One of the biggest mistakes we make is that we assume we always learn from our mistakes. I’ve met enough people who learned little from their own stupidity.
We all know these people. In fact, we probably are these people. You know why? It’s damned hard to learn from your mistakes. I’ve never met someone who actually enjoyed failing.
Let’s be honest, no one likes to make mistakes, and lose their time, energy, or money. So that’s why we need to make an effort to learn from the things that we wish we didn’t do. The father of functional philosophy and pragmatist philosophy, John Dewey, made that point obvious:
“The person who really thinks learns quite as much from his failures as from his successes.”
Learning from your mistakes does not happen automatically — it requires thinking and reflection. So here’s my reflection on the lessons I learned from the mistakes I made in my twenties. Here we go.
1. Don’t Think You Know Everything
There’s a word for people who think they know everything: Idiot. I meet idiots all the time. And the reason I recognize them is because I used to be one.
Every time you don’t listen to people smarter than you, when you want to sound smart, or think you know it all—you’re being an idiot. It’s time to move your ego to the side and understand that life is not about impressing others.
It’s about fulfillment, collaboration, and the common good. If you want to achieve those things, you need to be humble. But there’s good news for people who get annoyed by idiots: If they don’t decide to become humble, life will make them humble at some point.
2. Never Blame People For Your Unhappiness
As a child, you’re taken care of by others. That may be your parents, siblings, family members, foster parents, or any other person who takes responsibility. Hence, you assume that someone is responsible for you.
But that’s not true. When you grow up, you are responsible for you. So never look at others when you’re unhappy—it’s not fair to the people in your life. Instead, accept your unhappiness, and then do something about it.
3. Stop Wasting Time On Losers
There’s a big chance the people in your environment don’t strive for the same things as you. At some point in my twenties, I was surrounded by people who dropped out of college, were doing drugs, and went out every week.
But it doesn’t have to be that obvious. Many people live a timid life. People who don’t want anything from life and who spend their time watching tv.
Don’t give your time to those people. The cost is high. You might become one of them.
4. Love Is Not What You Think
Most of us have this twisted idea about life. “I want her to treat me this and this way.” Who are you to claim such a thing? And if the other doesn’t live up to our expectations, we flip out or leave.
That’s called conditional love. Strive for the opposite. I’m still learning this. It’s difficult to let go of your expectations about love. But you have to. Otherwise, you’ll never be happy in your relationship.
5. You Actually Don’t Have A Lot Of Time
When you’re young, you think you have an endless sea of time. You can do anything you want. And then you blink, and you’re celebrating your thirtieth birthday.
It’s a matter of simple math. Just ask yourself these questions:
- How much time am I wasting on things that give me zero fulfillment?
- Do I like my job?
- Do I like the people in my life?
The answers to these questions will give you clarity about how well you’re spending your time.
6. You’re Probably Not As Awesome As You Think
There’s always someone better looking, cooler, smarter, stronger, or you name it, than you. Always.
So stop thinking you’re awesome. Compared to what? Because that statement implies you’re comparing yourself to others. Just be yourself and don’t compare yourself to others.
7. Learning Never Stops
Look, when you stop learning and developing yourself; you’re dead. I’m not kidding. When I got out of college, I stopped learning. Guess what? I felt stuck after two years.
Push yourself to learn something every day. If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse.
8. Doing Hard Things Gives You More Pleasure
I always ran away from hard things. Improving yourself, working out, saving money, building a business, helping others, investing time in your relationship—it’s all hard when you do it right.
But doing those hard things will have more return on your life, time, energy, and money. When you do something that requires a lot of effort, you feel good about it. When you’re tired and still go to the gym for a hard work out, you feel a sense of accomplishment and pride that’s unrivaled.
It’s the same with your career. If you’re not doing hard things, don’t be surprised if you don’t feel alive.
9. Being Alone Will Make You More At Peace
It’s a dangerous sign if you can never be alone. I come from a very tightknit family, and I always have had close friends. But I realized that I needed to be alone to grow. So I went on abroad trips by myself.
But that wasn’t enough. I decided to move to London. When you’re alone, you have time to know who you are. When you’re always with others, you’re just a product of the other people in your life. Sometimes you need to distance yourself from others, it will make you a better person.
10. Small Decisions Lead To Big Outcomes
Another drink wouldn’t hurt, right? Sleeping in today is not bad, right? No one cares if I skip my workout today, right? I can easily spend $1500 on a new iPhone, right?
The answer is no, no, no, no, and NO to every other small decision you think has no impact on your life. The truth is that your life is the result of your small decisions.
You are what you do every day. Surprisingly, that’s actually really good news.
That means you can turn your life around today—simply by doing something small that has a good impact on your life.
And what if you keep making mistakes? Who gives a shit!? Just make sure you always learn from it.