When you are younger you don’t realise it, but something happens when you turn 50. Call it an awakening of sort or maybe a tipping point.
Personally, it was as if a cloud had been lifted and I could finally see what mattered in life.
The realisation hit me like a sledgehammer. For half a century I had been on this earth. That is a long time!
And damn, I was now playing the second half of my life. This coming of age came with a feeling of both urgency and freedom.
It is the perfect time to take stock of your life. To reflect on where you’ve succeeded and where you’ve failed. To reminisce over the opportunities you’ve passed up and those you’ve taken advantage of.
A time to ask yourself what you want to change.
And to ask yourself what you love.
How do you want to traverse through the next half of your life?
A Roadmap when you are younger
Contemplating on my younger years, I needed an older and much wiser person to take the time to help me create a roadmap for a life of creativity, joy and meaning.
It could have saved a lot of confusion, sorrow, time and worry.
And I suspect it would have given me clarity, a sense of calm, and self-assuredness as I journeyed through this very complicated and challenging world.
Accepting all of that, here are some of the things I would’ve liked to tell myself a few decades ago when I was younger:
1. You have to choose yourself.
If you tend to think of your priorities before everyone else’s, you’ll have much more energy to help others. Make your well-being your top priority.
At the risk of sounding sexist, men may find this easier to achieve. This due to the traditional role of women being the caretakers of the family.
However, practising self-care is not selfish. It is a necessity if you want to lead a rich and productive life.
We are all designed with muscles, nerves and brain cells that are intended for outstanding things.
Like dancing until 2 in the morning, childbirth, and mountain climbing. You can learn geometry, or you can walk the Incan Trail, and your brain and body will take all of it in their stride.
And amazingly, you get to sleep it off and do it all over again.
Even better, you will be able to do this over and over for many, many years, especially if you look after yourself from a younger age.
If you forego too much alcohol and stupid drugs, begs the question what the smart drugs are? And those extra helpings of cake and walking in front of speeding cars.
2. Nothing is worth sacrificing your health for.
Most people do not realise that most diseases are related to their lifestyle choices. If they did, they might get serious about including exercise, nutrition, and relationships into their daily life.
Society talks a lot about destressing, while the majority of us are doing the opposite and still lead stressful lives. When you are younger you think you will go on forever, that you are indestructible. Time teaches you something different.
3. Surround yourself with people who support your growth and love you.
When was the last time you spent time with someone who is judgemental, negative, or an energy vampire? How often does that happen? How much of your time is spent with people like that?
Stop making excuses for the toxic people in your life.
Keep anyone who is consistently negative at a distance. Imagine that your five closest friends are a mirror of what you think of yourself. What values do they mirror?
Time to ensure that those closest to embody values and attributes you cherish.
4. You have to get comfortable with using the NO word.
Saying YES gets to be a habit, and it takes practice to catch yourself. But once you get out of the habit of saying YES, you’ll be delighted to see how much energy and time you have to pursue your passions.
5. Only your perception should influence your choices.
We can easily fall into the trap of doing what we think we should do. People are always offering their opinions on what we should do. And while they may be well-intended, their perception is not our perception.
So we fill our lives up with stuff they think we “should” do. And then we rarely feel fulfilled.
Time to replace “I should” with “I want” or “I choose to” and see what YOU come up with.
Chances are you’ll be surprised by the results. When you chase the approval of others, it drains your energy, and it keeps you from uncovering the best parts of yourself.
Call on the wisdom of your inner self and remind yourself that you only need to please yourself and no one else when you catch yourself in those moments of self-doubt.
6. Affirmations push you forward, while doubts hold you back.
People spend so much time questioning whether or not they’re good enough, smart enough, attractive enough. When that inner critic pipes up, replace whatever it says with the phrase, “I am enough” or “I am the designer of my life.”
Are you willing to try this? The number of clients who are astounded by the results when they try this technique is astonishing.
They tell me how they feel that a weight has been lifted off their shoulders. And that their self-perception enjoys massive improvement. Who wouldn’t like more of that?
7. Find time to be still.
Society places a high priority on hustling, productivity and keeping busy. So we follow the herd, wake up and immediately jump on that treadmill.
