Updated: Sep 21, 2020
When I look back in time, I can say with confidence that nothing has turned exactly the way I had originally planned it. I am truly amaze with how life changes and how our decisions put us on a path that ends up being very different from the one we thought we would take. One thing though has not changed over the years is my values and principles, and my passions. The last might have taken a slightly different shape than what I had anticipated but at their core my passions remain to be the same.
Fast forward to today, I moved across the Atlantic and have lived in four different countries. I have accomplished many things both personally and professionally. Getting here wasn't easy, not always I followed the shortest, easiest path, I made a lot of mistakes along the way, but I also learned a lot from them.
Someone asked me if I could go back in time and hang out with my younger self for a day, what advice would i give he (me). I have to admit that this question got me thinking, but here’s what I would tell her.
First of all, THANK YOU! Thank you because I am here today because of you. Because you never gave up, because you always went above and beyond, you gave it your all and because you learned and improved along the way. I am proud of you!
That said, there are some things I've learned that I wish I had realized earlier in life.
Be yourself and stay true to who you are.
Don't try to change because of what others believe you should do or be. Don't try to become someone you are not in order to fit in. Growing up I felt "different”, I focused on the things that in mind made me different. There is nothing wrong with that, what I would tell my younger self though is not to try to change the things that made me different in order to fit in. Rather embrace who you are. If you are not welcome in a circle because of the things that make you, you; then maybe that is not the right circle for you to be in. Instead trying to fit in, aim to belong.
Smile more, worry less. Positivity is infectious, and happiness is a choice
I take things very seriously, always have. As I started my professional career, I was very lucky to get opportunities to grow very fast. I was most of the time the youngest in the teams that I had the opportunities to be part of and typically the only women as well. A lot of my peers could have been my parents or grandparent and felt a strong pressure (all in my head) to come across as professional as I could, to seat straight, to be serious. I remember several of my mentors mentioned that to me, they all told me I needed to smile more and at the time I did not understood, but now I realize they were so right. You can have both, you can be best at what you do, come across as professional and at the same time smile and have fun doing it.
Also, don't wait for happiness to happen, make it happen. Look for joy in every day, be intentional about building join in your days and practice gratitude daily.
Don’t ever judge yourself in comparison to others. Instead, judge yourself against what you know you’re capable of.
I am a competitive person by nature. I hold very high standards for myself, and I am always striving for excellence, what I did not realized growing up is that excellence is not measures by comparing yourself to others, but to measure yourself against your potential by striving to be better than you were yesterday.
I made the mistake of constantly compare myself with others. I compared myself not with anyone but with people that were in a completely different league, in a completely different stage in their lives. I compared my apples to their oranges. I compared my starting point with their halfway through or sometimes their full way through. This cause me to never feel I was good enough, or that what I was doing was not enough, and forced myself to do more, give more and continue to push myself to the limit. On one hand that is a good thing. I don't think I would be here if it wasn't for my tenacity and resilience. On the other hand, I missed things in my live that I will never get back, I skipped things in my live that will never come back.
It's ok to push yourself out of your comfort zone, you should definitely always strive to improve and learn and grow but keep things on perspective. Your only competition is yourself. The only one you should compare yourself against is yourself the day before.
Move away from a scarcity mindset where if others succeed means you can't be successful. Where there is not enough for everyone. Instead adopt an abundance mindset, where there is enough and plenty for everyone, including you! You will soon realize that when you help others succeed you succeed as well and there is nothing more rewarding that helping others grow and achieve their goals and dreams.
Don't worry about what others think of you
I stopped, slow down and sometimes not even start because I was afraid of what other might think of me. What others think of you is not of your business. Is not your problem, is theirs? Typically, the people that critique you are not thinking about you but about themselves. Many of them have a scarcity mindset and they can't afford see you succeed, they wished they were you and could do what you are doing. That doesn't mean you should not listen to feedback, but the contrary, I'll get to that in a minute.
Don’t let anyone ever tell you your dreams are out of reach, only you know your true potential
This one is very related to the prior one. On the prior point I refer to the fear of what others might think, meaning we don’t even know for a fact they will think anything negative about us or what we are doing. Now I am referring to statement that have been made by others discouraging us form pursuing our dreams. If you have a dream go for it! You will regret not having pursue your dreams later if you listen to what others have to say. Remember that we don't see things as they are but as we are. When someone tells you that your dreams are out of reach, they are talking from their perspective, from their truth, not yours. Your dreams might materialize in a different way than what you are envisioning today, but the only guarantee that they will never materialize is if you don't pursue them. Listen to your heart and trust your potential.
Don’t worry about getting knocked down. Instead, focus on getting back up as quickly as possible
To that point, yes, you might fall on your path to realize your dreams. In the moment it might feel like is the end of the world, you might think it is not meant to be or you might be tempted to believe that they were right and is an unrealistic dream. Remember this, you don't lose until you give up. Don't worry about getting knocked down, everyone does, even those people you deeply admire; the difference between those that are successful and those that are not is that they stand back up. Never stop standing back up! and do it as quickly as you can.
