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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 October 20, 2020

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future. Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

Bonus: Think Like a Rhino

More Tips for Procrastinators to Start Taking Action

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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