post written by: Marc Chernoff

10 Life Lessons People Learn Too Late

10 Life lessons People Learn Too Late

Before you know it you’ll be asking, “How did it get so late so soon?”  So take time to figure yourself out.  Take time to realize what you want and need.  Take time to take risks.  Take time to love, laugh, cry, learn, and forgive.  Life is shorter than it often seems.

Here are ten things you need to know, before it’s too late:

  1. This moment is your life. – Your life is not between the moments of your birth and death.  Your life is between now and your next breath.  The present – the here and now – is all the life you ever get.  So live each moment in full, in kindness and peace, without fear and regret.  And do the best you can with what you have in this moment; because that is all you can ever expect of anyone, including yourself.  Read The Power of Now.
  2. A lifetime isn’t very long. – This is your life, and you’ve got to fight for it.  Fight for what’s right.  Fight for what you believe in.  Fight for what’s important to you.  Fight for the people you love, and never forget to tell them how much they mean to you.  Realize that right now you’re lucky because you still have a chance.  So stop for a moment and think.  Whatever you still need to do, start doing it today.  There are only so many tomorrows.
  3. The sacrifices you make today will pay dividends in the future. – When it comes to working hard to achieve a dream – earning a degree, building a business, or any other personal achievement that takes time and commitment – one thing you have to ask yourself is:  “Am I willing to live a few years of my life like many people won’t, so I can spend the rest of my life like many people can’t?”
  4. When you procrastinate, you become a slave to yesterday. – But when you are proactive, it’s as if yesterday is a kind friend that helps take a load off your back.  So do something right now that your future self will thank you for.  Trust me, tomorrow you’ll be happy you started today.  Read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
  5. Failures are only lessons. – Good things come to those who still hope even though they’ve been disappointed, to those who still believe even though they’ve tasted failure, to those who still love even though they’ve been hurt.  So never regret anything that has happened in your life; it cannot be changed, undone or forgotten.  Take it all as lessons learned and move on with grace.
  6. You are your most important relationship. – Happiness is when you feel good about yourself without feeling the need for anyone else’s approval.  You must first have a healthy relationship with yourself before you can have a healthy relationship with others.  You have to feel worthwhile and acceptable in your own eyes, so that you’ll be able to look confidently into the eyes of the people around you and connect with them.
  7. A person’s actions speak the truth. – You’re going to come across people in your life who will say all the right words at all the right times; but in the end, it’s always their actions you should judge them by.  So pay attention to what people do.  Their actions will tell you everything you need to know.
  8. Small acts of kindness can make the world a better place. – Smile at people who look like they are having a rough day.  Be kind to them.  Kindness is the only investment that never fails.  And wherever there is a human being, there’s an opportunity for kindness.  Learn to give, even if it’s just a smile, not because you have too much, but because you understand there are so many others who feel like they have nothing at all.  Read Way of the Peaceful Warrior.
  9. Behind every beautiful life, there has been some kind of pain. – You trip and you fall, you make mistakes and you fail, but you stand strong through it all – you live and you learn.  You’re human, not perfect.  You been wounded, not defeated.  Think of what a priceless gift it is to grow through these experiences – to breathe, to think, to struggle, and to overcome challenges in the pursuit of the things you love.  Yes, sometimes you will encounter heartache along the way, but that’s a small price to pay for immeasurable moments of love and joy.  Which is why you must keep stepping forward even when it hurts, because you know the inner strength that has carried you this far can carry you the rest of the way.
  10. Time and experience heals pain. – Several years ago when I asked my grandmother about overcoming pain, this is how she explained it to me:  Look at the circles below.  The black circles represent our relative life experiences.  Mine is larger because I am older and have experienced more in my lifetime.  The smaller red circles represent a negative event in our lives.  Assume we both experienced the same exact event, whatever the nature.  Notice that the negative event circles are the same size for each of us; but also notice what percentage of the area they occupy in each of the black circles.  Your negative event seems much larger to you because it is a greater percentage of your total life experiences.  I am not diminishing the importance of this event; I simply have a different perspective on it.  What you need to understand is that an overwhelmingly painful event in your life right now will one day be part of your much larger past and not nearly as significant as it seems.

