Whether graduating from high school or adulting for decades now, I hope you find these tips valuable in your quest for meaning and purpose!
In the ASPIRE Success Club and other groups I lead, we routinely address important topics like confidence, courage, and the power of dreaming big. A common sentiment during these discussions – which typically involve professionals in their 30s, 40s, and 50s – is “I wish I had learned this earlier in life!”
We all nod in agreement. And I take notes.
This month, my oldest child graduates from high school and will soon head off to college. Amid my all-over-the-place emotions with this great achievement, I keep wondering, “Have I taught her all I can? What have I left out?” A ton, I’m sure. I’ve made conscious parenting a top priority for nearly two decades but I’m far from perfect.
So, in an effort to bridge both of these areas, I’m sharing 10 of the “Wish I Had Knowns” I commonly hear and/or have experienced myself (often the hard way). As you read, remember: It’s never too early – or too late – to learn, change and grow!
1. Believe in yourself.
Confidence is key! It’s not about thinking you’re better than anyone, it’s avoiding comparison altogether and trusting that what you don’t know, you can learn. You are here for a purpose and your life is significant. In the wise words of Winnie the Pooh: “You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” Trust yourself.
2. Make values-based decisions.
That little voice in your head and/or feeling in your gut? It serves a valuable purpose, and the more you listen to it, the more it will guide you. Do the right thing, even if it’s not the easy thing. Listen to your intuition, clarify what matters most, and make purposeful decisions. You’ll find greater fulfillment on the high road than the path of least resistance.
3. Reach out for help.
Asking for help is a sign of strength and wisdom, not of weakness. You don’t have to figure everything out for yourself. You don’t have to carry burdens on your own. Look at the amazing people in the world whom you admire and you’ll quickly learn they didn’t make it there by themselves! Allow others to give you a hand, and be willing to offer your hand as well.
4. View failure as a stepping stone.
If you see failure as the end-point, or view perfection as the only version of success, you’ll miss out on so much – and fear will run rampant. Adopt a growth mindset, learn from your mistakes, and always ask yourself, “What’s the lesson here?” You’ll find you learn so much more from your so-called failures than many other experiences, as long as you’re open to the learning.
5. Let your light shine.
Yes, we face challenges. Yes, the questions become more difficult. Yes, we need to accept responsibility for our lives, work hard for what we believe in, and honor our commitments. But we can do all that with lightness and joy! Smile. Look people in the eye. Offer a positive perspective. Focus on wins before delving into challenges. In the words of Kermit the Frog, always be yourself – and never take yourself too seriously.
6. Live boldly.
As Marianne Williamson so eloquently wrote, “Your playing small does not serve the world.” Show up. Ask questions. Voice your viewpoints, even if they’re not in the majority. Speak your mind – and open your mind to other points of view, too. Respectful dialogue gets us farther than close-mindedness and my-way-or-the-highway thinking.
7. Spend time alone.
Routinely step away, without your phone and gadgets, to get in touch with yourself, your intuition, your Higher Power. Intentionally set aside time to journal, meditate, pray, create, breathe. The more you are in tune with your truest self and core values, the more powerfully and purposefully you can carry out the life you’re here to live and the difference you’re here to make.
8. Dream big, start small.
You can change the world – but you don’t have to do it all at once. I love Mother Teresa’s wisdom: “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” Take time to dream big, wild, crazy dreams, getting clear on what you’d love to create in your life and in the world and not worrying right away about the how . You can make your dreams a reality and make your difference one decision, one action, one person at a time. Trust the ripple effect to kick in and do its job, too.
9. Focus on the positive.
We live in an amazing world filled with kind, generous, beautiful people. Sometimes that can be hard to remember when your news program or Twitter feed seem to scream the opposite. “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news,” Mr. Rogers shared, “my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'” Focus on the good, be the good; this isn’t naivete, this is positive leadership. Model for others what you want to create more of in the world. And know that there’s much more positive, kindness, and good than not.
10. Do what you love.
And perhaps even more importantly, love what you do . This is all about your mindset and the meaning you bring to each activity. Trust that what you do – whether in the classroom, at work, or elsewhere – makes a difference. Connect with the bigger picture of your work. Interact with a spirit of kindness, confidence, and service, and know that what you do matters – that YOU matter.
Everything you’ve experienced up to this point has formed you into the amazing, important person you are today. Just think: you’ve successfully navigated every single day up to this point!
Now’s your time to SHINE, to get out there and make your difference! To live, work, and lead with meaning and purpose! We are cheering for you.