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Advice to My 20-Year-Old Self: 30 Nuggets of Wisdom

Advice to My 20-Year-Old Self: 30 Nuggets of Wisdom

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What are the most valuable pieces of advice from my 54 year old self to my 20-Year-Old Self, and how can they impact the decision-making and personal growth of young adults today?

As I reflect on the journey of my life so far, I can’t help but think of the countless lessons I’ve learned along the way. There are almost too many to remember. If I could turn back time….if I could finnnnd a way (Can you hear that song by Cher?) and have a heart-to-heart with my 20-year-old self, there would be so much I’d advice want to share — the mistakes and regrets along the way, as well as the things I’m proud of.

Advice is like snow – the softer it falls, the longer it dwells upon, and the deeper it sinks into the mind.” – Samuel Taylor Coleridge

seven - ancient Japanese proverb printed on grunge vintage cardboard
Fall six times, stand up seven

30 Pieces of Advice I Wish I Could Impart to the Younger Me:

  1. Embrace Your Authenticity: Be unapologetically yourself. Don’t waste time trying to fit into someone else’s mold or conform to society’s expectations. Embrace your quirks and unique qualities. This was one of the hardest things for me growing up – I didn’t have the self-awareness I have now. Self awareness is something that I am always working on.
  2. Take Risks: Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to take calculated risks and pursue your passions, even if they seem daunting at first. While I don’t always take my own advice on this, I am getting better at it — however now, my risks are a lot more calculated. When you’re my age, you don’t have the years to make up for big mistakes from foolish risks.
  3. Invest in Relationships: Cultivate meaningful connections with family, friends, and mentors. These relationships will be your support system during both good times and bad. How I wish I had worked harder on this one! My connections are meaningful with family, but my resistance to “bothering” my friends worked me right out of several friendships in the past, and we lost touch. I could have, and should have, shown more effort in this. Now it feels near impossible for me to make lasting friendships. You know why? Because everyone else has their long term friends and don’t really think of including me as I am more of an “outsider” in their tight little circle.
  4. Travel Often: Explore new places, cultures, and perspectives. Traveling will broaden your horizons and provide invaluable experiences that shape your worldview. I was quite a traveler when finances provided for it. No regrets there. Now that I am older, my wanderlust has been dampened a bit. The world doesn’t feel as safe as it was 30 years ago.
  5. Prioritize Self-Care: Your mental, emotional, and physical well-being should always be a top priority. Take time to recharge, practice mindfulness, and engage in activities that bring you joy. I wasted years of my life drinking. Although I was largely “functional,” when I think of what I could have accomplished when I was younger, I get regretful. I hardly drink at all anymore and my energy is through the roof as well as my mental acuity!
  6. Save and Invest Wisely: Start saving and investing early. Even small contributions can grow significantly over time. Financial security will provide you with freedom and peace of mind. This one was always in the back of my mind for years and years. It’s beyond difficult to save and invest when you are barely making it as it is. My portfolio reflect this.
  7. Learn Continuously: Never stop learning and growing. Whether through formal education, books, or life experiences, seek out knowledge and wisdom wherever you can find it.
  8. Fail Forward: Failure is not the end; it’s an opportunity to learn and grow. Don’t let fear of failure hold you back from pursuing your goals and dreams. Once I matured emotionally, I started seeing failures as learning lessons. You gotta stay on the sunny side of the street when it comes to picking yourself up after a failure — whether it was real or perceived. In other words, don’t beat yourself up for decades over your mistakes like I did.
  9. Trust Your Intuition: Listen to your gut instincts. Your intuition often knows what’s best for you, even when logic and reason say otherwise. So, so many times something happened that I ignored my instincts when I should have listened. I learned a lesson about this while in the presence of a creepy man as a little girl. I talked a little about that here. Luckily, nothing terrible happened that day, but I learned what it sounds like when your voice inside is practically screaming at you.
  10. Practice Gratitude: Cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Focus on the blessings in your life, no matter how small, and express appreciation regularly. This is something I try to do every day. I count my blessings.
  11. Set Boundaries: Learn to say no when necessary and establish healthy boundaries in all areas of your life. Respect your own needs and limits. This was a tough one. Not everyone knows what a boundary is or means in relationships, which is one reason why I started this blog.
  12. Take Care of Your Health: Your body is your temple. Eat nourishing foods, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep. Your future self will thank you.
  13. Be Present: Life is happening right now, in this moment. Practice mindfulness and be fully present in whatever you’re doing. Once I had kids, this became difficult. My son and daughter are only 18 months apart and when she came along, I wanted so badly to be in the moment with each of them. I had a hard time with this because I am always thinking 20 years into the future. I’ve always been this way, and reigning in my thoughts and emotions for this was definitely a learned habit.
  14. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others: Comparison is the thief of joy. Focus on your own journey and celebrate your progress, no matter how small. Really tough when you don’t have a sense of where you fit in. Now, I try to keep my head in my own life, creating and meeting my own goals.
