Thursday, November 20, 2014

7 Things I Would Tell My 20-year-old Self

As a 40-year-old wife and mother of two young boys, I sometimes look back at photos of my 20-year-old self and feel like I’m staring at another person. Back then, there was excitement and worry about the future. Many decisions held a lot of weight, whether they were about jobs, boyfriends, education or money. At times, it felt like a single decision could change my life’s path. Talk about putting pressure on myself! Don’t get me wrong, I had a lot of fun in my 20’s too. But it was also such a critical time for self-awareness and self-definition. I wish my 40-year-old self could have sat down with my 20-year old self over a glass of wine to have a good heart-to-heart.

Here are some of the things I would tell myself ….
  1. Be true to yourself. This is my most valuable piece of advice, but also the hardest since you’re still trying to figure out who exactly is that self.  Trust your gut. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Don’t compromise your ethics. Own your decisions. Be strong. Have pride in who you are.
  2. Focus on experiences, you won’t remember the rest. Seriously, you’ll be amazed at how little you remember of the people you met and the routines you had. What you will remember are experiences that take you out of your day-to-day routine, especially travel! So don’t sweat the small stuff, even if it doesn’t feel that small at the time.
  3. Spend less, save more. The price of homes will appreciate … a lot! When I look around at the people who are financially secure in their 40’s, many of them started building a financial base in their 20’s. Have fun and treat yourself, but make sure you’re socking away part of every pay cheque. You’ll never have as much disposable cash again.
  4. Relationships shouldn’t be hard. This one is a tough one, especially when you love someone. But communication isn’t difficult in a healthy relationship. You shouldn’t have to change who you are to please someone. Dating should be fun. If it’s not, then move on. He’s not worth it, but you are. When you meet the right guy, you WILL know he’s the one … really!
  5. True friends will stick with you. In your 20’s, forming friendships seems like a priority. By 40, the friends you STILL have from those earlier years will be your true friends. They will stick with you through triumphs, heartbreak, life changes and losses. Let go of the friends who are weighing you down or never give back as much as they take. Life is short; spend it with family and friends who are loyal to you.
  6. Specialize in something you’re good at. I know that variety can be the spice of life, but find something you’re good at and specialize in it. Do a deep dive and become the best you can in that field, whether it’s your hobby or career. Again, when I look around at the most successful people I know today, they are (usually) specialists who love what they do.
  7. Enjoy your sleep. You will never sleep so well, so long and so much as you do now. For that matter, enjoy everything you do. Take pleasure in the company of others, the fun in a night out, the calmness of solitude and the enjoyment of a good meal. The days are long, but the years are short.
In the spirit of this post, I would love some advice from people in their 60's (or older) about what advice they would give their 40-year-old selves?