It only took almost 29 years for me to realize how I was betraying the person I could have been. In 28 years and just shy of nine months, the truth hit me like a freight train. Like many, the truth came to fruition when everything in my life was dramatically falling apart. Somewhere along the road, I had come to the conclusion that my dominant way of thinking not only did not serve me, but I was falling short of any genuine progress. I was using an otherwise great self-analysis method in reverse, and it never dawned on me that I was being so regressive.
Starting at a rather young age I used to imagine what my life would have been like if I had put in more “effort”. Where would I be if I stuck with gymnastics, dance, or tennis? What would my life be like if I had focused more on school, and less on being popular? Imagine the most desperate, insecure, and confrontational teenager you can think of, triple that and you have the teenage version of me. Despite all the great advice I received from my elders, I would do the harsh opposite and I was dead-set on experiencing every negative situation possible. I was on a fast-track to sabotaging my future, and none of the adults in my life could convince me to pump the breaks.
Was I so different from a lot of young people? Not really—although I do believe my willfully staunched ignorance placed me on the extreme end of the mistake-spectrum. Post bad decisions, painful lessons, and personal neglect, I wasted an equal amount of precious time contemplating what I should have done differently. Not only would I replay an embellished version of every negative situation in my head, but I would drive myself to the point of insanity thinking of every way I could have escaped ‘said situation’ unscathed. Much to my dismay, no DeLorean ever showed up at my house. Despite knowing that time-travel was not a viable option, I could not stop fantasizing about the fabulous life I would be living had I been smarter—or at the very least, absorbed half the advice I received years ago.
Where was I going wrong? Instead of imagining what I should have done differently 10 years ago, I never thought to imagine what I can do now—so that 10 years down the road I can truly be proud. Now, this notion may sound trivial but even the most basic of ideas can be overlooked because of the seemingly elementary concepts. And the concept I am referencing here is no exception.
What could you do today so that 10 years down the road you can look back and be truly proud of yourself? Really think about the actions you make every minute of the day and how these choices will set you up for the decade to come. Make no mistake, this exercise is not meant for you to over-analyze every decision, every choice, and every action to the point that you create unnecessary anxiety. Instead, imagine what you could have done 10 years ago to create the life you desire today.
10 YEARS AGO…
- Would you study a new language?
- Would you go back to school?
- Who would you network and surround yourself with?
- What subject would you focus on to become a master practitioner?
- Would you make a major career change—or would you stick with a company to benefit from tenure?
- How much money would you start putting away in savings?
- What daily physical exercises would you partake in to achieve your dream body?
- What psychology books would you read to better understand yourself?
- Would you leave a toxic relationship; put more effort into a relationship; stay single and focus on yourself?
- Would you learn a trade so you didn’t rely solely on your 9—5 paycheck?
- Where would you travel to?
- Would you put more effort into pursuing your dream(s)?
The possibilities are endless. There will almost always be something we wish we had done differently years ago. The good news, you can start now! Make a list of all the things you wish you had started 10 years ago and start them now. Don’t talk yourself out of doing anything and don’t put restrictions on any of your dreams. In 10 years from this moment, you will be kicking yourself in the butt for not just doing it.
A DeLorean would be badass, but you don’t need one to change your life now. If you must, picture yourself in 10 years and hop in your DeLorean to go back to today—what would you do differently?