Top Ten Success Tips For My 25-Year-Old Self

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Dear 25-Year Old Self,

As I am turning 50 soon, I feel that I can give you some excellent I’m-twice-your-age-youngster advice, with a bonus tip: Top Ten Lists have better Google juice. You’re welcome! Here we go, youngster.

10. You are a tremendous lover of life, and that is a great quality. Don’t ever lose that passion, but just know that although there are about 368 things you’re interested in, you really only have time for about 4 of them. So you need to make a choice: are you going to be mediocre-to-crap at 368 pursuits or are you going to be pretty good at 4? Or, and let’s just get real here, are you going to be excellent at just one, or two, tops? FOCUS. Are capitals enough or do I need to Bold, Underline and Italicize?

9. Yes, I know it’s 1988, but there’s still no excuse. Put down the bleach bottle. Burn this outfit. And this picture. Because someday someone is going to invent something called “The Internet” and it’s going to end up there.

Shari at 25

8. It’s very important that you learn to work hard. But it’s more important that you learn to work smart. And without fanfare. Your exclamations of “Wow, I’m working so hard!” and “Why isn’t everyone noticing how hard I’m working?” will elicit unwanted eye rolls and exasperated sighs from others. Particularly your future children, who don’t care how little sleep you’ve had, they still want French toast.

7. Find something to do that adds value and loving service to the world. Only your mother thinks you’re awesome just because you exist, and she’s the only one who should.

6. Don’t read self-help books. Except for the one that teaches you this vastly important tidbit: avoid Personal, Pervasive and Permanent. If you take everything Personally, you’re going to be a self-absorbed freak. If things are going badly in one part of your life, that doesn’t need to Pervade the rest of your existence. And nothing is Permanent except death; everything else is negotiable and changeable.

5. Okay, this is more of a prophecy than a tip, but I include it to make you feel better. Eventually you will stop obsessing about this issue, and the fact that your own mother gave you this card for your 25th birthday will become a distant and amusing memory.

Shari's card from her mom

4. Love God. Don’t pay attention when others mock you for your devotion. Your faith will prove to be all the things it claims; a rock to stand on, an anchor in the stormy waters, and the light on a dark path. Guard it jealously and never turn it in for the lesser gods of self, security, fame, or the approval of the world.

3. At age 25, you will have an idea for a play you want to write. You will not write that play until you are 35. Which is fine because you couldn’t have written it when you were 25, or even when you were 30. Some things are just like that; they need time to bake. And once they’re properly baked, it might lead to seeing your giant face on a marquee, which is pretty fun.

Shari's play

2. Never be satisfied. Always be content. It’s a very delicate balance, but you must find it. Too far in one direction will lead to bitterness and too far in the other will lead to complacency. As Johnny Cash said, “walk the line”, although I don’t think he was singing to you personally.

1. Make a decision about what “success” means to you and stick to it. Write a mission statement to remind yourself of who you are and who you want to become. Don’t forget, your success will be measured by the whole, the length and breadth and sum of your life, not by individual episodes. Anyone can have an occasional success, but you need to be someone who comprehends the story from beginning to end.

And…

1. Yes, this list goes to 11. I just had to say one last thing, dear 25-year old self: keep your sense of humor. Oh, and drink lots of coffee. There is tremendous power in the combination of laughter and caffeine.

I love you,

Your 49 and 1/2-year old self.

This post is part of BlogHer's Success Tips For My Younger Self editorial series, made possible by Kaplan.

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