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40 Things I Wish I Could Tell My Younger Self

From celebrities to scientists, doctors to artists, we asked some very successful people to share what they wish they had known when they were younger. You and your kids get all the great advice—no time machine needed!

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01_Don't leave vacation days unusedcourtesy Thomas Ryan Redcorn

Don’t leave vacation days unused

“Ever since I decided to be a lawyer, I pursued that goal with total dedication. But looking back on it, I wish I had given myself a bit of a break. I would tell my younger self to not worry so much about climbing the professional ladder so fast. As long as you stay true to your core values and strive to do the best work possible with good intentions then your work will speak for itself and you will be successful. Make time for things outside of work—use every single one of your vacation days! Go on your honeymoon! Work will always be there when you get back.” —Nikki Borchardt Campbell, JD, attorney and Executive Director of the National American Indian Court Judges Association, Paiute and Ute Indian Tribes

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Teddi Mellencampcourtesy Teddi Mellencamp

It’s not about weight, it’s about health

“Growing up, I was a nationally ranked equestrian, so as an athlete who was constantly competing, I was focused on riding rather than what I was putting in my body. But that didn’t mean I had healthy eating habits. And when I went out on my own that came back to haunt me. Moving to Los Angeles alone at 17 led to anxiety, and I let poor food habits comfort me. Yo-yoing between 60- to 80-pound gains, I tried every fad diet out there and while I did lose some weight, it wasn’t in a healthy way. Finally, I decided I needed to get healthy, not skinny. I made a commitment to myself to stop worrying so much about the scale and learn what my body really needs to be healthy and happy. I learned everything I could about fitness and nutrition. Over time I not only lost the extra weight but I was healthier mentally and physically. I wish I could tell my younger self to stop worrying about how others viewed me and focus on what I wanted and needed to feel my best.” —Teddi Mellencamp, co-star of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and founder of All In, a health and wellness company. For more ideas, try these 53 brilliant health tricks you’ll want to make into habits.

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Lacey Adamscourtesy Lacey Adams

Quit tanning

“As a teenager, I desperately wanted a golden tan but as a pale blonde, that wasn’t going to happen naturally. So I did what lots of girls my age did: I would lay out in the sun for hours and used indoor tanning beds regularly—my friend even had one in her house that we both used at least once a week. We just wanted a ‘healthy glow,’ a phrase that makes me want to scream because now I’ve had melanoma not just once but twice. Now I know that tanning beds are one of the biggest risks for all skin cancers, including melanoma, but back then I didn’t have a clue. I just wanted to be ‘beautiful.’ Through the grace of God and excellent doctors, I’m fine now but I wish I could go back and warn my younger self to skip tanning—it’s not worth the risks!” —Lacey Adams, wife of U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams and advocate for skin cancer awareness

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Dawn Burnettcourtesy Dawn Burnett

Spend your money on experiences, not things

“One thing I’ve learned through my own experiences and through helping my clients is that memories are far more important than things. Growing up, like a lot of young adults, I wanted all the fun gadgets and nice clothes my friends had but then I had a life-changing experience when I was hit and nearly killed by a drunk driver. Nearly dying helped me realize the true meaning of life and the importance of time. I wish I could tell myself to spend money on experiences and live as a minimalist in regards to stuff. Things break and get lost, we sell them for pennies on the dollar, yet time is something we can never get back, and memories last a lifetime.” —Dawn Burnett, CSA, therapist, divorce coach and author

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Judi Sheppard Missettcourtesy Judi Sheppard Missett

Listen to your intuition

“From a young age, we are often taught to listen to others and prioritize their opinions over our own. But I’ve learned through decades of being a successful businesswoman that no one knows me better than me. I’d tell my younger self to listen to her own instincts and intuition, go with her gut. It’s still important to use your head when making decisions but don’t discount the feelings in your heart. Then I’d tell her that once she’s decided on what’s best for her, to pursue that dream with passion guts, grit, gumption, and, most importantly, grace.” —Judi Sheppard Missett, Founder and CEO of Jazzercise

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Cameron Hillcourtesy Cameron Hill

Procrastination is your biggest enemy

“When I was younger I believed that I did my best work under pressure—what a joke! In reality, I was using this thinking as an excuse to delay important, meaningful work in exchange for the dopamine hit that comes from checking less important things off my to-do list. If I could go back, I’d tell my younger self to schedule distraction-free, focused time on the most critical priorities and hold it sacred. This means no email, no phone, and definitely no multitasking. Block this time as early as possible in your day. Another trick I’d tell myself is to set deadlines far ahead of the actual due date—then enjoy the sense of satisfaction that comes from getting the most important things done early and done well.” —Cameron Hill, business coach and Client Partner for FranklinCovey. Here are more secrets to excel at your job.

