23 Non Cliched Life Lessons I have Learned From Years Of Screwing Up


1. Books are more valuable than gold.

Experts are experts because they know the most. They’ve done the most. Books help you get there faster. Every book you read gives you a shortcut to decades-worth of experience and learning, which enables you to go farther, faster. One year I read 52 books, and it completely changed how I approach everything, because I was learning so much!

2. I know nothing.

There’s still so much to learn! I learn something new every other day (at least), and it continually opens my mind to how little I actually do know by comparison.

3. Age is just a number, but that number means something.

No matter how mature you are, it takes time to gain that real world experience. That’s the kind of stuff you need to do well at your job, in relationships, etc. Even if you’re the best and the brightest, you still have to do things. On the flip side, if you’re older, people expect you to act with more wisdom and discernment. It’s great if you’re 50 and want to act like you’re still 25, but you have expectations to live up to.

4. Love is not an emotion. It’s a continual, intentional act.

As the great bard once sang, “Love is a verb” (John Mayer).

5. Money isn’t everything, but it makes everything easier.

Money as an end goal is nothing but greed, but the effects money has on stress and quality of life are absolutely jaw-dropping! Follow your passions, chase your dreams, but do yourself a favor and monetize them.

6. A liberal arts degree actually is good for something.

When you study one area, it helps you in other areas of work and life. For instance, cultural history (a required course) helped me understand psychology (my major), which helped in sales (my first real world job), which now helps me in marketing (my current) job, which helps me with writing (my passion). Because of its diversity, the liberal arts provide a surprisingly good base for growth and learning.

7. Getting married young was and is amazing.

Sure, I left the party at nine, but that’s because my wife was waiting on me with everything I need. Instead of chasing women, I have someone who helps me spend my emerging adulthood years focused on more important life goals day-in and day-out. It’s awesome!

8. All government sucks, because everyone’s messed up.

We all have our own issues and faults and problems and biases. Combine that with an exorbitant amount of money and power, and of course no one’s going to go home happy. People suck. People are the government. Ergo, government sucks.

9. I will always be dependent on others for something.

When you move out of Mom and Dad’s, you don’t stop being a dependent. You still need friends to be there for you. You still need coworkers to help you with projects. You still need a financial advisor, or a doctor, or a lawyer, or a manager. Each of us will always need someone for something at every stage of our lives.

10. I am eternally indebted to Mom and Dad.

More or less, they’re the reason for everything I do and how I do it. If nothing else, they’re the reason I can do anything. How could you ever repay the ones who guided you by hand through the most influential years of your life?

11. No matter what happens, we are each in control of our own thoughts and actions.

You might feel terrible. You might think terrible things. You might make poor choices. But every single one of us can choose our next move and our next thought. Whenever you think “I can’t…” or “This just…” you’re overthinking it. Things really are as simple as “I am in control.”

12. Everybody freaks out about what they’re doing in life, at every stage, and that’s okay!

New is exciting. But it’s also frightening. There’s the quarter-life crisis of graduating college. There’s getting married. There’s changing jobs or career paths. There’s becoming a parent. There’s hitting 30. There’s so many big moments in life that are going to make you freak out, and that’s okay. That’s normal.

13. Nobody likes a penny pincher. Just relax.

Do you know how stressful it is to be around someone who’s analyzing and over-analyzing every item on the grocery list? Even worse, do you know how stressful it is to be that person? Give it a rest! Just order your Starbucks and move on. Saving a little bit of money here and there isn’t worth the stress. Go enjoy life.

14. It actually does matter what other people think.

We were lied to growing up. People define our place in life, whether it’s fair or not. You were judged before you got on the sports team. You were judged before you got accepted to college. You were judged before you graduated. You were judged over and over every time you interviewed anywhere, and everyday you showed up to work. It matters what others think. Even if you’re a social media influencer, what your followers think matters. What you think of this post matters to me and my success!

15. There is always someone else like me.

I am never alone. There is always someone else going through what I’m going through, feeling the exact same thing I’m feeling. None of us are ever alone, even when we feel lonely.

16. Small town does not equal small mind.

I grew up 5 miles outside of a town with a population (at the time) of about 2,000. I look around at what the people I knew are doing now, and it blows my mind! Degrees and awards are falling like confetti! And these people are actually using their knowledge and abilities to make the world a better place! People are capable, smart, and can change the world, wherever they come from.

17. There’s no such thing as a dream job.

I thought I had a dream job once. I didn’t. Nothing and no one is ever perfect. Every job has its perks and its downfalls. There’s never a perfect situation to be in. Even if you check off all the boxes for your skill set and what you want, there’s going to be times of frustration.

18. Adults generally don’t give kids and teens enough credit.

People are capable of amazing things, given the right support. Often times, the only difference between the prodigy all over the news and the kid sitting at home on the couch is someone who kept saying “yes” instead of “no.” Kids are smart. We should acknowledge and encourage it, especially since that’s the age range where the brain is most malleable. Let’s mold their minds into something incredible!

19. The unexpected is going to happen.

No joke. Month after month after month after month, we keep having something “unexpected” pop up. Multiple medical emergencies. Car problems. Blindsided by seemingly random fees. Family deaths and extended travel. Moving costs. Car problems again. Lawsuit for not paying a bill because it got lost in the mail (still peeved about that one). These aren’t suggestions, that’s actually what happened to us over a 6-month period. Apparently this is normal. Be prepared.

20. Success is far more frightening than failure.

When you fail, you can always justify it away. You can always say something to make yourself feel better. But once you do something right? Then people start paying attention to you. Then the spotlight and everyone’s eyes are on you. When you’re nobody, it doesn’t matter what you do. Once you make it, you have all these expectations to live up to. And the truth is, no successful person is capable of living up to those expectations without making mistakes.

21. You can always do more, but sunshine is pretty great.

Yeah, you could spend another hour working. That will definitely pay off over time. But do you realize how gorgeous it is to get outside and play? We all need fresh air, sunshine, and exercise. Being active actually helps you get more done during the time you spend working. It’s okay to take a break.

22. Giving a 25% tip can turn someone’s entire week around.

Generally speaking, servers work their tails off to make you happy. They’re probably not raking in dough, either. My experience and others will all say that a good tip can turn even the worst days into something to smile about. It’s the little things that make all the difference.

23. You probably have a reason to get upset, but it’s way more fun to stay positive.

Things are going to frustrate you, make you sad, and at times ruin your day. And you’ll be perfectly justified in feeling that way when those things happen! But smiling and having a good time with people you care about is way more fun! We’re always in control of how we act and respond to situations. Choosing to act positively is way more fun than getting upset.