If you were to share some advice to strengthen “you” of 10+ years ago, what would you say?
It might sound like a silly question, but the process of identifying those things will help you in at least two ways:
(1) You’ll have a concrete list of specific things that you can share with other people who are coming along behind you.
(2) You’ll be able to see how much you’ve grown.
Today I’m sharing a list of 10 things that would have made a difference to the younger version of me, and I hope that the ideas will either help you with your specific challenges right now–or they’ll inspire you to write your own list and let your experience be a lift for others.
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The idea for this episode started when my daughter emailed this picture from more than a decade ago:
Here’s what I wrote when I shared it to our social media channels:
One of our community members shared this, which deeply impacted me:
Then the other night, while Eric and I were reading in the living room, I started thinking about that version of me, and I asked myself, “What DID she need? What would I say to her if I had the chance?”
Several ideas came to mind, so I pulled out my phone and wrote them down. (There were 10–and I thought it might be helpful to share them with you…)
1. Recharging isn’t something you need to feel guilty about.
When you are tired, there is a reason, and rest is a gift. Replenish yourself with love and care, and know it is an investment that will ultimately benefit those in your circle of influence.
2. Your effort and love makes a difference.
You know all those messes you’re cleaning up? The conversations you’re having? The activities you’re planning? The moments you’re celebrating? The challenges you’re working through? All those places you’re driving? The songs and hugs and stories at bedtime? In hindsight, your family will know how much you cared about them, and you won’t regret the time spent doing even the mundane things together.
3. Big dreams feel scary, but KEEP DREAMING.
Keep drawing those little pictures on your vision board, keep imagining scenarios that make you giddy, keep thinking about those goals that probably sound crazy to everyone else. They will lift you and it will amaze you as things beyond your expectations start to actually happen—but be open to those dreams coming true in different ways.
4. When you wonder if the heavens are silent because nobody cares, please, please remember that there is a Higher Power who DEFINITELY, consistently, deeply cares.
Keep moving forward with the knowledge you have, increase your faith, wisely push past your comfort zone, and do all you can to bring goodness to others. As you look back, you will know with certainty that you were never alone.
5. Focus on the essentials.
There is a tendency to think that you are never doing enough. When you feel that way, step back and see if perhaps you are doing too many non-essentials. You are one person. One human person, and it is the steady doing of the ESSENTIAL things that will bring the success you desire.
6. Your value isn’t in how much you check off your list.
Even when you are sick, hurt, afraid, frustrated, mistreated, or stuck in confusion, you are still of infinite worth. You’ll get back to the “doing” of things when you can, but the doing is simply an expression of who you are, it isn’t “who you are.”
7. When you see how amazing “everyone else” is, you are only seeing a small part of the story.
Yes, other people have praiseworthy success, great vacations, happy relationships, and incredible talents, and you can genuinely cheer them on and celebrate their wins—but know that there are parts of your life and parts of who you are that others would feel privileged to have, and if you knew the whole story behind everyone else’s life, you wouldn’t feel so small. We are all here to lift one another and contribute in our unique ways. Focus on what YOUR unique contribution is, and grow that with the love, life, and energy you have to offer.
8. Keep learning. Most problems have already been solved out there.
The wise selection of books, podcasts, videos, courses, and messages from the best teachers will lift you out of discouragement and give you energy and vision. Fun TV/novels/scrolling social media can be nice for a break, but FEAST on the best education you can find, and your growth will bring you peace, relief, and enthusiasm for what is ahead.
9. Don’t underestimate the value of opposition.
The low points can refine you. The hurdles you overcome can empower you. The disappointments can teach you. And then you will be able to turn back and help others with the perspective you have gained.
10. Your life is making more of a difference than you can currently see.
At the end of the day, it’s the people in your life who love you for who you are and the relationships you build with one another that will matter most. Pay attention to those connections and don’t let the difficult relationships cause you to close your heart. Your love and light is needed, and as you step into the version of yourself that you know you are meant to become, you will feel a power beyond your own, and you will feel privileged by the opportunity to be a part of it.
I hope that these ideas were helpful for you, and if you’d like to take a turn, we invite you to think about who you were, where you struggled, and what you were dreaming about 10 or so years ago. (You pick the age!) Then record what you would say to yourself now that you have the perspective of time and additional experience. Let us know in the comments how it goes or how you felt going through this–or anything else you want to share!
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