Episode 81: What Do You Wish You Could Tell Your Younger Self?
First, I have to say that I love Midlife Mixtape’s tagline: “For the years between being hip and breaking one.” With that out of the way, on to the first podcast I listened to which provides a list of answers to one of the questions host Nancy Davis Kho always asks her guests: “What do you wish you could go back and tell your younger self?” Now, admittedly this isn’t an original question, but listening to the different answers brought home to me how useful an exercise this can be.
When I hear multiple guests, ranging from an artist, an author, and an MTV VJ, the thing that stands out is the value in answering this question isn’t about regretfully yearning for your younger years or a chance to avoid all the mistakes you made along the way. Instead, try your best not to censor yourself, and listen to your own response. Valuable lessons can be learned that you can and should apply to your mid-career self.
For example, one of the guests, the former MTV VJ Martha Quinn, says she would tell her younger self to “pay a little more attention”, and to “live in the moment”. Sure, I can see offering my 20 year-old self that same advice, but it applies equally today. In this insane reality we live in, it is far too easy to get caught up in work (or finding work), dealing with our kids’ school situation, making sure we’re being safe yet finding personal connections outside our nuclear family. But if you don’t take stock of where you are, and what you have experienced over the last week or month, you can’t learn from that experience and adjust how you move forward.
“You live life looking forward, you understand life looking backward.”
There is a proven pedagogical tool called ‘reflective practice’: the act of looking back over a previous time frame and thinking through what you have learned, how to apply that learning, and how you may have put what you learned into practice. That simple task improves decision making and practice across disciplines. So I’ll take Martha Quinn’s advice to her younger self, and I’ll extend it: Live in the moment and reflect on the moments you have experienced over the last few days or weeks as you contemplate how to approach the next few moments.
Here’s a link to the Midlife Mixtape podcast. I highly recommend you check it and their other episodes out.