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Milana Perepyolkinacourtesy Milana Perepyolkina, Gypsy Energy Secrets

Make exercise a priority

“I would tell my younger self to start practicing yoga. I wasn’t super into fitness growing up, it all seemed too intense. But as an adult, I’ve discovered the power of exercise, as much for my mental health as my physical health. I first started going to yoga classes at a local gym to get more flexible but I was surprised to discover that after each class not only was I more limber but I felt a sense of peace and tranquility. I have a stressful job, and going to a yoga class at the end of my day shifted my mood from intense to relaxed. Soon I began craving these yoga classes. I began looking forward to ‘me time’ when all the problems of the world ceased to exist. I just wish I’d discovered it sooner!” —Milana Perepyolkina, author of Dark Chocolate for the Soul: Turning a Bitter Life into a Sweet Life No Matter What Happens to You

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Brydell Cockycourtesy Brydell Cocky

Map out a five-year plan

“I would tell my younger self to have a 5-year plan before graduating high school because I learned the hard way that if you don’t have a plan to follow, you end up going nowhere. The first year after graduation, I basically did nothing. I didn’t know what I wanted for a career, so I ended up working as a custodian for elementary schools. I discovered that this definitely wasn’t what I wanted so I decided to go to college and made a five-year plan to help me accomplish that goal. All the universities I applied to turned me down so I went to community college instead. I’m doing great now but not being prepared meant I got slapped in the face with reality and ended up wasting a lot of time.” —LaQuan “Brydell Cocky” Wilson, comedian, actor, and social media personality

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BrettCourtesy Brett Helling

You have to fail before you can succeed

“I started out as an Uber driver. Today I own my own company, Ridester, a ridesharing information company. For people who only know me as I am today, it might seem like I had an easy career path. It was anything but. I had to go through a lot of difficult times and failed businesses before I found the one that took off. But I didn’t succeed in spite of those failures, I succeeded because of them. I wish I could tell my younger self not to be afraid of failing and to embrace it. You have to experience failure and rejection because that’s how you learn and improve. Failure is an inevitable part of life and your career.” —Brett Helling, serial entrepreneur and CEO of Ridester

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Farringtoncourtesy Robert Farrington

Start saving for your retirement as early as you can

“The biggest thing I wish I could go back and tell my younger self is to max out my 401k contribution starting when I was first eligible. Lots of people will tell you to contribute the amount your employer will match but no one told me I could—and should—contribute more than that. So, for years, I contributed just 5 percent of my salary. Of course, any amount put in a retirement account is great but I could have been saving much more money! It’s hard to think about retirement when you’re young and first starting your career but that’s actually the best time to think about it because you can start saving more earlier.” —Robert Farrington, financial expert and founder of The College Investor. In addition, check out these 9 common retirement mistakes people make.

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Rune Sovndahlcourtesy Rune Sovndahl

Accepting help doesn’t mean you’re weak

“A common mistake I’ve noticed most entrepreneurs, including myself, have made at the beginning of their business set-up is trying to do everything ourselves. When I launched my company I couldn’t afford the luxury of hiring experts and paying for their services. It helped my business but the long sleepless nights took a toll on my personal life. Plus it made me rigid; I’d gotten used to doing things in a certain way and I had to learn that may not always be the best way. Connecting with other experts and accepting help only makes you and your business stronger.” —Rune Sovndahl, CEO and co-founder of Fantastic Services

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damon daril nailer Courtesy Damon Nailer

