First and foremost it needs to be stated from the beginning that I do not believe in the word ‘regret’ and it is because I have an amazing life and while there are some things that I would do a bit differently, I wouldn’t want any of those changes to lead me in a different direction…… I think.
What was I thinking?
When we are younger and unknowing of the world, we make decisions that can affect our lives many years later or for the rest of our lives. Fortunately for myself, I started working full time as a teenager and on the streets of Washington D.C., you learn a lot about life very quickly. It’s a sink or swim type of situation and luckily I swim like a dolphin and was able to navigate quite well. That with the fact that I befriended the right people and they were all much older than I and taught me a lot about life from their own experiences that helped me a lot.
There are still at least 5 powerful things that I would tell my younger self that could have set me up for even greater success later in life and here they are.
To have the ability to be able to speak multiple languages is so invaluable that it needs it’s own article. We are communicative animals that need to be able to speak to people and articulate what is going on in our minds. The more languages that we can speak, the more people we can speak to and the more we are able to think about the world.
When I use my Cantonese brain to think about food, for example, I go down a road that would never be possible when just thinking in English. Without the knowledge that I have gained through language learning which has arms that branch out into every area of culture and beyond, I would be kept only in the one world that I would possess if I was monolingual.
I would surely tell my younger self to get into language learning and take it very seriously at a younger age. The benefits are so immense and the experience gained cannot be replaced in any shape or form.
The cousin of language learning is travel. Travel opens your mind up to the world that no book or documentary can in any way. Traveling is hands down something that changes your entire perception of the world and people that has lifelong lasting effects. We have all gotten back from a trip to a different country and have developed a fondness or appreciation for something new. Often when going to a new place, if having gone there with an open mind, we come back with a want to visit again and to keep going further and further. Traveling is necessary to our soul in my mind now that I have been able to visit many other countries and see other cultures first hand.
I would tell my younger self, get your ass on as many airplanes as possible and build your understanding of the world from first hand, feet on the ground, local food in your tummy experiences.
Plain and simple, READ. I didn’t grow up in my younger years as a reader and I truly wish that I had. I found about the power of reading much later in life and I kick myself that I hadn’t done so much earlier. While everything happens when it is supposed to, it would have been really nice to fall into books during those mixed up growing pain years. Maybe some of those years wouldn’t have been so mixed up had I known about the power of the written word.
I would tell my younger self to get as many books digested as possible.
Save That Loot
Oh the money that was never saved is sad to think about now that I am much older and wiser. To have the notion to start saving in a serious way at a younger age would have made some powerful changes to my world. My Grandma Maxine would always tell me to always ‘pay myself first’ whenever I got any money, but I didn’t heed her advice until much later down the road. We all have wasted tons of money and many of us still do. While I have never gone out and bought too many things that I didn’t really need, I still didn’t just stack away large portions of the money I was making on a consistent basis. People become wealthy because of compounding money over a lifetime.
I would tell my younger self to start saving 40% or more of all money in and never touch it.
We all want to have as much fun as we can when we are young, but some of us waste a bit more time than others on having too much fun and do not find their purpose. This fun is really addictive, especially when you are making money and out in the world. You want to do things like other adults and next thing you know, two years have gone by and you still haven’t made much progress in life.
I had my share of time wasting on having fun and not moving forward and I would tell my younger self to focus on finding my purpose and always move forward in life. Again, I was very fortunate to have some amazing people in my life that were of the go-hard variety and I emulated them as much as I could. They instilled in me that fight to be great and to capitalize on all that life had to offer, so I didn’t waste much time for the most part. I would still tell my younger self to stay focused and don’t waste too much time as it will pay dividends later in life.
While some of these things could be life trajectory changing, they still could be done and I still end up living in Hong Kong and having the amazing life that I have now. I think that while it is interesting to look back and think about what things you would change, even though you can’t, those things that you would change may still need to be changed now. I still need to take my language learning more seriously and travel the world. I still need to pour myself into more books. I still need to remember to ‘pay myself first’ and I must stay on the road of my purpose.
I have done so many things in life and have had many experiences. I have failed a lot and plan to fail brilliantly in the future as well. To have great successes we need to learn from our past. Our younger self can also be who we were yesterday or last month. So what we tell ourselves today will be just as important as what we could tell our younger self, if we could.
Keep moving forward.