7 Pieces of Advice for my Younger Self

Raam Dev at Age Three

My upcoming ebook (due out by the end of this month) wouldn't be possible without the incredible contributions I've been receiving from bloggers and non-bloggers alike (thank you!).

Creating something for a good cause that brings together the collective knowledge of so many individuals is exactly the type of project I want to be apart of, so when a new friend on Twitter, Abubakar Jamil, invited me to contribute to a free ebook he's putting together, I felt it would be the perfect opportunity to give back to the community.

Abubakar's ebook will be a compilation of life lessons and advice from various bloggers and non-bloggers. The Life Lessons Series project already has over twenty contributors and the combined volume of knowledge and advice is incredible.

My good friend Farnoosh Brock, whose own list of life lessons is an absolute goldmine of advice, emailed me yesterday to make sure I was writing this post. I must say, there's nothing quite like receiving motivation and support from someone you've never actually met.


So what advice would I give to that three year old boy in the picture above? To really answer that question, I needed to take a walk through time and bring with me the collective experience, knowledge, and lessons of all the mistakes I've made over the past twenty-eight years of my life.

The point of this exercise wasn't to see how I could have done things differently, but rather to see how I could have been more prepared for the situations I would face in life.

I don't wish I had done anything differently. I believe that accepting our mistakes and loving oneself is vitally important to continued inner growth and who I am today is a culmination of everything that has happened in my past.

I believe we should build on our existing foundation, not leave behind an empire of half-finished castles.


Sitting in a comfy orange armchair on the second floor of a cafe in Kathmandu, Nepal, surrounded by the noise of cars, the whirring of a latte machine, the delicious aroma of espresso, and the sweet sound of Indian flute music, I closed my eyes and opened a dialog with the eight year old version of Raam (talking to the three year old version seemed too unrealistic).

Here's the advice I brought back through time to give him:

1. When something isn't changing, it will likely continue not changing.

You gotta take action and do something about it, even if that means getting uncomfortable. Even if that means pushing your limits. Even if that means making mistakes. Even if that means risking it all.

Wasting time -- the one precious thing we all have a limited amount of -- is just not worth it. If you feel like you're stuck in a rut; if you feel like life shouldn't be this way; if you feel like there's more out there for you; take action and do something about it.

It's going to feel like the entire world is working against you. It's going to feel like they're all afraid of change and that they want to convince you that change is bad and too risky. That's when you need to take a stand, hold your ground, and believe in yourself.

There is only one person you can count on and that person is you. Don't let him or her down. Seriously, life is just way too short to waste it.

2. Take care of your teeth.

Once your baby teeth are gone, you're stuck with one set of real teeth for the remainder of your life. If you neglect those adult teeth, you're screwed.

Sure, you can have cavities filled and you can even get teeth replaced with fake ones, but there is no substitute for original healthy teeth. Unlike other aspects of your health, you cannot restore neglected teeth!

Some people are born with softer teeth than others and they need to spend more time taking care of them. Whatever your case, spend a few extra minutes every day taking care of your teeth. Your long-term health, peace of mind, bank account, and your future self will all thank you.

3. You cannot control the outcome of a relationship.

All you can control is your half of the relationship. If it's not working, don't be stubborn and think that with enough time, effort, and patience things will magically change.

Like the previous lesson, when something isn't changing, it will likely continue not changing. If you've made your best effort (which means communication when it comes to relationships) be prepared to move on.

While we're on the topic of relationships, remember that communication is life blood of a relationship. If communication is lacking, the life of the relationship is dwindling.

Communication ensures that both sides clearly understand the motivations, beliefs, and expectations of the other side. If both parties are constantly unclear, the relationship will stagnate and not move forward -- you will be wasting time.

4. You cannot own anything. You're just the caretaker.

Think about this for a moment: Your life is on rental. You won't have this body forever. If you don't even own this body, so how could you possibly own anything in the physical world?

You rent everything. Your car, your house, your TV, your phone, your life. Let go of that part of you that wants to own things; that part of you that wants to possess things.

There is nothing wrong with having a house, a car, a phone, or even this life. But when we think we own them, we forget how temporary everything is and we become attached.

Attachment leads to a never ending desire for more and an inability to be satisfied. Instead of being happy and recognizing the value in what we have, we look for something else to attach ourselves to; something else to "own". You own nothing.

The illusion that we own things leads us to spend so much valuable time in the pursuit of possessions that have no intrinsic value to our lives.

5. Time is a currency that appreciates in value and simultaneously decreases in quantity over the course of your life.

There are only a few things really worth spending time and money on in life. Family, education, and more time are some of them. Yes, just as you can spend time you can also buy time. You can pay for time through getting rid of things in your life that require your attention.

