What I Wish I Knew Earlier: Three Life Lessons to Achieving Greatness

Editor’s note: I want to thank Abubakar Jamil for inspiring this post. It was a very emotionally driven post that ended up meaning a lot to me. It was written for the Life Lessons Series, which at this point has accumulated over 45 different bloggers. I would truly recommend checking out the plethora of knowledge and insight that this series provides. I hope you enjoy! Please leave a comment and let me know what lessons you would leave to the next generation, and please pass this on to anyone you feel could benefit.

In retrospect, there are many decisions we make and actions we take, which have a profound impact on our life, whether for better or worse. Looking back, I realize how lucky I was that many situations didn’t turn out worse, and how fortunate I am to be where I am today. Some would say that everything happens for a reason. This is a great way to make meaning out of life and find opportunities in every situation, and though we may gain wisdom from difficult times, there are certainly situations we would like to have seen unfold differently, if the choice was ours. There are valuable lessons and life principles that are learned along the way and this will always be the case, but maturity and wisdom can also be taught through knowledge and self-awareness. This post is a message to a younger generation on how to make life more enjoyable and the world a better place.

As a teenager, there are new emotions emerging, new social interactions, and confusion about self-identity. Despite this, by seeking out wisdom through knowledge and healthy experience, a foundation can be developed to approach life with optimism and conviction. Below are the life lessons that I would tell my own children, or any teenager trying to discover their place in life.

Plan for Your Future Before you Have to

It’s never too early to get ahead. Just because you live at home or don’t have significant responsibility doesn’t mean you shouldn’t set goals. This is actually the best time to start. You have the opportunity to set a course, and make significant progress before you have countless responsibilities to manage. Start using the learning curve of experience, and advice from those you trust, to prepare for the world. The earlier you start paying attention to what you enjoy doing, what you’re good at, and what you believe in, the clearer direction you will have for the future. With a solid foundation of self-understanding, you can embark on a journey of self-discovery to pursue your passions, and reach your life goals. You have a right to devote your time, energy, and effort to your livelihood and what’s meaningful to you.  It’s just a matter of knowing how to reach this point and what benchmarks to accomplish along the way. Getting ahead means understanding your passions and purpose, knowing where you’re going and how to get there, and feeling that inner sense of certainty and confidence that you’re making the right decisions. Plan ahead before you have to.

Attitude is Everything

“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”  -Winston Churchill

The moment you start to feel like the world is too much to handle, is the moment you cease to grow and develop into the person you are capable of being. Understand that you always have control of your attitude and in doing so you have the opportunity to transcend past life’s obstacles. Whether you have a positive or negative attitude toward something has huge implications on your willingness to try and to stick with it. A positive attitude results in enthusiasm, vitality, optimism, and enjoyment. A negative attitude can drain enthusiasm and energy, and lead to discouragement and discontent. Don’t make a mountain out of a mole hill. A book called, Success for Teens describes how attitude plays a role in people’s lives. It explains that we all have a life philosophy. Our philosophy is how we think about ourselves, others, and the world around us. This philosophy comes from the thoughts and experiences we have, and it impacts our attitude. In turn, our attitude impacts our actions and behavior, and the actions we take ultimately impacts our life. When it comes down to it, our attitude impacts the type of life we’ll live. Don’t live a life of unwillingness, discouragement, and defeat. If you have a negative attitude toward something you probably won’t do it, won’t care how you do, and really won’t use your full potential. Think about how this will impact your life.

You are Meant for More: Leave a Legacy

“I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost

It is so easy to fall in line and take the easy path. Without proper guidance, encouragement, and planning for the future, the transition to adulthood can seem overwhelming. It can be scary to think of what success really means. Though, know you have great potential and believe in yourself. Do more than the bare minimum, or what it takes to scrape by. Look at life as a challenge to rise to, and begin striving for excellence. Don’t let anyone ever tell you what you can or can’t do. There is a great scene in the movie The Pursuit of Happiness that exemplifies this idea perfectly. View it below. Find a great figure that you look up to and know you can be as great and phenomenal as them. Don’t let your limiting beliefs about what you can do get in the way of achieving great things. Know that life is about learning and growing, and the more you try the more you will learn and grow into a great person. In his Habitudes series, Tim Elmore encourages people to consider what their “life sentence” will be. The contributions of great leaders and influential figures throughout history are usually summed up in about one sentence. There is typically that one overall major accomplishment they are remembered for. What will your life sentence be? How do you want to be remembered? All in all, never fear and never give up in your search for happiness and greatness. It will certainly come by planning for your future, setting smart goals, maintaining a positive attitude, and recognizing your true potential.

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