33 life lessons learned that are best learned early

Life Lessons LearnedLife lessons learned for most of us are learned the hard way. Here are 33 of those lessons that are best learned at early as possible, ideally in your teens or early 20s.

Life lessons learned:

1. On experiencing life:

Wherever you are, be there. Be present and experience the moment. You’ll remember moments with friends and family all your life, whereas you’re unlikely to remember social media posts moments after you’ve read them. No experience beats having a good laugh with your friends and family.

2. On making choices:

As an adult, you’re free to make your own choices but you must accept any consequences that follow. A wise adult learns to make good choices because the choices you make will dictate the quality of the life you lead. Your choices really matter. Make too many bad ones and your life experiences won’t be very good at all.

3. On the future (1):

Where you’re going is more important than where you’ve been. The past was a series of lessons to be learned. The future is where you’ll spend the rest of your life. You can’t change the past but your future has yet to be written, and you’ve got the pen.

4. On the future (2):

The future is an endless stream of opportunities that you can choose to seize, or not. However poor your past may have been, that doesn’t mean you can’t seize new opportunities and exploit them to your own advantage. You can, with determination and hard work. And, never let anyone discourage you from having a go. Better to try and fail than to spend your life wondering what might have been

5. On asking questions:

Intelligent people ask questions. So, never be afraid to ask questions when you don’t understand something, or when you need clarification. Better to appear a fool momentarily than remain a fool permanently.

6. On attitude:

The greatest disability in life is a bad attitude. If you’ve got one you’d better change it, if you want your life to improve. Attitude matters. An average person with a positive attitude makes a much better employee than a genius with a chip on his or her shoulder.

7. On fairness:

Life isn’t fair. It never has been and it never will be. We’re all dealt a set of cards in life, and all we can do is to play that hand as best as we can. We could get angry about the unfairness of it all or we can just get on and make the best of what we have. The latter approach is much easier on our nerves, in my experience.

8. On bullying:

When you’re having fun at someone else’s expense, remember it may be fun to you, and you may not mean any harm, but for the other person the impact of such an experience can be humiliating, upsetting and it can cause significant, lasting and often permanent psychological damage to that person. So remember, it isn’t fun at all, if it isn’t fun for the other person. If it isn’t fun for them, it’s actually just bullying. And if you’re bullying, you’re not being cool, you’re being nasty.

9. On judging others (1):

You’re free to judge others if you’re absolutely sure that you’re perfect in every way. If your conclusion is that you’re not quite perfect then why would you expect others to be?

10. On judging others (2):

For everyone life is a struggle. No one is without problems, despite any external signs to the contrary. We just have to keep going for it’s the only way. Life goes on and we must too. If you’ve not walked two miles in someone else’s shoes, you’re not in a position to judge them. So, don’t.

11. On authenticity:

Authenticity is simply being who you are and not trying to be who you think you should be or who you think you’re expected to be. People will respect you for being who you are. An original is always better than a fake.

12. On trust:

Trust takes years to build and seconds to break. And once broken the way you’re seen by others will never be quite the same again. Trust is a valuable and precious commodity. Protect it.

13. On reputation:

Never underestimate the importance of your personal reputation. And if you wouldn’t be happy to read something about yourself on the front pages, don’t do it.

14. On communication:

If you want to tell anyone anything, speak softly and you’ll find that they’re much more likely to listen to you.

15. On success:

No one can ever be a failure but everyone can be a success. Failure is not a person it’s just an outcome you didn’t want. It’s also an opportunity to try again with greater knowledge and experience. Everyone can achieve some degree of success, if they believe in themselves, they’re determined and they’re willing to work hard.

16. On priorities:

We all have the same amount of time. 168 hours a week. It’s how we choose to use it that dictates whether we achieve anything significant or not. Time is a resource, pure and simple. So, decide on your priorities and allocate your time accordingly. And just because someone wants a piece of your time, doesn’t mean you’re obliged to give it to them. If it’s not a priority, nor an obligation, just say NO.

17. On watching television:

Few people seem to recognise this but there’s a significant cost to watching television. Not the cost of purchasing the television set or any cable or satellite subscriptions you may have. The real cost is the opportunity cost of your time. That is the time you spend watching television. Time is money and you could be doing something more profitable with your time. Learning something new perhaps or running your own little income-generating side-hustle.

