7 Pieces of Advice I'd Like to Give to My Younger Self

04/14/2015 02:30 pm ET | Updated Jun 14, 2015

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Looking back to my younger years, I am sometimes amazed at how life has turned. Nothing is exactly what I had originally planned for. The only thing that stays the same is who I am, my values, and my interests.

Fast forward to today, I have moved to a new country and to two different cities. Most importantly I have got myself involved in a lot of things I would have never thought of if I was living a mundane life and tried to stick to plans. Nonetheless, I have summed up what I have learned -- the new perspectives on life. And if I could go back in time and hang out with my younger self for a day, here's what I will tell her.

1. Everything happens for a reason.

Whether it's good or bad, everything comes into your life for a reason, even though at the time, something might seem to come into your life to hurt you. It is only natural to feel like things are not meant to happen this way -- people are not meant to leave, you are not meant to get rejected, accidents are not meant to happen -- and if you had done something differently, the situation might have turned out different. However, as time has passed, you realize that things were supposed to happen the way they did because one event led to another. People come into your life to teach you something. Things that seemed horrible, painful, or unfair at the time happened for a reason. And in reflection, you realize that they happened to help you become stronger.

So here's the advice I'd like to give to my younger self:

Everything happens for a reason -- understand this. Without mistakes and failure, you would have never learned. Without breakups, you would have never met someone new. Without pain, you would have never grown. Once you understand this -- really understand this -- you will know that everything comes in to serve a purpose and then it will go. You will not dwell on disappointments or view unfortunate events as regrets. But rather, you'd see them as opportunities in disguise -- only those with a sharp brain and a spiritual mind can understand the fleeting nature of events in life. So don't stress or ever think that life is unfair, because everything happens for a reason. And only time will tell.


2. Focus on one thing at a time. You can have it all but not all at once.

It seems like we forever debate on the topic of productivity whether it's practical for us to multitask. At one point in my life, I was multitasking like an expert. I got myself involved in 3 start-ups plus my own consulting work, another writing gig, and managing this blog. I was single and had all the time in the world to myself. So why not keep myself busy right? I thought I could manage. I thought I could wait to see which startup would take off first and that would become my main focus for years to come. But I was wrong. I felt overwhelmed. I was multitasking too much. At the end of the day, I realize that none of the startups was my true dreams. This blog is my true passion. Having my own brand is my true passion. Nonetheless, the experience I had while I was at the start-ups taught me quite a few things. I learned what it's like to pitch to investors. I learned about growth hacking and a bit of coding. I met so many talented people during those times whom I'm still friends with and can ask for business advice. I don't regret my decision for taking on too many things. Although none of them succeeded because I did not focus, I learned a great deal. And I believe the process which you may feel like you have wasted time in is actually needed for you to grow and learn so that you can be ready.

So here's the advice I'd like to give to my younger self:

Focus on one thing at a time. You can have it all in life, but not all at once. And if you don't keep your focus right, you might not achieve anything.

It is not surprising that many of us are doing too many things at once. We need to make ends meet. Working on a start-up that is our dream can be an emotional burden for us in the early days. But doing three jobs at a time, rarely you will succeed at any of them. You need to put all of your energy towards it -- whatever it is you want to achieve the most in life. You have to keep your eyes on the big picture. Extra few hundred dollars might help you make ends meet but the opportunity cost might actually be worth thousands. Can you move back to your parents' to save rent for half a year? Can you sacrifice eating out to work on your dream? I got distracted several times over the past few years because every opportunity presented in front of me seemed great. They seemed interesting, seemed to potential, and seemed to align with my interests. However, opportunities will keep coming in. You have to ask yourself what exactly is it that you want to achieve for the next 10 years? What is that one main goal? Make it a priority. Focus on one thing at a time. Achieve your goal one by one. Make a to-do list and a bucketlist and work towards ticking them off ONE BY ONE.


3. You can plan ahead but your plan will definitely change when the time comes.

I remember so vividly that when I was a kid I used to dream of going to an Ivy league. I wanted to go to the US for college. I wanted to work in branding in New York. I had it all mapped out in my head and I was working on the plan to achieve those goals. Fast forward to today -- my plan has changed completely, as if there was never any plan. My goal to go to the US fell through. I ended up in Zurich, Switzerland, and instantly fell in love with the place. But then, I had to leave. I cried really hard on my flight back. Then, never did I thought I would actually move to Australia for college (well, they call it university here)... or actually, for good. I didn't even know where Melbourne was. I'd been to Sydney and I loved it. So I moved to Australia to study Marketing and half way through it I ended up studying Entertainment (Music) Business Management instead. I became a club promoter to make new friends and happened to become one of the most well-known promoters in 2010. Everything happened like the snowball effect. One event after another -- life was flowing like crazy. I had the happiest years of my life. The next thing I knew, I started to adopt the Australian way of life and started to "go with the flow" instead of planning things too far ahead. I learned to be spontaneous and embrace life as it comes. I found myself opportunities and jumped into them without fear -- like becoming a promoter even though I didn't know anyone to start with.

