As I approach my 50th birthday, I can’t help but reflect on my life and all the lessons I have learned along the way. It seems like only yesterday that I was that fresh faced new graduate ready to take on the world.
So if I had a time machine, what would today’s “older” self tell that “younger” self if given the chance? Let me think…
1) Be respectful, but don’t care so much about what others think.
I remember spending so much time worrying about what other people thought of me. As I aged it hit me, they really aren’t that interested. We think people think about us way more than they do – well guess what? They are too busy worrying about their own lives. So knock it off and live your life in a way that honors you and your own ambitions.
2) Be open minded and say yes more than no, even if you don’t know how to do something.
Great opportunities don’t always present themselves, so when they do be poised to take advantage. Raise your hand high – it may not be in your job description or even something you are comfortable doing, but people recognize effort, desire and courage.
3) Find a good mentor- then ask great questions and listen.
Everyone I know in business (and life) who is considered “successful” has had someone along the way who believed in them. They also were a sponge – every lesson, every project, every piece of advice they took in and used the information to learn and grow.
4) Be self confident – take time to really get to know you and “lean in”.
This is where you need to go for it! Confidence is attractive and people gravitate to others that exude strength, energy and passion. Put yourself out there – yes, sometimes you may feel like you’re “faking it until you make it”, but the more you “lean in” and put yourself in situations that may be a bit uncomfortable, the quicker they become comfortable.
5) Make sure you’re really in love.
I remember a friend of mine telling me that you might as well marry your best friend because that is where it ends up anyway. “What an awful thought” my twenty-two year old self said!! Well guess what, it’s true. Having common interests and enjoying each other, not just as lovers but as human beings is really important. It’s what makes the hard times bearable. Also, communicate about everything and don’t stop. Most problems in life and especially in marriages happen when one person stops communicating with the other.
6) Focus on making a difference.
This world desperately needs others who care and will pitch in. The true reward however is you personally will grow in love and compassion. Find a cause that you believe in and give of your time, talent and ultimately treasure. While others will benefit, you will be the big winner.
7) It takes a team effort – no one is successful in a silo
Everyone needs inspiration and motivation. The best place to get it is from others that you are engaged with who are sharing a common project or work space. You can be the light – listen, people either light up a room when they enter it or when they leave it – be the light that inspires others to do their best work.
8) Save until you can buy good quality vs. the cheaper version.
What I wouldn’t give to have all the money back I spent on cheap junk vs. just waiting to buying the better version. It lasts longer, the return on investment is greater and quite frankly it looks and feels better. This goes for everything – clothes, sporting equipment, you name it – better will always be better.
9) Never put off for tomorrow what you can do today.
Procrastination is such a deal killer. So many great things – opportunities, promotions and life changing events can be gone in a blink if you procrastinate. Make a list and do the hardest, most challenging thing first when your energy is at its peak. As you get tired (I know at 22 you don’t, but you will), the list and day gets easier. Start the habit now.
10) And finally…if it was 1986 (the year I was 22), what would I tell myself…
Don’t forget to buy some Apple Stock!!
Authored by Employment Resource Group CEO Sharon Hulce