The advice people often wish to impart to their younger self varies based on individual experiences, regrets, and the lessons they've learned along the way. As Greg and I find ourselves at this juncture in life, our children have matured and embarked on their own exciting journeys into adulthood. Yet, amidst this milestone, we can't help but reflect on our own experiences and the lessons learned along the way.
Whether you're a parent with young children, just setting out on your parenting journey, or somewhere in between, we believe there's valuable wisdom we can share with you. There are common pieces of advice people tend to give to their younger self. Between us, we came up with six pieces of advice we’d give to our younger self.
Greg: Find Purpose in Work
Am I solely focused on earning a paycheck, or am I striving to excel in my chosen field? This question often arises, especially when embarking on a career. In the early stages, the primary concern is typically making enough money to meet basic needs, and this can weigh heavily on one's mind, as it did ours.
As a beginner in the workforce, the pursuit of financial stability takes precedence, and this is perfectly natural. However, as the years roll on, there's a noticeable shift in the industry's messaging. It no longer solely emphasizes monetary gain but starts promoting the idea that you should explore your full potential, derive satisfaction from your work, and prioritize your personal well-being. This change in perspective encourages individuals to consider their careers as not just a means to an end but a path to personal growth, self-esteem, and fulfillment.
What I would advise my younger self, is to find a passion and commit to mastering it. For instance, if you're in a trade like plumbing, strive to become an exceptional plumber. Take pleasure in honing your skills; explore various resources like YouTube videos to learn from others. Don't settle for merely completing a few jobs and collecting paychecks. Instead, aim to extract the utmost value and satisfaction from the 8-to-5 part of your life by continuously improving your expertise. If you begin a trade or profession at 25 and invest 20 years, you should aspire to be at the pinnacle of your field with a wealth of experience, knowledge, and foresight. This sense of accomplishment is what makes life truly rewarding.
Deb: Enjoy the Seasons of Life
At certain points in my life, I felt incredibly driven, especially when we were raising our three boys, born just four years apart. Their boundless energy and our journey as parents were intense. Now, as I reflect on those times with our grown sons, I can't help but hope I had stopped enough to cherish every moment of their growing up years. I recognize that they don't remain little forever. I've always been goal-oriented, and in hindsight, I yearn for the times when I could have paused more often to savor the experience of motherhood, simply reveling in the joy of being with my young boys, sharing laughter and precious moments with them.
I vividly recall how we used to put on the soundtrack of "Footloose" (a record, no less), and our living room transformed into a dance floor as we all moved exuberantly to the music as we played the song over and over. Looking back, I wish we had embraced such moments more frequently.
Greg: Education of Kids
When you become a parent, it's essential to contemplate whether you'll be actively involved in your child's education or if you'll leave the bulk of it to the school. Last week, I was taken aback when I heard someone from our school district mention that a significant number of high school students are now graduating with reading levels at or below the eighth-grade standard. This revelation left me not only concerned for these young individuals but also pondering the role of parents in this scenario. Our children have long moved on from high school, and it's no longer the same institution they attended, but the issue remains relevant.
Now, as we assist in raising our grandchildren and witness their educational development, I can't help but reflect on what I might have done differently if I had the chance to go back and do it all over again. If I were to start anew, I would take on a more active role and regularly assess my child's progress. For instance, I might set benchmarks for their math and reading skills based on their grade level and create my own tests to ensure they met these standards. Reading, in particular, would be a focal point, as it serves as the gateway to the wider world. I believe in making sure that I set the bar for their most challenging assessments, so that I'm confident that their reading abilities are at an eleventh or twelfth-grade level when they eventually graduate from high school. It's a matter of keeping that door to knowledge wide open, rather than inadvertently shutting it for them.
As a parent, you bear the responsibility that God has entrusted to you, whether you've given birth to that child or adopted them. It's crucial not to evade or relinquish this responsibility entirely. You should actively participate in your child's upbringing, ensuring that you have a meaningful role in their life and decisions.