Negative Life Experiences
Photo by: Nattu

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  • It’s so great read all of these lessons. I’m a 27 year old knee deep in the process of pursuing my passion. I absorb your articles into my life whenever I can, and they give me the extra push I need. Thank you very much!!!

  • You guys are awesome. Time and time again, reading your blogs have helped me cope with bad habits and put things into a positive perspective. Thank you for doing what you do. We need mores Marcs and Angels. :)

  • Your last point in this post was a real eye-opener for me. Sometimes I let life’s temporary aches and pains overwhelm me. So thanks for recalibrating my thinking on this.

    And also, I wanted to thank you guys for putting out such a great blog. The ‘list-style’ concept is such a great way to keep people hooked and willing to read a good chunk of content. I enjoy every post.

  • Great, great post. I agree with all your points, but would add to one. Are we supposed to be happy completely irrespective of others’ opinion? Don’t know the answer, but I always feel that other peoples’ opinion sometimes help you get better as a person. I believe we should not make them the basis for our happiness, but at the same time should not completely ignore them.
    Again, great post.

  • #6 is mind blowing Marc. Everyone should have a strong relationship with their self before looking here and there for any other support. First we have to learn to accept ourselves as it is instead pointing out what we lack. #9 is also great… actually pain indicates that we are alive.

  • Each of these points is good but that last one with the illustration is just beautiful. I love how your grandmother spelled that out for you. Another way I look at those circles is not one older person compared to a younger person. Instead you can also see how if two people the same age have the same negative experience, the one with the bigger black circle is the one who didn’t allow that negative experience to keep her from living. She healed and moved on and kept on living. The smaller black circle was the person who slowed way down in living–relationship building, taking risks, experiencing life– because she was afraid to do so after her negative experience. In the same way, bc she could not really move on, that negative experience will always be big in proportion to her life experience, and she will not gain perspective on it because she refused to go on living after it.

  • Priceless lessons. You’re the best.

  • This is one of my favorites of all time. I think I’ll post it in my office!

  • Great lessons. Sometimes when I catch myself rushing, I stop and ask myself, do you really need to be in that future place, or are you just unhappy with where you’re at right now?

  • Yes, wonderful life lessons, although I would add that it is never, “too late” to learn them if you’re willing. Life’s lessons come entirely with living a life. It doesn’t matter when you get them, the secret is: just get them.

    Really enjoy your updates, very inspirational. Thank you.

    Be well

  • Your blogs come at times when I need them most. I’ve been on a rollercoaster for the past year and a half, and reading your wisdom helps me keep perspective. #6 really resonated with me. Right now, I’m taking time to develop a relationship with myself before embarking on an emotional and intimate relationship with someone else. I still have wounds to heal - one day at a time!

  • Love it. Beautiful, wise and best of all… true words. Thank you for the wisdom

  • Another great post. I am just over 40 and finally beginning to realize many of these life lessons.

    The biggest lesson for me lately: You can have all the plans you like but if you never put them into action, nothing ever happens.

  • Marc and Angel, thank you! These lessons are always so timely and relevant. I have learned so much and keep learning more from you. Thank you for sharing. That visual at the end was great for me to see. Over time, these things we are so worried about become a tiny speck in our lives.

  • No. 3 really hits home!

  • I start every day with your posts because they give me the understanding and the courage to put one foot in front of the other and to let go of the past. Thanks Marc

  • I swear - every time I am struggling with something in my life, one of your posts pop into my inbox and you’ve addressed it in a smart and poignant way. After years of trudging through my undergrad, I’m within seven classes to graduate but I’m very tired and losing steam. Upper level classes take a lot more work and subsequently, I sacrifice a lot of family time, work out time, me time. #3 on today’s list is a great reminder of WHY I am doing this. I hope that the comments you see here remind you why you are doing this. Thank you!

  • Life certainly does go by quickly. As to your points about sacrificing now for a greater tomorrow, there’s a qualification I’d probably make there.

    Achiever types and entrepreneurs can often get into such a “postponement” mode that sacrifice becomes such a way of life that they never truly live. I say this from a personal perspective of having lived many decades now.

    I’ve seen way too many people (myself included) who have too often focused on the “building for the future” at the expense of living.

    Just something to think about … it doesn’t take away from the need for a long term vision!

