I took a moment today (no small feat, considering it's the first day of the school holidays!) to reflect on the past ten years. So much has happened in that time; some circumstances have been amazing and exciting, others more of a challenge. But hopefully, coming out the other side has made me a little wiser and more mature (well, I'd like to think so, lol!).
I don't think I would have believed it if someone had told me - as a young, newly-graduated, married 24 year-old - that in ten years' time I would be a published novelist (with another manuscript half-completed), happily married to my best friend and with four young children together, and 10 kg lighter.
In that time, I've also had five different jobs, travelled throughout Europe, and moved to a new town by the sea, five hours' drive away.
If I could write a letter to my 24 year-old self, these are some of the points I would include:
1. Try to finish things you start
Following through has never been one of my strong points - from completing my novel (which sat unfinished, with just two chapters to go, for around six years!), to getting around to changing our home internet plan. There always seems to be so many other little, mundane things in life that take up all of my time. But even just spending 15 minutes a day on completing a larger project will get it done eventually - it just requires a little focus.
2. Don't confuse activity with productivity
My life always seems to be very 'full' - four kids, a husband, a part-time job and another novel on the way will do that to you - but over the years I've often found myself busy, but really not getting done any of the things I actually had to do that day. Ever heard the story about the rocks and the sand in the jar? The sand had often been going in first, leaving no room for the rock priorities. This is gradually changing for me, but there's still a long way to go. :)
3. KISS - Keep It Simple, Stupid
Remember how it felt when you first graduated from school or university, when there seemed to be about a zillion things you could do with your life? Here's a tip: pick one. The confusing array of choices these days - from which career to select, to which hobby we want to focus on next, to the flavour of 31-derful different types of icecream in our sundae - can actually lead to inertia. Or procrastination. Or both (trust me - I know a whole heap about the Big 'P').
4. Waste less time
In the number of hours I've spent over the years in mindless frittering - such as leafing through catalogues, watching useless televsion, or poring over almost every word in the weekend newspapers - I'm sure I could have written ten novels by now. Or learnt several languages. Or anything else you care to name that takes oodles of time to accomplish, and is a whole lot more important than the above activities. You get the picture.
5. Don't wait for perfection
There will rarely ever be the perfect time to do something. The very small portion of melancholy in my character likes to have all the details worked out before I launch into something. But I've discovered that the planets align very infrequently, and it's not likely to happen today. So, with that thing you've been thinking of doing, maybe been planning for awhile now? Just do it.
The above snippets of advice are just a few I can think of off the top of my head; I'm sure there are many more (and I'd include them here if it wasn't the first day of the school holidays ;) ).
So, tell me: what 'pearls of wisdom' would you tell your younger self? Share it on my Facebook page.