10 Best Lessons I’d Teach My Younger Self

My dear friend Lewis Howes recently asked me a damn good question. If you could – what would you tell your younger self? My answer sucked. But he told me HIS answer and I thought his answer was a good one… So good in fact that I wished I’d had learned the lessons much much earlier in life. I tried to write this in my own voice, but since the list and story weren’t mine it wasn’t working…and so I’m stoked to have my good pal Lewis join us here to share some of his wisdom and inspiration. I’ve also peppered my $.02 as a photographer occasionally throughout the post below. In fact, I was recently asked this question in an interview: What’s one thing you’d tell your younger version of yourself? I answered: “Wash your hands.” And then added, “It’s okay to be the thing you want to be in life, and not what everyone else wants you to be.”
But otherwise, Lewis, take it away.

—-
Thanks Chase-man. The following is a true story that I shared on my blog right around my 30th birthday.

It was a warm Fall night outside Caffe Dante, my favorite Gelato spot in New York’s Greenwich Village, when I met her. The Italian waitresses don’t even ask for my order anymore. Shortly after I sit down they bring me my usual. I’ve had gelato all over the world, and to this day nothing compares to this little cafe. I usually go solo. Walk through Washington Square Park, enjoy the energy of NYC, people watch, and get my two scoops of gelato.

This particular time I sat outside at a table next to an older Italian woman and her little French Bull dog. I’m a sucker for dogs (especially cute little Frenchies because they sound like an old man snoring when they’re awake).I struck up a conversation with her because her dog kept licking my leg. We got into the Italian culture, travel, and how her husband is a famous artist who’se been commissioned to build sculptures all over the world. She talked about her grandchildren, and even invited me to see her husbands art gallery in SoHo. It was a pleasant thirty minute conversation. One of “those moments” everyone talks about when you live in NYC. She gave me her number and address to see her gallery, but somehow I lost both of those and forgot her name. One thing I did remember was an answer she gave me to a very specific question I asked.

“I’m about to turn 30 years old, and if you could go back and talk to your 30 year old self what advice would you give?”

She said, without hesitation, “don’t worry so much.”

She continued, “we try to create drama from nothing so often, but the things we think are major issues always pass, and we forget about them usually within a few months at most. Focus on loving more, and not worrying as much.”

Advice is always easier giving than receiving, but this is something that stuck with me, and it inspired me to share some lessons I’ve learned in my first 30 years of life. The post I did on my blog on my birthday had my 30 Lessons I Learned. Ive had some time to distill that list down to the most potent: My top 10 lessons.

1. Invest in yourself
Grant Cardone once told me to spend all of my money on investing in myself. Learn why this is important and why it’s a major focus for me now in this interview.

Movement is important especially when so many sit at a desk for 10+ hours a day. This causes serious aging, illness, and physical pain when you don’t move. CrossFit, playing team handball for the USA national team, and street basketball are my weekly activities. Do something you’ll have fun with and focus on moving every day.

2. Frame your goals
I started writing my goals down and framing the goal as if it already was achieved in my early 20′s. I was amazed when I started reaching these goals by the date I had listed on them. It was a daily visualization exercise, and it almost always works. I believe the things you put your energy towards the most, will most likely come true over everything else. Frame your goals.

cj: I encourage all you creatives out there to make a declaration of creativity and then proceed with the goal-framing.

3. Don’t let others dictate your life
If you don’t want to live a normal life where you go to a job you hate just so you can enjoy your weekends and get two weeks to vacation every year… then don’t do it. It’s as simple as that. Read The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss or other inspirational blogs about creating a lifestyle around a business you want to live. No excuses, just do it already.

cj: after the read, pop back up here and watch Tim Ferriss on chasejarvisLIVE for more inspiration on living a life you love:

4. Focus on relationships
You can accomplish anything with the right relationships both personally and professionally. People don’t care as much about what you know as they do on how much you care about them.