Your family, your friends, your children, your education, your health -- they all require your attention and therefore you pay for them with your time. You also pay for your time with your car expenses, your home mortgage, apartment rent, cable subscription, phone bill, and even your daydreaming.

To buy more of the things you love, you need to stop spending time on things that are of less value to you. If you consider your family or your health to be more valuable than your expensive car or deluxe cable TV subscription, then reducing those expenses so that you don't have to work so much should be a no brainer.

6. Fulfill your crazy childhood dreams as early as possible.

It's often the acceptance that we'll never achieve our childhood dreams causes us to accept mediocrity in life; it causes us to settle and accept the status-quo. We don't feel driven to really achieve anything substantial in life because we've accepted that the thing we want most, we can't have.

Imagine you've already done everything you really wanted to do in life. You would feel so content and so at peace that it would be difficult for anything else to upset you.

You'd feel motivated to use the remainder of your days being happy, truly enjoying life, and helping others do the same. You would feel so content that time wouldn't scare you. Death wouldn't scare you. Death would simply be -- as it is -- a part of life, not something to fear.

Following your heart is worth every risk!

Fulfill your dreams as early as possible. Once they've been fulfilled, you may discover new purpose and new meaning in life. Or you may continue living those dreams. Either way, if you're not following your heart and living life on your own terms, you're wasting your life.

7. Use your free time wisely.

If you're working a boring job that involves you sitting around for hours, instead of staring off into space daydreaming, why not spend that extra time studying, learning, or otherwise doing something that improves your chances of doing something you love?

Remember what I said about things not changing unless you change them? You don't have to quit your job and struggle to survive doing something you love. Keep your job and use your free time wisely. If you cannot read at work, turn off the TV or skip the bar after work and spend a few hours every day learning what you need to learn to live the life of your dreams.

Every minute that passes is another minute you don't have. Most of us have less than 20,000 days left to live. Think about that for a moment: your body will be a rotting corpse in less than 20,000 days. That's about 480,000 hours or 1,728,000,000 seconds.

By the time you're finished reading this, you may only have 1,727,999,880 seconds remaining to live. Are you spending your time doing something worth living for?


This was an incredible exercise for me and I encourage you to take a few moments, close your eyes, and travel back in time to visit that younger version of yourself.

What advice would you give him or her that would better prepare them for the life ahead?

Write a Comment



  1. Raam, this was chilling and heart-warming at the same time at 5am Monday morning. I am wide awake and filled with inspiration which is also tinged with a bit of anxiety and urgency. Thank you for writing so brilliantly (and flawlessly – you know how I love that!!) – and oh such advice for the 8-year old Raam. Do you think that if we could really do this, that our younger self could even grasp, much less follow what we wish we could back then? I remember my younger self so tenderly – we did our best, we all really did – I think the advice is for others in this world and for our own present self going forward in life, lest we succumb to our own mistakes a second or third time. I am constantly improving even the same things!
    Thank you for going through this exercise. You made my day (and thank you for referring to me in your article, I feel so popular now ;))!

    • Hi Farnoosh!

      You’re probably right about our younger selves not being able to grasp such concepts, but like you said, this exercise produces observations and life lessons that can help anyone on the journey of life. That’s why I think sharing lessons like these is so valuable!

      Even for me, despite being the one who wrote the above advice, I don’t think it would be as clear to me if I hadn’t taken the time to think about it and write it all down.

      It’s easy to think we’ve learned from the lessons life has taught us, but it’s something else entirely to remember those lessons when we’re faced with decisions and choices. And not just remember them, but fully articulate their meaning and significance in our lives.

      Thank you for your support! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Raam,

    First of all a big Thank you for being part of the Life Lessons Series and this thank you extends to my dear friend Farnoosh who emailed you about it. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I loved the angle you took in writing this post and your voice and wisdom.

    It sure is a valuable contribution to the Life Lessons Series and just what I am looking for.

    Thank again. Stumbled!

  3. Outstanding list Raam! I found your blog because of Farnoosh and Abubakar. What a wealth of great insight!

    I like your perspective on what you would tell your three year old self.

    I’ll be digging into your blog more so and add you to the “good stuff to read list.”

    by the way I completely feel you about Farnoosh. She’s been an amazing inspiration (Her list was just flawless) as well as support and we haven’t met either ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Glad to make your acquaintance my friend!

    • Tony,

      Thank you so much for the comment and for connecting! I took a peek at your blog and it looks full of useful and thought-provoking content. I’m actually in the middle of reading (well actually listening) to Psycho Cybernetics. ๐Ÿ™‚


  4. Awesome brother! Get your hands on the updated version by Dan Kennedy. (The marketer) It’s even more chock full of goodness ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Great minds think alike!

