Updated 23rd June 2021
Most of the time, people don't assess the situation they're in until a crisis hits. And this usually comes at a time when it's already too late to alter their course of action. The chances we miss, the relationships we didn't cherish or unfinished tasks we didn't complete. Nobody wants to learn things too late in life and mourn on the regret of not having taken action on something
I don't even remember the amount of times that I have thought, "I wish I knew that when I was younger". I'm sure most of us had wished that we could go back to our younger self with all the knowledge we have right now. So here are 7 things that you don't want to learn too late in life.
1. Stop shoulding on yourself
We go through life learning at a young age all the things that we should do and even punished for not doing them. Then we look around other people's lives and see that they're doing the same thing, so we don't question it. But we don't stop to ask ourselves if this is what we truly want.
Do you really want to be a lawyer, or has your parents just instilled this belief upon you? Do you really need college for your passion, or has society made you think it's mandatory for success. Will Smith's parents almost forced college on him, but after much fighting they gave him the opportunity of one year to chase his musical dreams. I'm assuming there would be no Fresh Prince if Will Smith shoulded himself.
There's a new American dream now. This generation has chiseled and revised the American dream into something more viable: living your passion. We take the lessons of the old timers about hard work, dedication and sacrifice, and put it into something we absolutely love doing. Demand something more for yourself from the smidgen of time we're privileged to have here on this earth.
2. Facing your fears
The skill of facing your fear is one of the most obvious, but sometimes the most crucial. It doesn't matter who you are – elite athlete, millionaire, or Chuck Norris; we all have some type of level of fear. A level of discomfort when a situation arises. But without putting yourself face to face with your fears, you can never fully get to where you want to be. There really are no shortcuts.
Most people will probably fear failure. It can paralyze you from moving forward. It can chew you up and spit you out. But look at it this way, failure is something that is absolutely essential for you to be able to enjoy success. Would sunny days feel so special, if there weren't rainy ones?
None of us are perfect, we all make mistakes. But with every mistake, every failure, it slowly transitions into wisdom. The wisdom of knowing how to do it better. The wisdom that those same failures you encountered, developed you into the person you are today.
3. Small steps for big changes
Small steps aren't about limiting yourself from growing to large, too quick. It's a matter of being able to start (especially with something you fear). It's about growing momentum and putting yourself into a position where you know you can succeed. The thought of doing everything at once exhausts my brain just thinking about it. I used to put way too many things on my to-do list, attempt to get everything done, and end up procrastinating because of how much there is to do.
Break the monster down into bite sized pieces. Want to accomplish more? Start with just two of the most important things on your to do list. Want to change your diet? Start with one healthy meal a day.
I know my lazy days are going to come. But by breaking a goal down to just 10 minutes a day will help you persist in the long run. So when I don't feel like working out, I say to myself just 10 minutes a day. Those 10 minutes almost always turn into a full blown workout!
4. This is your moment
You can learn a thing or two from a child. Their minds only fixate on the playground around them. They're not thinking of their next homework assignment or what they cried about yesterday. They just go out and purely enjoy themselves in the moment: running, laughing and playing.
Every moment that passes by you, is another moment that you can't get back. It's a moment that you could have seized. These moments pass us while our minds are somewhere else. You miss the interesting people around you, the beautiful environments, and most of all the life that you're living.
5. Don't make things bigger than they are
Yes, we can learn from a child, but that's not to say we are children. When a child gets upset, they're upset. They get consumed by what upset them and they think it's the end of the world. But as we get older, we live through many stressful things in our lives. We learn the ability to cope and withstand things. We now know that we should not be throwing that tantrum when you don't get the piece of chocolate. But, sometimes we still carry that type of mindset into minor problems we face throughout the day.
When we experience stress – a physiological response of fight or flight is triggered. This is actually very natural, and probably helped our ancestors survive. The part of the brain that creates this response cannot fully distinguish it as a real threat or a perceived threat. But understanding that this physiological reaction is a natural part of us can help us see that nothing is actually attacking us. Life really isn't as serious as you think it is.
The problems that you have now aren't going to matter in a year; it might not even matter by next week! One moment your heart is racing a mile a minute, the next you're laughing at the incident. I remember all the times arguing with my significant other. The arguments were small, but it led to many big fights. Looking back, I could have replied with just a simple "okay," and it would have been fine.
6. The world doesn't revolve around you
You have to understand that people don't think of you as much as you think they do. They have their own minds, insecurities and problems to think about. To them, they are the main character of their own story and if they are thinking of you, it's probably because it interconnects to their own lives.
Even if this thought makes you feel less significant, it helps you put into perspective that all the worries and regrets of what people think of you are only the construct of your own mind. Understanding this lets me feel less anxious about other people judging me and helps me gain confidence in my every day actions.
7. Invest time in others
Recently, my grandmother unexpectedly went to the emergency room because of heart pain. I immediately raced to the hospital and went there only to find her on the bed with a huge grin on her face. I was relieved to know she was okay. But what dawned on me was her ability to remain so happy even when IVs were hooked into her arms. But I knew her joy came from the presence of my whole family being there to support her.
How would it feel if you were sick in the hospital and not a single soul came to visit? Invest some of the time you have in caring for the people close to you, even if it means sacrificing some personal time. Treasuring your relationships with your loved ones is something that should never be overlooked. You know the saying "Live like it's the last day of your life" – take that up another notch and treat your loved ones like it's their last day on earth. They will notice.
As every passing chapter comes to an end, you'll realize that you're not going to regret the things that you've done, but rather the things that you haven't. Because the difference between a person that becomes who they want to be and the person that doesn't, is their willingness to take real steps every day to achieve it.
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