Have you ever looked back on your life and thought to yourself, “If only I would have known that then“? You’re not the only one. What would you say to the prompt “Dear younger me?”
In this post, I’ve interviewed 11 productivity and self-improvement experts about what one piece of advice they’d give to their younger selves if they could.
Keep reading to see what they said.
What would one piece of advice you give to your younger self that would improve the rest of your life dramatically?
Sarah Steckler, Mindfulness Practitioner & Productivity Strategist | Host of the Mindful Productivity Podcast | MindfulProductivityBlog.com
“Simply put, take care of YOURSELF first and focus on your daily actions.
Accept where you are on your journey and know that as difficult as things may be, they each hold a lesson that will serve you later. These things will help you build resilience and self-efficacy. They will prepare you for your future.
Dream big and challenge reality, know that your biggest dreams happen for a reason and that if you can think it, you can achieve it. Focus on what you do each day. These are the things that matter the most. The little things become the big things. When it comes to productivity, the best thing you can do is to take care of yourself first thing. Move your body, drink enough water, eat whole plant-based foods, and do what you can to clear your mind and fill it with intention. These may seem like many things but they are all interconnected. The more you fuel your source (your body and mind), the more energy and focus you’ll have and be able to sustain. You may be tempted to work harder and longer at the expense of your mental and physical health, don’t. You cannot function if you are not fueled, nourished, and loved.
Be consistent in your self-love practice. Know that your value is more than doing and is rooted in your being. And for serious, don’t get so distracted by shiny objects, focus on ONE thing at a time, and remember that you have the answers you seek within you. Take time to listen.”
Caroline Forsey, Staff Writer for HubSpot’s Marketing Blog
“I would tell my younger self to find the time that works best in terms of productivity, and avoid distractions at all cost during that time. For me, I work best in the mornings. To make sure I get the full benefits of my productivity “window”, I turn my phone off and avoid answering emails or going on social media during that time. In the past few months it has helped me get a ton accomplished, but more importantly, it has helped me compartmentalize my day and use all time wisely, which makes my afternoons more stress-free and relaxing.”
James Stuber is a Design Engineer living in Seattle. He writes at JamesStuber.com.
“Take the extra time to consolidate your gains.
There are so many opportunities to try new things that it’s tempting to jump from one to the next. Curiosity and tinkering are great, keep that fire going. But remember: knowledge is only useful when applied.
Take the extra steps required to capture value from what you’ve learned.
How? Make a small deliverable that you can use in the future.
Don’t just finish a book and toss it on the ‘done’ pile. Summarize the book in your own words. Make one small change based on what you’ve read.
Don’t just consume media about a cool hobby or sport or art. Go try it and find out what it’s really like.
Don’t just finish a work project and forget about it. Put together a piece for your portfolio. Write down what you would do differently next time.
Document and share what you’ve done. Document to deepen your learning and to expose gaps in your knowledge. Share to garner feedback and to refine your thinking. In the process, you’ll find others with similar interests who can become great collaborators, friends.
Consolidate your gains.”
Laura Earnest, Productivity blogger focused on deliberate living, LauraEarnest.com
“Don’t bend yourself to fit the system…work the system to make it fit you.
This all comes down to being authentic and honest with yourself and others. You are an individual with strengths and weaknesses. Not working with those realities leads to frustration and resentment. Play to your strengths with anything you attempt – and remember there is nothing wrong with something coming easily.
Some specific examples:
-No productivity system will work for everyone. Instead of forcing yourself into a specific system, try it, see what works, and replace the parts that don’t. Forcing yourself to use paper when you’re a digital person, for example, will make you less productive in the long term. This also applies to bill-paying, housecleaning, cooking and other systems.
-Don’t pick a job because you “should” do it. Work won’t be soul-sucking if you find the right fit of engagement, use of skills and environment. Forcing yourself to be an entrepreneur because you “should”, when you want to be in a stable environment will drain you and leave you unhappy. Likewise, being a cube-dweller when you hate the hours and confinement will drag you into a dark place. (As a side note, don’t ever “should” on yourself.)