    Oh and thanks for the kind words!

  5. Hi Raam,
    Love this list, especially taking care of one’s teeth. So important and so over-looked.
    Also to fulfil one’s childhood dreams is so true. So many people give up, because it seems ‘childish’ as they grow up, but ultimately its where our hearts lie. Thank you for this great post.

    • Hi Uzma!

      It’s so true that as we get older and mature, we begin to think that our childhood dreams (or really, any dreams) are unattainable. So we give up and settle for second-best.

      That’s absolutely the worst thing we can do: live life by our “second-best”. We should be doing everything in our human power to follow what drives us; follow what motivates and inspires us; follow our passions! We need to take our responsibilities into account, but that shouldn’t prevent us from making progress towards living life on our own terms.

      Thank you for reading and for the comment, Uzma!

  6. Hello again Raam,
    I just read your post – brilliantly written – I never had the technology handy to do all the writing you are doing while I was in the Himalayas.

    Personally, I completely agree with making sure we don’t put off fulifilling our dreams because if we do we start to live a vacant life.

    I also believe it is important to take big risks in life when they arrive and they can benefit others. My experience of stopping work to help a friend with Cancer and now moving countries to help another friend have taught me how resilient I can be in spit of all the challenges I have experience as a result of my actions.

    Keep enjoying the journey,

    P.S. Congratulations on being part of the e book!

    • Hi David, thank you for the kind comment!

      Your words “vacant life” caused me to picture someone trying to fill a glass of water, but missing the cup and pouring indefinitely… I personally can relate to feeling that way about life many times in the past! When we’re following our heart and doing what we feel we should be doing (even if that ends up not being our final path), we feel alive and life feels “full”. At least that’s my experience!

    • Courtney, that’s an awesome idea for a blog post! I hadn’t even thought of it! It would also give me something to look back at in 25 years and ask myself why I told my future self those things (and to see if I followed my own advice!).

  7. Raam,
    First, I have to say you were an adorable little boy!

    What a great exercise. I have to go dig up a picture of myself as a little girl and have a chat with her.

    I’d tell myself to never, ever give up on my dreams. To go after what I really wanted and not to go after money and security.

    I like Courtney’s idea of speaking to your future self.
    That’s a really interesting one to ponder.

    Thanks for this excellent exercise. I can’t wait to see the book!

    • Thank you, Angela!

      I totally agree that Courtney’s idea is brilliant! Just thinking about it for a few moments while reading her comment was an interesting exercise.

      Thank you for your contribution to the ebook! ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Raam,

    You have an Indian name! This is an interesting way of sharing a life lessons to your 8 year old self. But I think some advices such as relationship one would be too much for 8 years old. I like the taking care of teeth one, I have a few cavities and one root canal so I am with you on this one.

    • Hi Preeti!

      Yes, I have an Indian name. ๐Ÿ™‚

      You’re right that a lot of this advice is a bit over the head of an eight year old! Never the less, it was fun pretending I was speaking to him. ๐Ÿ˜€

      Like you, I’ve had some challenges with my teeth and learned the hard way that taking care of them is so important! You only get one chance with your adult teeth!

  9. Raam, well done. I love my teeth too. But seriously, your advice is terrific, wise and extremely relevant for young and old. I’m happy to be a part of this project too, and I know what you mean about getting support from people (Farnoosh & Abubakar) you’ve never met. Isn’t this global community grand?

    • Thank you, Katie!

      Yes, this global community is incredible. It’s amazing how supportive, inspirational, and full of motivation people are when you surround yourself with like-minded individuals! The Internet is making that possible like never before. I really enjoyed your contribution to Abubakar’s series as well!

  10. haha Raam, look how kicked back you are in that picture.

    If I could tell myself just one thing it would be exactly what you said about using my free time wisely. Although I don’t regret the time I spent learning the things I know now and doing the activities I did, I wish I jumped on earlier ideas when I first came online well over a decade ago.

    But alas, we can only move forward so its best to realize it all now instead of later ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Hey Murlu!

      Yes, discarding the regret and taking action is the best thing we can do — time only moves forward! Like yourself, I feel like I missed out on so many opportunities in my early days of the Internet, but at the same time, I recognize how many opportunities are available now. I don’t want to look back in the future and wonder why I spent my time regretting the past!

      Thanks for the comment! ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Beautiful post Raam. The essence I got from it is that our date with time doesn’t always last forever. If we want change, we need to do something to make change. If we value something in life, we need to take action to fulfill those values. If we we lose our original healthy teeth, well… you know… embrace your gaps. The point is life is about taking risks and I like how you say to do this when as early as possible. We might not get the same chances in the future. Thank you Raam.

    • Thank you, Hulbert!

