If you were 90 years old, what would you tell your younger self? You'd certainly have some inspiring lessons and secrets to life, especially with 9 decades of accumulated wisdom, right? Well, 45 of these life lessons were written by Regina Brett, but in fact, Regina is not 90. In 2006, the Internet spun her piece into a viral hornet's nest and the lessons were mistakenly attributed to a 90-year-old. In reality, Regina shared these lessons right before her 45th birthday.
I personally stumbled upon (literally) the article the other night, also thinking that it truly could have originated from a 90-year-old, and was left feeling quite humbled. After I did some more research and realizing writer's age gap, I still challenged myself to fast forward 6 decades and reflect on these 45 lessons and ask, "What would I really tell a younger Tom?".
As a result, Regina's initial list has been compiled into 7 secrets and brief explanations that really do serve as powerful perspective, regardless of the writer's age. Who knows--they may even change the way you live your life.
1. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
Sure, it's easy to take a step or two you in life that leaves you feeling afraid or regretful. But one small step after another eventually gets you across the finish line and you can learn from whatever doesn't work. Forward progress. Always.
2. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and family will.
Work is important. But it's people who give meaning to that work who will share its rewards with you. Be thankful and kind--take time to smell the roses with people you love.
3. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is about.
We all have our own life experiences, strengths, weaknesses, personalities and motivators. That means we're all running a different race, all learning different lessons at different times. So define success based on where you are and where you want to go, not by where others might happen to be.
4. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.
People are going to tell you you can't, that you're crazy, and 'no'. But your persistence and resilience can lift you in life, no matter where that might happen to be. The only limitations you have are the ones you give yourself--so say 'no' to those limits.
5. What other people think of you is none of your business.
What is your business is staying focused on the work you're doing or the individual you aspire to be. As long as you work with integrity, be who you are and stay the course. Everything else is noise.
6. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, and show up.
Life requires participation. So does success. Be mentally and physically present or someone else will.
You're not going to be right 100% of the time. Others have expertise, too. Pick your battles wisely and admit when backing down is the right option.
Don't wait until you're 90 to apply this stuff.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.