“Life is not a checklist” — A Letter To My Younger Self

I attended the B.I.G. Summer Summit in July in Ringwood, NJ. What a beautiful day on so many levels. I had the pleasure of hearing Ellyn Spragin speak about the contributors to her book series, “Letters to My Younger Self – Letters from Extraordinary Women to their Younger Selves.” Ellyn was fabulous and her books are inspiring. She invited us to write a letter of our own. Below is the letter I wrote to my 25-year old self that she posted on her website today. Thank you to the women of B.I.G. for a glorious day, to Ellyn for what has been a moving experience for me and to all who taught me what I wrote below. Below is the posting from Ellyn’s website.

This letter is from Lisa Rangel, the Managing Director of Chameleon Resumes and an attendee of the B.I.G. Summer Summit in July in Ringwood, NJ. The messages seem as pertinent to me today as to a 25-year-old, the age Lisa has chosen to write to herself.

Thank you for your wisdom, Lisa! I’m going to work especially hard on “asking for help is not a sign of incompetence.”

Dear 25-year old Lisa,

You are about to embark on a journey that will be filled with love, success and accomplishment. Most of the aspirations you have will come to be. There will be a few things that surprise you, so I would like to give you some insight to help you make the journey smoother and much more enjoyable as you proceed.

Life is not a checklist. Enjoy the ride—and the arrival. Each time I had a significant positive moment, like marriage, birth of the two kids, house purchase, and promotions at work, I did not appreciate the ride to getting to that place. In fact, I look back and realize I did not really take that time to savor the moment while it was taking place. Stop thinking about how it looks to others and what you need to do next. The to-do list is always going to be there. Don’t think you are ever going to complete it, where only then can you enjoy yourself…you will end up missing a lot of time enjoying life.

Don’t worry about the peanut gallery…I realize now no one is looking at me, they are just as self-absorbed as I am and not focused on what my life looks like. They are worrying and fretting about their own. Knowing this now, I realize how much energy I expended on worrying what others thought—plus the added effort of ensuring I looked like I did not care. Oy! I think I could have powered a small city with all of the energy I spent on this. Need proof on this? Think of your current colleagues, friends and neighbors…how much to you think about their life, what it looks like, what they are thinking, what you think of them, etc…not much, eh? Yes, there is the occasional gossip session or the voyeuristic peak on Facebook, but overall we are spending much more time obsessing about our own life…others are no different. So stop thinking of what other people think of you because, frankly, they aren’t. Use that energy for good.

Asking for and receiving help is not a sign of incompetence. The more your responsibilities increase at home and at work, you will find it ever-challenging to juggle it all. And they will increase. There are those that you think are juggling it all successfully, but you must know they have help…or they are on track for a mental breakdown. You will find it is not sustainable to try to do and learn everything yourself without assistance. Asking for other’s insight, expertise, help, etc is the key to getting it all done successfully. Others will not think you are incompetent if you ask their opinion or say “I don’t know how to do this, how would you do it?”—in face most will think the opposite of you–that you have the confidence to be vulnerable. Often you will have a more enriched experience by bringing in the outside knowledge into your journey.

God wants you to have good things in your life. And you deserve it. You will often have rewards come your way resulting from your hard work and resiliency to stick with tough initiatives. Know that you deserve it and that you are not self-centered if you demonstrates humbly that you are enjoying the fruits of your labors. You will always continue to help others less fortunate, but you do not have to feel guilty because you were blessed in a specific way where it appears others may not have. First, don’t assume others are not blessed—just because you cannot see it does not mean it is not happening for them. Secondly, you will have your own set of setbacks and hardships as you progress through life—so take your gifts when and where you can knowing that God wants you to have good experiences in your life.

With love from 40-year old Lisa

Written by Lisa Rangel, Executive Resume Writer

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