I’m 48 years old, and while I will always be a work in progress, I’ve learned a series of perspectives, constructs, and principles that are the foundation to my current philosophy.

Some of these were taught to me by mentors. Some I picked up through consuming content (reading/watching/listening). But most were learned the hard way – through painful mistakes, lapses in judgment, and poor decisions (all of which have served as my most powerful teacher).

And while I haven’t mastered this list by any means, I’m grateful for the progress I have made and for the path that I am on.

As the brilliant Rory Vaden often says, “You are uniquely positioned to serve the person you once were.”

So I share this list with the hope these ideas help you continue to work towards your own self-actualization and inner peace.

And if I was magically able to go back in time, and do this whole thing again, here are 48 Messages to My Younger Self:

  1. I am enough. I am worthy. I’m not perfect, but I’m not broken.
  2. Vulnerability is a prerequisite to immeasurable strength.
  3. ‘Keeping score’ will undermine all of your relationships (personal and professional).
  4. “It’s not about me, it’s about you.” Learn to value what matters to others.
  5. “Stress is the desire for things to be different than they are in the present moment.” Stress is not caused by circumstances and events – it’s caused by resisting them. Accept what is.
  6. Self-awareness is the foundation to high performance, self-worth, and fulfillment.
  7. Dream BIG. Don’t box yourself in with self-imposed limitations.
  8. MY truth is not THE truth. My reality is heavily biased. “We don’t see the world as it is, we see it as we are.”
  9. “Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.” Patience is a necessary virtue. Rushing increases mistakes and poor decisions.
  10. Be curious, not judgmental. “Want a better life? Ask better questions to better people.”
  11. People pleasing and perfectionism are masks for insecurity.  Neither is attainable.
  12. All emotions are OK. All behaviors aren’t. Give yourself permission to feel how you feel but don’t let it dictate how you treat others.
  13. Failure is a REQUIRED part of the process.
  14. A main pillar of inner peace is learning to detach from the need for external validation. It’s OK to enjoy/appreciate it, but needing it is a dangerous trap.
  15. Learn to develop an abundance mindset. “If you focus on taking and chasing, you’ll never have enough. If you focus on giving and serving, you’ll never run out.”
  16. Money is not evil. Money is energy. Money is a tool. Money is a revealer. If you do WELL, you can do GOOD.
  17. The Comparison Game is an unwinnable, unnecessary game (so don’t play it). Run your race.
  18. Accountability is a gift. Be open to accepting it. Care enough to give it.
  19. Expecting life to be fair is a mindset of the weak. It’s not the universe’s job to please you. It’s your job to respond to whatever life throws at you.
  20. Blaming, complaining, and making excuses will never move you forward or make your situation better.
  21. Give people grace. You have no idea what they are going through. Assume everyone is doing the best they can with the tools they have.
  22. Good/bad and right/wrong are 100% subjective. So be very careful in using them as labels.
  23. It’s OK to not be OK. It means you’re human.
  24. You can’t change the events of the past, but you can change your relationship with them. Make the time/effort to reconcile past traumas. You don’t need to carry that baggage with you everywhere you go.
  25. No sense in worrying about a future that hasn’t happened yet (and most likely never will). No sense in suffering twice.
  26. If it doesn’t serve you, don’t say it out loud. Don’t speak what you don’t want into existence.
  27. Guilt is feeling bad about something you did or something you said. Shame is feeling bad about who you are. Guilt can help you improve behavior. Shame can debilitate you. You are not your mistakes.
  28. Confrontation is healthy. It simply means having the courage to meet the truth head on. Confront behaviors, not people.
  29. Holding grudges only punishes you (not the other person). It weighs you down. Let it go.
  30. “If you’re not agile, you’re fragile.” This is true physical and emotionally.
  31. Do not let the Outer World (circumstances, events) dictate your Inner world (attitude, mindset). You create your reality.
  32. Learn to sit with unpleasant feelings. Don’t ignore, resist, or suppress them. And remember, “This too shall pass.”
  33. Learn to say no to opportunities and people that aren’t in full alignment with your North Star (or core values).
  34. The things you say to yourself are the most important things you say. Learn self compassion. Learn to talk to yourself the same way you’d talk to a friend or loved one.
  35. Almost every poor decision you make will be a result of fear, ego, or insecurity. Learn to recognize and reconcile each of them.
  36. Don’t allow your achievement and performance be the root of your self worth. What you do is not who you are.
  37. Tough conversations do not get easier over time. Lean into them early.
  38. Becoming a more proficient active listener will immediately improve every relationship in your life. Listening is a pillar to human connection.
  39. When someone tells you a story about a personal experience they had… resist the temptation to ‘One Up’ them with a better story. Let them have the spotlight.
  40. In almost every area of life… more is not better. Better is better. Focus on quality over quantity.
  41. A compliment unshared is a momentary act of selfishness.
  42. “A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.”
  43. If it won’t matter in 5 years, don’t waste 5 minutes worrying about it. Move to the Next Play!
  44. Over time, experiences will prove more valuable than ‘things.’ Collect memories, not ‘stuff.’
  45. Make the effort to leave every place you go better than you found it. Little things done consistently make a big difference.
  46. “If you’re the best player at the playground… find a new playground.” Intentionally put yourself in rooms where you are not the most accomplished or experienced.
  47. Sports are a vital vehicle for teaching life lessons and values. They are the ideal platform to teach winning gracefully and losing graciously.
  48. Holding myself to a high standard of character and integrity is not about perfection… it’s about progress… and about working to become the best version of myself as consistently as possible.

In addition to using these to guide my own life, they also serve as the foundation of my parenting philosophy. Aside from unconditional love, the best gift I can give my children is to model all of the above as consistently as I can!