This year, I've decided to sit down and reflect on the past year, and my whole life. Many things have changed over the years, especially over the past few. Usually I just let my birthday fly by, but doing some self-reflection is always a good idea.
I've made mistakes over the years, and I've also made good decisions. I've learned a lot of valuable life lessons, and now I am happier than ever.
While I am not perfect and don't have a perfect life, life is good and I am very fortunate. I have great friends, a great family, a happy marriage, wonderful dogs, a business that I love, a life of travel, and more.
Here are 27 life lessons I've learned in the first 27 years of my life. While some may seem obvious, others may not, but everything below is what made me who I am today. Plus, you may learn something new or something may just “click” after reading my list. Enjoy!
1. Value your time.
When I was younger, a year seemed like an extremely long time. Now, it seems like years go by very quickly.
Time is important, and you should value it. Instead of spending your time doing something you dislike, you should make a goal to change the negative things in your life to something you enjoy instead of waiting decades.
2. Never compare your beginning to someone else's middle.
Comparing yourself to others can sometimes give you motivation to work harder, but you also don't want to be unrealistic or get frustrated.
You should always give yourself time with a new task, and don't think of yourself as a complete failure just because you're not at the same point as someone else.
Everything takes time, and practice makes perfect.
One of the great temptations for us as leaders and dreamers is to compare the start of our new adventures to the middle of someone else’s. You work on your first book and pick up Max Lucado’s 14th book and say, ‘Mine isn’t as good.’ You post your first blog post and look at Michael Hyatt’s 100th and think, ‘Mine is nowhere near as great as that.’ You give your first speech and watch Ken Robinson’s 1,000th at TED and think, ‘I’m not great like that.’ – Jon Acuff
3. Create a plan to reach your dreams and goals.
You aren’t going to magically reach your dreams and goals unless you create a plan to reach them.
What do you often dream of? Maybe you want a certain career, you want to travel, or something else.
Whatever you want to do, why not create a plan so you can reach your goal? You might live in regret until that happens! You only live once, so a good first step is creating a plan to achieve your dream.
4. Be positive.
I say this in many of my posts, but I truly believe in it. It’s also something that I think more people need to work on.
Being positive can completely change your life. This means you should laugh more, smile more, be happy with yourself (this is very important!), quit being jealous, complain less, have a better outlook on life, and more.
The power of positive thinking may help you:
- Find another option or route
- Feel motivated, so you can keep on pushing
- Move on from your past mistakes
- Convince yourself that you can improve your situation (career, financial, family, etc.)
- Reach for your goals
- Be happier
5. Learn something new as often as you can.
Back when I was in school, I hated learning new things. Yes, that's how most children and students are. However, I still remember one day in college when I was a freshman, a man in his 60's was in one of my philosophy classes. We all asked him why he was there, because, as young 18 year olds, we all thought school was such a drag. He proceeded to tell us how learning and school were the best things in life and that one day, while maybe not right now, we would realize that.
Well, now I know.
I enjoy learning new things more than ever. I'm constantly reading and learning about new things, whereas before I probably would have laughed at myself.
There is so much to learn in the world, and it is so easy to do so. There are classes, articles, great books, and many more things that are so easily accessible in this day and age.
6. Stop living in regret.
You can't change the past, so there is no point in dwelling on regret and letting it negatively impact you. Instead, you should learn from your mistakes and move on.
7. Don't care about what anyone else thinks.
This is one that took me awhile to realize, but thankfully I truly believe it now. You should do things for you and not let other people's opinion's rule your life.
Do what is right for you!
8. Live life to the fullest.
No matter who a person is, what they are currently doing, how much money they have in the bank, and so on, everyone can start living life to the fullest.
You just never know what may happen in the future, so taking advantage of the time you have now is very important. No one ever wants their life to flash before their eyes and wonder whether their life was meaningful or not, whether they had a good time, or whether they regret past decisions.
And, yes, you can live a great life on a realistic budget.
9. Cherish moments with loved ones.
Now that we travel full-time, we don't see family and friends as often as we used to. In fact, we haven't been “home” in over 6 months.
I've always cherished the moments with those that I love, but now I make sure to make each trip even more special.
You should never take a moment for granted with those that you love. This will sound very doom and gloom, but you just never know what may happen to you or them. Plus, spending time with your loved ones is always a great time, so why not just do it more?!