  15. Forgive Yourself: You’re not perfect, and that’s okay. Learn from your mistakes, but don’t dwell on them. Forgive yourself and move forward with grace. Easier said than done. It’s taken me decades to learn this one. Once you let go of all the stuff you did, but can’t change, you still may feel regret, but going through life hating yourself for mistakes only hurts you.
  16. Surround Yourself with Positive Influences: Choose your company wisely. Surround yourself with people who uplift and inspire you. My mom told me a saying once when she didn’t like who I was hanging around — “you’re known by the company you keep.” So, if you are toxic, and I didn’t birth you or marry you — I see no reason to be with you.
  17. Take Care of the Environment: We only have one planet. Do your part to protect the environment and minimize your ecological footprint. As a native Californian, I was recycling and upcycling before it was cool. I hate to waste, and it just feels good to give something another life or use whenever possible.
  18. Practice Empathy: Seek to understand others’ perspectives and experiences. Treat everyone with kindness and compassion. I fall short of this sometimes. As a kid, I was very empathetic. I couldn’t even look at a dead animal in the road without crying. Now I am a hard-ass at times — grizzled by a life of people treating me like sh*t because I was an empathetic person. Then, at times, that thoughtful, sensitive little kid I used to be comes out, and I let her stay out as long as she wants.
  19. Invest in Experiences, Not Things: Material possessions come and go, but experiences create lasting memories and enrich your life in meaningful ways. I like nice things as much as the next person, but experiences — especially the ones you learn from, are priceless!
  20. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help: You don’t have to navigate life’s challenges alone. Reach out for support when you need it, whether from friends, family, or professionals. I am the type that will wait until I am miserable before asking for help. Don’t be like me. I have found that most people enjoy helping other people. I sure do. It just feels good. Plus, if they are a real friend, they’ll owe you a favor for helping them, and a real friend doesn’t forget that.
  21. Celebrate Your Successes: Take time to acknowledge and celebrate your achievements, no matter how small. You’ve worked hard, and you deserve to pat yourself on the back. Celebrating a success should never be put on the back burner. It fuels more success and drives us to keep doing better — or at least keep at it!
  22. Practice Patience: Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are your dreams. Be patient with yourself and trust the process. This was, and still is, difficult for me. When I get hyped up on an idea I have, I want to jump in with both feet instead of thinking it over for a long time. As I’ve gotten on in years, I usually mull things over longer instead of jumping in. It’s ok to stand at the edge of the pool for a while. My lack of impulse control has cost me big time over the years.
  23. Stay Curious: Maintain a sense of wonder and curiosity about the world. Never lose your thirst for knowledge and exploration. This one should be easy. There are so many things I still want to learn and try…I don’t think I will get the time to do them all before I croak. That won’t stop me from trying. Learning new things makes me happy.
  24. Be Mindful of Your Digital Footprint: In today’s digital age, everything you post online leaves a permanent trace. Be mindful of what you share and how it reflects on you. This is why I’m not a big presence personally on social media. I’d rather be in the background. It’s easier to hide your mistakes that way! 🙂
  25. Invest in Quality Relationships: Surround yourself with people who support and uplift you. Quality trumps quantity when it comes to relationships. Claim the positive energy that your tribe surrounds you with!
  26. Live Below Your Means: Avoid the trap of lifestyle inflation. Just because you can afford something doesn’t mean you need it. Live frugally and save for the future. I’ve always done this. Even when I’ve been flat broke, I still spent less than I was taking in. Most times out of necessity. I look at it like a game to see how I can cut corners financially every month to save money.
  27. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff: In the grand scheme of things, many of life’s stressors are insignificant. Focus on what truly matters and let go of the rest. Truly one of the hardest things to understand as a young person. Sometimes when we are younger, it feels like it’s going to be like this for the rest of your life. I feel that this outlook is one reason why suicides are so prominiate with those in their teens and twenties.
  28. Practice Self-Reflection: Regularly take stock of your life and evaluate whether you’re heading in the direction you want to go. Adjust course as needed. As a person now in my fifties, I’ve had to pivot more times than I can count. I get tired of it sometimes, because pivoting in my life seems constant, but I am gratgeful that I have always been a survivor. You will be too!
  29. Be Open to Change: Life is unpredictable, and change is inevitable. Embrace change as an opportunity for growth and adaptation. Change is scary. It’s also exciting because it opens new doors that we may not have ever known existed. Change is usally a good thing – even when it doesn’t feel good at the time.
  30. Remember to Have Fun: Life is meant to be enjoyed. Don’t take yourself too seriously, and remember to laugh often. Enough said on this one!
wisdom word advisability dictionary page skills studying literature wise book experience concept trust insight intelligence close up definition concept - stock image

Wrapping Up

If I could go back and share these pearls of wisdom with my 20-year-old self, I know that my journey would have been smoother and more fulfilling. But even if we can’t turn back the clock, we can still apply these lessons moving forward, guiding us toward a brighter and more fulfilling future.

And perhaps, by sharing them with you, I can help illuminate the path for you on your own journey of self-discovery and growth.

This post contains affiliate links. I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases.

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