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What do you wish you had learned earlier in life?

Categories: Hacking Life, The Juggle, Working? Living?


Every year, I make my New Year’s Resolutions on my birthday. And today’s the day, folks. But this year, I’m crossing one of those resolutions off my list before the day even begins. This year, instead of simply sharing with you the things I’d really like to do in the next 365 days or my plans for self-improvement, I’m asking you to please share your wisdom: What do you wish you had learned earlier in life?

Work It Mom’s own Miss Britt, who writes the “Full Time, All the Time” blog here, is the inspiration for this post. A month ago, she and her family sold their belongings, left their home in Central Florida to spend a year living out of a 24-foot RV while they travel the country. And she’s sharing her experience with her readers at her blog, “In Pursuit of Happiness.”

Last week, she offered up 18 things that she’s learned during that first month on the road. They’re pieces of wisdom that most of us are looking for but unable to find easily, distracted as we are by the minutiae of daily life. Some of those things really struck a chord with me, especially these three:

  • What you can provide your children has almost nothing to do with how grateful (or ungrateful) they will be.
  • People and places can surprise you. Even if you don’t have the time to learn the back story, remember that there always is one.
  • Being clear about your intentions increases the odds that you’ll be happy with your results – in just about anything.

I’ve asked you to share your wisdom with me, so it’s only fair that I share the things I wish I’d learned years ago. Among them:

  • You make your own happiness. Not only that, but you have to consciously choose to be happy. And don’t forget that being able to even ponder your personal happiness is a privilege afforded to those for whom the basic necessities (food, clothing, shelter) aren’t an issue—so you’re probably already better off than most people in this world.
  • The little things in life are the big things. Not just the little people in your life, though they’re much bigger than they seem, too. But the little things—the sunsets, the midnight kisses, having the whole family safe around the dinner table—mean more, in the long run, than many of the things we typically chase through life.
  • You can only control your own actions. It’s easy to blame anyone and everyone else for your problems, but ultimately the only person who can change anything about your situation is you. So, instead of getting fed up, figure out a way to cope. Instead of blaming a bad boss, decide what’s important to you and take steps to reach your goal. And, most important: Don’t make other people’s insecurities your problem.
  • Look for the positive. It’s there, really. It make take some searching, but there’s a silver lining to almost anything. Instead of being crushed by negative criticism, separate the personal from the professional, address the issue, and move on. And if you can’t find a positive side, create one by being kind—it might not change the situation, but you’ll feel better about yourself.

What do you wish you’d learned years ago?

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3 comments so far...

  • I love the thought of New Year starting on a birthday.

    What do I wish I’d learned years ago? Plans are just that, they are not absolutes, they can be changed (through your desire or not) and you have to learn to roll with the new tide.

    And off topic it’s my daughter’s birthday today too! A great day.

    Mich  |  July 7th, 2011 at 11:58 am

  • I wish I knew a lot younger that my best is good enough.

    SKL  |  July 7th, 2011 at 10:10 pm

  • That sometimes the best memories are the silly, crazy, small things that you do. Like jumping puddles in the rain, have a tickle fight, or have a pretend picnic under the covers. That chores will wait. That kids notice if you are not really listeniing to them.

    Corinne S.  |  July 13th, 2011 at 3:06 am