Stuff I Wish I Would Have Known Sooner Posted on 30 Dec 16:04

What would you tell your younger self? That was the question my co-workers and I tossed around as we put atly boxes together for the Beehive Bazaar. It’s a pretty provocative question—the answers can reveal much about where you’re at in life and what you value. Our answers were fairly cursory…we were in the office after all, trying to achieve efficiency and to avoid paper cuts.

My cute co-worker is pretty new to be telling her younger self what to do. She didn’t hesitate to say she’d tell the teenager in her to alwayswear her retainer. I don’t know why that makes me smile, but it does. She’s young and beautiful and likely hasn’t had to deal with root canals or TMJ, let alone child-bearing hips and rascally teenagers. She has yet to tell her younger self that beauty, like time, fades away. At the end of the day, we live with what’s inside of us.

She did follow the retainer advice with this caution: be careful who you date. We’ve all thought to tell our younger selves that warning, haven’t we? She iterated that matching values make for a better match. That feels like wisdom to me—wisdom that should be passed down.

Another co-worker said he’d tell the younger version of himself to have more fun. Not sow-wild-oats fun, just the homegrown stuff that responsibility and adulthood tend to snuff out. Maybe only days-turning-into-years can show us the value of enjoying life. Life is too short not to laugh, out loud, abundantly (LOLA). While I recognize that life is not all fun and games, we should make time for fun—we should fuel laughter wherever possible.

I don’t have a past stamped with regret. But there are some things I’d change. One thing I’d tell my younger self in Lao Tzu’s words is “Manifest plainness, Embrace simplicity, Reduce selfishness, Have few desires.” Since it’s that time of year, where we look back on the past to inform the future, I aim to make simplicity my focus. Concentrate on the fundamentals and the rest is pretty much optional. What are the fundamentals—the essentials? The nitty-gritties are different for everyone. I know what mine are…what are yours?

So what would you tell your younger self? It’s a smart question to ask on the edge of 2013. Know this, it’s never too late to make changes, to get smarter. I love the ancient proverb that says, “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.”