aspects of your future life is your ability to be outdoors in your career of choice.
The crisp morning air, the quiet din of dusk. These are cherished moments that can pass you by if you don’t take a moment to breathe and appreciate.
Take copious notes. Write down procedures, best practices, names and numbers of potential leads and keep everything organized!
You don’t know it yet, but one day down the road, all of these details will find themselves published!
Last but not least, keep the mustache. Don’t let anyone try to convince you to shave. One day in the future you’ll find yourself gray, but you’ll still be rocking the stache!
All my best,
Project and Account Manager, Bowery Creative
Invest or save money as soon as you start making it.
Some people recommend 10% as a starting point for savings. If you put this amount aside every time you receive money and you put it into an account with low liquidity, you are creating good habits and a savings account that will last you a lifetime.
I would also tell myself to say no more often.
People in their teens and twenties are really concerned about what other people think of them, which is a natural part of development, but I know that I would have made better decisions if I followed my gut and stuck with my true wants and needs by saying no more often, rather than giving into the group wants.
If I could tell my younger self one thing, it would be to take your time making big decisions. Don’t act too quickly. Instead, think things through and talk to trusted family or mentors for guidance.
We often think we need to do so much in a hurry because it makes us look more responsive or like we’re on top of our workload.
The reality is that sometimes we miss important details along the way that we wouldn’t have missed if we had taken our time instead.
Designer | Developer | Digital Marketer, Mazepress
So many people have a negative relationship with failure as though it’s the end of the world and the worst possible outcome imaginable, however, more often than not failure is a prerequisite to success.
Failing is one of the best learning experiences available to a young entrepreneur as it will be filled with lessons on what not to do and well as what you should do next time around.
The fear of failure can easily hold you back from trying things that could be important opportunities to grow. Without failure, it’s hard to grow and build up a better understanding of what it takes to succeed.
Will Smith, (Yes the Fresh Prince) said something I wish I had been told when I was younger.
“Fail early, fail often, fail forward.”
This really resonates with me and the bottom line is to remember, not to measure yourself by your failures, but to measure yourself by how you respond and bounce back.
You can have several failures in life and business, but one big win has the potential to eclipse them all.
Don’t follow your dreams or pursue your passions until you are absolutely certain that you’re financially set.
There’s a good chance your dreams won’t pan out and you’ll spend your life on a financial treadmill trying not to fall off. Some people do actually attain their goals, but while hard work is necessary you’ll also need some luck so that’s why it’s imperative to strive for financial independence first.
Founder, Class: PR
Take the time to reflect on those big business and life decisions – there is real power in patience. Don’t always rush to the first answer that comes to mind because it will often not be the right one.
That’s not an excuse for inaction it’s just recognizing that your nature is a bit ‘speedy’ so take a step back and see the bigger picture.
You’ll take far fewer wrong turns and ironically you’ll get where you want to get a hell of a lot quicker. Trust that your wisdom always has your back – always.
Professional Voice Actor
Embrace your quirkiness.
Find the things that make you unique, and don’t be afraid to develop those traits! You know those “mean girls” who said you sing like a chipmunk? Well, someday you’re going to show them when you actually get paid to voice a sought-after toy that sounds like…you guessed it, a chipmunk.
It’s also ok to be the funny sidekick. Yes, I know you really want to be the graceful ingenue, but girl…you’re almost six feet tall and have the dance skills of a giraffe. The comic roles are where you really shine.
Don’t get discouraged when you’re given those parts in drama class and not the lead heroine. Use this as a chance to show some humor and let loose! Take it as an honor. Funny is a lot harder to pull off than simply pretty. Eventually, that will get you noticed.
Continue to be a friend to those who aren’t considered “cool.”
Because guess what…someday, “geekiness” will be on trend, and even celebrated. You’ll be able to speak the language at pop culture events, find common ground with people you WANT to be around, and network with ease.
And those geeky, unpopular kids you hang with now will stay your close buddies up into adulthood, as you raise your geeky kids together and debate about which Hogwarts house they fall into.
Chase your dreams…even if they seem impossible, or people tell you it’s unlikely to happen.
Just because you live in a small town or don’t have a lot of funds doesn’t mean you can’t reach for the stars. Chances may be small, but there is ALWAYS a chance.
Research the things that you want to do like crazy. Get as much info as you can, then…go for it with all your heart. Taking the actual first small steps to make your dreams happen is what is going to make you successful.
