I have a daughter that’s turning 23 and two sons, one is 19 and the other is almost 13 years old. My daughter is really creative and writing scripts for movies and sitcoms while my son is in college going after a degree in criminal justice. I had all three of them with me the other night and I looked at where they are in their lives and thought, what was I doing at their age?” I was finding my way raising both Ambria and Chandler with a new husband at their age. I then thought, “from what I know now, what do I wish I had known then?” Here are a few things I came up with.
1. Don’t dwell on the mistakes you’ve made. – I made some mistakes as a teenager and I had dreams of going to college but never pushed myself to fulfill that dream because I’d made some mistakes that I thought prevented me from going. Had I taken the time to really think about the outcome of having a college education I wouldn’t have made some decisions that altered my life early. I would have pressed toward the dream regardless.
2. Find hard work you love doing. – If I could offer my 23 and 19-year-old kids’ real career advice, I would say DO WHAT YOU LOVE NOW. I would not do what’s popular and try to fit myself in the box of any trendy career. I would take some time out with the Lord and find my passion and get with the program of purpose. Hard work isn’t hard when you concentrate on your passions.
3. Invest time, energy and money in yourself every day. – When you invest in yourself, you can never lose, and over time you will change the course of your life. You are simply the product of what you know. The more time, energy and money you spend acquiring relevant knowledge, the more control you have over your life.
4. Know who you are before you make the decision to fall in love- the way I was raised, you go to school, get married and have children. Ideally this is the American dream. But if I were to put another couple of steps in this equation to life I would say go to school, find out who you are and why you were sent on earth, take your time finding someone with similar destinies that you can fall in love with, get married and have children. Many destinies have been interrupted by the inability to connect with who you married. Many people marry their best friends when you were really only meant to be friends. What’s most important at this ripe age is you being you, finding you and taking care of you. Before you add anyone into your world give off the truth about who you are and it will help you to determine who should be with you.
5. Accept and embrace change. – However good or bad a situation is now, it will change. That’s the one thing you can count on. So embrace change, and realize that changes have to take place in order to fit you in the right place in society. It won’t always be easy or obvious at first, but in the end it will be worth it.
6. Don’t worry too much about what other people think about you. – What people think about you doesn’t matter because the fact is no one knows the mind of God to determine who should be as they are. You live a free life when you are free from the opinions of people. Truth of the matter is at a glimpse no one knows your history, present or future but God. He knows why He orchestrated the life plan He has for you. Trust yourself to be you.
7. Keep a great name- I learned early that the people you meet will always have an impression about you based on the way you treated them or carried on around them. You never know even at this age who you are around and where you’ll meet again in the future. God says “I will MAKE your name GREAT” but you have to keep it great by living a life of great character and integrity and maintain a good reputation. When God makes your name great, haters and people that want to see you fail come along with the territory. Be concerned about your name at this age and keep yourself around people who care about their name too. When the haters come with rumors and lies, your character will speak for you and you never have to open your mouth. Live honestly, be straightforward, even if it hurts to tell the truth, tell it. Because at the end of the day when society looks for a leader, they will find enough trust and respect about you to consider you.
8. When you find real friends keep them. – There is nothing like being able to maintain friendships and relationships with people that last for years. When you turn 40 you should not be in a position that you cannot find a real friend anywhere. Life will bring about challenges that you are going to need to distinguish who’s got your back, who you can call, who you can bear your soul to, and who really knows you.
9. LIVE according to what you have currently. – It is not important to live extravagantly. It’s much wiser to live comfortably. Many people over 30 are suffering because when they had money they spent it on frivolous things when now that they need it they don’t have access to what they once had. Do not spend to impress others. Do not live life trying to fool yourself into thinking wealth is measured in material objects. Manage your money and live below your means.
10. Invest as much time as possible getting to know the voice of God. This life will bring option after option and many possibilities and opportunities. It is so easy to loose track, get off course, and waste time in the wrong place with the wrong people. You have to be able to distinguish your course in the midst of it all and know the difference between good ideas and God ideas. The only way to know how to navigate life is to know how to detect where God is, hear His voice, and trace His hand. Pour your soul into worship and prayer until you know that you cannot be fooled by a strange sound.