18. On qualifications (1):

Most of the work done by most people in life doesn’t require a college degree at all. If you have one that’s great, but stay humble. A motivated individual with common sense and decent reading, writing and arithmetic skills can succeed in life without one.

19. On qualifications (2):

You may need a college degree to work for an employer but you don’t need one to work for yourself. If it’s your business, you make the rules.

20. On qualifications (3):

Plenty of people graduating from Harvard will end up working for people who didn’t. So, stay humble. Studying at a top university is no guarantee for career success, nor does it guarantee wealth. A Harvard, Oxford, or Cambridge degree may look good on your CV but five years after graduation the only thing that will really matter is what you’ve actually achieved in the workplace since.

21. On experience:

Doing is by far the best way to learn. The classroom is useful, of course, but nothing beats doing and learning from your mistakes. Making mistakes will teach you lessons that you’ll never forget. And learning from your mistakes will give you that valuable commodity known as experience. Knowing the theory is useful, whereas having experience is essential.

22. On employability:

You don’t sell who you are. You sell what you can do and the value you can add. Every job is about doing stuff for other people and delivering results. What is it you can do and what can you confidently deliver? Before you go for any job interview, make sure you have answers to these questions and make sure you can give examples of stuff you’ve actually delivered on previous occasions.

23. On work (1):

Employers can quickly replace you with someone just like you and you’ll be forgotten quickly. So be professional in carrying out your duties, of course, but not at the expense of your own interests or those of your loved ones.

24. On work (2):

Make sure you take good care of yourself. Employers will take everything you give and a bit more besides but if you died tomorrow your job would be posted online before your obituary. You’ll be replaced within days and the memory of your presence won’t last long.

25. On making money:

To make money you have to be doing stuff for other people. To make a serious amount of money you have to be doing stuff for multiple people simultaneously, even when you’re asleep. Sounds impossible but it can be done. For instance, serving the many with your own digital products, sold online, can lead to great wealth.

26. On sales:

Successful selling is not about tricking people into buying something they don’t need. The art of selling is in proactively finding customers who’ve got problems for which your products can provide the ideal solution. If you can offer solutions to problems, you’ll find customers in need of what you have to sell. Find the right customers and a good product will sell itself.

27. On change (1):

It’s easier to remain as you are than it is to change but unless you change your life will not improve. Embracing change is hard but it is well worth the effort.

28. On change (2):

For things to change, you have to change. For things to get better you have to get better. You can become more than you are but it won’t happen by accident. It all starts with you saying, I can; I will; and I won’t stop until I get there. And you must make any changes necessary.

29. On finding a life partner:

You’ll find, as you go through life, that Mr or Miss Perfect doesn’t exist. If you’re looking for a life partner, find someone whose faults you can live with. Yes, you’ll need to enjoy each other’s company. And yes, you’ll need to have things in common. However, everyone you meet will have faults of their own, even if they’re not immediately apparent.

30. On children (1):

When you have young children they need your attention much more than your mobile phone does. Your children should be your priority, particularly in the early years. You’re their role model. Be a positive role model and give them all the attention they deserve. The years pass quickly and your children, good or bad, are your legacy to the world.  Social media can wait. Anything less is simply a disservice to your child.

31. On children (2):

Children need continuity and they need boundaries. They need to be brought up with a set of values too. Fail to give them those things and you fail as a parent. Materialism is no substitute for the things that really matter most.

32. On your social life:

You’ll never fit into every social group, nor should you try. Just focus on finding a group of people that are right for you. In other words, find your tribe. People that are welcoming to you, with interests like yours and personalities that appeal to you. It’s better to be in the company of people that appreciate your company, rather than trying to fit into groups that don’t really want you there at all.

33. On experts:

There are plenty of people referred to as experts whose ideas and recommendations can prove to be stupid beyond belief. Listen to experts by all means but then use your own judgement. Don’t be fooled by people, just because they’ve got an impressive job title. If your instinct says they’re wrong, have the courage of your own convictions and act accordingly. Just because an ‘expert’ said it, doesn’t mean you have to accept it.

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