Looking at the world through 20-year-old’s eyes

3 min read

It’s not often you look at the world through 20-year-old’s eyes. Maybe if you have a young person in your life, you might look at things their way, but often we don’t look at the world the same way when we moved past that age some unmentionable years ago.

Recently I was given the opportunity to really focus on my 20-year-old self, what I knew, how I felt and what I’d wish I’d known at that age and it was quite enlightening.
For some there may be too much pain involved but if you are just looking for renewed perspective then it is a great place to revisit.

The impetus for me was being asked to give the graduation address to a room full of business school graduates from the University of Sydney. When I stood in front of them to deliver my presentation I saw their faces filled with relief that they had reached their graduation day and expectation for what lay ahead and I tried to reimagine my own feelings from that time.

Besides the nerves about making it up onto the stage without tripping, and making sure the photos (not digital and easy to retouch in those days) turned out well, I remember feeling overwhelmed about my every move.

Somewhere in the transition from school to university young graduates are faced with the weight of making study choices. For me it felt as though it was the hardest decision I would ever have to make and that it was going to influence everything I did for the rest of my life.

I could sense similar angst from the students looking up to me for some inspiration.

I gave them 3 tips:

  • Stop worrying – if it’s something you can’t change why worry, and if it’s something you can change – then get on and change it.

  • Run your own race – you can never derive success by being measured by someone else’s definition of success. Only you know what matters to you.

  • Get moving – life’s happening now. You will make mistakes if you keep moving but you’ll also have more chance of doing what you want and reaching your goals.

These tips are relevant for all of us and not just the 20-year-olds I delivered the advice to. We all spend far too much time worrying about all sorts of things. We need to clear our minds to help us reach our goals.

It’s easy to get caught up in the rat race and the aspirations of the allusive Jones’ but it takes our focus away from what’s important.

Get moving — this is not a dress rehearsal. Go for the clients you want, the job you aspire to, the other measures of success that matter to you. Remove your boundaries and you are much more likely to reach your very best.

Recently I heard from the AFA’s 2015 Female Excellence in Advice Winner Sharon Walker, who concluded an inspiring presentation with this sage advice: “In 20 years’ time, you are more likely to regret the things you didn’t do, not the things you did do.”

What did I want to do at 20 that I have done? It’s not the title of the job, it’s not the money (although it is important) it’s the ability to live the life I want – travel in comfort, enjoy the arts, and live a relatively carefree life with friends and family.

For your clients it’s important to understand their goals, and help them understand them too so that you have measures of success that will make sense to them and keep them on track. It’s not always about growing and protecting money. It’s about having choices and living the life they want.

If they have aspirations to study further, send children to private schools, travel widely – make sure they plan for it. Life’s too short for regrets.

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