Back to the Future: 50 Things I’d Tell My Younger Self

This year I celebrate the 50th anniversary of my birth. The big 5-0. It feels like a big milestone in my life as I reflect on where I am. As I approach my 50th birthday, I have been reflecting pretty intently on the first forty-nine years of my life. Even with all of the blessings in my life, there are many things that I wish I could tell my younger self because I made a lot of costly mistakes. If I only had it to do over again, some things would be very different. Here are the top 50 things I wish I could now tell my younger self.

I am so tremendously blessed to have a personal relationship with the Lord, an amazing wife who is my biggest fan, two wonderful children in whom I’m proud, a small cadre of friends who enrich my life’s meaning, and a life of accomplishments that affirm who I am. But, personally, there are many things I didn’t do very well.

As a result I developed poor habits from which it has taken me years to recover–though admittedly some continue to be a struggle. We don’t get a chance to rewind and re-do. But, this list does help me stay focused now on what matters most. I think to that classic 1985 movie “Back to the Future” in which Marty McFly (played by Michael J. Fox) time travels in order to change the course of history. If I could do my own back to the future experience here are the 50 things I would tell myself–some of which I believe could have changed the trajectory of my life. Minimally, it would have spared some of the damage that I did to my marriage in my earlier years.

Some of these are admonitions to myself as a teenager who struggled with some image and security issues. Others are to my adult self who lacked training in best practices. I hope that this top 50 list of spiritual, psychological, business, financial, and physical admonitions inspires you regardless of your own life stage.

Spiritual Admonitions

  • (1) Follow Christ not Christians
  • (2) Spend more time in prayer and devotions
  • (3) Incorporate Sabbath into your weekly routine
  • (4) Have courageous faith
  • (5) Stay out of church politics
  • (6) Your Christian denomination does not have a monopoly on heaven
  • (7) Ask people how you can you pray for them (then do it right on the spot when possible)
  • (8) Don’t let people put you on a pedestal (be open about your faults)

Psychological Admonitions

  • (9) Love yourself for who God created you to be
  • (10) Be authentically you
  • (11) Be an optimist
  • (12) Smile more
  • (13) Brainwash yourself with positive thinkers (e.g., Tony Robbins, Zig Ziglar)
  • (14) Never let emotions alone dictate your reaction
  • (15) Observe and avoid the negative patterns of attitudes and behaviors that have plagued your family for generations
  • (16) Focus three times more on your strengths than your weaknesses
  • (17) Embrace failure as a positive step towards success
  • (18) Establish a consistent practice of journaling
  • (19) Avoid pornography
  • (20) Run towards your destiny rather than away from your detractors
  • (21) Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn when it is justified

Relational Admonitions

  • (22) Be the best listener you know
  • (23) Show more grace to others
  • (24) Invest in the success of others
  • (25) Value your spouse’s differences
  • (26) Avoid doubters and haters like the plague
  • (27) Don’t be afraid to lead
  • (28) Just ask her out — the worse she can say is “no”
  • (29) Never shame anyone
  • (30) Share your failures with others
  • (31) Develop and rehearse a family mission statement when your children are young
  • (32) Find a trusted friend with whom you can share anything (make sure they share with you as well)

Business / Financial Admonitions

  • (33) Syndicate yourself (Be your own enterprise)
  • (34) Think like an entrepreneur (focus on monetizing products and services)
  • (35) Distinguish between business and ministry (business watches the bottom line)
  • (36) Surround yourself with people who are already doing what you aspire to do
  • (37) Strike better balance between working hard and working smart
  • (38) Take more calculated risks
  • (39) Invest in your retirement plan as soon as you are eligible to do so (and don’t withdraw it)
  • (40) Invest in multi-unit real estate properties where others can pay your mortgage
  • (41) Don’t make a purchase that you need credit to afford
  • (42) Avoid revolving credit (never leave a balance on your credit card)
  • (43) Allocate a little from every paycheck to savings (use automatic drafting when possible)
  • (44) Always buy used cars
  • (45) Carefully scrutinize any potential partnerships (even with family members)

Physical Health Admonitions

  • (46) Eat healthier — including less red meat and processed foods
  • (47) Drink more water
  • (48) Exercise three times a week for 30 minutes
  • (49) Floss your teeth daily
  • (50) Be hyper vigilant about your hygiene

So, there you have my list of the top 50 admonitions I’d like to tell my younger self.

I’d love to hear which ones resonate most with you.

Leave me a comment and let me know. If any of them are unclear, just leave me a comment and I’ll elaborate.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Shannon Major

    Early Happy Birthday! Thank you for your honesty on the 50 things. Here are the items that caught my attention….#1 follow Christ not Christians, means a lot to me because as I move forward in my spiritual journey I have to follow that rule! #13, 23, 29, and #40 just to name a few. We are exploring different avenues to make real estate our major source of income, so this rings bells for me personally. As I brainstorm my 50, it’s ironic how most so far can still make positive impact in my life and moving forward. Dr. Arnold, you have sparked flame in my brain to complete a list of my own.

    • Shannon. your decisions seem quite wise to me. I think you’re making a solid decision on the real estate front. As Jim Rohn famously quotes “You are the average of the five people with whom you spend the most time”. So, keep spending time soaking up information from others. And, I believe your potential is unlimited. Thank you for commenting. Appreciate if you are able to SHARE the post with others.