-Choose your living space to make you feel good. Don’t go with trendy small space if it makes you feel claustrophobic and unable to find anything. Likewise, don’t go with a huge space because you feel it’s the sign of your success. Decorate as you choose to make your home a refuge, regardless of what others say.
Living with a consciousness of what works for you, and following what you know, will lead to a happier and more productive life in the long term.”
Nick Douglas, Staff Writer at Lifehacker
“Don’t get off the carousel. At 22, I had an enviable first “adult” job, writing the blog Valleywag for Gawker Media. At 23 I had lost that job and was turning down offers because they seemed “beneath me” or “not a fit.” They weren’t. They, like my first job, were more than I deserved. And the longer I held out, the less I was an attractive prospect. I’d stepped off the carousel of the duly employed.
I made that mistake more than once before I learned not to hold out, but to take what’s offered and build from it. Twice I’ve “deigned” to take jobs that turned out to be a fantastic and fulfilling use of my skills. Because when you turn down a real opportunity for an imagined one, you’re stepping off the carousel, and it’s hard to climb back on.”
Anese Cavanaugh, leadership & cultural advisor, https://www.anesecavanaugh.com/
“Put self-care above everything else, no matter what — it will only make you better, clearer, more powerful, and more in service of anything you do.
I hold self care as physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and relational; how we take care of our bodies, our minds, our authentic emotions, our hearts, and our relationships with ourselves and others.
With this, I’d give myself a couple of easy “low hanging fruit/anchors” to focus on:
1. Nourish your body: food, movement, water, sleep – whatever you need.
2. Talk nice to yourself, be self-kind, and assume people want you to do well.
3. Honor your emotions, have all the feels. And give yourself full permission for authenticity and get the support you need to have a real experience of your life and emotions.
4. Create a meditation and/or journaling practice and build a conscious relationship with whatever you believe in that is bigger than you: God, your spiritual advisory board, your angels, your higher power — whatever, honor it and lean in.
5. Nourish your relationship with yourself, be your own best friend, and surround yourself with people who make you better and inspire you to show up beautifully for yourself and others.”
Jeff Sanders, Keynote Speaker and author of The 5 AM Miracle
“Work out every single day. There is nothing more powerful or productive than being incredibly healthy, and there is no doubt that over the last few years I have missed many opportunities to take better care of myself. My focus today is one I hope to carry with me for the rest of my life because I have seen first hand just how much value comes from a vigorous daily workout.”
Ellen Faye, Productivity and Strategy Coach, www.EllenFaye.com
“Hmmm… the one thing – Trust my intuition more. If I see a streamlined way to handle things or an effective way to communicate a vision to a customer, team member or boss just go with it. Push back most probably has to do with people being threatened by a younger and/or female team member having a better idea than that there is something wrong with the idea.”
Erik Fisher, Productivity Podcaster, Beyond the To Do List
“If I could give one piece of advice to my younger self it would be to make time to rest. Plan intentional “down time” where a different part of the brain is being used than in work time. Don’t just settle for passive rest, watching tv or movies, though this is important. Rest can be actively using another part of the brain, interacting socially, having adventures, but also sleeping! Unplug from tech, expectations, let your mind breathe and become happier, more productive and creative. ”
Stephen Warley, work liberator and founder of LifeSkillsThatMatter.com
“I would tell my younger self to practice a habit of self-awareness. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to productivity. The most effective method are those that work for you! Self-awareness is the most important life skill (although never taught to us, ironic, eh?) because it is the tool that enables you to learn about yourself and what makes you uniquely productive. The simplest way to start a self-awareness habit is by writing daily about your thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Basically, you are tracking yourself to see what works and doesn’t work for how you want to live and work. Self-awareness is the foundation of personal productivity.”
Fiona Cosgrove, Managing Director, Wellness Coaching Australia
“Learn to focus. Forget multi-tasking. Cultivate the practice of intense concentration on one task at a time. If this habit is formed at a young age it will take years off your life by reducing mindless stress and scattered thinking!”
What piece of advice would you give to your younger self, if you could? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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