Personal Development

7 Life Lessons You'll Probably Learn the Hard Way

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I get it.

You want to live life without regrets.

Your biggest fear is waking up in a month, a year, or a decade and realizing you've wasted your time on the wrong things.

You're scared because you don't want to learn life's lessons the hard way.

You don't want to throw away years of your life struggling, only to discover the truth when it's too late.

Learn these seven life lessons now and could save yourself years.

purpose1. Trying to be perfect leads to failure

Everyone strives to become a better person and live a happier life.

Many of the paths we take lead to fulfillment. But one of the most common paths leads straight to dissatisfaction: the pursuit of perfection.

The simple fact is that perfection is impossible to attain, and the harder you work to achieve it, the further away you'll feel.

The pursuit of perfection is why so many of the world's greatest artists, athletes, and achievers live in a constant state of misery. Year after year, they delude themselves that the next achievement will bring perfection.

But once they get there, those people don't feel perfect. So they set a new standard, and the cycle continues. It's even worse when they base their plans on the future"”but more on that later.

Don't live your life in search of perfection. It will never come.

Instead, be content with the journey of continual growth.

2. The little things are the most memorable

As humans, we are terrible at buying memories for ourselves.

Think back to the five most vivid, pleasant memories you have. I can almost guarantee at least four of them were completely free.

Stop wasting money each year trying to make yourself happy. With time, you will forget the excessive entertainment, elaborate trips, and newer and shinier things. Those items rarely make it to our list of top memories.

The best memories are the morning we burned the expensive brunch, laughed about it, and ate cereal instead. The holiday cruise fades away, but we never forget how our six-year-old packed his suitcase full of toy cars. We don't remember the brand of the giant TV, but we remember when it broke and we played games all evening instead.

Stop spending money on memories that don't last. If you clutter your life with artificial experiences, you'll waste time you should spend on the little things.

3. Your to-do list is infinite

How many times have you tried to finish everything on your to-do list?

In a surge of motivation, you power through the first two or three, or maybe even make it through a dozen or more. As you work, though, you realize that each job you complete adds a few more.

The simple fact is that there will always be something else to do. There will always be another project to work on, skill to develop, or plan to improve.

Don't throw away your life chasing after the next task on your to-do list. The more you do, the more you have to do.

Instead, set boundaries. Working is fine, but earning a paycheck is not the purpose of your life.

Don't waste your life doing things, without focusing on the things worth doing.

4. Someone will always be "better" than you

If you define success as competing against others, there will always be someone to beat.

No matter how great you become, there will always be something you think is "better" than you. In truth, that person isn't better.

That person may have achieved more success in one area, but if you were to switch with them for just a day, you would realize they are far from flawless.

Someone else will always be smarter, richer, healthier, or stronger than you. No matter what you achieve, there will always be another competitor.

And when you focus on others, you forget about your accomplishments.

Instead, stop competing against others and focus on your improvement. Compete against your former self.

When you are better today than you were yesterday, you will thank yourself tomorrow.

5. You can't predict the future

You know you can't predict the future. But I bet you still believe it in your heart.

Every day, millions of people guess what's going to happen. "Experts" tell us their predictions, friends gossip about what will happen to others, we plan our life a few hours or weeks or years from now.

But we are all wrong. Nobody can predict the future.

While it's not a good idea to give up preparation entirely, it's worse to expect the future to go as planned.

You didn't predict any of the devastating life circumstances you've encountered. If you had, they wouldn't be devastating!

Instead, be flexible. Understand that time moves on, whether you are ready or not. Be willing to change if it's needed.

Plan for the changing future, but be willing to change your future plan.

6. People are the best part of life

Too often we avoid people, only to wish later that we had spent time with them while we could.

We delay getting together with an old friend because we have too much work. We tell the family not to interrupt while we're watching our favorite TV show. We attend an event and squander the opportunity to meet new friends because we're focused on the activities and not the people around us.

But nobody on their death bed ever said, "I wish I had focused a little less on people."

When the end of our life draws near, what we will remember is not the work we did, or the TV shows we watched, or the events we attended.

We will remember the people around us. The people we should have helped more. The people with whom we should have been more vulnerable.

Instead, focus now on people. There will always be plenty to do and see. But a person may disappear from your life forever without warning.

Don't forget now the people you won't forget later.

7. The best time to live your dream is right now

Don't wait for the perfect moment to live your dream. Just like you'll never be perfect, the time will never be just right. Whatever you want to do, start it now.

Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow might be too late.

Sure, your dreams will be difficult to accomplish now. But they won't be any easier in the future"”and you might not be able to do them at all.

In a year, you will wish you had started today.

If you've always wanted to see the world, why are you staring at a screen reading this article? If you've always wanted to start your own business, learn how to write, or build the body of your dreams, what are you waiting for?

All those things are hard now, but they are doable. Tomorrow they may be impossible.

What are you waiting for?

Your life is moving on, with or without you.

Are you making steps toward a happier future, or are you hurtling towards regret?

Take action. Add a small step in your morning routine so you will do it every day.

And if you already know one or more of these life lessons? Pass on the wisdom. Share the lessons with someone who hasn't learned them yet.

Your moment is now.

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About the author

Stephen Roe

Stephen Roe writes at Thoughtful Growth, where he helps thoughtful people learn life lessons and live a better life. Stephen teaches how to use your individual strengths to grow into a better self. You can find his tips on Twitter. Build his seven life lessons into your morning routine with his free guide Habit-Forming Morning Routines.