You’d be surprised how many people wish that they could do something, but don’t begin the journey, then wonder why it never happened for them. Don’t stand still and think “if only!”
Your path may take a wandering route.
You’ll try a few different careers and hold many job titles before you realize what you were meant to do. But that’s a good thing — it is having these experiences that will make you certain of what you do and don’t want for your life.
That soul-crushing job in retail will teach you lifelong empathy for service workers after you’ve folded the same rack of shirts for the fiftieth time.
The desk job will build your organization and planning skills, and confirm that you thrive working on your own. The theme park job where you have to wear an endless smile will teach you endurance and give you customer service and conflict mediation skills.
Some of these will be wonderful, and you’ll look back with fond memories. Others will be painful or maddening, and you may get your heart broken when it doesn’t turn out the way you hope.
Just remember, younger self, that every moment you have yet to experience is one step closer to the life that you were meant to live.
If I was given the opportunity to speak to my younger speak and give her a single piece of advice, it would be that small consistent actions make the largest impact.
It’s a piece of advice I have to tell myself even now because it’s really hard to remember that.
I believe we have this notion that things will only happen when a big event happens or task is completed which is the exact option.
Often we see the large task and get intimidated from it and that results in us just giving up. However, if we take that big task and turn it into small consistent actions, it becomes much more manageable.
Advice to my younger self: GO BRALESS.
Well, maybe not literally, but definitely figuratively.
I spent my career in politics as a spokesperson for campaigns that supported women’s rights, civil liberties, and environmental justice.
I followed my professional guidelines about what to say, what to wear, how to put on makeup and style my hair…and I was successful. Then I ran for public office myself.
I had previously told my candidate-clients (I also managed others’ campaigns) that the only thing they’d have an abundance of during their campaigns was free advice.
And that advice held true for me as a candidate: After one campaign speech, one of my volunteers whispered that she wanted to take me bra shopping. Nothing was off-limits.
After I lost my career-culminating campaign (a campaign that involved a lot of back-biting), I needed a sabbatical. I spent some of that time clearing out my garage and– literally — the equivalent of 32 file drawers of old files containing receipts for every single expense report I’d ever submitted to the various campaigns I’d worked on.
I’d known that, someday, I’d run for office and I wanted back-up in case anyone tried to accuse me of financial cheating. What I hadn’t realized until that cleaning, that cleansing, was how defensively I’d lived my life.
If I had a “do-over”, I’d tell that young woman to be less concerned about what others thought of her.
While wearing bras and conforming to society’s norms can be empowering in a way, it shouldn’t dictate how you relate to the world. I wish I’d had the freedom — and the courage to be that free — when I was in my 20s, 30s, and even in my 40s.
Now? I never went back to politics. For the past decade, I’ve been traveling full-time as a housesitter, where I live in someone’s home at no cost while caring for their pets. I’ve house sat in London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Gibraltar, throughout Africa, Hanoi, Osaka, Kuala Lumpur — even Ya’an, a village in China where I was the only non-Asian face I saw for a week!
I’m writing to you now from Ajijic, Mexico, where I house sit every spring. I’ll be spending this Christmas house sitting in Mozambique.
…And, these days, I often go braless.
Marketing Apprentice, Fueled
One thing I was never taught as a child was the importance of failure.
I always thought that failure was a representation of incompetence and lack of worth. In actuality, failure is an opportunity for growth and self-discovery.
I would cry or be really down on my shortcomings but never understood how to make learn from those experiences and take action.
I started to learn that in college when I was struggling academically. I studied longer and more effectively and that helped my GPA increase.
You can apply this to almost anything in life. Sometimes you gotta fail in order to succeed.
If I could whisper one message into the ear of my teenage self, it would be: “Your value cannot be measured by others’ yardstick.”
That simple phrase would carry over into so many aspects of my life. My friendships, my extended family, my relationships.
In an effort to bear the responsibility of my parents’ happiness, having grown up in an unhealthy environment, coupled with trying to constantly reinvent myself to impress my friends and very large extended family, I lost myself in the process.
Now, at 42, I am the single mom of two incredible children, one of whom has special needs. My personal journey has lead me to a place where I live to enjoy the glorious and heartbreaking ride of motherhood, while maintaining relationships that I choose for myself, keeping my circle small, and exploring this incredible city I have the good fortune to live in.