It’s OK to be selfish sometimes

“I would tell my younger self that it’s important to be a little selfish. It’s great to be generous and compassionate and help others, but make sure to take care of yourself first. Meeting your mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical needs are of utmost importance. Before you assist others, you must first look after yourself because you can only reproduce what is already produced in you. In essence, you can only give what you already have, and your input determines your output. Remember: blessed people bless people; healed people heal people; inspired people inspire people; and educated people educate people.” —Damon DaRil Nailer, life coach, author and educator

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Vid Lamontecourtesy Vid Lamonte Buggs Jr

Cut out toxic relationships

“Something I wish I’d known when I was younger is how much negative people will drain your energy and time—and those are limited resources so you should save them for the stuff that’s really important to you and will help you grow. I’d tell myself to stop hanging around people who are negative, waste time complaining instead of trying to change, or pull others down. It can be hard to cut ties, especially if that person has been in your life for a long time, but cutting out toxic relationships is one of the best things you can do for yourself.” —Vid Lamonté Buggs Jr., athlete, entrepreneur, and author

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Paige Arnof-Fenncourtesy Paige Arnof-Fenn

School isn’t the end of your education

“Like a lot of kids, I couldn’t wait to be done with school and start ‘real’ life! It didn’t take long before I realized that finishing formal school was not the end of my education. I wish I could tell my younger self that you will be a student for the rest of your life so never stop learning new things. The best part of this is that you get to learn stuff you’re really interested in, and the grades don’t matter anymore. Be a sponge for knowledge and learn now to enjoy the learning process.” —Paige Arnof-Fenn, founder and CEO of Mavens & Moguls. These educational quotes can inspire a love of learning.

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kari Lichtensteincourtesy Kari H. Lichtenstein

Don’t let being in a relationship make you forget yourself

“I would tell my younger self that within a marriage it is important to maintain independence and to continue to be an individual. I think too many people lose their sense of self which they later regret because they have missed out on friendships, experiences, careers, and interests to be part of a couple. While it is wonderful to be in a marriage, I believe it is also crucial to preserve a sense a self within a marriage.” —Kari H. Lichtenstein, founding partner of Stutman, Stutman & Lichtenstein, an NYC-based matrimonial law firm

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Keltie Knightcourtesy Keltie Knight

Be forgiving of yourself and others

“I’m a firm believer that you only have 100 percent to give every day, not 110 percent. Some days I am 80 percent ‘worker,’ 10 percent ‘healthy eater,’ and 9 percent ‘friend,’ with only 1 percent left over for ‘wife.’ But other days I’m 90 percent ‘wife.’ I wish I could tell my younger self that you just can’t be everything to everyone, every single day! You’ll burn out. I’ve learned to forgive myself on the days my percentages are unbalanced and to be forgiving of others as well.” —Keltie Knight, “Entertainment Tonight” correspondent and host of “The Ladygang” on E! 

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Nathan Hallcourtesy Nathan Hall

Being busy isn’t an accomplishment

“This world glorifies being busy and has a narrow definition of success, so it becomes all too easy to prioritize everything else. We see extreme self-sacrifice as a badge of honor. As a mother and entrepreneur, I’ve totally fallen into this trap in the past, thinking that I need to put everyone else’s needs first. So I would tell my younger self to always make time for those things that bring me the most joy, whether that’s a hobby or a relationship or something else. In fact, I see my current business as a gift to my younger self and to other women to not be afraid to put their happiness first. —Carla Birnberg, CEO and Founder of Your Box Box

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Cheryl Burkecourtesy Cheryl Burke

You’re beautiful the way you are

“Growing up doing competitive dance, I was always judged on my performances. Often, judgment about my body type and physique went hand in hand with that. If I could, I would go back to the first time I ever felt bad about myself because of what others said about my body, and tell myself that their opinions don’t matter. The only person who should have an opinion about your body is you. If you define your beauty by other people’s standards you’ll never feel good enough, but if you learn to love yourself, you can’t go wrong.” —Cheryl Burke, professional dancer on “Dancing With The Stars”

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Catherine BosleyCourtesy Catherine Bosley

One bad decision will not ruin your life (even if it feels like at the time)

