Advice An 83-Year-Old Would Give To His Younger Self

It’s said that youth is wasted on the young. While this may be a harsh overstatement, there is something special about the wisdom we gain as time goes on.

Think, for instance, about what you would say to your twenty-something self as you move through your 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and beyond. What life lessons would you clue your younger self into? As a financial planner, I would tell the twenty-something Wes to be mindful of his spending, plan for the future, and to sock away as much money as possible in retirement savings accounts.

Stan Hayward – a film, television and book writer – recently wrote an article detailing the unique kernels of wisdom he would hand down to young Stan. Speaking as an 83-year-old to his 28-year-old self, much of Stan’s advice warns against focusing too much on things that don’t really matter in the long run. Other wisdom he would impart to his earlier self includes learning how to do the things that do matter, like mastering the art of true conversation and learning to believe in yourself.

Stan’s musings, while personal in nature, are something that we can all learn from. Take a look at his bits of wisdom below, and see if some of them don’t inspire you to look at things differently, no matter how old you are.

Don’t waste your time on:

  • Earning more money than you need
  • Learning more things than you need or are interested in
  • Buying more items than you need
  • Getting more friends than you need
  • Eating more food than you need
  • Trying to impress people out of vanity
  • Spending money on conspicuous consumption
  • Wasting other people’s time
  • Pursuing goals that have no purpose
  • Getting involved in projects that you have doubts about
  • Getting involved with people you are not serious about
  • Trying to be smart for the sake of it
  • Other people’s opinions if you have no intention of accepting them
  • Imposing your beliefs and opinions on others
  • Trying to find meaning and purpose in life other than your instincts

I would also say:

  • Keep a diary
  • Organize your life
  • Don’t get into debt
  • Don’t assume you will ever have time to do anything you can’t do now
  • Don’t involve yourself with people who intend to use you
  • Don’t use other people
  • Learn to trust those who accept your trust
  • Value people for their true worth
  • Learn to talk to your parents
  • Learn to talk to women (and learn to listen)
  • Learn to talk to yourself
  • Learn to believe in yourself
  • Learn to be tolerant of others
  • Learn to think before you speak
  • Learn to think before you answer
  • Learn to appreciate the moment
  • Learn to share your thoughts
  • Learn to respond according to the situation
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