Deb: Value of Relationships
I came to realize my true nature as an introvert later in life, as I tended to concentrate on my work and prioritize solitary activities. However, my career as an entertainer required me to act as an intentional extrovert when engaging with audiences. Reflecting on my journey, I've noticed that while I've maintained certain relationships, there are others I wish I had nurtured more actively. Sending out holiday cards each year and staying in touch with some acquaintances is one thing, but there are those meaningful connections I feel I could have invested more time and effort into. As time goes by, it becomes increasingly challenging to reconnect with those I've unintentionally drifted apart from. The dynamics change, especially as our children grow up and develop their own social circles, but there are certain relationships that retain their significance.
Looking back, I wish I had placed a higher value on these connections and established a system for regular contact. Now, with the convenience of technology, it's easier to maintain these connections, and I've come to appreciate the importance of doing so.
Greg: Consumer or Investor?
When young adults graduate from college and land their first full-time jobs, they typically experience the excitement of a regular paycheck flowing in. However, it's not uncommon for them to make financial decisions that, in retrospect, might seem imprudent. These decisions often include acquiring a house or renting one that exceeds their actual needs and purchasing a car that stretches their budget. What I mean by "too much house" or "too much car" isn't necessarily about buying an extravagant home or luxury vehicle, but rather committing to housing and transportation expenses that exceed what's necessary for their current lifestyle. If you consider the additional costs of a house and car that are, let's say, $1,000 a month more than what's required, it becomes apparent that this money could be put to better use.
By saving that extra $1,000 a month consistently, young professionals can accumulate a significant sum over time. This was the premise of an article I wrote titled "What to Do with Your First $100,000." The idea here is that by reaching a savings milestone of $100,000, individuals can start to transition into the realm of investing. Depending on where they live, they can consider options like putting a down payment on a rental property, which can generate a steady stream of monthly income. As they accumulate multiple rental properties, they can create a substantial supplementary income, something they might not have imagined when they were in college. Coupled with the potential for future salary increases, the combination of disciplined saving and rental income opens doors to financial stability and the ability to invest wisely for the long term. You can really set yourself up for life.
Deb: More Input on Career Choices
Reflecting on my journey, I can't help but wish that I had received more comprehensive career counseling as I neared graduation from college. At that pivotal moment in life, I faced the decision of whether to commit to a full-time teaching career, given that I had been offered contracts to teach in the school system. While I had quite a bit of prior teaching experience, I knew that the traditional classroom setting wasn't my true calling. It's important to note that this was a time before the internet and online teaching were widespread, so alternative avenues in education were less accessible. Nevertheless, I've always had a passion for teaching and mentoring others, which made the transition into public speaking and writing books a natural expansion of my career. It's essential to understand that being an instructor at heart and an entertainer was integral to my professional identity.
Looking back, I see that there were potentially more avenues I could have explored during that transitional period in my career. Seminars and other teaching opportunities existed, and they might have been more fulfilling for me. While not every aspect of a career has to be a source of unbridled joy, the core principles of finding what resonates with you and continuing to pursue new opportunities are significant. I often felt compelled to complete my degrees and follow through with the opportunities that presented themselves, almost as if they were simply falling into my lap. But I recognize now that it's crucial to assess what truly brings satisfaction and fulfillment and to seek additional education and explore various options. The modern availability of online courses and an array of resources can greatly assist individuals in navigating their career paths and making informed decisions.
Take time to reflect on what you would write to your younger self. It is never too late to take the advice you would give, especially when answering the question, ‘What’s next?” at mid-career or halftime of life.
Extra Resources - Articles:
- about Greg & Deb
GREG joins DEBORAH as a co-host on Women at Halftime Podcast once a month.
GREG JOHNSON is a former professional athlete, a triple A relief-pitcher with the Cleveland Indians (now Guardians) He also has years of experience in sales and as an R.I.A. (Registered Investment Advisor), owning his own business. He & Deb met on a blind date and have been married over 40 years.
A significant portion of our experiences in life is shaped by our thoughts and beliefs.
Thought Leader, Keynote Speaker, Author
If you are interested in growing and learning, check out our online courses here: Online Learning