10. Make time for fun.
All work and no play is never good for anyone.
You should always make time for the things that you love, even if it’s just a few hours each week. This can help lift your mood, increase your motivation, and more.
11. Excuses are just that – excuses.
Many people make excuses for why things aren't going their way. Yes, sometimes you may find yourself in a bad situation, but it doesn't mean that you're not in control of your own destiny.
Don't let excuses hold you back. Instead, take action in your life and overcome the obstacles in your path.
12. Do what YOU want to do.
What makes you happy, excited, joyful, and motivated? That’s what you should be doing with your life (as long as it’s legal)!
If you want to live a life of adventure – Go for it.
If you want to start a family – Start planning one.
If you want a better job – Get one.
If you want to change the world – Do it.
13. Less is more.
The idea that less is more is something I think about nearly every day.
When we recently got rid of the majority of our belongings to move into our RV full-time, I truly realized how less is more. We had so much junk that we had never touched, and it wasn't contributing to the improvement of our lives in any way.
Having less stuff is great for many reasons:
- Less clutter
- We can give more attention to what truly matters
- Less money spent on things that don't matter
14. Laughter is the best form of medicine.
Laughter and happiness can pretty much cure anything. Next time you're feeling down, try to find a way to laugh. It will help!
15. Help others as much as you can.
Helping others can completely change your life and change other lives as well. Whether you do something big or small, do something! The smallest gesture can make someone’s day and completely change how they feel.
Here are a few ways to help others:
- Smile and say hello to everyone you cross paths with
- Donate items from your home
- Donate blood
- Encourage someone who is struggling
- Foster an animal
- Become a Big Brother or a Big Sister
Read more at 58 Random Acts Of Kindness.
16. Sometimes you just have to go for it.
You'll never know what the outcome is if you don't just go for it. Instead of constantly thinking “what if,” you may just want to take the leap and finally try it out.
17. Dogs are awesome.
18. Gain control of your financial situation.
Money is not everything, but being in a good financial situation may make your life easier.
You should pay off your debt, earn more money than you spend, stop keeping up with the Joneses, save for retirement, and so on.
Gaining control of your financial situation is important because you won’t feel as stuck when it comes to money. And then, you may be able to do more because you won’t be held back by monetary problems.
This may help you to reach your dreams, such as traveling more, following your passion, be less stressed, and more.
19. You can say no.
You don't have to say yes to every single request. Saying yes can be great if you have the time, but saying yes to everything can also cause a lot of stress and lead to people taking advantage of you.
Sometimes you have to evaluate your options and possibly say no.
20. Gossip stinks.
Gossipping doesn't help anyone.
If you don't like someone or you don't like what they're doing, why should you spend your time thinking about them or talking about them to others? That is just a waste of time!
21. Don’t let life pass you by.
It can be really easy to let life pass you by. Before you know it, years or even decades may be gone.
Too many people have the mindset of “Oh, in 10 years life will be so much better because of this and that.” And then they just let their lives go by without ever thinking about the present.
Well, what about now?! 10 years is a long time! Reaching a goal is great, but during the present you should try to fit in some happiness as well (on a budget, of course).
22. See the beauty in everything.
There are beautiful things all around us. Instead of seeing the bad in things, try to see the good.
23. Kill them with kindness.
Being kind to others is always important, even when a person is being negative, hurtful, or difficult.
Whenever someone is being difficult in my life, I almost always attempt to kill them with kindness.
And, I've found that it works 99% of the time.
24. Be open to new things and tackle your fears.
When was the last time you did something new? So many people live inside their comfort zone when they actually need to branch out every now and then.
Yes, stepping outside of your box can be tough, but what if it completely opened your eyes and changed your whole outlook on life? Wouldn’t that be amazing?
25. Balance is important.
You can't do everything 24/7. You need some sort of balance to stay sane.
26. Be confident.
Being confident can help you succeed in life. If you don't believe in yourself, then who will?
27. Money is just money.
Too many people let money take over their life in ways that don’t bring them any joy. Yes, you need money in order to pay bills and to survive, but it is just money.
Instead of letting money take over your life, you should use it as a tool to help improve your life. Instead of thinking about money in a negative way, think about it in a positive way and take actions to improve your financial situation.
What life lessons do you think are important?