Friday, January 27, 2017

What Advice Would You Give Your Younger Self?

An old friend recently reached out to me (and presumably others) and asked us what advice we'd give our younger selves, particularly at ages 20, 30 and 40.


After writing my response to him, I thought it worth posting myself as well. 

The substantive bulk of my response to him follows:

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The difficult thing is that I really wouldn't change a thing about who I am, so any call for advice feels a bit like a time-traveler scenario where my advice to a younger self would affect the outcome of my present life, and I'm not sure I'd risk it. My experiences shaped me, including the glaring mistakes, and I wouldn't trade places today with anyone on Earth. But, for the sake of argument, let's assume the Many-Worlds Interpretation of quantum physics here, and thus assume I won't mess my own (present) life up.

Wibbly-Wobbly. Timey-Wimey.

It is also important to note that the question is "What advice would you give your younger self?". The answers below are specific and personal to me and my life's journey, I don't know how useful they may be to anyone who has not been in my specific shoes. However, I imagine the point of asking this of multiple people to distill some sort of Universal Truth from their collective answers. In this regard, I hope you find this helpful.

20's: 
This is the time you should play with better habits. 
Try a little more regimented physical activity. Perhaps marvel at how your body reacts to weight-lifting. Especially here in your twenties, which is pretty much its own performance enhancing drug. Hit the gym more, and the Taco Bell drive-through less. 
Also: you're really good at math, so it wouldn't hurt to save a little bit of cash now. Figure it out. 
Finally, don't believe your own hype. You're not all that impressive, and those people who are impressed with you are usually impressed for the wrong reasons. 

In short, "Discipline is Freedom." Find just a little. 

30's:
Distill life down to its essentials. 
Your 20's were in constant motion, full of performance and consumption and reaction. You carried this need to be "in motion" into your 30's, but you have confused "motion" with "action". Learn to be still. Spend some time with yourself and think beyond the next move on the board. Act more. React less.

Stop wasting time with people, places, or work that don't utterly fascinate you. Eliminate "meh" from your world. Walk the hell away from anything less than Awesome. Life is short, and the only person you have to please is yourself, so accept only Excellence. You have never had any problems demanding it from yourself, so start demanding it from the world as the price of doing business with you. 

Also, you're going to get sick soon, so disabuse yourself of the notion that the health care system works like Star Trek. It doesn't. Bones was right, we're living in the Dark Ages. 

40's: 
Marry Her. :-)

I hope this is what you were looking for. 

Thanks again, it was great to hear from you.

-Eric

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