Wisdom For Your Future Self

We Monday morning quarterback our lives. We look back with wistful wisdom, “if I only knew then what I know now.” No question, experience is a wise teacher.

“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.”
~ Confucius

And so, we seek out mentors and the wisdom of those who’ve gone before to accelerate our journey and hopefully side stepping a few boulders rolling our way. Necessary, but not sufficient.

At the end of the day, the journey is ours.

What if we could talk to our future selves with similar, compassionate wisdom? What do we know deep within, that we must tell ourselves today and tomorrow. Consider what the you of tomorrow will wish you had known (or done) today.

“What wisdom would you give the you of 10 years from now?”.

This provocative question, was posed by Alex Barker in our Leadership Dojo interview.

As I replayed the show and listed to my own “advice,” I was struck by the tension between what I would tell my past and future selves, which of course is the cocktail of advice I need most today. Weird in stereo.

You can listen to the podcast here: Play | Download

But that’s my story. Much more interested in yours. Let’s have some Friday fun in the Let’s Grow Leaders Community. Comment on any or all of the following provocative questions.

  • What advice would you give your younger self?
  • What wisdom would you tell the you of 10 years from now?
  • What wisdom is your heart telling you today?
Posted in Authenticity & Transparency and tagged , , , , .

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt, Founder of Let’s Grow Leaders, helps leaders around the world achieve breakthrough results, without losing their soul. A former Verizon Wireless executive, she has over two decades of experience in sales, customer service, and HR. She was recently named on Inc's list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers and American Management Association's 50 Leaders to Watch. She’s the author of 3 books: Winning Well: A Manager's Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul, Overcoming an Imperfect Boss, and Glowstone Peak.


  1. I wish Alex had asked me that question…

    On second thought, I’m glad he didn’t because I would have drawn a blank and then faked a bad connection and hung up 🙂

    I’ve never personally used it, but this site seems cool: http://www.futureme.org/

    You can write a letter to future you.

    Maybe it’s the day you got a new job and want to remind yourself how blessed you are a year from now. Or maybe it’s the day your child is born. Or maybe your spouse walked out and you want to remind yourself how strong you were that day. I don’t know how one would use it but it seems cool.

    As for me, if I were to use it today, I would remind myself of how yesterday at 3pm, my 2 1/2 year old daughter called and asked if I would go to a certain store and then eat with her and mommy. In my mind, I was racing through all of the things I had to do and all of the money I would leave on the table if I did.

    But I said yes. And it was worth it. I stayed up until 12:30 am finishing my work and I am exhausted today as a result, but I would remind myself that memories are created when loved ones call and I answered.

    • Matt, Beautiful. Thanks or sharing your story. Love the idea of a letter. I’ve had my team write letters to themselves at the beginning of the year as if it were the end of the year. Powerful stuff. I like the idea of a letter with a longer view.

  2. Great stuff Karin! I’ll have to circle back and listen to the podcast.

    In the meantime, I’m reminded of something from last week during some time off. I was actually considering burying a time capsule in our yard. I have a two year old and six year old. Lately, I’ve been realizing just how quickly my time with them is passing. I felt the need to do something special to commemorate this precious time we have together. I really need to do this!!!

    As for what I would say or write to myself…I would tell myself to focus on the eternal. Let go of my selfish ways. Learn short-term sacrifice for long-term gain. Be patient. Be faithful.

  3. Another thought provoking question.
    I’m 57, so looking back ten years and looking forward ten years are really great exercises.
    Looking back and talking to the 47 year old Bill, with two sons in high school.
    Be Patient, you are building a great future. You are laying the groundwork now for the things you want to do, the things you must do. Build strong alliances, they will come in very handy.

    Looking forward to the 67 year old Bill:
    Finish well. Make sure you are moving aside with grace, to let younger people lead.Make sure you are not just repeating those old war stories that are like treasured mementos from your journey. Help those coming along behind you build their story. Nameste.
    Great reflective question.
    We had an ice storm in Dallas, I’m here by myself. So this was great food for thought.

    • Bill, I am about 10 years behind you. . And your advice to your 47 year-old sounds about spot on for me 😉 Thanks for that. Finish well, wonderful.

