10 Things I would tell my 10-year-old self

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“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

~ Mark Twain

Nobody is intrigued more by the passage of time than I am. I think it’s an extremely mysterious concept. We grow, we change, people change, life moves forward. But there’s one thing that is constant. Time. In fact, there’s a movie I want to make about that very subject. My second favorite theme is the ocean. Anyone that knows me well is aware that I post a lot of photos and themes surrounding time and the ocean. The ocean’s curious movement, depth, romantic energy, and the movement of it’s waves intrigue me. In a way the ocean itself is symbolic of time, constant, and progress. The ocean has always been here. We’ve all changed. Lived. Died. But the oceans have always been here.

Time’s enigmatic presence in our lives captivates me. So I took a couple of weeks and did some reflecting on what I’ve learned so far in my 3 1/2 decades on this planet. Originally I had a list of about 20 items. Then I narrowed that to 15 and finally 10. A list of the top 10 things I would tell a 10-year-old version of myself if I had the chance. 10 valuable bits of wisdom that I’ve come to noticed on my life’s path so far. Here they are:

1.) Don’t trust self-help books so much.

Everyone has something to say. They all have an idea of who you can be, what you can do better, and how you can help yourself improve. Read these books and take note, but don’t believe they are going to solve your life’s problems for you. I encourage people to also look inside. Trust yourself. Believe in your instincts. Ultimately it comes down to you. Acquire bits of wisdom and golden nuggets from these books, but don’t constantly be changing to fit what others say you need to be. Use your brain and faith in your own instincts. Use them as tools but don’t take them as the gospel. Nobody knows you more than you. In the end, your own inclinations should be your most valuable guide.

Whether it’s love life, friendship, work relationships, or family just know that there is never anything wrong telling people you trust and care for how you feel, what your values are, who you believe in, and where you’re at with the things. Don’t be afraid of this. Anyone who doesn’t support your beliefs and stand behind you shouldn’t be in your life anyway.

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2.) Communication is key in any relationship.

Whether it’s love life, friendship, work relationships, or family just know that there is never anything wrong telling people you trust and care for how you feel, what your values are, who you believe in, and where you’re at with the things. Don’t be afraid of this. Anyone who doesn’t support your beliefs and stand behind you shouldn’t be in your life anyway.

“Nobody lives happily ever after. If you buy this and do that and build this house, you’re not going to be happy. Life is happy, sad, tragic, joyful. But that’s not what we’re taught, that’s not what our culture pounds into our heads.”

~ Tom Ford

3.) Know that partying hard and drinking a lot of alcohol doesn’t make you “cool” but also don’t lose your ability to have fun and enjoy life.

Be an independent thinker. Don’t be so easily swayed by peer pressure. Have your own thoughts about things. There’s a mystique growing up in high school, college, and beyond that being the life of the party makes you popular. I actually think those that realize this early on can gain a real advantage on those that don’t. They can see those doing this from an outsiders point of view and rise above it to be leaders on their campuses. When we are young we don’t realize this as much but as time passes we come to realize that while drinking all that beer in college was fun, at 50 what do we have to amount for it? But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have fun. It’s ok to hit bars with your friends, enjoy greek life, got to parties. All of that. But don’t let booze and parties define who you are as a person which in turn can damage your brain and potential. It’s way overrated. Stay focused.

“One thing I wish I could tell my younger self: take photos of everyday life, not special occasions; later, that’s what will be interesting to you.”
~ Gretchen Rubin

4.) Approach that pretty girl across the bar and talk to her.

We’ve all been there. There is a natural nervous energy when we see someone we’re attracted to when out and about and we suddenly speculate, discuss, analyze, break it down with our friends and before we know it, she’s gone. This is again about trusting yourself. If your gut says something, it is most likely right. And really, what do you have to lose? Nothing ventured, nothing gained. You wouldn’t believe the amount of people who meet their future soulmate because of a moment they stepped out of their comfort zone. Take the risk. Entrepreneur Nicholas Haralambous once said “A few people will change your life forever. Find them.” That is everything.

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5.) Get financially independent ASAP.

This is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Money teaches you to grow up, to prosper, to be a man, to learn your own value and the currency of the world. Take out a small loan and work to pay it off. You have to experience currency firsthand to understand its value.

“The side of fairytales I don’t like is that they always have happy endings, that there’s just good and evil, and things are perfect. But life is a little more complicated, and that’s what I try to teach my kids.”
~ Angelina Jolie

6.) Learn. Learn. Learn. Read. Read. Read. Turn off the TV. Turn off the internet.

In his wonderful book Zero to One Paypal founder Peter Thiel discusses progress. Horizontal progress is visible everywhere. Vertical progress is hidden and tricky to uncover. Strive for vertical progress. There is so much to be discovered in the world and little time to waste. Try to set timers for yourself. 1 hour of combined TV and internet a day. That’s it. Pick your shows and web pages wisely. Set up a rewards system. If you accomplish something productive, reward yourself with a half hour of TV. We are only on the planet for so long. It’s important to be reading and acquiring knowledge, being out in the world, and expanding our brains. Not in front of a computer or television set all day.

“Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.”
~ Earl Nightingale

 7.) Have great passion. Develop your skills. Learn your value.

I emphasize this in many of my columns. It’s incredibly important to have a passion but unless that is developed into a skill that is then done well, it is very difficult for your passion to manifest and in turn create value. Acting coach Howard Fine once told an acting class I was in years ago that anyone can act. But the question is can they do it WELL. He was spot on. With anything in life the fact is, the only way people come knocking is if they see a defined skill that they believe can make them money. That’s show business or any business. Find what you’re good at and take note of how it creates value. You never know how close you are to a big break. Realize your value and press on.

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8.) Watch major league athletes compete. Go to sporting events with family and friends.

Take in pro sports. This was one of many great things my Dad taught me. When a major league ball player is running fast to catch a fly-ball and slams into the outfield wall take note. When a football player hits the line hard at the 1 inch line to get into the end-zone. That’s the competitive edge to bring to your work. While you should not do it with the actual blunt physical force major league athletes do obviously, by watching team sports you’ll learn that this is the level of competitive edge you need to succeed in the major leagues of any career. Watch the ball players. It’s a good life metaphor. You learn a lot from watching major league athletes compete. It is invaluable.

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around every once in a while, you could miss it.”
~ Ferris Bueller

9.) “Plan in decades. Think in years. Work in months. Live in days.”

This is another quote from Nicholas Haralambous and it was inherently accurate. It is so simple yet incredibly accurate. Divide your life up. Time structure management. Using time wisely is one of the great skills of successful people. It’s an extremely underrated skill and not talked about enough. You never get those moments back. Use them to your advantage.

“The Trouble is, you think you have time.”
~ Buddha

10.) Strive for grand success, but at the end of the day know that family is all you’ve got.

Your cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents and especially your parents and siblings are everything. Call them every day. They’re all you’ve got. When time are tough and things get scary they’re who will be there for you. Approach the world with love, care, and vigilance, but know at the end of the day when the chips are down Mom, Dad, brother, and sister are all that matters. Stay close to your loved ones. Work through problems as they arise. My grandmother use to emphasize the importance of family. Go all out in your career and social life, but realize your relationship with your family is your inner core.

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“It’s a funny thing about coming home. Looks the same. Smells the same. Feels the Same. You’ll realize what’s changed is you.”
~ The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

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