Reflection is good. Except when it isn’t. A moment of reflection can help you avoid a lifetime of pain and suffering. Too much of it can hold you in a state of drift. A small dose supported with intentional adjustments can make reflection a pivotal tool in our lives.
I’ve learned many lessons during the course of a decade. From reading, asking people, formal training, and the school of hard knocks. Even during the course of those experiences, there is only one thing I could attribute my successes to: reflection. Spending my time looking at those experiences—analyzing what I liked and what I didn’t as well as thinking through what I would have done differently—has dramatically impacted the outcome of my life. Reflection is essential.
What you will find below is a list of lessons I’ve learned along the way that I wish I had learned sooner. Remember, I’m talking to myself in this list, but I’m willing to bet you can relate to some of these. Siphon through the list and see if you can walk away with a lesson or two. When you get to the bottom, see if there are any lessons that I missed.
1) Pick a path, and commit.
Nothing comes easy and if you want to succeed it’s going to take commitment to a path. Instead of looking for a good job, pick a path that leads to work that matters. Your commitment and perseverance will naturally lead to success. You have the ability to do great things but one thing stands in your way: commitment. You’re a dreamer kid. You’re going to win as soon as you realize that you need to focus on one thing, one day, one step at a time. Make a habit of being committed to one thing. Do one thing.
2) Take permission.
No one is coming to grant you permission to follow your hearts desire. Quit waiting for approval from the people you love and pursue it because it matters to you. Something is drawing you to go back to school. Do it. You feel like your not ready to commit. You will never be ready. You’re scared that you might fail. You will. It’s completely OK. Taking the first step is all the permission you need. You will be stronger because of it. Go.
3) Take action.
You’re tired and confused. I understand. But you are not the only one in that position. In fact, there are many people coming down your path that are full of regrets and excuses and you will hate yourself for being one of them. Quit sleeping in late because you don’t feel like dealing with the world today. Quit waiting for the right moment. Get up and give it all you can give. I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that it will be painless. It may hurt. The pain of sitting back and talking about it instead of creating it is going to cause more pain in the long run. Get uncomfortable. Do what others wish they had. Take action.
4) Take leadership.
You see how people naturally gravitate toward you when you’re talking about your boss and how poor of a job he’s doing. Have you noticed how the mood changes when you join everyone in complaining? That’s leadership. You have the power to build things with that power or you can break things down. Start building people up. Take charge and focus on the positive while everyone is distracted by the negative. When everyone gives up, find a way to continue working on a solution. It’s going to be hard. Some days worst than others. You will create change. You are impacting their lives more than you can imagine. Be patient and continue being a leader. You’re going to be shocked at how your world changes. You will be more shocked when you hear how you’ve inspired others. Be a light.
5) Be authentic.
You’re getting ready to make some changes in your life. The habits you’re building are going to open up new doors and take you to another level. Don’t lose yourself in the process. There’s something special and unique about you. Quit trying to act like something your not. You just don’t think the same as they do and that’s what sets you apart. Continue being the best version of yourself that you can be. Be real.
6) Be honest.
This won’t surprise you but you are going to hit some bumps in the road. You will screw up. You are going to make many mistakes. Own up to them, every time. I know, it sounds scary. I know, you’ve gotten away with many lies in the past. You will reach new levels in your relationships, your work, and in life by always telling the truth. Always be respectful and kind and be honest. It’s amazing what it does to your spirit. You will feel a weight lifted every time. People are going to respect you more for it. You will make it further, faster, because of it. Don’t hold back.
7) Get uncomfortable.
You’re scared of saying the wrong thing. Afraid of talking to people. You’re nervous about public speaking and being the center of attention. It’s OK, you’ll do just fine. Most people are just as afraid as you are and will not admit it. You are the ice-breaker. You are the example they need and you will make some great conversation along the way getting out of your comfort zone. Embrace fear.
8) Give her your all.
You’re selfish. You have this beautiful young girl by your side trying to make you happy and committed to you. She loves you. Quit focusing on you. Stop making every decision revolve around what you like, what you prefer, and what you’re comfortable with. Make it about her already. You’ll be better for it. You skip the topic and hide your true feelings, but this is the woman that you’re going to marry. This is going to be the mother of your children. She is going to be around – supporting, encouraging, nurturing, and loving you – even after everyone you have around you now fade away. You’ll outgrow people and grow apart from others and she will be there. Give her everything of you starting now. Be the best man that you can be in her life, because is matters. She needs and deserves it. You will be better, sooner, because of it. Embrace love.
9) It’s OK to say no.
Everyone has the same amount of time in the day. The difference between the successful people you admire and those you don’t is one simple thing. They plan intentionally how to invest their time. If you start this habit now you will get to where you want to be, faster. I understand you want to help others. The problem is that every time you say “Yes” to one more thing you take away from another. Your time and energy are limited. You feel invincible now, but you’re not. You just can’t do it all, with excellence. Focus on what you are good at and what you have already committed to and give it your all. That’s the secret you’ve been searching for. Say “No” and your “Yes” will create more impact. Say No.
10) God is good.
Right about now you are feeling a little lost. You feel like something is missing. You’re going to spend a lot of valuable time and energy looking to fill that void. You won’t until four years from now. Four years from now you are going to say “Yes” to something transformational. When you say “Yes” it is going to open a new world for you. Almost like a new pair of glasses, you’ll be able to see clearer. You will look back at distinct moments of your life and see Him there. God. You’ve had a rough past in trying to understand why so many people look to Him. You’ve had hypocritical examples of God-loving people who let you down. They were lost and broken, just like you. They may have once known Him but they didn’t honor Him in their actions. They weren’t perfect and neither are you. He will show you that it’s ok. Ten years from today you will understand why. Ten years from today you will want nothing in your past to have changed. Ten years from today you will recognize that you are uniquely perfect just the way you are. You don’t have to wait for “ten years from today”. Say Yes.
This list contains just a few of many lessons that have had the most impact in my life.
What lessons would you share with a younger version of yourself? Continue the conversation by sharing your response in the comments section below.
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