Here in the Real World: 20 Lessons for Life

Lessons for LifeWell, I’ve been part of the “real world” for a few years now.  My transition from college into the 9 to 5 workforce was fairly smooth.  There are certainly people who handled it better than I did, but I also know quite a few folks who are still struggling with the changeover.  These first few years in the “real world” have been filled with crash-course life lessons, frequent hustle, and rapid career progression.  As I progress I try to keep track of what works and what does not.  I’m constantly in the process of analyzing both my successes and my failures in order to properly realign my future actions with my goals.  Below you will find a list of 20 life lessons I’ve learned in the “real world” thus far.

  1. Be Passionate, but Also Be Realistic – I’ve experienced so many intelligent people (myself included) get overly passionate about something before fully evaluating the big picture.  Passion without realistic direction leads to frustration and failure.
  2. Keep Up with Current Events – In college it’s easy to hold such a narrow focus on your social life and your classes that everything else in life flies right over your head.  In the working world, however, not knowing who Ben Bernanke is or why North Korea is in the news so often can lead you into some horribly embarrassing dialogues.
  3. There is a Difference between a List of Goals and a Wish List – Most people understand that goals are desired outcomes that we must work to attain.  Yet it’s amazing how many people I’ve met that lack the necessary drive and just sit there waiting for a miracle to move them forward.
  4. Everyone is Multidimensional and so are Our Successes – I’ve met wealthy people who seem unhappy and happy people who are underpaid.  I’ve met successful businessmen who have been divorced 3 times and happily married men who can’t seem to find a job they like.  Just because someone is successful in one part of their life, does not necessarily mean they are universally successful.
  5. Talent Does Not Equal Success – I’ve seen talented people fail.  Why?  Because even though they had the talent, they lacked the initiative and commitment necessary for success.  Laziness will always overshadow talent.
  6. Relocation is the Pits – Moving all of your belongings from one place to another is usually a more intense endeavor than originally imagined.  This process takes time, so plan for it.  Also, do yourself a favor, don’t be a pack-rat.  It only makes matters worst.
  7. Fear Will Only Hold You Back – The most effective means are not always the most comforting.  It is imperative that we take educated chances in our lives.  If it makes sense to do so, we must be ready to step outside of our comfort zone.
  8. Learn to Cook – This could easily save you thousands of dollars every single year.  Eating out is expensive, eating in is cheap… nuff said!  Learn to cook, and learn to limit the number of meals you eat out.
  9. Emotional Decisions are Usually Bad Decisions – Decisions driven by heavy emotion are typically misguided reactions rather than proactive judgments.  These reactions are decisions made with a minimal amount of thought.  Sometimes our feelings are based on impulse, instead of sound experience.  Always consult your better judgment.
  10. There Are Different Levels of Intellect – Overall intelligence isn’t just about IQ.  I’ve met some extremely intelligent people who are complete social and emotional morons.
  11. Drinking Water is Important – It’s a simple concept, I know.  But when we get overly consumed in our busy routines, the simple act of drinking water skips our minds.  Make sure your hydrate yourself.  You’ll feel better and you’ll be healthier.
  12. Bad Feedback Can Be Better than Good Feedback – Even though I hate getting bad feedback, I’ve come to except the fact that it actually pushes me in the right direction.  It gives me the ability to improve myself.  Excessive good feedback just allows me sit put and feel accomplished (which isn’t always a bad thing 😉 ).
  13. Utilize Your Instincts – Not everything is what is seems.  Not everyone who seems trustworthy actually is.  Even though it is important to listen to what your friends, colleagues and acquaintances say, you must never ignore your own instincts.  Sometimes they can help you evaluate circumstances far better than any third-party reference.
  14. Get Enough Sleep – This should seem like common sense, yet so many of us fail to get enough sleep on a regular basis.  You will not be productive if you are exhausted… that’s the bottom line.
  15. Motivation Fluctuates, But Finish What You Start – I’ve seen countless people (myself included) get a sudden burst of motivation and start a project, but before the project is complete the motivation wears off.  Thus, the project is never completed.  It usually amounts to a complete waste of time, money and creativity.  Understand that your levels of motivation will fluctuate, but you must still finish what you start.
  16. Flexibility for Change is Vital – Most of us are comfortable where we are even though the whole universe is constantly changing around us.  Learning to accept change is vital to our happiness and general success.
  17. Identify What You Don’t Want – It’s important to understand that the things we don’t want are just as important as the things we do want.  For instance, if you don’t want to have kids but you do want to have sex, there are multiple solutions to keep you inline with your goals.  If you ignore what you don’t want and put all your attention on what you do want, you’ll end up getting what you don’t want.
  18. Problems Don’t Just Disappear – Almost everyone I know has fallen victim to the fallout of avoiding a problem.  Sooner rather than later it becomes apparent that the problem only gets worse.  Problems must be addressed, they don’t just disappear.
  19. Get the Important Things Done First – This certainly isn’t ground breaking advice, but it is a simple principle that works wonders.  Let your mind tackle the important tasks while it’s rested, then the rest of the day basically is yours to enjoy.
  20. Take Ownership of Your Actions – Consciously think before you act.  When the decision is made to act, always take full ownership of your actions, even when the outcome is negative.  It’s easy to take ownership of success, but eventually the headline will read “failure”.  When it does, only those who properly address the issue have the capability to succeed in the long term.


  1. says

    This is a fantastic post – I love it! I only graduated last summer and I have to say the transition into the real world can be a crazy one and I recognize so much of what you have written!!

  2. X3r0 says

    >>It’s easy to take ownership of success, but eventually the headline will read “failure”….

    Excellent posts….& esp. in regards to the last lesson, I would like to add a famous quote, methink attributed to President Kennedy — plz. correct me if I am wrong, “Success has many fathers…failure none!” and also this one: “Hindsight is always a 20/20 vision”…esp. in context of Lesson # 9!

    Again…thanx a lot for these wonderful & knowledgeable insights!


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