Five Life Lessons Insightful People Will Learn Before Age 50
You graduated high school and/or college. You have a job. You no longer live with your parent(s). You don’t depend on anyone else to pay expenses, well that’s true most of the time.
You’re feeling great about your personal life and your professional future is planned out in a can’t miss trajectory that will land you in the C Suite before you turn 40.
While I missed out on the C Suite, I’ve come a long way from where I started. Early on I learned and have tried to follow one rule:
Do your best every day.
That may be the most important life lesson of all. But there are others you will learn. They all are necessary if you want to be emotionally grounded, fulfilled and satisfied wherever life takes you.
Here are five that deserve consideration:
- Create a life that feels good on the inside, not one that just looks good on the outside.
You do this by being honest with yourself.
Your insides will feel good if you look for and follow your professional passion when choosing a job and a career.
How you look to others will not be important as long as you’re honest with that person in the mirror. That person is the only one who knows the true you.
Your parent(s) may want you to be an engineer like your father. Your best friend may be going to med school. Your sister may be a CIA Agent.
John Grisham was a lawyer who wanted to be a writer. Making the transition has served him well. He may have made a living practicing law, but he has made a better life by becoming a writer.
You might be able to make a living doing dozens of jobs, but your best life will only be realized if you stop worrying about how you look on the outside to others and focus on what fulfills yourself on the inside.
- Everyone who smiles at you is not your friend. Everyone who frowns at you is not your enemy.
First impressions are important, but only time and many exposures will reveal the true motive behind those smiles and frowns.
Some smiling people are shallow and will bury a knife in your back whenever it suits their need for self promotion.
Some frowning people are dispositionally challenged, but you can always count on them to be fair and honest. You may wish they were more joyful, but you can bet they never will betray a confidence or use you as a sacrificial lamb to save their own skin.
For example, have you ever seen Robert Mueller on tv?
Give everyone more than one chance to reveal their true selves.
- Recognize the difference between wants and needs.
I have spent a ton of money on cars that I thought looked better than the good car I was driving at the time. I have bought a lot of clothes that have been worn only a time or two. I have eaten a lot of food that made me chubby, ok, fat, but has done nothing to improve my health. I have paid a lot of gym fees, but not enough time exercising to improve the shape of my body.
You get the point.
It’s not only the money. Another reason to balance the wants vs. needs equation is to provide life options that otherwise would be lost.
Want to vacation in Paris, France vs. Paris, Tennessee next year? Better not buy those trendy $$ shoes.
Want to go to grad school without owing $50k in student loans after you finish. Maybe a side gig can help get it done.
Want to retire at 55? Maxing out your 401k is more likely to make it possible than playing Black Jack in Vegas.
You can’t have everything, so choose wisely between what you want and what you need to achieve your life goals.
- Life will offer many acquaintances, but few real friends.
This is a biggie. Life throws EVERYONE a curveball or two. When it does you will ask someone to sacrifice a piece of themself to help you. Maybe it’s their time, maybe it’s their $$, maybe it’s their ear, their shoulder and their heartfelt condolences.
That’s the friend.
The acquaintance will offer thoughts and prayers, but don’t expect them to meet you at the emergency room at 3:00 a.m.
Someday you will feel lucky if more than one hand is needed to count all your true friends.
- “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Theodore Roosevelt said that.
Social media will lead you to believe that all of you friends, the real ones and the Facebook kind, are living the high life. Don’t fall for it.
There once was a couple that appeared to be totally happy and committed. All their family photos were filled with big smiles and tight hugs. Their kids were beautiful and their pets were perfect. They were known and seen throughout the community in all the right places, at all of the top social events. They were the “It Couple.”
Everyone was shocked when the rumor mill circulated gossip of trouble in paradise. Many were dismayed when the divorce was announced.
A friend of mine said, “ You never know what happens once the front door closes.”
No life is perfect. Every life is a series of mountain tops and valleys. Compare yourself only to yourself and how well you are doing against the best of yourself.
There are many more lessons that insightful people learn throughout their life. I will share more in future articles.
For now, remember this…
“A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life”….Muhammad Ali
Ali proclaimed himself “The Greatest of All Time.” As a boxer he was probably right. This quote is an example of a man grew professionally all the way to his C Suite, plus he reached the highest level of emotional health. He died a satisfied and fulfilled man because he had done his best every day.
You can do that too.