Dear Younger Self,
Think about what you could’ve done differently as a kid with even a glimmer of the knowledge you have now (cringe-worthy, I know!). Rather, you think back to something you could have improved in your professional career, past relationships, career, health or spirit; there’s probably a range of good and bad thoughts that crossed your mind that lead to positive and negative situations. As is life, though, right?
In my career as a professional athlete, I have had unique life experiences and it’s an honor to share my experiences with you all. Believe me when I say a lot of the superficial shiny exterior of that lifestyle is not as important as my transformation (attach link) as a human being, just like you. I truly hope that you can take something from my experience and apply it to your life.
For me, I was that kid who didn’t listen well and stayed in my own bubble so maybe even if someone would have told me these things, I would have rolled my eyes. Sometimes, you have to learn things the hard way. If life has taught me anything through my unique life experiences, it’s that you get punished for what you don’t know. When I was thinking about my next blog post, I thought, “What did I need to hear as a kid to have reduced hardships and manifested better results.” I’m about to share with you are things I really wish I would have known when I was younger. I guarantee that readers of ALL ages will discover new insight from reading this blog post.
So here are 28 things I wish I could go back and tell my younger self:
15) Value your time. If you want to be successful, you need to embrace discipline by prioritizing your daily habits. Stop searching for a boy friend/ girl friend. The person you marry is probably in another town not thinking about you. Sorry if I’m too blunt. Now, as an grown man, my biggest regret thus far is not being as efficient with my time.
“I used to want the words ‘She tried’ on my tombstone. Now I want ‘She did it.’” -Katherine Dunham
16) Keep an open-mind to the lessons life is throwing your way. Nobody ever learned anything by listening to themselves speak. Also, don’t forget that your brain is always growing, even outside of the classroom… Life is one big school room and you never know when you might be going into your next lesson. Embrace insight. Close minds don’t get fed. Stay humbled. Dream big!
17) Own the hardcore truth in every aspect of yourself or life will own it for you. Own up to your flaws and work towards a new and improved self-identity. There are two ways to avoid the truth: avoiding self- criticism and making excuses. Sadly, sometimes this may take an extreme amount of courage and humility. Truths have been extremely powerful in writing my life story.
18) Spend a few minutes a day meditating. Please understand that there’s a huge difference between meditation and sleep. I was a very angry child growing up and this could’ve worked wonders in my life. The benefits are astounding by reducing stress, anxiety, anger, confusion and heart disease. In a world that teaches us to chase, sometimes slowing down and visualizing is the answer. Many say that experience is the best teacher, but I believe EVALUATED experience is! It’s so important to pause and reflect for better understanding.
“If every 8 year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.” -Dalai Lama
19) Stop caring what others think about you. Be your authentic self and you’ll be surprised how many people will respect that. Trying to fit in is a tragedy waiting to happen. I was able to overcome this habit of overthinking when I realized everyone’s just thinking of themselves majority of the time anyways.
20) ) Conquer your fears– Growth proceeds humility. I have worn a headband during games since middle school and while playing for Miami I was not allowed to wear it. I was scared to play without my lucky charm.
My first week with my new team I asked Miami head coach, Eric Spoelstra, if I could be an exception to the rule & he said, “No, there’s treasure in overcoming your fears. Escaping the comfort zone is a beautiful place. Plus you’re a beast without it.” He was so right, but I never knew that myself. There’s powers in conquering even your smallest fears. There’s powers in humility.
21) Research the unknown. We live in the age of information with sites like Google, Wikipedia, Youtube where information is one click away. Start your research with what are you most passionate about. If you don’t know then ‘ask yourself’ what matters most in my life. Stand up for something. Study religions. Connect with something far greater than yourself that makes you truly happy, such as, political causes or issues that may need your support. Never stop connecting dots.
“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know; the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who happy are those how sought and fought how to serve” -Albert Schweitzer
22) Keep God first through the bad times and thank Him in the good. Prayer helps keep you humbled. Reading the word helps renew your mind. Ultimately living in the life you were created to live is the best feeling. This is one of the hardest things to do because it may require some isolation.
23) Write creatively on the daily basis. Look, I’m not saying pour your heart out in a diary or suffer through meaningless task. There are certain muscles in your brain that become stronger during creative thinking. Being smart is not lame. When you get older, you’ll learn intelligence is attractive and highly sought out by peers.
“Do unto others as you would have them
do unto yourself”
24) Help others become successful through service, wisdom, or even giving off good energy. This tip could easily be number one. The Golden Rule is that people matter. In order to keep growing, learn to keep giving.
25) Learn to ask more questions. Make asking ‘why’ your favorite word. Curiosity is the fuel behind maintaining a successful mindset.
26) Practice confidence with the words you speak and the thoughts you think. Confidence usually follows preparation, but it’s an ongoing psychological battle to get rid of that negative voice in your head. Practice what you say, and really believe it. No one will believe in you, if you don’t believe in yourself first.
“If you want to make a permanent change, stop focusing on the size of your problems and start focusing on the size of you!” T. Harv Eker
27) Gain knowledge on food for better eating habits. I never thought I’d see the day I enjoy eating my veggies, but it’s so beneficial for your health and life span. Aside from that, I’m a much better player on the court! You don’t have to become a vegan, but be mindful of what you put into your body every day. As sad as this may sound, if you don’t make time for sacrifices like dieting, you will more than likely have to make time for illness.
28) Let go of the toxicity so that the new can begin to evolve to manifest. A flower cannot bloom in darkness. Make it a mission to laugh more by seeking mindful entertainment that’s breaks your daily routine. Let go of grudges, anger and frustration. Watch a comedy, learn a skill, read motivational quotes. If you like to listen to trap music, try listening to reggae here and there. If you like to scroll down your social media timeline, try moving your apps away from the homepage. In order to bloom like a flower, we must nuture ourselves with knowledge and joy as opposed to routines that could be potentially stunting our growth.
“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” -Harriet Tubman
Bonus tips to my younger self:
“The body has a voice. When you let that voice speak, even for 20 minutes out of your day, you change the things you notice.”
Accept compromises that align with your life goals and ambitions. Don’t insist on always getting your way. Before making any decision for you or your relationships, be honest with yourself about goals, ethics, and desires to win. Even the smallest decisions are trade-offs in some way. The secret is to know when to give and take.
Get outside more. Kids and adults alike have fallen in love with in-door electronics. Don’t forget that exercise and being outside also helps creativity & reduce stress. Simplicity works wonders!
Instinctual trust in self and understanding when your body is telling you something. Your gut is almost like a second brain. Listen to it because “that gut feeling” is usually right. If something or someone doesn’t deserve your time and energy, then think about the consequences and say “maybe another time.” Never fails!
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