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10 Wise Lessons: What I Wish I Knew When I Was Younger

10 Wise Lessons: What I Wish I Knew When I Was Younger

As I recently celebrated another year of life and am entering a new phase of mid-life (whatever that is) I began to contemplate the lessons that I would pass on to my younger self.

Whether you are young or young at heart, it is never too late to change — or incorporate some new (and better) practices into your daily life.

Here are 10 wise lessons that I wish I knew when I was younger:

1. Don’t worry about what other people think of you.

I used to worry too much what others thought of me, of my decisions and of my actions. Eventually, I came to realize that if you’re wasting too much time seeking validation, respect or approval from others, then you won’t have time to accomplish all that you desire.

Everyone has an opinion, but in reality other’s opinions of you are based more on their history and perceptions than anything you’re actually doing. So while it’s good to ask for feedback, rely on your own assessment of you rather than others.

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2. Today is what’s important.

This is a biggie on so many levels. Enjoy every moment of today, because you are not guaranteed a tomorrow. Don’t put off your dreams. Don’t wait to do, try, enjoy all of those “someday” items. Don’t tell yourself I’ll do it tomorrow. If it’s important to you, then DO IT TODAY.

Pay attention to what is happening now, to the people around you, to the task at hand and to all of the choices you make today, big and small. What you do today, determines what tomorrow will bring. Our future is set by what we decide and act on today.

3. Let it go.

What happened yesterday is over. Those unmet expectations, difficult situations, failures and conflicts are in the past. You can’t change it, so let it go. Don’t waste your energy dwelling on anger, resentment or disappointment. It only keeps you stuck in the past and holds you back from moving forward in your life.

Also, learn to let the little things roll off your back. Insults, criticisms, setbacks — let them all go. Don’t hold on to old resentments or slights. They only weigh you down.

4. It’s called work for a reason.

Success at anything takes work. When you hear about an overnight success story, don’t forget about all of the work that came before. It takes time to build a career or a business, prep work, time to learn and fail, time to build a network and a team of mentors and supporters.

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You may have to do work you do not enjoy and trudge through the trenches of planning, building, refining, moving up, out, over  and redefining before you get to the place where success clicks. Keep going.

5. Believe in yourself.

You are your own worst critic, and so can you be your own best supporter. If you do not have confidence in your own value, abilities and contribution, then nobody else will either. You must have faith in your intrinsic worth. We each have something to offer that is necessary and valuable, though we may not know what that something is.

You do not have to be able to see the end zone. Just because you aren’t able to visualize where you might go and how you might succeed, that doesn’t mean it will not happen. And just because you may have made mistakes and have a string of failures behind you does not mean that you can’t achieve your goals in the future. You can do far more than you can imagine.

6. Don’t burn your bridges.

You never know when a former boss, colleague, business partner or acquaintance may come in handy. Try to part on good terms, stay on good terms and never gossip about former connections. Be respectful and open to possibilities.

Maintain and foster connections on all levels. Connect others and offer your help to those you know. A wide pool of friends, peers and connections of all kinds will provide a wealthy resource of ideas and support as you go forward in life. (The exception would be dishonest, disrespectful or offensive people. Cut em loose!)

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7. Money is not the most important thing.

Money is important. We all have bills to pay, I understand that completely. But in the end, or even in the middle, maybe especially in the middle, money is not the end goal. Satisfaction in a job well done, contributing to something worthwhile and finding something you enjoy doing (or figuring out how to enjoy what you do) are more motivating goals and certainly lend themselves to a happier and less stressful life.

Contrary to what you have been sold by the “lifestyles of the wealthy and happy” fallacy, money does not equate to happiness. Nor does it insulate you from pain, suffering and conflict or improve your relationships with those around you. Money is simply a currency that allows you to eat, dress and live. It is not a magic wand.

8. Don’t be afraid to stand up and stand out.

Take a stand. Speak up. Stand out from the crowd. If something is important to you, then stand up for it…even if it is unpopular. Never compromise your integrity. One person can make a difference and shed light on injustice or unfairness. If it’s not right, say so.

Be quirky, be different, be yourself. Don’t worry so much about conforming to society’s standards or whatever passes for the norm. While I do think it reasonable to be clean, respectful and considerate, I think we place too much emphasis on fitting in and being “appropriate.” This is not your grandmother’s world. Don’t be afraid to be yourself.

9. It’s not a race.

We have so much to do, so much to accomplish and it feels as though we have to be in a hurry to get there. It is likely that you will live upwards of 80 years. That is plenty of time to fit a whole host of wonderful endeavors into your life. People work into their 70s and 80s, have children into their 40s and change careers or start businesses at any age.

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You do not have to do it all at once. In fact, if you try to do it all at once you will, at best not have time to enjoy it and at worst burn out and damage your health and relationships. Slow down and take one thing at a time, one day at a time. Yes, make plans, but don’t be in such a rush 24/7.

10. Look for the good in everything.

Stay positive. Look for the good in people. Celebrate the happy moments, big and small. Search for the lesson and opportunity for growth in the difficult. Give helpful encouragement rather than negative criticism. Be helpful whenever possible.

This does not mean put on Pollyanna glasses and ignore the bad. Dishonesty, disrespect, unhappiness and evil exist and you will have to deal with them. But don’t let those difficulties color your experience. If you view the world around you and life’s challenges through the lens of goodness, then you will find life much more enjoyable.

Life is serious — and sometimes awful — but you can still be upbeat and hopeful. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Featured photo credit: Girl with bubbles via shutterstock.com

More by this author

Royale Scuderi

A creative strategist, consultant and writer who specializes in cultivating human potential for happiness, health and fulfillment.

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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