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To My Younger Me

A friend recently asked me, if I could go back in time, what age would I want to relive? It was an interesting question, but the more I thought about it, the more I began to wonder if I really want to relive my life? Yes, there have been regrets, but also immense joy. My life continues to be a work in progress and one I wouldn't want to lose. Although, I definitely think that my younger self could have benefited from a bit of sage advice from the person I am now.

This past July, LinkedIn tweeted a question to its more than a million followers for the best advice they'd give their 20-year-old selves.

The resulting thread was a goldmine of useful and not so useful advice in 280 characters or less. Some of the tips were quirky and nonsensical, others personal, and some were more aspirational. But among all this advice, there were several bits of wisdom that kept coming up...just get started, stay true to yourself, be willing to take risks, learn along the way, and keep moving forward. In a nutshell, action beats endless deliberation.

Other users said that they would tell their younger self to be more confident. To be bold. Being bold, while scary and challenging for many of us, is essential if we’re going to live an authentic, successful, and fulfilling life. Boldness is about stepping up and stepping out onto our “edge” in life – pushing the limits of what we think is possible and appropriate. It’s about living, speaking, and acting in ways that are both courageous d true to our values and who we really are.

A notable addition to this thread, and one that is often forgotten in the dog-eat-dog pursuit of climbing the corporate ladder, are the comments on paying more attention to family. Obtaining success and fame is all well and good, but never underestimate the importance and value of spending quality time with family. I like to call this "compound time" because, like compound interest, a small investment early and often yields surprisingly large returns over time. And, I emphasize, early and often. Trust me, at the end of the day (or career), what you will discover is that family and friends are all that really matter.

As I perused the various comments, I realized that I am not alone in what advice I would want to give the younger me. Taking action, being courageous especially in times of adversity are important, but even more importantly, I would advise my younger me to cherish family and friends above all else. Take the time. Stay connected. It has taken me up until now to realize that all good relationships need continual nourishment, and not just when it is convenient. Be present and give in ways that are meaningful to the other person(s). It is all within our control if only we are willing to reprioritize what is important and put in the thought, effort, and time into it.

Life is fleeting. One day you will wake up and find out you are already forty. I know when you are 20 it may seem like forever, but it happens in the blink of an eye. So, whatever path you choose, keep what is most important in front of you, find joy in everything you do, and live your life. It is a crazy journey, with its ups and downs, twists and turns, but if you keep moving forward while staying true to yourself and those you love, you will live a life fulfilled and one, I am sure, your 20-year old self would be proud of.

(to be continued)

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