The Things I Wish I Knew When I Was 20

Bondi Beauty Founder Renae Leith-Manos talks about the things she wishes she knew when she was 20.

Hindsight is such a gift, and if I had a time machine, these are the important messages I would send to myself at 20.

  1. Love Yourself: There is so much to this statement, and it’s the single most important thing to get you through the tough times and to ensure you value and respect yourself and that you achieve what you want in life.
  2. Work on your mind; There’s plenty of material out there about the importance of working on our bodies, but your mind is just as important. Learning how to use your mind to set and reach your goals, to fall asleep, to work through pain is life changing. I could never have done triathlon, left my marriage or coped with the extreme situations life dishes out without being able to control my thoughts and my mind rather than having it control me.
  3. Workout every day: I love working out first thing in the morning. I either run or do weights and it sets me up for the day and keeps my body lean. Walking and cycling are also a great daily option.
  4. Wake up at the same time every day: There’s research out there about this being one of the most important things, regardless of what time we go to bed. It helps me get the most out of every day, but it isn’t as easy when I am in a relationship and have to think about someone else!
  5. Discipline is key; When you look at all of the major challenges of human existence such as weight loss, managing money, addictions, even running marathons, the key is discipline. It’s the pathway forwards.
  6. Don’t eat processed food; It’s actually not that hard to eat clean, fresh, food and processed food doesn’t feed our body the nutrients it needs.
  7. Don’t eat on aeroplanes; Even in first class, the food is overly processed and stored for long periods so it’s not good for the body. In any event, your body doesn’t need food at altitude when you’re locked into a seat for long periods.
  8. Being single is a great gift; In my early 20’s, we were all obsessed with the notion being in a relationship is the ultimate. Whilst a great relationship can be fantastic, being single and having the autonomy to make your own decisions is a great gift. And one that doesn’t last forever.
  9. Having a child shines a light on every aspect of life; I was always uncertain about having children until about a year before I had twins. It is definitely the toughest thing I’ve ever done but the most rewarding. And they teach me about every aspect of life on a daily basis.
  10. Travel as much as you can; Travel changes you. It opens your mind, and teaches you about worlds and people with different values and traits to yourself who can help you grow.
  11. Live overseas: I’ve taken every opportunity to live overseas but I should have done it more & I’m making up for it now. It’s only by living in a new location you are able to immerse in the local culture and truly appreciate the nuances of life in another country.
  12. Do something you’ve never done before twice a year; It’s important not to get stuck in routines. Growing & changing is the essence of life and doing something major that’s different – such as visiting a new place, jumping out of a plane, trying a new job will enrich your life.
  13. Invest in experiences, not things; The experiences are what you remember and what imprints on your life.
  14. When people show you who they are, believe them; This I got from Oprah, a wise woman. This particularly applies to intimate relationships. I’ve given far too many people a second chance and it has never, ever been a good idea.
  15. Listen more, speak less: You learn the most by listening, not by speaking. Even if you’re a teacher in a classroom, your students will teach you everything you need to know if you are able to listen to them.
  16. Find mentors (you don’t have to know them personally); Ted Talks and You Tube have a plethora of inspiring talks, people and stories. Find some people who inspire you such as Deepak Chopra, Marissa Peer, or Maya Angelou and listen to them regularly.
  17. Think global; Whether it’s in your study, work, fitness, or family, there is a whole world out there offering abundant opportunities and insights. It’s important not to get too porochial.
  18. Remember we are all going to die; Life is a great gift, and it doesn’t go on forever. We must focus on spending our time wisely and investing our time in people and activities that enrich us, feed us and help us grow and understand ourselves.
  19. Don’t chase love or friendship; The minute you are pursuing someone, and the action is unrequited, stop. The best relationships are when two people are both invested.
  20. Find meaning; Whether it’s by going to church, reading the Koran, or spending time with Buddhist monks, finding meaning and spirituality in life can be calming and rewarding.
Renae Leith-Manos at The Four Seasons,Bogota, Columbia.
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Renae Leith-Manos

Editor and Founder of Bondi Beauty

Renae Leith-Manos loves fitness, new beauty products, long chats and long flights. She is at her best when traveling the world writing about luxury hotels and Michelin Star restaurants ( She has had a colourful media career as a journalist inmagazines and newspapers, in Australia and Asia. She spends her time writing, cooking, consulting to new businesses, running and working out.

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