Try giving yourself ten 0r 15 minutes of quiet time in the morning. When you do, you will start your day from a calm and centred state This will help you because whatever happens to you afterwards you’ll be able to respond thoughtfully rather than instinctively.
8. Love yourself before you love anyone else.
Many years ago, maybe even two decades ago I started suggesting looking at yourself in the bathroom mirror each morning and saying “Good morning. I love you.”
Yeah, I hear you, it sounds corny, but when you do it, you’ll come to appreciate yourself more. You will discover your internal beauty and will develop greater self-love by making this one small change.
9. Let gratitude change your life.
It only takes five minutes to develop a daily gratitude practice. Nothing eleaborate, just sitting with a notebook and taking stock of what you are grateful for each morning or each evening.
Write down in a quick list format whatever comes to my mind. The key to the exercise is allowing yourself to experience the feeling of gratitude.
Say you have a truly great cup of coffee, take a deep breath and revel in the sensation of appreciation you have for that cup of coffee.
10. You need to be your own best friend.
To live an abundant, meaningful, and productive life you need to become familiar with your moods, motivations, and deepest desires.
Instead of sleepwalking through your day, on autopilot, do a check-in. Every few hours ask yourself, “How do I feel?”
When you have a strong negative reaction to something, take note of it. Endeavour to determine why. Notice when you feel creativity, fun, pleasure, joy, and spirituality.
When you become aware of these positive experiences, then you can find ways to incorporate more of them into your daily life.
11. You are responsible for yourself.
When we are younger, when things go wrong we look for external and not internal reasons. Blaming external circumstances for your unhappiness is futile. It only tends to perpetuate your unhappiness.
Alternatively, when you find yourself having a BMW (Bitch, Moan, Whine), affirm to yourself, “It is down to me, I am responsible for my own life, and I choose to create an outstanding one.”
12. Believe in your abilities.
You have the ability and power and to create a life that you deeply desire. Once you own that deep in your soul, you will experience the power you truly possess. And this, in turn, will inspire you to make changes.
You will realise that there is a solution to practically every problem and more importantly that you can figure out what that solution is.
13. Listening teaches you more than talking.
You need to learn the art of listening. And you can do it at any age, but it is even better to learn it when you are younger.
Being an excellent listener will allow you to develop more profound and more intimate and deeper connections with people. And this is the case whether it is an old friend, a stranger, a family member, or even in business.
As an added benefit, you will also have more engaging and interesting conversations, and this will keep your mind active and growing.
14. Curiosity is the cure to boredom.
Society places great importance on expertise and productivity. To live a creative and rich life, you need exposure to new practices and concepts.
Approach life that there is always more to learn, even in the areas you are considered an expert and you’ve been exploring for years. Remember when you were younger and you approached everything with a sense of curiosity?
Be willing to fail. Let go of perfectionism. The liberation It will reveal so many possibilities.
15. Forgiveness costs nothing.
When you are unable to forgive others, it is often a sign that you struggle to forgive yourself. Forgiveness costs nothing. Hatred costs everything.
How silly and senseless that many of us hold deep grudges indefinitely.
When you catch your inner voice making angry or critical or comments about others, acknowledge that your feelings toward them are actually a reflection of your feelings about yourself.
The process of noting these feelings and reminding yourself to let them go will dissolve your feelings of anger and judgment. But prepare yourself for the rush of positive energy, relief, openheartedness, and compassion that follows.
16. Doing one thing well rather than three things poorly.
Multitasking is a myth. We have been misled to believe that success means multitasking all day long.
This is very difficult when you are younger, but when you slow yourself down and practice being present and focused in each moment, you’ll experience a richer and more meaningful life.
Wherever you are right now, try this: Stop what you’re doing. Be still. Clear your mind. Take three deep breaths. Then do it over again.
17. Your job is to create the life of your dreams.
Everyone has moments of self-doubt. It is in those moments, that you need to let your wiser self remind you that you’re clever, creative, and highly intelligent.
To create the life of your dreams takes the drive and desire to keep making it happen.
If you commit to it, believe in yourself, and take action, you’ll always find a way to create an outstanding life. And ignore anyone that tells you otherwise.