5. Feel your fears and do them anyways
My friend and sports psychologist Dr. Jeff Spencer told me this once and it stuck with me. Elite athletes feel fear just like everyone else, but they channel that fear to fuel their spirit and passion for competition.

cj: here’s a great example of channeling fear into supreme expression and creativity.

6. Eat clean & Sweat daily
I used to eat whatever I wanted and it didn’t matter as much when I worked out 6 hours a day. I still love my gelato from time to time, but I’m all about eating as much organic foods, experimenting with cleanses, and drinking green juice as possible. Focus on what works for you, but educate yourself on what you put in your body.

7. Attract great coaches
I’d be an angry, messed up kid still if I didn’t have amazing coaches and mentors. They knew how to get the most out of me and teach me about letting go of ego, working with a team, sacrifice, and so much more. The world is a better place because of great coaches. Find one for every aspect of your life and ask them to push you to get better every day.

8. Don’t let failure hold you back [Don't worry so much"]
“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed”. -Michael Jordan You have to take the shot to succeed. And trust me, you’re going to miss. A lot. But if you’re afraid of that failure it’s going to hold you back. Take the shot.

cj: we sometimes let failure — and fear of failure — give rise to false barriers. Here’s what happens when you dispense with the barriers and create in the face of possible failure. Also – here’s a talk I just gave about this subject

9. Pay off your debts
Some debt is good for building credit, minimizing risk, and so on, but there are some debts that weigh most people down from truly following their passion and living an amazing life. Pay off the debts that weigh you down as it’s an amazing feeling once you do. Read this book by Ramit Sethi for help on this. (Alternatively, read this guest post by Ramit on Business Essentials for Photographers + Creatives.)

10. Be extremely grateful for what you have
I was a pain in the ass most of my childhood, always mad at the things I didn’t have. Things shifted drastically in my 20′s where I started putting an emphasis in gratitude. Focus on the good you do have, not the things you lack. Drop your attitude and make a gratitude list. It will do wonders.

cj: 100% agree on regularly adding to the gratitude list. Gratitude writing is one of the 5 types of writing that can make photographers more creative.

There you have it.

Well, since I always try to be the dumbest person in the room, I’ve learned to ask the right questions. The right questions ignite innovation, solve problems, create marriages and powerful partnerships, and help us live a better life.

Also, since I learn from everyone — especially my readers, I’d love to hear your answer to my question. It doesn’t matter how old are you, what’s one thing you’d tell your younger version of yourself?

##

Lewis Howes is an author, a former professional athlete (arena football), a current member of the US National Team Handball squad and a self-styled “Lifestyle Entrepreneur.” He also wants you to know that you rock. Seriously. Follow Lewis across these channels:

Website
Twitter
Facebook
Youtube
Instagram

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29 Responses to 10 Best Lessons I’d Teach My Younger Self

  1. Fil November 13, 2013 at 9:58 am #

    Hi Chase and Lewis,

    Really great post. I’m in my early 30′s actually will be 32 in few days. And I was thinking about this question a lot. If I had a chance to get back in time and had a chat with my younger self I would say and do few things. First I would smack myself in the head for being lazy and procrastinating so much. Second I would tell myself to follow the path, stop thinking and overthinking, that studies will give me a job. Follow your true passion – art. Be a creative and don’t worry too much about money. I’ve dropped the idea of studying arts and went on a different path and yet now when I’m 32 I’m a working photographer. The irony is amazing, because the true calling will get to you eventually and there is no point letting it go when you’re young because you are too afraid of what would people say, or if you are good enough. Also I would tell myself to train, and train bloody hard, this is the only way to be good at anything. So yeah, that’s what I would say.
    Again, cheers for a great post.
    Fil

    • Jeff November 13, 2013 at 12:26 pm #

      Excellent Post! I just turned 32 yesterday, so this is something that has come to my mind at times. I really need to reflect on this more often. Fil, it’s great to hear that you’re following your calling! I’m not quite there, but I feel that I could be if I focus and change so I can get there.

      Thanks!

    • Chase November 13, 2013 at 10:56 pm #

      big thanks for your thoughts Fil

      Follow your love!

