If you are not sure if you are on the right path or not, follow the advice that you would give to your younger self. This seems pretty easy and straightforward. It is straightforward but it’s definitely not easy. Making major changes in our lifestyles takes a lot of effort, that is the main reason why we tend to run away from the advice that we would give to our younger selves.
For starters, let’s keep in mind that we all make mistakes and that we are not going to go through life without any regrets. There will always be something that we could have done better or differently. There will always be some times when we wish we can undo our words.
Recently, Robin Kowalski and Annie McCord from Clemson University surveyed hundreds of people about all the advice that they would give to their younger selves. They’ve learned that if we would only follow the advice that we would give to ourselves, we would be much closer to the ideal picture of ourselves. The picture of what we should be, how we should act and how we should spend our time.
The study was published in The Journal of Social Psychology, shows that people are preoccupied with similar themes from their past. Advice which they would give to their younger selves is similar: be more kind to yourself, go to college, learn to let go, be yourself, don’t marry her/him, don’t dwell on the past, pay attention to the elderly.
As you might think, participants always tried to warn younger selves about relationships, or encourage self-worth and education. Participants who are self-aware of the things they would say to themselves and who practice what they preach are closer to the ideal picture of themselves.
A great number of participants, approximately 82% said that the advice they’d give to their younger selves was primarily influenced by pivotal events in their lives. Events include categories such as education, relationships, money, selfhood, investments, goals and direction in life. Researchers also noticed that the advice was also focused on the lost opportunities which they passed in life.
From the other side, some advice to younger selves referred to the things we regret doing. One participant referred to marrying a stranger at a young age from a different country. The marriage happened and now it’s over. It’s too late for that person to do something different. We can’t change the marriage choice that we already made decades ago. Still, it’s not all lost. Over half of the participants in the study said they followed the advice that they gave to their younger selves, of course, they followed the advice where it was possible. While following the advice they became closer to the ideal selves they want to be in the future.
The most important thing is to practice what you preach. This is a first-time study on advice to your past self and what you can you take from that moving forward. How to turn lemons into lemonade? How to learn from regrets and turn them to optimism, hope, and a better life?
You can use this advice to improve your well-being and to determine your goals in life. What should you focus on?
Although this is something that we tend to avoid, but write down a list of advice you would give to your past self. Make a note on where that advice is coming from. Then follow that advice. According to science, you will be happier with yourself.