“If there’s one piece of advice I’d give the younger me it would be to understand that success in life is about your body of choices as opposed to one good or bad one. In this day of digital everything, it can feel like everyone is watching you and one wrong move can derail the entire trajectory of your life—but in reality, actions are cumulative. I learned this the hard way when some pictures I thought were private ended up online, sparking a national controversy, humiliation, and cyber-bullying. I thought I was finished. But then I found the strength to rise above it and fight back. I found that mistakes can force you to make other choices that can open up bigger opportunities. On the other hand, one “good” choice, does not mean “good” is here to stay. It takes mindful and constant decision making, failures, and achievements, to acquire overall success and happiness. This means lamenting or celebrating any one choice as if it is the ‘end all or be all’—like I’ve done too many times in my life—is a waste of energy and time.” —Catherine Bosley, veteran TV anchor and reporter and TEDx speaker

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Shervin RoohparvarCourtesy Sharief Z.

Try new things, especially if you think you won’t like them

“If I could go back in time to my younger self, I would demand that I step outside of my comfort zone more often! I would encourage myself to take part in activities and adventures that my initial reaction is to avoid. Eat new foods! Travel to different countries! Meet people different than yourself! During the times I’ve felt the most discomfort, I ended up learning the most. I was able to absorb the best lessons and knowledge from a different perspective. This is why traveling is so important, it helps you see and learn from an unknown, and also appreciate what you’ve taken for granted previously. ” —Shervin Roohparvar, tech entrepreneur, producer and TV personality on Bravo TV’s Shahs of Sunset.

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Tanya SamCourtesy Tanya Sam

‘Done’ is better than ‘perfect but unfinished’

“Growing up, I would perseverate over making things perfect. I come from a very academic and medial family which meant everyone had degrees to back up their expertise and opinions. Because I didn’t feel as qualified as they were, I would hold myself back and decline opportunities. I finally learned that there are different kinds of smart and that having a drive and will to get things done is just as important. Half the battle is just raising your hand and sticking your neck out there with something—anything. It doesn’t need to be perfect, just make it happen.” —Tanya Sam, Real Housewife of Atlanta personality and Director of Partnerships at TechSquare Labs. 

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claudia christianCourtesy cthreefoundation.org

Stay away from alcohol

“If I could advise my younger self, I would tell her to be very wary of the lure of alcohol and to educate herself about the realities of addiction. I’ve learned that some people are more genetically prone to alcohol use disorder and after researching my genetics and family history, I discovered I’m one of those people. I struggled with alcoholism for ten years before getting sober in 2009. I also wish I could tell her to refrain from drinking before her brain is fully developed as drinking prior to that can also lead to developing alcohol use disorder. This can be hard, especially for younger people, so I would encourage her to seek out relationships with people who live healthy lives and who love and respect their bodies.” —Claudia Christian, TV actress and founder of C Three Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness for treating alcohol use disorder

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Carol LempertCourtesy Carol Lempert

Define yourself by your actions, not your title

“I wish I could tell my younger self that a happy life isn’t about becoming a noun—’actor,’ ‘vice president,’ ‘CEO’—it’s about living life with as many verbs as possible. What I mean by that is that I find so much more meaning from things like helping, learning, and serving, than I ever did from being an ‘actress’ or ‘entrepreneur.’ Being able to see myself as more than my title helped me transition from a career I loved on television to a new and exciting career as a leadership development expert because my identity was based on things I did, not what I called myself.” —Carol Lempert, actress, speaker, author, and leadership consultant

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Courtesy Kristyn borreroCourtesy CT3

Don’t be afraid to take big risks

“I started my career 25 years ago as a middle school math and science teacher. I loved my job but I wanted to be able to help more students, beyond those in my classroom. I took a risk and decided to go into educational administration, becoming one of the most successful ‘turnaround’ principals in California. The current thought of holding teachers and administrations accountable for everything can make some people afraid to take risks, choosing instead to stick with the status quo. And I definitely made mistakes! But with each risk I took, I learned from it, adapted, and grew. I knew I had the potential to transform classrooms and bring more opportunities for our young people so the risk was worth it. It’s not about doing crazy things; take calculated risks by setting clear, visible goals and holding high expectations for yourself and others.” —Kristyn Klei Borrero, Ed.D., CEO of CT3 and author of Every Student, Every Day: A No-Nonsense Nurturer® Approach to Reaching All Learners

