I had an ulterior motive last week when I asked what advice you would give your former self if you could go back in time. Truthfully I’m at something of a crossroads in my own life. I have a difficult decision to make and I’m not sure what my next step should be. It got me thinking, if only my future self could come back and tell me what to do.
That’s what gave me the idea. I wanted to see what all of you had to say and see if I could spot any patterns – to see if I could gain some more clarity. Thankfully loads of you responded, so I had plenty to chew on. There were some obvious patterns, but also a few pieces of seemingly contradictory advice that forced me to do a bit of deeper thinking.
From all of you, I pieced together this list of indispensable life advice. I’ll get back to the topic of my personal crossroads another day. For now, I want to share this list. This one is for you, from your future self. I hope you enjoy. I also hope you take heed!
1. Start looking after your finances
This was one of the most obvious bits of advice that stuck out. Take care of your finances. Pay off all your debt as soon as you can. Don’t spend beyond your means. Start saving for your retirement now! Take the time to educate yourself about boring things like investing and mortgages. Like or loath it, the hard reality is financial freedom is freedom. I believe if you’re sensible – if you put a little bit aside each month and diversify your investments – you should (hopefully) be pleasantly surprised by the time you retire.
2. Take better care of your health
Looking after your health is the physical equivalent of saving for retirement. Start paying more attention to your diet today. Get outside and move today. Don’t neglect your mental health. Talk to someone if you need to. I would add, an often overlooked aspect regarding health is making sure you have some insurance because, well, shit happens! I believe the best way to prepare for life is to prepare for the worst. That means considering the implications of your own death as well. Prepare for your own funeral while making every effort to delay it.
3. Prioritise time with your family
A number of you expressed regret about not having spent more time with your children, while others expressed regret about not having made the effort to form a closer bond with their parents… My take, reading between the lines, was not to put off that difficult conversation. Don’t wait till your loved ones are on their death beds (or indeed you are) to tell them how you really feel. Make time for them, today. The other side of that awkward conversation is a closer relationship.
4. Learn to love yourself
This one came up a lot in various forms. “Stop caring what other people think”, “learn to love who you are”, “practise self-acceptance”, etc. I think this might be one of life’s most important yet difficult lessons. I believe many of us feel we’re somehow lacking as individuals. Our inability to accept causes us to metaphorically whip ourselves. Of course this doesn’t work, at least, not without killing who you really are.
We also seem to forget the curious paradox that, as Carl Rogers once said, “When I accept myself as I am, then I can change.” If you ask me, the biggest secret when it comes to self-improvement is self-acceptance. This helps you work with your emotions instead of against them. This is also what I believe it means to love yourself. You’re not trying to become something more because you feel inadequate, you’re trying to become something more because you love yourself and want to reward that person by doing so.
5. Follow your heart but don’t be reckless
This was the first piece of advice that had me scratching my head. Some of you said you wished you hadn’t been so reckless, that you’d been more pragmatic about your decision making, whereas others wished they hadn’t played it so safe – that they’d taken more chances. After giving it some thought I came to the conclusion that there’s a big difference between taking a calculated risk based on what you know your heart wants, versus simply caving into impulsivity and doing what feels good all the time. Life isn’t about simply doing what feels good, it’s about doing what you believe is right. That’s what it really means to follow your heart.
6. Sort out your career before you have kids
A few of you raised the point that it’s best to understand your place in the world before you bring kids into it. The younger you are, the more risks you should be taking. Don’t hesitate to change your degree or career path if you’re not enjoying the one you’re on. Better to experiment and make those changes earlier rather than later. Part of problem is this idea that one must go straight from school into the best possible university with a career plan for life already mapped out. Many of us then get “locked in” to these careers because of the debt we’ve taken on doing a degree we weren’t entirely sure about.
I often look back and wonder what the big rush was? (I’m a pilot with a history degree who is now considering a second career in psychology FYI!) Why not go out and experience the world first? Why not try travelling on a shoe string? Why not volunteer for a cause you believe in, or see what supporting yourself on a minimum wage for a while is like (that will give you some added motivation) – and then ask yourself what you want your life to be about?
7. Don’t wait but have patience
It seems to me people either give up way too soon, or they never get started in the first place because they’re always waiting for the “perfect time.” This was reflected in what many of you said. Some of you said to get started right away, while others said to have patience – not to be be so naive and understand that is takes time to build the life you want. It reminded me of this Oprah Winfrey quote: “Do what you have to do until you can do what you want to do.” The way I see it, there are two ways to go about it. Build a business or hold a job that earns you enough money, that also gives you enough time to chase/do what you love on the side, or learn to earn enough money doing what you love. Either way, don’t wait to chase your dreams, but understand there’s a mountain you have to climb first.
8. Believe in yourself
This brings me nicely to the next piece of advice that so many of you gave. Believe in yourself. Back yourself to stand up for what you believe is right. Believe in your capacity to persevere in face of adversity. It’s important to remember that hope is for you, for your ability to deal with reality – not for reality itself. To quote my childhood hero Bruce Lee, “Do not pray for an easy life; pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.” Prepare for the worst while believing in your capacity to deal with it.
9. Lighten up
Now that I’ve relayed you with a very serious list of life lessons that you’ve all undoubtably failed to follow, let me finish this final piece of advice you gave – lighten up! Life is serious enough without us adding to it. You could spend your whole life planning for the perfect retirement only to get hit by a bus crossing the road. It’s important to prepare for the future, but not at the complete expense of today. Remember to laugh and be silly. Remain curious and let your inner child have a say. Certainly don’t be too hard on yourself. You’re still standing aren’t you? That, at least, is something worth smiling about.