  2. Carl D November 13, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

    Thanks for a great read. More like this!

    Cheers

    Carl

    • Chase November 13, 2013 at 10:57 pm #

      I can’t take any credit – this is all my man Lewis Howes!

  3. Chase November 13, 2013 at 10:58 pm #

    I saw a note about this post via twitter or Fbook – can’t remember – but thought I’d add it here…

    Get into adventures. Travel and see the world. It doesn’t have to cost a lot.

  4. Jon November 14, 2013 at 4:49 am #

    Chase,

    Thank you so much. You have exceptional timing with the blog posts that you publish and the cjLIVE broadcasts.

    I am 25, nearing 26 and at a crossroads in my life. I have the choice of continuing down a career path that will keep the bills regularly paid, but offers me no personal satisfaction and a lot of stress …. or I follow my creative passions (music/photography) and carve out a career for myself in those sectors. The biggest fear I have is failure… What if I fail? What if I just don’t have what it takes to succeed?

    Posts like Lewis’ (who i’ll now be following) are helping me to realise that the fear of failure is what will drive me to succeed, and that the fear of reaching 40 and knowing that I had the opportunity to do something that I enjoy rather than rot in an office is far greater than the fear of failure at something that I love. At the end of the day – the office job will always be there for me to return to, and I’ll have learnt more about myself if I do fail.

    I also found your interview with Tim Ferriss fascinating – the way he talks about breaking down the steps that would lead to the Worst Case Scenario is brilliant, and something that I have regularly recommended to my family, friends and staff.

    Please keep dropping the knowledge and sharing these ‘lifehackers’ as much as you do – you are making a real difference to my life and the choices I feel confident in making, and I’m sure that applies to others too.

    Thank you,

    Jon.

    • Cassidy September 28, 2014 at 10:07 pm #

      Thanks for your comment, I’m at a similar place right now, I too am 25 going on 26 and at a similar crossroads. This article and your comment are something I needed. Thanks!

  5. Girish November 14, 2013 at 6:51 am #

    Well written. At 32, I wish I had some of the points on my screen when I was 24-25, when I started my 3d renderings & freelancing and two years back when I decided to move into professional photography.

    The very first point was right there! I wish I had done that. Invested in a few things at the beginning. Never too late to plan and invest.

    I think 2 points that I could add,

    Believe in yourself
    Have a critic like your wife or someone whom you believe in and love. And you know she/he is right, even if it hurts you like crazy. Keeps your feet on the ground.

  6. faisal November 14, 2013 at 6:55 am #

    It’s not too late to incorporate these in your life.

  7. Matt November 14, 2013 at 8:08 am #

    I’m reaching 32 in a few months time. In 2005 I interned at a place where I was eventually hired. It was a creatively crippling place, filled with equally negative people. From 2007-2010 I applied to every photography/film studio within 100 miles of my house. I interviewed at some of the best, and was even hired as a freelancer for two 1 month terms at said studios. With the economy bottoming out during that time, I never really had a chance. I was never hired full time. But I kept trying. By december of 2010 I had received about 50 (those who had actually gotten back to me) rejection emails/phone calls. I gave up, defeated by the industry I loved so much.

    After picking myself back up I got the budget and actors to shoot a short film. Everything was in place, and then a series of unfortunate events happened. I lost the budget, the crew, and the actors. I decided to shoot the film anyway using anyone who agreed to be on camera, with a micro budget. I finished the film, it’s not great, but it’s complete.

    A year later I got a phone call from a studio I briefly worked for, completely out of the blue. They offered me a full time position right on the phone, which I happily accepted. Then I started getting phone calls from indie directors in LA asking me to cut their films, after having seen mine.

    I suppose the advice I would have given myself is: Never give up. I let a year slip by without creating a single piece of creative work. As artists we’re our own worst critics. We fear failure and can find comfort in blaming lack of funds, or a myriad of other excuses as reasons why we’re not creating work. We need to treat every day we spend in this industry as a gift, and work hard to become the best we can be. Somewhere out there are creatives who is working hard to get ahead. Work harder than than those guys. If you work hard enough, long enough, you’ll get to where you want to be.

