“Life is full of surprises, at every corner it will both delight and humble you so don’t spend your days worrying about the ‘what if’s’ learn to focus on the present”.

Dear 20-something year old self,

I hope this letter finds you well. By now you’ve recovered and rediscovered some of your previous vitality. You’ve been on a long hard journey, and I know there were times when you wondered if you’d even pull through. The good news is you did and here you are ready to face the next set of challenges life will inevitably throw at you. Whilst your future has grown considerably brighter, there are likely to be hard days ahead so prepare yourself as best you can.

I should also say congratulations on your new job, I’m excited for you. What you do from here on in will determine the days and years to come so take a deep breathe and spend some time reflecting on how you see your life panning out in front of you and what you need to do to get you there.

You’re probably wondering why I’m writing to you. Well, I really want to help you cope and flourish, so thought I’d share some of my experiences and advice with you.

Stop worrying

Life is full of twists and turns and at every corner it will both delight and humble you. So, try not to spend your days worrying about the ‘what if’s’ and instead learn to focus on the present. If you spend too much of your precious time worrying about a past you can’t change or a future that’s yet to come you’ll miss out on the wonders of being in the ‘now’. Give those you interact with your full attention, really listen to them, and heed the lessons they’re sharing. Give everything you do one hundred percent, forget about past mistakes, and don’t worry too much about tomorrow – trust me everything is going to be fine.

Stop agonising over what other people think of you, chances are you place more emphasis on this than they do. Be true to yourself and let others get to know the person behind the professional so they too can understand who you are and as a result when you do mess up (which we all do from time to time) they’ll show more sympathy.

Slow down

Make a conscious effort to slow down – you don’t need to constantly go at 100 MPH. Take your time and appreciate everything you have, your work, your colleagues, friends, and family. When you travel too fast, life becomes a blur and people just flash past and you’ll miss out on so many new experiences. You don’t need to do everything at once let your life unfold at its own pace.

I appreciate it’s easy to feel like you’re being left behind or frustrated when you see colleagues being promoted or moving on in their careers but it will happen for you too – it just requires patience.

It’s really difficult to see the bigger picture when you’re blinded by the moment but, take it from me, as the years pass by and you start to slow down you’ll get to really know yourself. When you look back and reflect, you’ll notice everything that happened to you, did so for a reason and was part of getting you to where you should be.

Speak up

You have got some great ideas and you really want to share them with others. When you find yourself in meetings speak up and express your thoughts. If you don’t you’ll only walk away feeling frustrated, having had to endure listening to someone else going on and on instead.

Also, don’t let that little voice in your head stop you by telling you that ‘your ideas are rubbish’ or ‘you don’t know what you are talking about’ or ‘don’t embarrass yourself’. Learn how to tell that voice to shut up – as your confidence grows it’ll become quieter and eventually become nothing more than a whisper you can easily drown out.

Next time you’re in a meeting find your voice and show the world the version of you that you really want them to see.

Invest in yourself

The temptation to spend is all around you but learn how to become more frugal with money. Enjoy your life as much as you can now but keep one eye on the future, you’ll thank yourself for doing so in the years to come.

Buying lots of shiny objects and the latest tech toys eventually gets boring. You’ll soon realise that true happiness comes from leading a fulfilling life both in work and outside of the office. My advice to you would be to spend time really getting to know yourself and understanding where your ‘happiness’ is located. Once you find it invest your time, energy and resources on it –  allow the subtle spark to grow and flourish into a flame which will illuminate you from within.

Invest some of your resources on educating yourself or learning new skills – self improvement is the key to progressing in life. Don’t let someone else place limitations on your abilities only you know what you are capable of so go and find your outer perimeter.

Believe me these gifts will offer you so much more than an expensive Swiss watch that gives you nothing but the time.

Final thoughts

Take risks, fear is both your best friend and worst enemy. You need to learn how to control and utilise fear to your advantage. Don’t let fear stop you from taking risks, which will enable you to grow as a person but do allow fear to motivate you i.e. fear of not delivery against a commitment to either yourself or others.
Take the time to learn about yourself so you’re never afraid of yourself, explore who you are and how you want others to perceive you – write your thoughts down. Every morning when you wake up ask yourself ‘what can I do today to make sure I have a better day than yesterday?’.

Look after yourself physically and mentally, we only get one life so be selective when it comes to how you spend your time and who you spend it with.

I think I have run out of words so I will leave it there.

I really do hope you read my letter and spend a few moments reflecting on my thoughts and advice. Life is a voyage of discovery; every moment reveals something new. And whilst everyday is new to you, so many before you have already taken similar paths. So, whenever you can, do try to seek out lessons others can share to help you navigate your journey successfully.

And remember, everything will be fine!

Yours truly

Sanu

Sanu – Founder, CheekyLittleCareers