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.

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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?

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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:

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