The idea for this post came from my cousin, Kasey Kokenda, and my uncle, Bob Kokenda, who came into the restaurant where I was serving at one night for dinner. While jumping in and out of their conversation, I overheard Kasey asking her dad what the most important piece of advice he could offer her was. I, being myself, couldn’t help but chime in at this point and a pretty cool discussion was sparked from which some great insight came (you can see my uncle’s answers below).
I decided this would be a great question to ask a wide range of adults. So I contacted twenty very important people in my life who range in age from 30-85 years-old and who have come from a broad spectrum of professional backgrounds. I figured I’d start asking at age 30 because after having asked a few people still in their 20’s, I realized we’re still idiots.
Anyway, I absolutely loved the outcome I got from this! I found it interesting that many people had the same answers. I was also intrigued by the fact that most people’s answers really seemed to suit their personalities and character. There were so many responses I thought were just perfect.
Take a look for yourself to see what everyone came up with.
P.S. You may want to wait until you have some spare time on your hands. I asked everyone for one to three pieces of advice, but nearly all of them seemed to have more wisdom than they could contain. 🙂
1. Esthela Gonzales – 30 year old Teacher:
- Don’t sweat the small stuff.
- Save, save, save!
- Surround yourself with a small group of people who really love you!
2. Gretchen Cooper – 32 year old Director of an MBA Admissions Program:
- Think of life as a pie with six different pieces and continuously reflect on the pieces that are fulfilled and not fulfilled! Make tweaks instead of waiting to change something each decade. The pieces could be: work, family, friends, love/relationships, money/means, hobbies, etc.
- Be bold—ask for more money in each of your job interviews. Money does matter in terms of what you choose to do in life and it is not bad or “slimy” to ask for a bigger starting salary or a raise. In fact, if you have extra funds each month, you can give to others!
- For at least a few hours each week, turn off all of your mobile devices, computer, cell phones, etc. Be silent. Be comfortable with yourself. Be comfortable with your thoughts and resist the urge to be in constant communication with others.
3. Kimberly Moore – 33 year old Director of Student Activities & Greek Affairs (115 lbs):
- Approach life without expectations – you eliminate disappointment and are often left feeling pleasantly surprised.
- The world conspires in the favor of those who live most authentically. (All souls are connected to the great soul of the world which has a collective resonation. You and the soul of the world both know the real you…if you choose to approach life with intention and tap into your true self the world will reward you!)
4. Rose Kennedy – 37 year old Educator:
- Bloom Where You’re Planted!
- Accept people where they are, as they are.
- Never stop trying to be the person you are meant to be.
5. Hilary Kokenda – 39 year old Project Manager:
- Keep searching until you find a job that you enjoy. Even if it takes some time to ‘get settled/feel successful,’ you’ll be much happier in the long run.
- When considering who to marry, look closely at his or her family because you marry them as well and they provide a lot of insight into your potential partner. Whether we want to accept it or not, we do turn into our parents.
- Try to appreciate the moments along the way. It’s easy to get so focused on the goal that we forget to enjoy and appreciate the process of getting there.
6. Carrie Kokenda Law – 46 year old ex-CPA, Stay-At-Home Mom/Taxi Driver:
- Try to never compare yourself or your life to someone else’s because there is no way for you to know anyone’s full circumstances. Stay focused on yourself.
- No matter how much your family may annoy you, there’s nothing thicker than blood. Nothing.
- Love yourself the way you are.
- Whatever you do, including outside hobbies, do for the experience, the art and the love of doing it. Don’t do it because you have to be the best at it. Passion has nothing to do with how good you are at something.
- Have an even number of children so you don’t have a middle child…just kidding…but seriously.
7. Scott Law – 46 year old Financial Executive in the Entertainment Industry:
- Never do anything to hurt your reputation; you spend years building it and one slip up can ruin it. It’s just not worth it.
- Keep your friends close and your enemies closer, and be able to distinguish between the two.
- Choose your battles wisely because you can’t fight everything.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff.
- Never worry about what someone else makes. Work hard, do a good job and you will be rewarded. Besides, the other person’s paycheck doesn’t affect you, so why worry about it?
- Shortcuts rarely play out well. They are not usually well thought out, which is a mental shortcut.
8. Karen Kerrigan – 48 year old CPA:
- Live below your means.