So here's the advice I'd like to give to my younger self:

You can plan ahead because sometimes planning ahead can give you a clearer direction of where you want to go, drive you, and motivate you. The planning process can teach you something. However, don't be too fixated on a plan. Plans will almost definitely always change -- be prepared! Live life with open arms. You will go where you're supposed to be headed. Don't stress.


4. Trust your instincts.

Doubt occurs several times throughout our lives. It could be in the job you're not happy waking up to doing everyday, in the relationship you wonder whether it will last, in the people you've just met and whether you can trust them, or in the move you have to make and whether you should go left or right.

Prior to writing this article, I asked 20 friends of mine "what life lessons would you like to give to their younger self?". This is the one answer I particularly like,

The sooner in life you realize that you gain more from feeling your way through than thinking your way through , the better life is and the more you can achieve.

There are a lot of factors that influence the way we think, the way we feel, and the way we see the world. A lot of it has to do with our upbringing. Some parents are more logical than other. Some are free-spirited, artistic and creative. Some are practical and pragmatic. This has become the way of life for us and how we react to things in life.

I myself grew up with a conservative Asian mother who is very pragmatic and practical and a father who is a creative thinker. Even though I possess innate artistic abilities, I am still heavily influenced by my mother's practical nature which makes me more inclined to find logic in things. However, as I get older, I realize that no matter how logical some things are, if they don't feel right, sooner or later you will realize that they are not right. And if you ever have any doubt between two choices -- one choice follows logic; the other follows heart -- always follow your heart.

Having lived overseas over the past seven years without my family in this new city, I've learned to embrace autonomy and make decisions on my own. With so much freedom in hands, it's sometimes hard to pick between choices. However, after several trials and errors, I can assure you that your gut instincts never lie. They are always right. Even if you follow logic in the beginning, you will change your mind later, and let your heart win.

So here's the advice I'd like to give to my younger self:

Don't worry too much about a decision you have to make. Don't try to weigh pros and cons and follow logic. Just do what feels right. Do what you believe would make you most happy. You know what you want. You might consult other people. But deep down, you know what you want. You don't need to seek outside assurance to confirm what your heart knows best. Do what makes you happy. Because at the end of the day, even if you follow logic, you will want to quit and follow your heart.

Always. If something doesn't feel right or you have doubt in it, even just for a little bit, it's probably not right.


5. It's OK to be unsure about your purpose in life.

At one point in life, you might stop and ask yourself "what is your purpose in life?". The thing you're working on doesn't seem to give your life meaning anymore. You feel like you have lost your purpose. You try to search for it. And... as you keep going, you might feel a bit lost, confused, and unsure.

I was one of those super determined kids who tried to map her life out and plan ahead in the best possible way. I was passionate about a lot of things and I was very good at all of the things I was passionate about. However, when I graduated, I felt a bit lost. Suddenly, there were so many options to choose from. Even though I knew exactly what my passions were, picking that one career path I thought was going to fulfill me on a deeper level and make me feel like I'm living a purposeful life wasn't so easy. I had to dip my toes into quite a few different things -- each took at least a few months until I realized it's not my purpose in life. With pressure from parents and the society -- where some people seem to be sticking to one career path -- can make you feel a bit like a loser. However, without trying so many different things, I wouldn't have known what I know now. I wouldn't be the confident and assured person I am today.

So here's the advice I'd like to give to my younger self:

You might be graduating or have hit a turning point in your life with career. You might feel a bit lost and not sure where to go. It's okay. Go out there and try as many different things as you can. Don't ever feel like you're wasting your time. The process that you'll be going through will shape you into who you will be. If you let your intuition guide you, you will almost certainly be in your most fulfilled place in the future when your find your purpose in life. Enjoy the journey. Don't rush. Every little path you have to go through will lead you somewhere. And looking back, you will be able to connect the dots. It will all make sense.


6. Don't try too hard with people

Dating can sometimes feel tiring when you have been going on dates for a while and feel like you don't meet anyone that you really like or get along with really well. Once in a while you meet someone who seems to tick all of your boxes. However, you still have to work hard to make it work. You try to impress them. You learn about their interests. You make sure that you portray yourself as the person of their dreams as well. It's all hard work, isn't it? Then a couple of months down the track, you realize that this is never going to work -- it's too much work!

Besides dating, entering college, starting a new job, and moving to a new city, you will certainly have to make new friends. It can sometimes be a little awkward when you don't know anyone. Sometimes you try very hard to get along with people. You try to fit in -- only to end up feeling uncomfortable with yourself and have to go back to who you truly are. Making new friends is not easy especially if you are not very outgoing. You may sometimes feel like you have to make a lot of effort with people -- in trying to be friends and get close to someone. However, this can be tiring and sometimes you just want to back off and be home alone.

I'm sure you have been in a situation where you feel like the people you meet are not like you. You have to try hard to get the conversation going. It doesn't flow. It's like going on the first date with someone you don't feel like kissing at the end of the night -- it's a little awkward and uncomfortable. And even though you manage to become friends with them, deep down, you don't feel very happy. You just hang out with them for the sake of going out, for that you can feel like you have an exciting social life. However, you'd rather just be home curled up in your PJs and watch your favorite TV shows. You feel much happier....but you feel a little bit like a loser with no social life.