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Liz JeneaultCourtesy Liz Jeneault, Faveable.com

Believe in yourself first and then others will too

“While I’m confident and secure with myself now, I definitely wasn’t that way when I first started out as a news anchor and show host. I would second guess myself all the time! When I first started doing live shots as a reporter, I would get so nervous that it would make me mess up more. I even forgot what I was saying while live on air a couple of times. I was so worried about letting people down or making a fool of myself. I really found my groove after working in the news industry for about four years. At that point, I felt comfortable on the anchor desk and didn’t fear interviewing high-profile politicians anymore. I realized that I got to that point by believing in myself. It may sound a bit cliche but there’s real power in telling yourself ‘Hey, you got this!’ It’s easy to worry about what others are thinking of you and get wound up in that. Focus on what you can do, remember what you’ve learned, and trust your instincts. Because, hey, you got this!” —Liz Jeneault, Emmy-nominated former TV news anchor and show host and VP of marketing for Faveable.com

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Allison BruningCourtesy Allison Bruning

Just because you want something doesn’t mean it’s good for you

“I spent a lot of time when I was younger being frustrated that things didn’t always work out the way I wanted them to. As I got older, I began to realize that I couldn’t always see the bigger picture and learned that just because I wanted something didn’t mean it would be good for me (or others). I would tell my younger self to slow down, take a deep breath, and look at every situation through the eyes of everyone involved. Sometimes, we can become so frustrated and closed off to the world that we miss the blessings. And sometimes we don’t understand why something we had wanted right then wasn’t in our best interest until years have passed and we can look back on the situation with fresh eyes.” —Allison Bruning, MFA, author, screenwriter, and publisher

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adam coleCourtesy Adam Cole

Doing the right thing won’t always feel good. Do it anyhow.

“When I was younger, I had a lot of anxiety and I took that as a sign that what I was doing wasn’t the right thing. Since then I’ve learned that I can’t let my fear or worry stop me from doing things. I’m always going to be anxious, that’s just part of who I am. Instead of trying to structure my life so I’m never worried, I’ve learned to adapt. I wish I could tell younger me, ‘Hey, your anxiety isn’t going to go away when you do the right things. Instead, you’re going to get better at living with it. Don’t think you’re a failure when you still feel anxious, because the sense of failure will only make the anxiety worse. You’re doing great!'” —Adam Cole, jazz musician, and author

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Dr Froswa' Booker-DrewCourtesy Dr Froswa' Booker-Drew

Say “no” more often

“I used to be a yes (wo)man. I said yes to relationships that took more than they gave. I said yes to business partners who cheated me. I was so into saying yes to people, that I even helped people who didn’t ask for my help! I thought my assistance would make a difference to all these people but eventually, I realized they didn’t really want my advice, they wanted to use me as a crutch. I’ve learned that it’s OK to trust my gut, put myself first, and say ‘no’ sometimes!” —Froswa’ Booker-Drew, Ph.D., author of Rules of Engagement: Making Connections Last and featured in the documentary Friendly Captivity. Here is some advice to help you say no without feeling like everyone is going to hate you.

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Raz RogovskyCourtesy Raz Rogovsky

It’s OK to have “unrealistic” dreams

“When I was doing my Master’s degree in college, I first picked communications because I absolutely loved it. But then people started to tell me it wasn’t a good way to make a living and very few people actually succeed in that field. I came from a family where people had ‘real’ jobs and so I decided I needed to pick something more realistic. I changed my major to psychology, eventually getting both a master’s and PhD in it. But when I started my career I was drawn back to what I loved: communications. Now I spend my days doing research, teaching, and attending conferences where I meet really smart people. And I’m quite successful and happy! Had I dared to follow my dream in the first place, I could have skipped some hardships along the way.” —Talya Miron-Shatz, Ph.D., CEO of Buddy&Soul

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Carole LiebermanCourtesy Carole Lieberman, M.D.

