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We Could All Use J.K. Rowling's Advice To Her Younger Self

Step one: Stop worrying about money

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Twenty years ago, platform sneakers were in and our president was about to be embroiled in a sex scandal—so basically nothing has changed. However, something else happened in 1997 that you probably didn’t recognize as a major event at the time: the first 1,000 copies of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone hit bookstore shelves.

While that fact alone should cause all of us to reflect on the passage of time (how the hell is it already May, for instance), it’s resonated deeply with one figure in particular. When freelance journalist Jane Merrick posed the question, “If you could go back to your 1997 self tonight, what would you say?” on Twitter, she didn’t expect to get hundreds of emotionally charged responses. Among those responding to her tweet was J.K. Rowling.

Approaching this literary anniversary in June and seeing Merrick’s tweet apparently struck a chord in Rowling. To the initial question, she responded, “Stop worrying about the rent. Concentrate on your public speaking phobia.”

Obviously, most of us are going to continue to worry about keeping a roof over our heads no matter what Rowling says. Still, it’s worth a reminder from the queen of dream following herself that you often have to compartmentalize your fear of failure to achieve success. Clearly this strategy worked for Rowling, who struggled to finish her first book in the midst of raising her young daughter and living on state benefits. Her road to success simply goes to show how drastically anyone’s life can change—for better or worse—in a brief span of time.

So, if you’re sweating the (relatively) small stuff, consider putting those challenges in perspective and gravitating toward your biggest fear. As Forbes contributor Sujan Patel points out, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is the key to lifelong success. Rowling and Patel might just be onto something.

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