We all say it from time to time: “If only I knew then what I know now!” We look back on our lives and remember awkward experiences or mistakes we’ve made and cringe – or worse, feel regret. Of course, that’s what life is all about: to live is to learn. But there are some lessons that would have been so useful to us earlier in life; knowledge that could have spared us – and those we love – a lot of pain.
We know we can’t go back in time, but we can acknowledge the insights we’ve gained… and we can impart them to those around us. Hopefully, sharing our acquired truths can help others – especially our younger family members, friends and colleagues.
- Making mistakes is inevitable – and essential. Life is going to trip you up sometimes. But if you consciously choose to learn from your mistakes, you’ll grow from them. And one day you’ll be able look back on your “uh-oh” moments and laugh at them.
- Don’t worry so much about what others think. If you waste too much time seeking validation or approval from others, you won’t have time to accomplish all that you desire. Other people’s opinions of you are based more on their history and perceptions than on who you really are and what you’re doing. It’s good to ask for feedback, but in the end, the way you see yourself is what really matters.
- Life is not a race. Sometimes it feels like you have to hurry to get everything accomplished in life: finish an education, begin a career, have a family, start a business… But you don’t have to do it all at once! In fact, if you do try to do everything at the same time, you won’t be able to enjoy your journey – and you could even end up burning out and losing it all. Slow down and savor each moment.
- What happened yesterday is gone. Those unmet expectations, difficult situations, failures and conflicts? They belong to the past. You can’t change them, so let them go. Don’t waste your energy dwelling on anger, resentment or disappointment. It only keeps you stuck in the past and prevents you from moving forward in life. And try to let the little things go too: insults, criticisms, negative remarks. They only weigh you down.
- Don’t let fear hold you back. Nothing stops people from tapping into their full potential and becoming the best version of themselves more than fear. But fear can only get the best of you if you don’t fight it and push forward. Keep fear from holding you back by pushing through and doing the task anyway. It’s called the “bite the bullet” mentality, and it really does work.
- Money is not the most important thing. Of course money matters. We all have bills to pay. But when all is said and done, money is simply a currency that allows you to eat, dress and live. It is not a magic wand. Finding something you enjoy doing, taking satisfaction in doing that job well, and contributing to something worthwhile, are far more rewarding achievements which contribute to a richer, happier, less stressful life.
- Stand up for what you believe in. If something is important to you, then stand up for it… even if it’s an unpopular idea. Never compromise your integrity. One person can make a difference and shed light on injustice or unfairness. If you believe something isn’t right, say so.
- Don’t burn your bridges. You never know when a former boss, colleague, business partner or acquaintance may come in handy. If you have to part, try to do so on good terms. And never gossip about former connections! A well-maintained, wide network of friends, peers and connections on all levels will provide you with incredible resources and support throughout your life.
- Learn to ask great questions. You don’t know everything and at every stage of your life, you’ll find yourself among people who are far more knowledgeable than you. Stay curious and ask great questions. Listen more than you talk and keep asking. Almost every person you meet has at least one incredible story or lesson to share with you. You just have to dare to ask.
- Look for the good in everything. Above all, look for the good in people. Try to celebrate the happy moments, big and small. Search for lessons and opportunities for growth even in difficult times. Give encouragement rather than criticism whenever possible. This doesn’t mean you should float through life on a cotton candy cloud ignoring everything bad. Dishonesty, disrespect and negativity exist and you’ll have to deal with them. But don’t let them tarnish your everyday life. If you view the world around you through the lens of goodness, you’ll find that life is much more enjoyable.