If someone asked you to give words of wisdom about life, what would they be?
In the past two weeks I have been asked to write down thoughts and advice to commemorate special life milestones for an 18 year old, a 21 year old, a 30 year old and a 50 year old. All are women, all live in different parts of the U.S. and they are worlds apart in their life experience and expectations. I tried to find the right mix of sage-like seriousness and practical life-induced humility and humor. A little “Ann Landers” with some “Ellen” thrown in. Although I was sending my thoughts to others it felt like the assignments were an opportunity to reflect and explore, “What advice would I give to my less-experienced self?”
The younger women are grappling with the dawning of adulthood; the excitement and anticipation that anything can be tackled head-on. They are also no doubt experiencing a bit of fear over not knowing what lies ahead at the next river bend. The 30-year-old already has a little bit of wind at her back but is now gaining an appreciation for the need to make deliberate decisions. The 50-year-old has lived long enough to experience life’s bumps and triumphs and has a sense of urgency about making her mark on the world.
The advice I gave was heavily influenced by my personality as a measured planner. Certainly, individuals who tend toward the spontaneous side of life would give completely different counsel. No one would ever peg me as a “in the moment” type of gal, so in general I said:
- Go after what you want. Make a plan, and then take steps to always move toward your goal even if you need to take teeny steps. You will still be 5 years older 5 years from now regardless of what you do or don’t do so you might as well do something.
- Appreciate the little things as life goes along. There are a lot of simple pleasures in life — a sunny day, a hearty laugh, a good friend.
- Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. A bad decision can be corrected by a good decision.
- Prioritize your relationships with people. In the end, they are the only thing that will really matter.
However, I am also a big fan of inspiring quotes. I own a hard-bound copy of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations and more recently my on-line citation source has been http://www.brainyquote.com/. Here is some of the advice I gleaned from these resources:
“They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do and something to hope for.” Tom Bodett
“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” Theodore Roosevelt
“Nothing is impossible; the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!” Audrey Hepburn
“Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.” Nido Qubein
“Be faithful to that which exists within yourself”. Andre Gide
“If you accept the expectations of others, especially negative ones, then you never will change the outcome.” Michael Jordan
“In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.” Bill Cosby
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” Mahatma Gandhi
As you get older, it is easier to understand how you got to “here” once you have already been “there,” or as Steve Jobs said, “You can only connect the dots looking backwards.” My wish for anyone is that when the dots are connected it creates a satisfying unique life picture.
Please use our comment section or Facebook page to share with readers the quotes that you have found inspiring.
Carol Lewis Gullstad October 29, 2012