When I turned 20, I started to think about the future I wanted to create for myself. I also wondered what my future self would think of the choices I would make through my life’s journey. Now that I am a bit older (but not ancient, thank you!) I am also starting to think about what words of advice I would give my former self with the benefit of hindsight.
Below are the four main realizations that came from my reflection on the matter. The topic is interesting to me because I also help businesses to achieve their best futures. You can find out more about my work here.
You’re doing OK
Being harsh on your former self just means living with regrets in the present. Some of the decisions I made may look like poor judgment now, but I had a lot less information back then. We should thank our former selves for living through the consequences of the mistakes we made so that our present selves don’t have to do it.
The big picture is constantly changing
When I was fresh out of school, I started my business, and I was so sure that I knew exactly what my life would look like within the next five to ten years, down to the color of each of the walls in my house. Not everything looks like I thought it would. My career in particular has been much more of a rollercoaster than I could ever have imagined, but the majority of that experience has been extremely positive. Unpredictability isn’t always bad. Sometimes it means spotting opportunities before others do. And don’t worry Past Self, I’m exactly where I want to be.
Take a deep breath
When someone says something that hurts you on any level, don’t respond immediately. Sometimes you say something back that feels appropriate at the moment, but afterward, you feel that you should have taken a softer tone. Once thoughts become words, they are very difficult to take back. Over the years, I have become more mindful and careful with my words, and I would encourage my younger self to start this journey even earlier.
Settle in with a good book
For the longest time, I would spend my nights in front of the television, bingeing on my favorite series. Absolutely nothing wrong with that, winding down after a busy day is vitally important. But recently, I have changed my routine to spend at least the last half hour of my waking day in bed with a book. Compared to the action on the screen, a book is just more peaceful and meditative. This is the perfect end to each day. I sleep better and wake up more refreshed. Try it earlier in our life, Past Self – you’ll see!
I could tell my past self about my relationships as well, but that would spoil the fun! Again, I’m exactly where I need to be.
I found the conversations with my past self enlightening, as it also reminded me of what my main priorities in the present are, and often it is the little things that matter most. And these are the insights that I will take with me into the future.