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Five Things I Wish I Had Known Ten Years Ago


Like the old saying goes, “Hindsight is 20/20”.

Here are 5 things I wish someone had told me 10 years ago:

MeditationSuccess is an inside job. No matter how you define success, it starts with your mindset.  Why?  Because the most insidious limitations are the ones we put on ourselves.  The way you view the world and what you focus on have everything to do with whether you reach your goals in life.   Let me give you an example.  I just finished a six-month program designed to help me groove new ways of thinking and being, and to dismantle old ways that were no longer serving me.  Over the course of months, I saw how a piece of me, lovingly called “Racehorse”, was making things harder in my business than they needed to be and spoiling the rest of my life.  This is exactly how I ended up in burnout last year.  Photo by Wiertz Sebastien

Instead of experiencing joy, I felt anxiety that I wasn’t doing enough. Instead of celebrating who I am, I focused on not
being enough.  Instead of letting things flow, I tried to “figure it out”.  Fixing problems, quickly, was my mantra, which only served to overstimulate my mind and throw me into a mental rut.

Since becoming aware of “Racehorse”, I’ve caught myself numerous times giving into the seduction of “faster is better”.  Some situations are blatant.  Others are subtle and nuanced.  Each time, I become better at getting out of my own way.

Last week, someone I had not seen in many months asked me if my work was stressful. And for the first time in several years, I was able to answer honestly, “No, not at all.”  I’m getting better results based on any meaningful metric you can think of (e.g., financials, work/life balance, productivity, customer satisfaction, creativity, personal growth), all with more ease and flow. I feel like I’ve upgraded my “operating system”.

  • Use visuals and drawings to think. I think pretty well in words. But drawing as a way to clarify my thoughts and creating collages to express my inner desires take my effectiveness to a new level. A great book on this is Blah, Blah, Blah: What To Do When Words Don’t Work.  Watch this video of the author, Dan Roam, speaking about his passion of using drawing as a thinking tool.


CollageTwelve months ago, I created a collage, cutting out magazine images that were appealing. Amazingly, when I look at this collage, I see how several of the images have come to fruition. The campfire became Campfire Conversations, a new Q+A call on career development that I’ve hosted and will do more of, because it feeds me. The watch is a symbol of my new relationship with time.  The colored eggs in the nest remind me of Easter, about the time I started the six-month program to learn about and rein in “Racehorse”. I’m curious to see how the rest of this collage plays out in my life.

  • Get coached by someone who sees you “10X” bigger than you see yourself.
    I cannot be as successful alone as I can with the help of others. I’ve had several coaches over the last ten years.  They were all good in their own way.  And this year, I worked with coaches who could see my potential in a way that excited me.  They used words that were both concrete and transcendent.  They helped me see my own magic. In doing so, I am not so much pushing myself harder, as I am giving myself permission to see a different possibility.  Which goes back to mindset.
  • Take time to appreciate the body that you have. Jogger Ten years ago, I didn’t know the meaning of “muffin top” and “hot flashes”.  I had no idea how gray hairs could readily invade my mass of black hair or how years of tea drinking would stain teeth.  A decade ago, I could read the fine print on lipstick covers with ease.  Now, I am thankful for what does work well, and more forgiving of parts that do not. I appreciate that I can still run/walk a few miles and not feel sore the next day.  I take joy in a yoga workout that leaves me relaxed and fit.  I feel grateful when I can get out of bed, without a stiff back or vertigo.  Photo by Emanuel Leanza “Eleanza”
  • Savor the time with your children.  Ten years ago, my sons were 7 and 9.  In less than a decade, they grew into young men. Now, one goes to college a thousand miles away and the other might as well be for how much he’s out and about with school activities and friends.  I am so proud of both of them AND the years are a blur.  I still don’t know where the time went.

I started off this post by saying I wish someone had told me these things ten years ago. The irony is that for many things in life, it’s our experience that informs us, not the words handed down by someone else.

What do you wish someone had told you ten years ago?

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  1. Janey on November 2, 2012 at 9:04 AM

    I love that you are so willing to share with us now what you wish you had known ten years ago. If we all did that a little more we might all be living a better life right now (ex. http://inspiyr.com/category/live-better/ ). I especially like your last two bits of advice. I couldn’t agree with them more.

  2. carolross on November 2, 2012 at 12:12 PM

    Thanks, Janey, for stopping by. Blogging helps me as much as it helps my readers. With age, it’s easy to forget key insights or even simple events that have meaning. Writing it down helps me remember…

  3. Susan Rossie on March 7, 2013 at 4:06 AM

    I have been following your blog and work. The power of the story…our own, others and those we can create by paying attention to what we experience everyday informs our lives and enriches us. Thank you for sharing so honestly and authentically. I hope to meet you someday when you visit Chicago again.

  4. carolross on March 7, 2013 at 6:55 AM

    You are so right that stories are right in front of us, every day, if we choose to pay attention! It’s one of the reasons I started this blog, as a way to capture those stories…and make meaning of my own life. I’m glad that by sharing, it helps you and others.

    And yes, would love to meet you the next time I’m in Chicago! I’ll be sure to announce the next meetup in Chicago (Oct 2013) on this blog.

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