Top 10 Things I Wish I Could Tell Myself 10 Years Ago

by Robb Sutton

Last week was my birthday. Around every time this year, I take a look at my life and take somewhat of an inventory of where I have been, where I want to go and how I am going to get there with the knowledge I have learned from the past. I guess you could call it my personal fiscal year for lack of a better word.

But, this year hit me a little bit differently. I turned 30.

While it is just another year just like any other, I think it is natural to use the ages that end in 0 to look at the past decade to see how things have gone. I have always operated under the assumption that we can not get better without learning from our mistakes, so I tend to look at what I have done wrong more closely than the successes.

Then I started thinking, if I could grab a hold of the 20 year old me…what would I say? Well…here is exactly what I would say to the 20 year old Robb Sutton.

Top 10 Things I Wish I Could Tell Myself 10 Years Ago

  1. Hang out with people that make you want to be better.
  2. Get busy doing something. The world is full of grand ideas with no action and you learn the most from doing.
  3. Place importance on things that really matter. You will come up against a moment when you would sell off everything you previously thought was important for something that really is.
  4. One day, it will occur to you that your parents are people too.
  5. Think of life in the context of how you want to live…not how much money you want to make.
  6. These are not the “best years of your life”. Life is really just beginning.
  7. Collect experiences. Not stuff.
  8. Time will start to move faster…not slow down. Enjoy each moment.
  9. Take calculated risks when there can be a positive outcome…not ones that get you in nothing but trouble.
  10. Drop the ego. You haven’t done anything yet.

The best thing about this list is that all of them are things that I need to continue to remember over the next 30 years and I am stoked about what is ahead.

17 comments

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17 comments

Melissa Galt December 29, 2011 - 3:19 pm

Hmm, well since I hit 50 this year and it has been a helluva year . . . here is my list of what I’d have said to my 40 year old self:

1) Life is an adventure to be lived, not a problem to be solved.
2) People first, profit second.
3) Don’t wait for others to invite you, reach out to them.
4) It isn’t how many, it’s how hot they are. Numbers don’t matter in networking . . .
5) Ask for help when you need and accept it graciously.
6) There is no destination beyond The Big Dirt Nap, enjoy the journey each and every day.
7) Surround yourself with people better than you who challenge you to grow and become the best you.
8) You are you own greatest solution, stop chasing all the bright shiny opportunities and get out of your way instead.
9) Wherever you go, there you are. Moving doesn’t change you, only you do.
10) Breathe.

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Robb Sutton December 30, 2011 - 12:05 pm

Thanks for your 10 Melissa! I especially like #10.

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Whitney Fretham December 29, 2011 - 9:51 pm

Thank you for this thoughtful post.

At age 24, it’s definitely helpful to here your 30-year reflections. Just last night I was journaling about some of my aspirations career and life-wise, and looked back just a few years in my journal to read through my thoughts. MY how so many things and perspectives can change throughout your 20’s! I can’t wait to see how mine will evolve over the next six years as well.

Thanks again!

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Robb Sutton December 30, 2011 - 12:06 pm

A lot changes over your 20’s. Especially in what you think is important. They are probably the most “growing up” period of our lives where we really figure out where we want to go…or at least try to get an idea.

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Trung Nguyen December 30, 2011 - 8:31 am

Thanks for sharing your thinking about life. It’s really useful for the young man like me. I wish you would do everything better in the next 10 years.

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Robb Sutton December 30, 2011 - 12:06 pm

Sure thing! Good luck with everything!

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Philos Mudis December 30, 2011 - 10:08 am

Thanks for this Robb. I am 21 and I guess I have nine years to tell myself these things starting now.

Sometimes the pursuit of success can really intoxicate the brain. The result is that you can end up chasing and pursuing this shiny thing and realize only too late that there more important things you could have pursued.

Thanks again and I wish you and your family a happy 2011and 2012.

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Robb Sutton December 30, 2011 - 12:07 pm

It can…and it can become obsessive. Ironically, the less I worried about how much I wanted to make and focused more on how I wanted to live, the income rose. Funny how those things work themselves out sometimes.

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Jeff @ Digital Nomad Journey January 1, 2012 - 9:13 pm

#3 and #7 are gold.

Way too many distractions can creep into every day life which prevent us from seeing the big picture and the limited amount of time we have to experience existence.

The more we have – the less experience we can have for the most part. There is only so much money to go around , and the emotional baggage that comes along with stuff can be debilitating.

Another number to add , is not to think so much. Sometimes acting on impulse (in a semi-safe way) is totally worth it!

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Robb Sutton January 6, 2012 - 3:03 pm

I am guilty of over thinking a lot. Things will never be perfect and a lot of times you have zero clue how things will turn out unless you try. Action is always worth it.

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Jeff @ Digital Nomad Journey January 6, 2012 - 3:40 pm

Yes, I agree. I’ve found many times if you just start, things morph and change along the way. And over time, your vision for life/business get’s clearer based on your past failures.

This is coming from someone who can over-think things for months or more, and learning the hard way. 🙂

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Ray January 3, 2012 - 9:21 am

happy birthday rob! I guess when you get older you few that you wasted alot of time in the past. While you’re having fun and partying, you should be spending those precious time in learning and improving yourself. But as a kid. Your mind only functions that way. Until you’re a fully grown adult you’ll come to a point where you realize whats more important in your life.

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Robb Sutton January 6, 2012 - 3:04 pm

Thanks Ray!! I think you have to do that to get it out of your system too. Everyone has that wonder of what it is like (even if it is not good).

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Jeff @ Digital Nomad Journey January 6, 2012 - 3:43 pm

@ Ray – it’s kind of funny, I’ve done the opposite in many respects. I disregarded partying , and starting busting butt at 17. Well, now at 36, I often party harder than some 17 year old people, while working full time, running a few business, and continuing to learn

It’s gotta come out some time!

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Ray January 7, 2012 - 1:03 am

Like many teenagers, we felt invincible when we were younger. Our mind’s are always open for experimenting new things because we felt life is too short. We often aren’t scared of anything when we were younger. Speeding, drugs, and etc… But unless you make that mistake you won’t know the consequences until you been there done that.

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Billy Murphy February 5, 2013 - 11:11 pm

Awesome list Robb! #5 definitely hits home for me.

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Reina Jade July 29, 2013 - 10:43 pm

This is an eye-opener. I just turned 18 and I will really take note of what you’ve shared. I realized that sometimes you are your own enemy.

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