Take more risks, be bolder! no one has made history by playing safe
Is ok to take risk. I encourage you to take more risk. What is the worst that can happen? Seriously, what is the worst that can happen? Remember to ask yourself that question every time you are tempted to play safe. If you always play it safe you will always stay in your status quo. Get out of your comfort zone!
I've always challenge myself to step out of my comfort zone but not always I've taken enough risk. The fear of failure was for the longest time my biggest fear. Then I realized I was not afraid of failure but of what other's would think of my if I failed. Because I was giving opportunities to grow very fast, I always tried to play safe to not let anyone down. I was afraid of what others would think of me if I failed. I knew many people did not thought I was ready to take on the roles I did. I knew there was many people that though I was not capable, I was not ready, that I was going to fail. Given them a reason to tell me to my face that they always knew I was not going to make it, that was my biggest fear. I could have grown even faster, made even bigger contributions and impact but I didn't because I was too worry about other's seeing me fail.
If I would to give an advice to my youngest self it would be, take more risks. If you fail, just get back up and keep trying.
Be humble, always we open for feedback and use it to keep improving.
Yes, I wasn't always humble, and I struggled to listen to feedback. I always had a explanation to any feedback given to me. I was very defensive when receiving any type of feedback.
I've learned over time that feedback is a gift not a curse. I went from one extreme to the other, now I am constantly asking for feedback and seeking feedback, because I've learned that I have blind spots and that I needs help to be able to see them from those around them. I also learned that even though I might have the best of the intentions, which is 99% of the time the case, I am sure just like you; sometimes what I say or do is perceived by other's differently.
I love the quote by CS Lewis that says, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it's thinking of yourself less.” When you are open to feedback, really open to feedback you are able to think less of yourself less and think more about how other people feel and think.
Don't overthink things so much, sometimes you just need to trust your instinct. In fact, trust your instinct more often.
I know this will be hard to accept but perfect is a utopia. Nothing will ever be perfect. You need to learn to live with that. Stop overthinking things and trust your instinct. Don't wait until you have a perfect plan and you have analyzed every possible route. The only way to get to your destination is by start walking towards it. Aim for direction vs a detailed plan of everything you need to do and go! Start moving! Trust your instinct, you'll figure the rest as you go. You've always had and always will.
Focus on one thing at a time. You can have it all but not all at once.
I know you are excited about a lot of things and that you want to do it all. Believe when I tell you that you will do it all, but you will make more progress as contradictory as it might sound, if you focus one thing at a time. Put all your energy in one thing, stay focused and be consistent until you achieve it and then move to the next. I promise, you will feel more fulfilled, more accomplished.
You can plan ahead but your plan will definitely change when the time comes.
No matter how much you plan ahead; things will never go as planned. Instead of becoming frustrated, accept that that is life and learn to pivot, to adjust. Be flexible, stay open minded. When things don't go as you planned, doesn't mean you failed. It means you can't be in control of everything.
You can’t change anyone, except yourself.
Stop trying to change others, focus on what you can control, change yourself. Always remind yourself that people generally have good intentions, but we all see the world from our own perspective. Challenge yourself to change your perspective so you can understand where the other person is coming from and adapt, instead of getting frustrated because people "don't understand or don't want to to the right thing".
Celebrate your victories in life… even the small ones.
Every victory is worth celebrating. Don't wait until you win the war, celebrate every battle. Celebrating progress will fuel your motivation to keep going, will make you feel more confident in yourself and your capability to achieve your ultimate goal.
Growing up I was hesitant to celebrate small victories because, at the end of the day I had not yet arrived to my destination. I thought I only should celebrate crossing the finish line, because I thought winning a battle didn't meant I was going to win the war, and I thought celebration battles will make me complacent and I would stop pushing. There might be some truth on that. But now I know there a balance between the two.
Don’t let failure get you down. Look for the learning opportunity in every bad situation.
I already talked about failure but I feel I need to again, since failure was that BIG barrier between me and me living my best life, being myself and expedite my growth. For most of my life the think I was most afraid of was failure. Over time I learned that failure is part of human nature, is part of the journey on our way to success. I now believe that failure is not about not failing down, but is about not standing back up. I think that we only fail when we give up, otherwise we either win or we learn. Every time you fall, take a time to reflect and learn from that experience.
Having a bad day or season doesn't mean you’re having a bad life
Many times, I had a bad day and I thought it was the end of the world. Sometimes it would take me days to move on after having a bad day. I stayed down longer than I should, using the same analogy I used on the prior advice. Every time I had a bad day or bad season, I thought my life was bad, but every time as time passed and I looked back I realized it wasn't as bad as I thought it was. We all have bad days. Don't let a bad day missed on the good ones.
Don't strive for perfection, it does not exist
When I started my career, I feel the pressure to be perfect. To produce perfect work, perfect presentation, perfect products. That lead me to a lot of frustration, because perfection doesn't exist. There will always be things you can improve. I spent more time working on things that were not worth the time I was putting in and the frustration of never arriving to my destination, because perfection is an utopia.
Liked this article, you can listen to it including examples on how these played in my life in episode 27 of the Leading Yourself Podcast.