In the Western world, our priorities have shifted and, in my opinion, not necessarily for the better. The emphasis on eternal youth and the aesthetic has overshadowed the power of experience. Age is often seen as negative, something to be avoided at all costs and by whatever means necessary. Respect for elders, still celebrated in some cultures, can be sadly lacking.
When I look around the Me Spot group, I often feel quite overwhelmed at what I see. Not only are you such special women, incredibly talented across all sorts of fields, but your combined life experience is awe-inspiring. If I am facing a tough situation I know that there will likely be someone in the group who has been through something similar and found a way forward. That gives me tremendous strength.
Life is a rollercoaster with its highs and lows and everything in between. It throws at us many challenges, some so difficult that one can’t imagine coming through them. But come through we do, only to emerge stronger, wiser and more resilient. Have you ever stopped to think what a wealth of knowledge you have accumulated along the way?
We are all shaped by what we have been through. Just like our DNA, we have a unique footprint of experience and with it, an extraordinary amount of invaluable information, too precious to overlook.
Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your younger self? How inspirational would it be to pull our collective learnings together?! I wonder if there would be any common themes? Here’s four of mine to get us started:
Live your life on your own terms
It is tempting to live our lives trying to meet other people’s expectations. Society lays out a path for us to follow that is not necessarily the best one. Too often ‘the shackles of should’ win the day. The times I have chosen to do things differently rather than what others might consider to be ‘sensibly’, have usually been some of the best decisions I have made.
Advice to my younger self: follow your own agenda
Define your core values
My ambition to get to the top of my chosen profession shaped much of my earlier years but I never stopped to consider why that really mattered or even what I would need to sacrifice in order to get there. With integrity as one of my core values, and justice not far behind it, I was quickly disappointed.
Being good at a job seemed to come much lower down the list than politics and the ability to schmooze – not my best skill. A few uncomfortable years eventually delivered the desired effect. Now I live entirely according to my core values and am not prepared to compromise!
Advice to my younger self: be true to yourself
Failure is a good thing
Having spent most of my early days at school relishing being top of the class, especially when I had beaten the boys to get there, failure wasn’t really in my vocabulary. When I finally did fail , it was the biggest shock and I didn’t respond too well. What I know now is that failure is the best way to learn and once the fear of failure is removed, it opens up the most exciting opportunities and you progress much faster. Reading Carol Dweck’s Mindset book finally brought this home to me.
Advice to my younger self: Don’t be afraid to fail. All the most successful people have!
Enjoy the ride
When I was younger I was so driven but with hindsight, I think I would have done better to lighten up! Pushing too hard, can leave you further away than ever from where you want to be. I have found that things flow much more easily when you are less attached to the outcome. These days I try not to take things so seriously and, not only is life easier, but it’s also a lot more fun! Who’d have known?!
Advice to my younger self: dance like there’s no-one watching
I’d love to hear what you would tell your younger self?