- Make every day count.
- Travel the world while you are young.
- Accumulate memories -not possessions.
- Take your parents on at least one special trip while they are still young enough to enjoy it.
9. Bob Kokenda – 51 year old Project Manager:
If you can do these things, you can survive anything in life:
- Be comfortable within your own skin.
- Learn to live within your means.
- Learn to “go with the flow.”
- Life will work out if you let it.
10. Kari Dunham – 51 year old Educational Inclusion Specialist:
- Slow down, enjoy the moment!!
- Be a good listener—every individual has the right to be heard (I’m still working on this!!).
- Embrace diversity—life would get boring if we all had the same perspective.
- Okay, sorry, but I have a fourth…Get out of your comfort zone, stretch, give a try at thinking “out of the box”—it’s very refreshing and opens a lot of doors that you may have not thought that you had!
11. Lori Hubbard – 52 year old Mom, Homemaker and Teacher:
- Friends come and go, but family is always there.
- Be true to yourself and happy with who you are. Don’t try to be someone else. When you try to be someone else you’re failing no one but yourself.
- Don’t sweat the little stuff because you’ll miss out on the good stuff along the way.
12. Jeff Hubbard – 54 year old Finance Manager:
- Find something you enjoy doing.
- Try not to make work your life.
- Don’t over-spend. (If you do, you’ll be working until you’re 70).
13. Anita Rezzo – 56 year old Assistant Admissions Director:
- Always remember that God loves you.
- Be clear on your priorities. For me it is Faith, family, friend. The rest just falls into place.
- Love what you do, do what you love.
14. Mary Wilson – 60 year old Teacher:
- We all matter. YOU matter. And just being here on this planet is a miracle! And all of the things that happen to us along the way prepare us for the life that is to come, and WE can choose that. “I am the Master of my Fate-I am the Captain of my soul.” I love those lines from Invictus. You become what you believe!
- Hold onto your faith! There is something bigger than you out there in the universe. That same Faith also offers us the chance of redemption. We can begin again. Let God walk with you and guide you. He will never forsake you…just ASK HIM!
- Stay close to your family. Sure, we don’t always agree or get along, and that’s okay. We are all individuals. BUT, family catches us when we fall, rejoices with us in our accomplishments, and guides us when we falter…all with love…IF we love too! And sometimes that is very hard to do, but if we think about it, a family’s love is unconditional and forever.
15. Bruce Thompson – 63 year old retired Aerospace Worker in Finance and Motivation:
- Be open to listening to new ideas.
- Don’t be afraid to learn new skills.
- Don’t let anger ruin your life.
16. Evelyn “Dolly” Kokenda – 73 year old proud Homemaker, Wife and Nonna:
- Don’t take life too seriously. We’re all here for a certain number of years and then we’re gone. Enjoy yourself.
- Try to live by what you believe in. Don’t be swayed by outside influences. Stay true to the core of who you are.
- Be a person who is loyal. If you aren’t loyal, you really aren’t anything.
17. Elma Imbrenda – 77 years YOUNG retired partner in the firm of Maguire and Associates, Real Estate Investment Counsel:
Live by the three ‘Ps’:
- Positive Attitude
18. Dr. Arnold “Buddy” Zukow – 79 year old Pediatrician:
- Whatever you do should make you happy.
- You, personally, must make the choice about what’s going to make you happy.
- Once you are in the kind of work you like, you want to be the shining star there. Show them what you are capable of and that you are the best. Do it better than everyone else. You’ve worked too hard and wanted this too badly. There is no competition.
19. Robert Kokenda – 79 year old retired Mechanical Engineer:
- Be true to yourself.
- Respect others.
- Have faith in God.
20. Terry DesRoches – 85 year old Homemaker, Wife and Aunt/Surrogate Grandmother:
- Don’t put things off! Do all you can while you still can.
- TAKE RISKS.
- Don’t worry until you have something to worry about.
- Be an optimist.
I want to thank each of you who got back to me for all of your help. You guys are the best and your answers were better than I could have imagined.
A special thanks to Uncle Bobby and Kasey—you two are so inspirational. 😉
I asked twenty people for their words of wisdom, just for the sake of time, but there are so many others I would love to hear from. If you’ve got some thoughts to share, please do!