It’s not just what you know, it’s who you know

“When I was younger I would prefer to study or work on projects by myself. It was just easier not having to deal with others! But I’ve learned that in the real world, being able to work with and collaborate with others isn’t just nice, it’s an essential life skill. I would advise my younger self to pay more attention to reaching out and making friends, learning how to establish and maintain good relationships.” —Carole Lieberman, M.D., celebrity psychiatrist, Emmy-nominated TV personality, radio and podcast host, author and speaker

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RiyadhCourtesy Riyadh Riyadh

What you hate about yourself now may end up being your best quality

“When I was younger, I absolutely hated that I was gay. That breaks my heart now because accepting my sexuality and living authentically has lead to all this amazing stuff, including incredible life opportunities, love, romance, and mind-blowing experiences I never imagined before. I wish I could tell younger me to just live unapologetically and stop resisting the real you. Stop trying to conform to what you think is ‘normal.’ Bleed life dry for all it is worth, laugh and play and experiment and explore and own your identity. Walk through those corridors with your little gay head held high knowing that you’re so original, so different and so destined for greatness.” — Riyadh Khalaf, journalist, LGBTQ+ advocate, and author of Yay! You’re Gay! Now what?

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Jenny Grant Rankin, Ph.D.Michael Walker/Courtesy Jenny Grant Rankin, Ph.D.

Don’t get bogged down in the daily grind

“Several years ago I was working as a psychologist and loved TED talks. I wished I could do one but you have to be invited and it seemed like such a big dream and so out of reach! Then I decided to just do a TEDx Talk, something anyone can do. My Talk became so popular that it made it on to TED’s website as a TED Talk. That single achievement opened many career doors for me. It wasn’t until my 40s that I thought to reach for such opportunities. I was so bogged down in my current work responsibilities that I didn’t carve out time to pursue bigger dreams. I wish I could tell my younger self to not get so caught up in the little daily stuff that I forgot to aim for bigger dreams.” —Jenny Grant Rankin, Ph.D., author, lecturer at University of Cambridge, keynote speaker, and columnist for Psychology Today. Read these success quotes if you need extra motivation to reach your dreams.

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Adrian DoloCourtesy Adrian Dolo

Start saving young

“As an adult, I understand the importance of savings; as a kid, I loved blowing my cash. I wish I could tell my younger self to save most of the money I got from birthdays and other gifts and put it in a savings account. After it has compounded after five to seven years then I would be able to use it to invest in all the dreams and ideas I had when I was younger. A savings account means you don’t need help from others to achieve your dreams and no one will ever believe your dreams as much as you—at least until it becomes reality.” —Adrian Dolo, entrepreneur and host of the podcast Hipster: The Mid-Night HourSteal these tips about saving money from the world’s most successful people.

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Allen KleinCourtesy Allen Klein

Don’t compare yourself to others, your journey is your journey

“Ever since I was seven years old and saw my first Broadway show, I wanted to be a scenic designer, the person who made those pretty stage pictures. I thought I’d achieved my dream when I got into Yale Drama School to study stage design but after a year, I was asked to leave. They basically told me that I had no talent. I was devastated. I left Yale and went back to New York City where I learned my craft working on off-Broadway shows, apprenticing in summer stock, and failing my first attempt at passing a very stringent union test. It was so frustrating seeing others succeed at my dream while I struggled so much. But I kept at it and passed the second time and I got into the scenic design union. Shortly after I was hired by CBS television where I embarked on my decades-long career. I got to design many TV shows including Captain Kangaroo, The Merv Griffin Show, and The Jackie Gleason Show. Then I realized that while I—the kid who had ‘no talent’—was designing shows on national television, my fellow classmates were still at school designing college productions. I would tell myself to keep trying, don’t compare yourself to others, and everything will work out for the best.” —Allen Klein, aka “Mr. Jollytologist”®, scene designer, TEDx speaker, and author

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Daisy JingCourtesy Daisy Jing