For more life advice that I stole from other people, check out my blog here at: https://clear-air-turbulence.com
41 thoughts on “9 Pieces Of Indispensable Life Advice From Your Future Self”
These are all so important! I can advocate for taking care of your health now and not putting it off. I’m healthier now than I was in most of my 20s and I feel like I was holding myself back from a happy life.
Thanks Ang. Health is a big one. The sum of our habits accumulate over time. We either accelerate our demise or decelerate it. Glad to hear you’re taking good care of yourself 😊🙏
Thank you 😀
Thanks for liking my review of Goodfellas.
It means a lot to me.
Excellent advice and a great read!
Glad you enjoyed it. Not my advice but everyone who replied last week. I just added my 2 cents worth. Wishing you well Nadine 🙏
We move forward only to glance backwards and contemplate the moments we have lost. And in this very process, we lose many more precious moments.
I read each of the above points very carefully and there was no escaping the wisdom that beamed forth. I must appreciate your understanding and perceptions, every word you write is crisp, clear, and straightforward. No hidden meanings or complex interpretations.
But I think the greatest favor we can do ourselves as individuals is to stop looking back. Whatever we have been through and are going through as of now is coded into our thinking and emotions.
Looking back is just convincing ourselves that we could have been different individuals.
But such aspirations are futile and not meant to be. What we are today, we will not be tomorrow. Such is the pattern of life and the secret of the everchanging persona. Advice is only valued till the rectification is meaningful. Beyond that both are simply redundant.
Thank you for sharing such aspects of the human nature. You seriously must consider a career in psychology.
And following your last point, I’ll lighten up now. Phew! 🙂
Agree – no escaping the wisdom here !!
“What we are today, we will not be tomorrow. Such is the pattern of life and the secret of the everchanging persona. Advice is only valued till the rectification is meaningful. Beyond that both are simply redundant.”
I had to read that a few times to let it sink in. Such wise words Terveen – as always. I’ll have to add, “Stop looking backward” as number 10.
Thank you and for your encouragement too! I shall try to lighten too! 🙂🙏
I’ve seen many wonderful people with so much potential dwelling in their pasts and constantly beating themselves up about it. In turn, taking away so much hope and charm from their present lives.
To me – What’s done is done. No point chewing on it – but I still tend to misstep at times. (Human nature)
Thank you so much for your kind words. And number 10 is a beauty when it’s implemented with an open mind and heart. Wish you all the best! 🙂🙏🏼
Yes – No point crying over split milk. We all misstep – I’m far better at saying the right things than doing them! We can but pick ourselves back up and keep going. Thanks again Terveen 🙏
A nice list. Money is definitely an important one. I so much didn’t need all those eye shadows in high school. Number nine is my favourite. How does it go: don’t take life so seriously; no one gets out alive. 😃
Exactly Em. Lighten up. Life feels too heavy nowadays. Enjoy today as your first order of business. Wishing you well 🙏
Wise points, I would add life your own life, listen to advice if interested, but make your own choices and do not waste time on what is not important.
Sounds a lot like the advice Steve Jobs gave. “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
Thank you Irena 🙏
Agreed, every aspect you have touched upon matters… especially about health, self love, stability before marriage…
We get so busy with jobs and routines that we forget living life…earlier we start living the better it is..
Stay blessed 🙏😇
very well written and explained …. thanks for the advice ♥️
My pleasure! Thank you for saying so. I simply added my 2 cents worth to the advice everyone else gave. Wishing you well Aayushi 🙏
your welcome 🙂
Excellent to give, take and heed
Thanks Halbarbera 🙏
Thank you for sharing these. So well put, the importance of accepting yourself. Timeless advice.
Thank you. I’m glad you found some value in my words. Wishing you well 🙏
Reblogged this on Surprised By Joy and commented:
I really enjoyed this list of life advice that AP2 pulled together from comments on a post asking for what advice people would give to their former selves. He did the hard work to find the patterns and consolidate the list into 9 discreet points. Two of the items really stuck out to me:
#5 follow your heart but don’t be reckless
#7 don’t wait but have patience
I think there might be a natural tendency in all of us that is exposed by these two points – are we be-ers or do-ers? That is to say are we happy just being while waiting for life to unfold or are we people that force that action by doing things. As a self-admitted “do-er” I resonate with the advice to be pragmatic about decision making and to have patience. And I can appreciate that maybe follow your heart and don’t wait might be the right advice for those who are more happy to just be.
Hope you enjoy this too!
Do-ers versus be-ers – love it! I liken it to those who are the wind and those who go with the wind. I think there is a time and a place for both. Sometimes we need to be the wind. We need to take action. Other times we need to learn to go with the flow and let be! Thank you for taking the time to comment and reblog! I’m really pleased you enjoyed it. Wishing you well wynneleon 🙏
Oh, I like “those who are the wind and those who go with the wind.” Perfect way to put it! And it was so genius the way you asked for advice for your former self because hopefully we have some awareness of which we are. Otherwise advice from the wind people to those who just go with the wind or vice versa gets a little tricky! Thanks, AP2!!
there’s a big difference between taking a calculated risk based on what you know your heart wants, versus simply caving into impulsivity and doing what feels good all the time.
This part spoke to me a lot, because I still don’t know where the balance is.
Hi Betul! Thank you. That balance is hard to find. I am struggling to find it myself. Wishing you well 🙏
We have too.
Simple yet very profound advice👍
Thank you Debbie 🙏
Amen to all this collated advice. Always handy to have useful things in one easy to access location. Thank you for doing the hard work on this one. 😉
Thanks Hamish. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I simply collected other people’s thoughts and put it together. Came up with a good list. 🙏