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!


Sign Up to get your free worksheet here!

(I talk a lot about learning new things in this post too.)

This Post Has 18 Comments

  1. Elizabeth

    Number 2 & 3 spoke so loudly to me. I was brought up believing that you shouldn’t even bother with something if you can’t do it perfectly. And then I’m filled with “could have been” when I don’t do something. So I’m trying not to be so perfectionist and not beat myself up so much.

  2. Candi Randolph

    Hi Lisa, don’t you wish we could have known this stuff in our 20’s? But I guess that is what makes life, life. We learn as we go. One of the most important lessons for me is to let the past go, as you mentioned. Can’t change it so why spend time trying to figure out the what-if’s. Enjoy the day and look forward to tomorrow. 🙂

  3. Sue

    Good lessons to learn at any age. I think we are learning all the time if we get a chance to just be still and take it in. That’s the hard part!

    1. Lisa

      Hey Sue! That is so true – being still is a CHALLENGE daily!! Thank you so much for stopping by and reading!!

  4. Mia

    I really like the 5 choices you had. It makes one move ahead in a grounded and balanced way. Makes you wiser.

    1. Lisa

      Hi Mia. Yes, I agree and being grounded and balanced is just what is needed! Thanks so much for stopping by, reading, and for your comment!

  5. Wendy

    #4 is the one that resonates with me the most! On social media especially, it’s way too easy to assume all sorts of things. I have to constantly remind myself to take a step back and get things in perspective. 🙂

    1. Lisa

      Yes, Wendy! I so agree! Social Media is definitely a double-edged sword. I do have to remind myself as well that people only post the happy/pretty pictures, and not the sad/lonely/fearful life events. And, we don’t know what else may be going on in their lives. Thanks so much for your comments!!

  6. marijke

    Very interesting and very clear formulated. It is all common sense and yet we don’t live like it because we get constantly manipulated not to by marketing messages. Very thought provoking stuff. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Lisa

      YES! We are and I was just thinking that it’s “normal” to have “issues” now and present them as a joke or in a meme. But, on the other hand, there is a lot more attention paid to self care too. So…a balance maybe? Not sure. Thanks so much for reading and leaving a comment!!

  7. Andy

    I’m with you on 4 and 5. I think one of the benefits of midlife is having a clear rear view window to see the past as we drive into our unknown future. It’s exhilerating!

    1. Lisa

      I love your analogy of the rear view window! If only we could see these things in the front window! HA! But that’s life – living and learning! Thank you so much for stopping by and reading! <3

  8. melanie

    Great post Lisa… I like lists and reflecting on life:) I remember the FlyLady. I used to follow her for many years:). I’m sharing this on my facebook page. #4 is the one that really stood out to me.

    1. Lisa

      Hey Mel! I’ve had others say that #4 resonated the most…I think since we all come with our own “stuff,” we are inclined to assume certain things. And, a lot of the time, it’s due to insecurities within ourselves. I’m so glad you liked the post and can’t thank you enough for sharing it!!

  9. Susie Truett

    Really enjoyed this article & what a great list. This topic would be a great idea for a book with every chapter a lesson learned by age 50! Imagine how helpful that would be for the 20 & 30 somethings! I’ve really struggled with #3 over the years but I’m working on it and getting to a place where I don’t think about the “what if’s” or “could have beens”. Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. Lisa

      Wow, Susie! You are right! I WISH I could write this and that my young adult children would read it. I would have to do it anonymously though, since they don’t listen to me. HAHA! I wish I had known a lot of this when I was younger, but at least I know it now! Really appreciate your feedback! Thanks so much for reading!!

  10. Mary

    Excellent roundup of little life lessons that are quite significant. Interesting how long it can take us to learn certain things but better late than never!

    1. Lisa

      Yes! And we are wiser with age!! It’s true!! Thank you for reading, Mary!!

Leave a Reply