39 Things About Life I Wish I Had Known 10 Years Ago

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About two years ago I started a list called “Things I wish I had known earlier” in my journal.

I initially came up with 25 lessons about life, career, love, and relationships. Things I’ve learned from mentors, books, friends, readers, etc.

I created the list for myself because I realized that I forgot important lessons at the same rate I learned new lessons.

And when I shared the list on my blog for the first time, a lot of people thought it was useful. Two years later, I still read the list a few times a year. Plus, I added new lessons I’ve learned recently.

Here’s the latest edition. I hope you find it useful.

  1. Struggle Is Good
    Never say “I can’t take it anymore.” Say “Bring it on!”
  2. Don’t Complain
    Complaining is the biggest waste of time there is. Either do something about it, and if you can’t, shut up about it.
  3. Always Strive For Something
    When you wake up in the morning, think about what you’re trying to achieve. Humans need a vision to wake up every morning. After you picture your vision, go after it. Every day.
  4. Spend Time With People You Love
    That’s your family and best friends. If you don’t have a family, create one. Most people in life are only visitors. Family is for life.
  5. Don’t Start A Relationship If You’re Not In Love
    I’ve done this more than once. You kind of like someone and think: “We might as well give it a shot.” Not a good idea. You’re either in love, or you are not. Don’t fool yourself. It’s not fair to you and the other person.
  6. Exercise Daily
    A healthy body is where you have to start everything in life. If you can’t build a healthy and strong body, what can you build in life?
  7. Keep A Journal
    No, keeping a journal is not for children. It helps you to become a better thinker and writer. “I don’t want to be a writer” you might think. Well, how many emails and texts do you send a day?
  8. Be Grateful
    Say ‘thank you’ to everyone and everything. “Thank you for this beautiful day.” “Thank you for your email.” “Thank you for being there for me.”
  9. Don’t Care About What People Think
    We all die in the end, do you really think it matters what people think of you?
  10. Take More Risks
    Don’t be such a wimp. Seriously.
  11. Pick An Industry, Not A Job
    If you want to become good at something, you need to spend years and years doing that. You can’t do that if you hop from industry to industry. Pick an industry you love and start at the bottom. You will find the perfect role for you eventually.
  12. Lead The Way
    When you find yourself in a situation where everyone looks at each other, it’s time for you to lead. You‘re a leader when you decide to become one. There’s no initiation or a title. Just a decision.
  13. Things Are Not What They Seem
    If something sounds too good to be true, it is. A little skepticism never hurts.
  14. Money Is Not The Most Important Thing
    You have to train yourself not to care about money and focus on providing value instead. Also, don’t become too dependent on the stuff you own — otherwise, the stuff will own you.
  15. Be Nice
    I don’t mean you should be a pushover. You can be someone that doesn’t take shit and be nice about it. Just don’t insult people, think you’re better than them, or act like an idiot.
  16. Strain Yourself
    Take on challenging things in your life. No strain no gain.
  17. Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable
    Life, work, relationships, challenges. It’s all uncomfortable. So get comfortable with that.
  18. Learn Every Day
    You’ve got to train your brain to stay alert. You don’t have to read a book a day to learn every day. Learn from your mistakes. Learn from the people around you — be open to what they can teach you.
  19. Rest Before You Are Tired
    Even if you love your job, and every day seems like a holiday, you need to take time to rest. You’re a human and not an android, never forget that.
  20. Don’t Judge
    Just because people make different choices than you, they are not stupid. Also, you don’t know everything about people, so don’t judge them — help them.
  21. Value Yourself
    “Who am I to say something?” Well, you’re a human being who wakes up every morning and contributes something to this world. You have the right to say and do anything you want. Recognize that.
  22. Have Patience
    Rome wasn’t built in a day, right? But that’s too obvious. Rome also wasn’t built in a year, or even two years, or even five years. Some things take decades to make happen. How’s that for your perspective?
  23. Think About Others
    Just be mindful, that’s all. We all have families, bills to pay, and our own issues. Don’t always make everything about yourself.
  24. Give Without Expecting Something In Return
    Don’t keep score. You will become a bitter person if you do that. Give solely for the joy of giving. If you get something in return, great, if you don’t, great.
  25. There’s No End Game
    We, as a species, just are. Don’t try to figure it all out. Enjoy your journey.
  26. Enjoy Small Things
    I like clichés because they are true. Especially this one. You know why? Everyone says they know it, but no one lives up to it. They just chase big things.
  27. Don’t Take Yourself Seriously
    Yeah, yeah, you’re an individual, and people have to take you seriously, I get it. But at the end of the day, we’re all a bunch of ants trying to chase the same things. Lighten up.
  28. Take On More Responsibilities
    Sounds paradoxical (like many things in life), but believe me on this one. The more responsibilities you have, the more purpose you have in life. Just don’t get overwhelmed. You’re not that important.
  29. Don’t Blame People
    What’s the point? Do you want to punish them? You don’t do that to people. Also, don’t blame yourself — you’re only human.
  30. Never Look Back Too Long
    Reflecting on the past is only good for one thing: Learning.
  31. It’s Okay To Be Sad
    Life’s not always great. We all know that. But why do we pretend we’re okay while we’re not? Because we’re too proud. If you’re not doing well, admit it. Now, you can work on getting better.
  32. Avoid Negative Situations And People
    You can’t underestimate the impact others have on you. Get away from negativity at all cost.
  33. Invest In Yourself
    Why? The world always needs people who can do something well. Be that person.
  34. Rely On Yourself
    Because it’s the best feeling in the world to know you can figure things out by yourself. But don’t overdo it. Ask for help when you need it.
  35. Don’t Listen To “No”
    The best things in life only happened after people heard “no.” Did they quit? No.
  36. Buy A House
    A lot of wealthy people say they never buy a property to live in it because it’s not an investment. They’re right. But a lot of people still don’t care because they like to own the house they live in. I agree. And if you move on, rent it out. It’s an investment.
  37. Hold Yourself To A High Standard
    When you do something, do it well or not at all. Always strive for outperforming yourself.
  38. Create Something
    Not to leave a legacy, you won’t be here to see it anyway, but to be of use. Make music, write a book, build a table, anything. You’ll feel good about yourself, plus you give something back to people to use or enjoy.
  39. Take Action
    Don’t just sit there, do something. Without action, there is no outcome.

You might know a lot. But just like Socrates, who believed he knew nothing, you and I also know nothing at all.

So we have to keep learning.

Creator of the Stoic Letter (new letter comes out every Friday) | Author of 7 books and 6 courses at

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