June 1 is my birthday and by no means do I dread turning another year older. The fact is. I’ve come to embrace it. Plus, June is my favorite month and I can’t think of a better way to kick it off than ushering in the first month of summer with a celebration.
As I reflected on the day and gaining the wisdom of another year, I asked myself what advice I would give to a younger me twenty or thirty years ago. In no particular order, here are some thoughts I would offer:
Chill out and relax. This doesn’t mean you don’t take life, your job and relationships seriously, but assuming accident or disease doesn’t get in the way, you’ve got a long life ahead of you so relax and soak up each moment. There is no doubt I can get wired up at times, but as a younger me I would suggest not overreacting to most issues, especially volatile or emotional ones. Often times they work themselves out absent our involvement.
Listen more than you talk. That’s a challenge for me, even as I’ve “matured” a bit. If you have been in sales you’re constantly told the best strategy is for our customer to talk as we listen. I believe that advice is also true in almost every type of relationship we encounter. Human nature is such most of us enjoy talking about ourselves or what we enjoy more than we do listening to others. The problem is, we never learn when we’re the ones doing the talking but you ALWAYS learn when you’re listening. And don’t just listen lightly. Hear what people are telling you.
Save some money. And speaking of dividends, you need to have a long-term financial vision. Coming from someone who thrives on instant gratification, that’s often difficult to hear and implement. It doesn’t have to be much, but compound interest is a mathematical fact and over time, a little can turn into a lot. Plus, it will help maintain discipline in other areas of your life.
Pray often and pray for everything.
Ask God to change you for the better and protect those you love.
Forgive yourself and others. We all make mistakes. Learn from them and move on. Don’t carry the baggage from your prior experiences. It’s not yours to carry any longer. Make amens with those you have offended whenever possible.
Find something you enjoy and try to do it better than anyone else you know. Many people go through life making a living in jobs they don’t like. Sometimes out of necessity. I’m not saying we can all make a million dollars doing the one think we enjoy all the time, but you don’t have to “follow the crowd” either. Think outside the box when it comes to what you want to do forty-plus hours a week.
Wake up early five or six days a week. Yeah I know, this gets easier as we get older and the twenty-five year old me often slept too late. I have learned over time that morning hours are more productive for reading, exercise or just reflecting on the day ahead.
Love and appreciate those closest to you. There will only be a handful of people in your life that genuinely, truly, love you. Treat them well. Everyone else is an acquaintance of varying degrees.
Learn and master the art of good manners. I can’t say this enough; people notice good manners, especially now that fewer people demonstrate they have any. It will pay huge dividends. Trust me on this one.
Dress well. This doesn’t mean spending a fortunate on clothes or dressing formally. Educate yourself on quality clothing and fabrics and then shop for the best prices. I rarely if ever pay retail for clothing. Find someone who sells clothing for a living and whose style is what you want to emulate and let them guide you on what to buy.
Read two books per month. Okay, forget about the two-book rule for a moment. My point here is you need to read and read as much as you can. Tons of smart people have written lots of material you can benefit from digesting and I don’t care what people say, reading is the best way to retain information for the long term. It also makes you a better conversationalist.
Experiences are more important than possessions. I may be one of the more materialistic people I’ve known at certain times in my life, but as I age I value my experiences and the memories much more than the stuff I own or think I want to own. Eventually all that crap gets thrown away for put in a yard sale. Memories are forever.
Travel as much as possible. Go everywhere you can stateside and internationally. Well-traveled people are interesting and better conversationalist.
You are never too old to start something new. Period. Anyone who tells you this is simply afraid to try something new themselves and they don’t want you to either.
And finally, when you write the story of your life, never allow others to hold the pen.