Top 5 Life Lessons I Learned by Age 50
This list of five top life lessons actually started out as 50 Things I’ve Learned in My 50 Years of Life. But, as I began writing, I realized I needed to be more concise because, yes, there are at least 50 things I’ve learned, but then this post would go on for days.
(Read to the end for a free download – my TAKEAWAYS OF THE WEEK sheet to keep track of things that YOU learn on a weekly basis.)
Worth doesn’t get depleted by bad things or wrong choices.
Life Lesson #1: Everyone has the same worth.
This life lesson is first and foremost. I originally heard this from a counselor that facilitated a group in which I was a years-long participant. I was probably in my 30’s. That seems a bit old to be learning this. But, for me it hit home because I really believe that I thought I had less worth than others.
I didn’t think about it in terms of others. For example – a person in prison, to me, has the same worth as another human. We are all born with the same worth and it doesn’t get depleted by so-called bad things we do, or wrong choices we make.
Instead, I thought about it in terms of myself. I always just assumed that since I was flawed, I was less worthy or less deserving of things in life. (In actuality, everyone is flawed – see #2 below.) When I looked at it from the perspective of others, I realized that I had as much worth as every other person.
So, that is why I placed this life lesson #1 on my list – PLEASE – if you take anything from this post – remember, your worth is equal to everyone else in this world.
Life Lesson #2: There is no such thing as perfect or perfection.
The second life lesson is also pretty huge for me. What one person sees as “perfect,” another person sees as “needing improvements.” Therefore, there is no such thing as perfect.
I think I knew this, but I remember hearing it from FlyLady when I was subscribed to the emails for that system. The biggest takeaway from FlyLady with regard to perfectionism is that it keeps you from doing anything – from even starting. (Here are a bunch of posts on the Flylady site about perfectionism.) If you believe that you will never get it perfect, you may think, “what’s the point of even starting or trying?”
For me, perfectionism leads to searching forever for the right thing – the right career path, the right system for planning meals, the right workout program, the right planner, etc. etc. And, then when I would try to implement a system/plan/program, it wouldn’t stick, because I would second guess my decision…because I believed it probably wasn’t the right choice. I just assumed there was probably something else that would work better.
For me, this has been a lifelong struggle. I hadn’t put it into words, saying “I suffer from perfectionism” until recently. And, it was a pretty hard realization. But, it’s something I’m focusing on improving for my own well-being.
I’m really being mindful and paying attention to when perfectionism is keeping me stuck. Also, I’m remembering to be kind to myself when I do find perfectionism rearing and make a conscious effort not judge myself. Instead, I’m being curious and gently reminding myself that any decision or choice I make will be just fine. And making a change if needed is also O-K (see #3 below).
Life Lesson #3: You cannot get attached to a specific outcome.
Very recently, this lesson came into play in my life, and having learned this lesson before has really helped with my current situation! I am not dwelling on what “could have been” (well…I do still have momentary thoughts of wishing things were different, but mostly I’m not dwelling).
First, unless we can see into the future, we would NEVER know what “could have been.” Life happens. Life – with all of it’s twists, turns, ups, downs – happens. So, to be attached to a specific outcome will lead to disappointment – more often than not.
Second, it doesn’t matter what “could have been” because it isn’t. This is the basic truth. You are more likely to stay stuck and unable to move forward if you continue to ruminate on the way you wanted it to turn out. Being flexible is really important here because that means you are willing to make adjustments to your thoughts/desires/plans based on the changes.
And, really, imagine what CAN be under these new circumstances, with this change of course/direction. What can you learn from this? Oftentimes, for a whole new scenario, it will take new skills, new knowledge, and new ways of doing things or thinking about stuff. All of this NEW stuff is positive because learning is never bad. (See Lesson #5.)
Plus, maybe things will turn out the way they were going to originally, with a little detour along the way. And, with these new life lessons/skills/knowledge, the outcome might be 100% better! (But, remember not to focus on that one outcome…) ; )
Life Lesson #4: You can never know what someone else is thinking or feeling unless you ask.
Michelle Chalfant, creator of The Adult Chair (model, podcast, etc.), reminds us to not get stuck in “Stories and Assumptions.” (Listen to Podcast #108.) When we assume we know what someone else is thinking, we are just telling ourselves a story and believing that story to be true.
When the truth is, we don’t know what that person is really thinking about the situation. Imagine if you send an invitation to a couple friends via email and no one responds.
I, for one, would likely assume that no one is interested in my invitation, and possibly that these people don’t even really like me, or even that I’ve done something to make them really mad at me.
Michelle Chalfant says to ask yourself, “what is true” about the situation. Well, the only thing I know for sure is that no one has responded.
If I called the people I invited, I may learn that one of them has been out of town on business and hasn’t been looking at personal emails, and that the other had actually changed her email address.
Making assumptions happens ALL THE TIME in relationships. Communication via technology (text or email) makes it even easier to assume something about the other person and/or their intention.
I have a bad “habit” of reading into a text message or email. I will catch myself and realize that I need to ask the sender for clarification, rather than assume the worst. Making assumptions based on “stories” that we tell ourselves can lead to being upset, hurt feelings, or a big argument.
SO, I’ve learned this big life lesson – don’t assume – and don’t believe the stories I’m telling myself when I really don’t know the why/intent/purpose, etc. AND, if I want to know, then I simply need to ask the other person.
Life Lesson #5: Continuing to learn is massively important.
Most people I know do continue to learn. The internet now makes literally everything accessible. Certainly, with age comes wisdom, but that wisdom should make us realize that change happens, with or without us.
I have seen people who have chosen not to step out of their comfort zone or be curious about how things could be better. And, the effects are sad. Not staying current with even little things will leave you in the dust. And, at our age, it is even more important to continue to pursue new skills, gain more experience, and acquire more knowledge.
My mother has been a good role model for showing me this life lesson – that continuous learning is important. When I was in college, she went back to school to get her Bachelor’s degree in Nursing. She is in her late 60’s and still takes classes, reads, listens to podcasts, and researches things that she is interested in.
And, she’s constantly finding new interests. I LOVE that! Now, I haven’t always appreciated her information sharing – because – well you know how it is having your mom tell you “what to do.” But, I now realize that this has been one of the most important things I’ve gotten from her – ensuring that I continue to learn and grow.
My current go-to way of learning is through Podcasts. I’ve mentioned podcasts before and if you don’t currently “do podcasts” – GO NOW – here’s a good article to help you: How to Get Started Listening to Podcasts.
Do a search for something that interests you – maybe it’s Midlife, maybe it’s Blogging, maybe it’s Herbal Medicine, maybe it’s Weight Loss – whatever you search for, there are things you will find that will open your eyes and your mind to an unlimited amount of information! Probably good to keep your list rather short (maybe 10 shows) because, take it from me, you can get too many in your Library and become overwhelmed. : (
Something I’ve started doing is to reflect on my week and write down the things that I’ve learned or that really made me reflect on life. I write these down and can look back on them (usually monthly) to remind myself of the things that struck me as something to work on, look into more, share with others, etc.
So, I created a sheet to help you keep track of what YOU think is super important. The worksheet will help you to remember those things that really stoked something inside of you. When that happens, the thing that moved us is something we don’t want to forget! (Scroll to end of post for the download.)
The list of lessons to learn is infinite! Like I said, I started with a list of 50. What are your top 5 lessons? Any of them the same as mine? Take a moment to share your thoughts so that we can learn from and support one another as we continue to learn and awaken to new pursuits!
(I talk a lot about learning new things in this post too.)