There are some great messages here about “knowing yourself”.
This is an interesting question, especially now that I’m (way) more than double that age! And the first thing I’d like to say is that I probably would have answered this question differently 10 years ago, 20 years ago, or 30 years ago.
When I was in my mid-30s, my advice might have been to seek out mentors and connect with people who would give you good advice — because those are the things I needed most when I was starting out. When I hit my 40s, I probably would have said to build a strong network. Sure, it sounds obvious, but it’s not always easy, especially if you’re shy like I was. Both of these are solid pieces of advice for anyone who is trying to make their mark. It’s immensely helpful to have strong role models and supportive peers to help you find your way, both personally and professionally. You should never be shy about seeking out counsel or connection. In fact, the big secret is that most people — myself included — are flattered to be asked.
But now that I have even more years under my belt, I’ll answer this question differently. As I think about my three children, ages 18, 23, and 26, and the myriad young adults whom I have the pleasure of working with, I would encourage every single one to be introspective — to look inside to find and nurture that “thing,” whether it’s a skill or a cause or an expression of art, that makes them feel energized, talented and worthwhile.