      Yes, when we realize how our time on earth is continuously running out, we can see that the only right time to act on our dreams is now. I think with age we realize this, so the earlier in our life we can make this realization, the more opportunity we have available to us! Life now, death later!

  12. Inspiring post; is this what the new e-book is going to be based around?

    I don’t think I’ve heard the “Time Is A Currency” point put quite so succintly before; it certainly gets the idea across!

    I find it hard to look back through my life and give my past self advice; I think it’s because I find it horrifying to think if I’d changed anything, even some of the worst stuff, I wouldn’t be who I am now. So, I changed your exercise a little and have been asking my future 49 year old self what advice she has for my present 31 year old self.

    For reasons I can’t quite fathom, my future self gave me a Bon Jovi lyric in reply to my request for advice, so I’m going to try again with asking my eight-year old self for advice!

    • Hi Tammy! Thank you for the kind words and the comment! Your Bon Jovi bit gave me a good laugh! ๐Ÿ˜€

      Like you, I’m very much against wishing I had done things differently. When I did this exercise, I wasn’t so much talking to my eight year old self to educate him, but rather as a way for me to put myself in a position where I’m analyzing the lessons I’ve learned (or at least, should have learned) and making it clear to my present self how I can proceed in life with those in mind.

      I guess talking to my eight year old self is a way of tricking my ego so that I’m in no way self-conscious about the mistakes I’ve made!

      The ebook I’m working on is somewhat related to this — it’s going to be a compilation of ways we can make a difference in the world by making small adjustments to our daily lives. I’m accepting contributions from anyone interested, so please contact me if you’d like to contribute and I’ll email you some details!

  13. Raam, I love the section on impermanence, you approached it such a light way. Wonderful. I also found the idea of “buying back” time so innovative and creative. Thanks again for a dose of perspective and inspiration.

  14. Beautifully put Raam. This is a wonderful contribution to the Life’s Lessons Series, and very inspirational. I could really identify with the way you’ve written as I have an 8year old myself. He has that self belief, the zest for life you are talking about. He believes he can do anything and that the rest of his life is his playground. We can learn so much from this outlook. Thank you for reminding me that my children are my greatest teachers…. I’m off to play now!

    • Hi Sarah! Thank you for the comment and for coming by!

      Your last part about going off to play put a big smile on my face. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Remembering to stay youthful even as we age is so important. It helps us continue growing and enjoy life. When I watch kids play, I put myself in their shoes and I try to remember what life was like when tomorrow wasn’t even a consideration.

  15. Great advice Raam! I do number 7 really well! Every moment I have free, I write. It takes balance in life to enjoy time with family, friends, and the things you enjoy. However, it is amazing how much we can accomplish when we focus our time and turn off the TV and just set our minds to accomplish or learn something

    • Thanks Jeremy! I absolutely agree! Once we’re truly focused, it’s incredible how quickly we can get things done. I’ve found that one of the most difficult things to do is ignore my own inner distractions. My own thoughts and worries are often so loud and noisy it can be difficult to focus even when my external environment is perfectly peaceful!

    • Thank you, Michael!

      I think our childhood dreams are something that stay within us, to at least some degree, no matter how much we’ve grown to ignore them. Nurturing that inner child and remembering that youth is a mindset will help us rekindle those dreams! ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Hello Raam,

    These were very great tips about life. I am glad you took the courage to put them together. I really liked the idea that we don’t actually own anything. I hope many people get to realize this truth about life. We are on a temporary journey and must never get too attached to things that lack eternal value. I often tell people that the only thing worth owning in life is our purpose. It’s our responsibility to use our lives to fulfill our purpose, only then can we find fulfillment in being alive.

    Thank you for sharing.

    • Thank you, Tito! I always try to remind myself that I really don’t own anything in life. It helps keep me humble and detached. I love your point about only owning our life purpose — taking responsibility for why we’re here. That’s so important!

  17. Those words are so true: โ€œWhen something isnโ€™t changing, it will likely continue not changing.โ€
    I guess I could re-word it and stick it on my wall so that it constantly reminds me: If you donโ€™t make the change, then nothing will change.
    Thanks for the advice.

    • You’re welcome, David! I need to remind myself of those words all the time! It’s so easy to get caught in an endless loop of doing nothing and waiting for things to change. Nothing changes unless we change something! ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. I connected with every lesson you wrote about. Some lessons I have already implemented and continue to implement in my life, others I need to spend more time learning, to make a higher priority.

    Thanks for a thoughtful reflection

    • You’re most welcome, Mark. ๐Ÿ™‚ I love coming back to this post every year and re-reading these myself… it’s amazing how relevant they always seem to be in whatever my situation I’m in at that moment.


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