What advice would you give to your 20 year old self? Have you ever thought about that one? It really is a great question. If you are 23 years old reading this you probably don’t see it as very special. But, if you are 50 years old, it becomes quite significant. What would you advise the 20 year old you to do differently? What did you think was a big deal, but in retrospect you have realized it wasn’t? What risks should you have heeded and what risks should you have ignored? At the wise age of 54 here is one thing I would have loved to have known at 20.
Don’t be in such a hurry. At 20 I was moving pretty fast. I was in a race to be seen as successful. I graduated High School early. I married at 17. I became a father at 19. I graduated college at 21. I went to graduate school. I had a second child at 22. I served three churches as Senior Pastor before I was 24. I was trying to prove I was important so I was chalking up accomplishments as fast I could. But at 24, I saw my life crash as I went through a divorce and my hurried life came to a screeching halt. I was a mess. I had an ulcer and hypertension. Who was I racing? Why all the pressure at such a young age? If I could go back in time and counsel a young me I would say, “Ray, learn to enjoy the journey. It’s not about getting quickly to a destination. Life is a beautiful adventure. Enjoy it. Don’t race through it. Don’t be in a hurry. Learn to relax more. Learn to laugh more. Don’t try to have it all right now.
You can’t go back. None of us can. But you can make adjustments. One of my favorite quotes is from Maya Angelou who said, “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” That’s all any of us can do. I am not in a race anymore. I try to stop and smell the roses. I remind myself every day the big life is not about a destination but rather a journey. A journey I get to discover every day. There is no need to stress or worry. I want to be grateful for where I am right now without obsessing about where I might be next week, month or year.