    This isn’t the end of the road for me. I still have all of those rejection letters saved to fuel the fire.

    I hope this story helps.

    -Matt

  8. David November 14, 2013 at 9:19 am #

    Hello Chase and Lewis,

    I usually do not comment on features that I read; but this one is very (for me) thought provoking.

    First off, at 62 years old, I have lived a very full life to this point. The highlights far out weigh the failures and disappointments. Yet, I wish I had done a few things slightly different. Not different enough to alter the path away from where I presently sit; but perhaps just enough to ease the journey a bit. Lewis ( and who ever else is considering this question) , your Gelato ‘companion’, in four words ( “don’t worry so much”), gave you a better piece of advice than I could ever offer. I repeat those words almost daily to our (9 & 11) daughters. Really.
    I know, it sounds so simple and at your age, I would have thought ‘this old man’ had lost touch with reality. The things that I worried about in my earlier years, are, for the most part, completely laughable to me now. It is hard to let go or the worrying process, but it is healthier in the long run.
    I have found (and I think Chase may agree) that writing down your concerns and working through them goes along way toward dismissing them. Looking at them in this way, breaks them down into a manageable load. If the worst that can come of it is that you fail, lose face or money; you’ll recover.
    Now all of this said, you will have some very difficult times and decisions to make as you journey thorough life. Learn to recognize them (which takes experience.(-: ), and dismiss the other noise as soon as you are able.

    Points 9 & 10 also struck a chord with me. We all agree that financial debt can be a bit of a barrier. So yes, by all means control it to the best of your ability. But I want to address both of those points as one. Sorta. A lot of people have invested in us by the time we enter adulthood. Be it parents, extended family, teachers, coaches (yea for coaches!) or employers. They have invested by their relationship to us; and for better or worse, their return on investment is what we take from that relationship. Gratitude. I look back on my life and realize that for the most part, I expressed gratitude in the appropriate time and manner. But what about the people that influenced me as they just passed through my life?

    For 38 years I framed homes, schools, shopping centers and the like. I was not a contractor, just a hard working guy with some skills. It was during those years, that I found a way to express gratitude and invest my ‘relationship debt’ (probably not the right term, but you see where I’m going) by investing myself and knowledge into the new kids coming up. Occasionally, we would get a young employee who was low on skill, but with an infectious joy for the job and a great work ethic. I would take him/her under my supervision and pass on what I could in the hopes of helping him/her find his way through their chosen career. I later did the same as a cycling coach for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society ‘s, “Team in Training” program. People who hadn’t ridden in years, or in a few cases had never ridden a bike, training for a 100 mile event. And in both instances, it was incredibly rewarding. I learned from them as well. I learned an amazing amount about the resiliency of human nature; and how far one could go if they cast aside the fears and just jump.

    So I guess what I am trying to say is; I would tell myself to “don’t worry so much” and to invest myself into more relationships of a learning/teaching nature. It couldn’t hurt…….. ;-)

    Chase, sorry for the overly verbose response. Please feel free to edit it!

    Cheers!

    David

  9. Ray Urner November 14, 2013 at 3:36 pm #

    Hard to argue any of this! The advice from the old lady is gold. Great post.

  10. Fenne November 16, 2013 at 12:22 pm #

    thanks for sharing!
    I’m reaching 30 in a few months and my life looks completely different than I ever could imagine.
    Fighting the fear really works for me, although I have to remind myself often that everything is just temporary.

  11. Madison Kymberly November 16, 2013 at 4:20 pm #

    Hey guys,

    Thank you for sharing some truth and truly seeing what life is all about.

    Chase- Everytime I read one of your posts, hear one of your interviews, or see pictures from one of your shoots- I am consistently inspired. It’s people like you in the world that have the rare quality of helping people foster their own creativity, and pursue their dreams. It is something that intrigues me to no end, and I look forward to developing platforms in similar ways you have as I start my own career.

