I celebrated my birthday this earlier this month. While it was not a milestone birthday –– it hit home like one. The month started out with an invitation to my 20-year high school reunion (WOW! That came fast!) and shortly after we honored the 20th anniversary of 9/11.
As you can imagine, these milestones had me reminiscing and, as I started to reflect on everything that had transpired over the last 20 years, I couldn’t help but think about what advice I would give my younger self. Here’s what I came up with:
1) Do not compare yourself to others.
At some point in our lives, we all realize that what you see is not always what you get and people are not always who they appear to be. Some of the most successful and wealthy people I know live humble lives while others who are living paycheck to paycheck own fancy houses and drive luxury cars.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of rules of thumbs in the financial services industry –– which I am not a big fan of! Saving 20% of your income may be sufficient for some but not enough for another. Having a million dollars could last one couple five years in retirement and another could spend it in less than two!
Here’s the truth: it does not matter what some financial expert thinks! Measure your success against your own personal goals. This is why I lead with financial planning. While it’s nice to have a sizable portfolio and investment management is an integral part, having a plan in place that clearly defines your goals, outlines how you are going to achieve them, and helps you measure your success is key!
Btw, this planning process is not limited to financial goals –– it holds true for personal and career goals as well. It’s easy to get bogged down in our day to day tasks, but make time to check in with yourself on a regular basis (whether that is every quarter or once a year) to make sure that you are planning and working towards ALL your goals.
2) If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
This one I picked up from my husband –– it’s probably one of his favorite sayings. One of the hardest things I have had to ask for in my life is help. This was never truer than after my boys were born. For some reason, I was under the illusion that I would be able to maintain a similar lifestyle, work schedule, social life, energy level, etc., after having kids … boy was I wrong! I struggled the first few years of parenthood until I asked for help.
No one knows what you need better than you. No one knows what you want but you. Be brave enough to ask. It doesn’t always mean you are going to get it, or that you are going to get it exactly the way you asked for it, but at least you tried. And if at first you don’t succeed …. try, try again.
3) Stay active.
I was never an athlete but I always enjoyed working out and it was something I did consistently until I got pregnant with my first son. Working out was one of those activities that I thought I would be able to maintain after having children but completely dropped the ball on. Seven years later I splurged on a Peloton bike and am happy to be back in a workout routine!
4) Be true to you.
I started my career as a Financial Advisor straight out of college –– young and inexperienced but eager to learn and excited to help my clients. After four years in the industry, I made the decision to leave the comforts of working in a financial planning group office and go it on my own. I was sick of being told what to do and how to do it –– it always seemed at odds with what felt natural to me. Not to mention the strain on my confidence due to the constant reminders that I was young, didn’t have enough experience, and still had a lot to learn.
The change occurred very abruptly. I went to work one day, packed up my things and never returned. No pre-planning or thought put into it. I just followed my gut.
I cried every day for a month. I second guessed my decision. I questioned my ability to find success in the financial services industry. The motivation to keep going was my clients. The relationships I had built. The trust they placed in me. The euphoric feeling of helping others.
No one’s path to success is linear –– it’s the trials and tribulations that build character and conviction. I am curious –– what advice would you give your younger self? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org