  4. Great post! I ask myself this all the time, what could I have done in my youth to make myself a better person today? The answer is always not much because every single second and every single minute of your day, you are creating history, your story. All the experiences of your life you couldn’t change because that’s what makes you, you.

    • Sam, so true. If we changed the things we know didn’t end well, we would have missed the learnings and the depth of our story. Fantastic addition and insights.

  5. Hi, Karin – great questions:)

    “What advice would you give your younger self?”

    … just breathe. It’s going to be okay.

    “What wisdom would you tell the you of 10 years from now?”

    .. just breathe. It’s going to be okay.

    “What wisdom is your heart telling you today?”

    .. just breathe. It’s going to be okay.

    While some may comment on my obvious laziness, I really do think this is the best advice then, now, and into the future, whatever it may hold for me. The reality here is that my younger self would not listen to my more detailed and wise advice, my older self will be dealing with things I cannot begin to foresee, and I sometimes find reminding myself of this simple mantra is a daily “to do”.

    Breathing in and out slowly and deeply:)


    • John, oh breathing in and out, wonderful advice for any age. I particularly wish I could have told my teenage self that. Beautiful, beautiful addition. Thank you.

  6. I love stopping by at the end of the day so I can read all of the beautiful comments. Well, sometimes I read the post early, reflect and come back later to read more comments. This post is so nice. Being able to “reflect” and “hope” are such treasures. I found some humor, some wisdom and lots of compassion. It really is going to be okay! I’m picking one question. My heart today, asks me to avoid the stress and clutter of trying to figure everything out. Sometimes it just “is” and that’s perfectly fine. I enjoyed the audio of today as well. How did you respond so quickly to the LIVE questions within that podcast? Matt and I would have faked a bad connection and hung up, that was priceless. I “figured out” (there I go again) that when it comes from the heart, there is no need for pause. Reality is so eloquent. Thanks Karin!

  7. Alma, Thanks so much for your wonderful comment. “Sometimes it just is.” How true. I had dinner with a friend facing so many scary things… and she said almost those same words. There was such peace in that. And from peace, you can find solutions.

  8. Karin,

    An important to ask and one we often ignore. My self-advice would be to really understand what is important in life (e.g., money and stuff, money and position, purpose and relationships, purpose and learning, etc.). There are so many trade-offs in life, and spending more time early on to really discern what is important is vital.

    My other self-advice would be to never let tough choices slide. Make them in a timely way. If you don’t a troubled snowball gains momentum, creating havoc down the path.

    Thanks for instigating a great conversation of insight!


    • Jon, powerful additions. Thanks so much. At any age, really thinking about what’s important is so important. i hear you on the tough choices sliding. Been there.

  9. I would tell my younger self, It is OK to remember your past but always stay connected to the good things that make up the best part of Who you are and apply them to every day life.

  10. To Past Self:
    1. Go tell Grandpa he was right- on pretty much EVERYTHING!
    2. Reward loyalty but don’t expect it in return. Stay alert; things have changed.
    3. You know all the grief you’re catching for thinking differently & challenging the status quo? That’s actually encouraged now! They call it innovation!

    To Future Self:
    1. You should’ve listened to your past self more.
    2. Don’t allow your future success displace your moral compass.

    1. My veracious ambition is beginning to give way to “the most important things in life” just as I’ve been told it would. Must be getting wiser!

    • Will, Oh I wish I could’ve met your grandpa. “stay alert.” Excellent. Love the bit on the moral compass. Such powerful comments. Thanks for sharing. Great to have you in the community.

  11. This is a spectacular post. Very thought provoking and motivating. My ten year younger self would benefit in knowing that you begin investing in your own future as early as you wish. My ten year older self might be helped to be told not to become stagnant. Right now I’m convinced to run faster, and seize moments of wisdom and reflection. Thanks for an inspiring post as usual, Karin!

  12. I think about this frequently….I would tell my younder self (and my younger friends/peers/mentees)…find something that you are passionate about and go for it! Do something that is fullfilling and that makes a difference….trust your instincts, they are usually right, explore yourself more….the earlier the better. Health, family and friends are the most important. Wisdom for my future….speak up, keep going if it makes you feel good, balance in life is critical (take the hint now)….be happy. What a great post!

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