Yup, I've been in that kind of situation several times. Sometimes it's because you tag along someone and you don't particularly get along with their friends. Sometimes it's your work mates, so you have to try very hard to get along with them. Sometimes it's the people you meet and go on dates with. Things just don't flow naturally. The conversation doesn't flow -- you have to THINK ABOUT what you should talk to that person about.

One day I got tired of this process. I decided that I was not going to go to any work drinks I don't particularly enjoy anymore. I was not going to try to make friends with people whom I have to THINK ABOUT what to talk about. Weirdly enough, by stopping putting up with this and trying too hard with people, I started to attract people who are similar to me. All of a sudden I started to be surrounded by people are similar to me, share the same world view, and have similar interests. The conversation just flows. There's no hard work required. Work drinks just seem to go on forever until late hours without me trying to find an excuse to leave.

So here's the advice I'd like to give to my younger self:

Don't worry if you feel like it's hard to make new friends. Don't worry if you feel like you haven't met anyone who's like you and you feel absolutely happy to be around. Just be yourself and be as open as you can. Never stop going to events or attend Meet Ups of your interests and do your thing. The people who are compatible with you will find their ways to you. They will instantly be attracted to you as much as you are attracted to them. The conversation will flow. Both of you will feel like there's no hard work. It might take a while until you find those people -- new best friends and a mate for life -- but when you do, you will know it. It's not hard work. So, just do your thing and be yourself.


7. Take a leap of faith in yourself

It can be scary to feel like we have nothing else and no one else to rely on but ourselves. But if you have a dream, whatever that may be, you cannot rely on someone else but yourself to make that come true. The bigger our dreams are, the scarier it seems to take a leap of faith in ourselves and jump. If you have never achieved anything in your life, it can be very hard to take a big jump. However, starting from small steps, you will slowly gain self-confidence and self-esteem. And one day, you will be ready to take a big jump.

For me, it started from applying for smaller competitions. However, the first big jump I had to make was the move to Australia on my own. It was scary. I didn't know anyone. However, with my independent nature, I did not have a hard time moving somewhere on my own. The bigger jump I had to make was in convincing myself that I could achieve anything I wanted to achieve. I decided to be a club promoter. As a foreigner, that was almost the most foolish idea. I didn't know anyone -- how would I get people to go through the door so I could get paid for it? That was the first leap of faith I took in myself, in taking initiative and making things happen. I just took that challenge up and found a way to make myself become well-known in the area at the time. That success led me to transition into Australia smoothly. My life became extremely exciting for a few years. Most importantly. it's the first step I took where I took a leap of faith in myself and I made it. I then know if I want something to happen, I have no one else to count on but me -- I have to believe in me and trust in my own ability to make it come true.

The second jump I made was to become a writer. For anyone who has always wanted to write "publicly" but has only just started or still hasn't started yet, you know how hard it is to actually start your first official blog post where you pour your heart and brain out without the fear of being judged. That's right, we are all scared of being judged and that's the fear most artists face. I always dreamed of becoming a writer. As a child, I used to write a novel and passed it around to my classmates to read. I used to write stories and submit them to comic books. As I got older, I got busier with school and didn't have time to write novels or poetry anymore. However, I still enjoyed writing essays -- I really did. And only just about two years ago when I first started writing my own content without sharing other people's quotes, I dreamed of one day becoming a writer with articles published on big publications. To be honest, I didn't think I would make it. But somehow when I have a goal in mind, I like to strategically think about how I can reach that goal. So when I decided to become a writer, I spent time crafting my writing skill. I looked up how I could have my articles published on big publications and took another leap of faith in myself again. What else did I have to lose? I could only just try again and again until I succeed.

The third jump was when I decided to invest money in my current business, The Happiness Planner. I have always loved stationery, design, and branding, but somehow I was never sure how I was going to make my dreams come true. My blog has given birth to the idea of The Happiness Planner. I knew there was something missing in the market and I was sure there was a demand for it. I started doing some research, designed the pages, and took a leap of faith in myself by investing in it. After achieving smaller milestones in my life, I now believe that I can achieve anything I set my mind to and give it all I've got. The sale has been great so far and I'm even more excited about how I can expand the product line and inspire more people with this beautiful unique stationery line that focuses on self-development.

So here's the advice I'd like to give to my younger self:

Take a leap of faith in yourself. You've got nothing to lose but everything to gain. If you fail, you'll become smarter, If you succeed, you'll gain even more self-confidence and the emotional and financial rewards. You'll never know the limit of how much you can achieve until you take a leap of faith in yourself and try. Keep your focus right. Invest in yourself. Accelerate your learning curve. See life as a progressive journey. And you'll most certainly always achieve anything you set your mind to.


Mo is the owner of, an inspirational blog about modern life wisdoms, and the founder of The Happiness Planner, a planner designed to help you welcome more positivity, joy, and happiness into your life.

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This blog post is part of a series for HuffPost Moments Not Milestones called 'Lived and Learned: What I Want My Younger Self To Know.' To see all the other posts in the series, click here.