Focus on being successful, not looking successful

“Ever since I was young, my dream was to have a designer handbag, like the ones you always see celebrities carrying. They can be thousands of dollars but they seemed so glamorous and a symbol that you had really ‘made it.’ So after my business took off, I decided to finally buy my dream designer handbag. As soon as I got it I realized it definitely wasn’t worth the price. It was pretty but so hard to maintain and ever since then I decided to stop buying things for their external value. I would tell myself that a lot of times things that seem prestigious or fancy don’t really offer any value beyond being a status symbol—and I don’t need status symbols to show I’m successful. My work speaks for itself.” —Daisy Jing, Founder and CEO of Banish skincare, vlogger, and one of Forbes’ “30 Under 30”

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Mimi Guarneri, MDCourtesy Mimi Guarneri, MD

Your body is your greatest gift, take care of it

“Too often we are tempted to put our health on the backburner, putting it behind all of our other responsibilities but that can have serious consequences—something I see regularly as a cardiologist. I wish I could tell my younger self how very important it is to take good care of your physical body: eat a plant-based diet and practice yoga and meditation daily. I do these things now, but it would have been even better had I started them at a younger age.” —Mimi Guarneri, MD, Integrative Cardiologist, author, and President of the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine

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Jill FairchildCourtesy Jill Fairchild

Hard work is so much more important than talent

“Being an artist was my dream as long as I could remember and as a child I drew, painted, and created things in every spare moment. But then, as a young college student, I went to a student art showing and was blown away by the sheer talent of the other artists. I thought their work was so beautiful and they were so much more talented than I was, so clearly I could never be a ‘real’ artist. I changed my major and pursued other interests. Then, a few years ago, I decided to take up painting again, just for fun. I had a huge realization: Sure those other artists had talent but I was only seeing the end result of what was likely hours and hours of hard work, not to mention years of honing their skills. I could make beautiful things too, I just had to put the work in. I started painting three times a week, no matter what, then every day. I started my own painting business and now not only do I get to do what I love but I get to help others discover their own beauty. I wish I could go back and tell younger me to stick with it—talent doesn’t make you an artist, it’s what you do with your talent that makes you an artist.” —Jill Fairchild, artist, co-host of the Self Help Obsession podcast

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Jason DundasCourtesy Dundas Media

You won’t always have the luxury of time, so make the most of it now

“Being young gives you the luxury of time but because you’re young, you often don’t realize what an amazing gift that is. When you’re living at your parents’ place, with next to zero expenses, that is the best time to try any idea that comes to mind. You have the freedom to do whatever you want, you have little risk, and plenty of time to bounce back from failure. Also, if most of your friends think your idea is wack, then this means you’re onto something great. Ideas come to us all the time, but once you are stuck in the grind of ‘life’ there is no time to try and execute them. Go hard!” —Jason Dundas, special correspondent for CBS’ Entertainment Tonight, television presenter, and director of Dundas Media

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Kyra BussanichCourtesy Kyra Bussanich

There will always be a solution but it may not always be obvious

“After being diagnosed with a debilitating autoimmune disease, I had to eliminate all gluten from my diet. It felt devastating as I wanted to have my cake (and other baked goods) and eat it too! Over time, I made it my mission to make food that would be every bit as delicious as gluten-heavy items, not just adequate substitutions. In utilizing my Le Cordon Bleu degree, I found a way to do just that and opened my own bakery, Kyra’s Bake Shop. I also had the honor of participating in and winning the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars (which, notably, is not a gluten-free competition). I wish I would tell my younger self that a ‘setback’ is just a state of mind, and can lead to new, incredible opportunities.” —Kyra Bussanich, four-time winner of the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, professional chef and owner of Kyra’s Bake Shop

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James MurrayCourtesy Elena Stokes

Stop to think before acting

“Kids are notoriously impulsive—I sure was and probably still am. It’s likely part of how I got on Tru TV’s Impractical Jokers in the first place. But as I’ve gotten older, some very smart people have taught me a few life lessons that I wish I knew when I was younger. The big thing is to take time to think about all aspects of a problem before rushing in. Ask yourself three things: 1) What is everybody presuming to be true here? 2) What is the framework within which everyone is operating? 3) What are the unspoken rules to which everyone is adhering? Answering those questions trains you to think differently to solve anything life throws at you. The second thing I wish I could tell my younger self is to treasure your hair! Because, as they say, hair today, gone tomorrow.” —James Murray, TV actor, producer, and author of The BrinkLearn the things wildly successful people do every day.