    I am 21, graduating this year with a Business Admin degree, and am beginning to pursue my growing interest in Photography. I can’t wait to see what is in store for the next 5 years. I will continue to follow your truly inspiring work! Thanks again for the constant light you share with all the work you do- it is definitely appreciated.

    Cheers,

    Madison

  12. Neil December 4, 2013 at 1:10 am #

    Taking notes. Great advice. Learn from others, you don’t have enough time to make all the mistakes yourself.

  13. Filip Knoll December 7, 2013 at 5:28 am #

    Well if i could tell something to my lets say 13yo self i would encourage him to fight for what his interests are and dont care so much about what others think..

  14. Val Lord December 11, 2013 at 11:47 am #

    I’d tell myself not to settle.

  15. Mike March 20, 2014 at 9:16 am #

    I think this story needs a sequel – why young people ignore good advice all the time. If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self, your younger self might not actually listen!

  16. senia dsouza March 20, 2014 at 11:15 am #

    Wonderful post!!m in my late 20′s but still feel what was there to be acheived in my younger years…
    Amazing ideas to make my 30′s better..thnx 2 author..gr8 article.

  17. Keith March 20, 2014 at 4:07 pm #

    Nearing 53, I think I would say two things…
    1- Recognize change is coming- either be an agent for change, stay out in front of it, or get the hell out of the way so you don’t get plastered…
    2- Pursue your creative spirit and happiness will surely find its way to you….

  18. Jeni Hughes March 21, 2014 at 12:32 pm #

    One of the things I would tell my younger self is “don’t second guess yourself”.
    I have always lacked confidence in the things I do even if people tell me I’m really good at it.
    When I went to school to be a drafter/designer I had the confidence because it’s what I always wanted to do. When I got older I developed a lot of health issues that restricted me from doing my job (mind you I’m only 33 and feel like in 60). It’s been hard to separate confidence in my work from physical ability to sit in a chair to do the work. Thankfully I finally found a job I love with all the things I never thought I’d obtain…and all because someone else had confidence in me. Now I just have to keep on working on maintaining my confidence.
    On the photography side I wish I would have read more on all the different aspects of lighting, and manual photography. Since I have gotten my first DSLR I try to make it a point use Auto only as a last resort (aka when I’m super frustrated and can’t figure out the settings. Haha). There are many things to learn about photography that the learning never ends. Drink it up! :-)

  19. Camille Dohrn March 26, 2014 at 10:53 pm #

    I would tell my younger self “you will never feel like you’ve figured it out.” I would tell her that all the “grown ups” are still thrashing about trying things that don’t work and that that’s ok… Its just the way that humans have to do it. We never get the answers to your biggest questions, but if we’re lucky and learn to let go of needing them, we’ll have a lot more fun asking questions and looking for clues along the way.

  20. flawless magazine June 23, 2014 at 9:22 am #

    If you don’t want to live a normal life where you go to a job you hate just so you can enjoy your weekends and get two weeks to vacation every year… then don’t do it. It’s as simple as that. The best line.

  21. Marcin June 23, 2014 at 9:35 am #

    Thank You for this article!
    Im 18 years old and I allready regret I was not creating more as my younger self. So on, articles like this one, always give me some path to follow or some advices to see what I’m doing wrong.

  22. www.w4O.de September 7, 2014 at 11:25 pm #

    Great post but I was wanting to know if you could write a litte more on this topic?

    I’d be very thankful if you could elaborate a little
    bit more. Appreciate it!

  23. xris October 1, 2014 at 2:59 pm #

    be fierce

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    [...] 10 Best Lessons I’d Teach My Younger Self — Chase Jarvis [...]

  2. Lessons I’d Teach My Younger Self | BUSY LOVIN LIFE - April 22, 2014

    [...] by http://blog.chasejarvis.com/blog/2013/11/10-best-lessons-id-teach-my-younger-self/. Big thanks to Lewis and [...]

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