During my 58 years, I’ve occupied several roles. I’ve been a student, teacher and church leader. I’ve been an intern, employee and boss. I’m a son, father and grandfather, as well as husband, neighbor and friend. As I approach my sixth decade, I’ve been thinking a lot about missed opportunities, regret and the hard-scrabble lessons I’ve learned along the way.
While it’s true we can’t turn back time, we can impart timeless wisdom. Below are five principles my 58-year-old self would share with my 25-year-old self, if only I’d listen.
1. Pursue Purpose With All Your Heart
You can’t get to where you want to go without a guide. Let your purpose guide you. Determine your purpose by taking inventory of your interests, strengths and passions. By doing this, you’ll avoid cycles of wasted time and energy, your most valuable resources.
2. Don’t Let Other People Define You
Too often, you’ve allowed your desire for approval to determine your self-worth. The yearning to be recognized isn’t the problem, it’s your inability to see that some people are so embittered by their own disappointments they lack the capacity to nurture the gifts and talents that are starting to blossom in your life. Aim for self-definition. Don’t let other people tell you who you are.
3. Prepare For Disappointments
Anticipate and prepare for financially and emotionally lean times. Life is filled with difficult seasons, but a life untested isn’t a life fully lived. First, learn to budget, and adhere to your financial plans. Your preparation will not only impact you, but the people you love. Emotional dry spells will also come. Remember, the love you pour into people will be the love you get returned to you. Prepare by loving more.
4. Cut Some People Out Of Your Life
There are some people you do lunch with and others you do life with. That is to say, not everybody deserves your time. There are toxic people whose long-term presence in your life can and will separate you from your destiny. You will know these people by their rotten fruits. Remove them from your life immediately. Save your best for those who deserve it most.
5. Laugh More
Life is serious business, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t laugh along the way. Don’t allow unsound dogma to stand in the way of taking joy in all the hilarious moments creation offers. Laughing has curative powers, so find someone to laugh alongside. Joy is contagious, so play a part in spreading it far and wide.
Sometimes, looking back prepares you to move forward. I’m doing what I can today in hopes of proving my 75-year-old self proud, and laughing along way.
T.D. Jakes is a charismatic leader, visionary, provocative thinking, entrepreneur and compassion humanitarian with a voice that has reverberated from the world's most prominent stages. His look at life comes from the perspective of a father, a student, a pastor and a friend. His daytime talk show will be premiering this fall across the nation.Follow @tdjakesshow on Twitter!