  • Thank you for sharing your beautiful thoughts/insights with the world… much appreciated and a wonderful way to start my day :)

  • Wow! I am so grateful to have found this blog. The Universe put it in my path at the most perfect time.

    Numbers 6, 7 and 10 hit home for me.

    Thank you!

  • Thank you :) And I want to reiterate #8 because I have been there a lot lately. When somebody is kind to me, or smiles, it reminds me that there is good in the world. I try to do the same, and feel so much better for being kind than if I were to return the scowl (and I have done this many times). And yes, life is short, too short for pettiness.

  • This one is a must read! Just sent it to 5 of my friends on Facebook. Again, thank you for such a fantastic article that really makes me think hard. I love to print these and save them so I can reread them every day.

    Thanks so much! And I’m looking forward to your upcoming ebook too.

  • It’s been a few posts since I logged in to comment on all of your insightful, heartfelt comments. So I just wanted to say a quick, “THANK YOU.”

    Honestly, Angel and I read each of your comments week after week, and they motivate us to sit down and spill our thoughts into new posts.

    YOU are our biggest motivators. YOU are a big part of this website. And for that we are eternally grateful.

  • Again, a wonderful post. I can always get inspired by your blogs, thank you. I appreciate what you do.

  • I appreciate how to reference previous writing & books. I haven’t been following your blog all that long so I am led to numerous new sources of encouragement & wisdom. I have read many of the books you recommend, thank you.

  • This was just spot-on. Thankfully I’ve learned these lessons before it is too late. The most important being: “life is this moment.” This moment is really all we have, and all we have to care about.

  • Loved the last point. Your grandmother seems to be an elegant and wise woman. Thanks for sharing.

  • Very Timely…..Thank You!

  • This is so helpful thank you so much!!

  • I would also add: Remember that the worse the painful experience, the higher the “high” will be upon overcoming / recovering from that experience => “life” is an “investment”, the more you “invest”, the greater the return!

  • Hi Marc,

    Without your knowledge this blog has been saving my life over the last few years. Every day I have been struggling to overcome depression. I hope another positive step along the way with the hope of finding something better is waiting for me around the corner. Thanks for being part of my recovery.

  • Each point in this post seemed somehow better than the one before… I think this is my favorite post yet.

  • Wow. Number 10 is incredibly powerful. A lot of us look at the past and dwell on it, but realistically this view, this thought can be detrimental to our future. Focus on the present and live for today. “Whats the most important thing in your life? Your life. Without you, you have? Nothing. Whats the hardest thing to do in life? Maintain it.”

  • Hi Marc
    Your posts are always relevant and life changing. I have changed a lot after becoming your inspired reader. When I am down, your posts are encouraging me a lot and giving me energy. A simple phrase as “Thank you” is not sufficient to express correctly my gratitude!

  • A friend of mine recently posted this on facebook;

    You only live once.
    Wrong. You live every day.
    You only die once.

    Your blog helps me live better every day.

    Thank You

  • It’s true for me to … your blogs really do seem to come at times when I need them most!!! I’ve been on a major rollercoaster for the 2 years, and reading your wisdom helps me gain and keep perspective. #6, 7 and 9 really “hit home” for me. I am working on developing a healthy relationship with myself. Until I can find that all encompassing self-love and complete respect, I will refrain from beginning an emotional and intimate relationship with someone else. Time and experience helps a person deal with all, but I don’t believe a broken heart ever fully heals. I believe the scars on one’s heart tell a persons detailed history and life path. Those scars can be both from heartache and true love.

  • Thank you so much for this nice ‘talk.’ It is really just in time for me as I am dealing with a deep difficulty. #6, #9 and #10 affected me very much. I agree with Renee that a person’s broken heart ever fully heals, but you just can overcome that by believing that God always choose the best and the suitable thing for us, and you will know that later.

  • I agree with all your points. I’ve been on a major roller-coaster for the 2 years, and reading your wisdom helps me gain and keep perspective. I have I’ve learned these lessons before it is too late - changed a lot after becoming your inspired reader. Thanks so much! And I’m looking forward to your upcoming eBook too.

  • This was really helpful; thanks a lot for posting :)

  • So so so nice!

  • I really love your blog . I have no words to describe the awesomeness of the articles you write here :) I hope you continue to post such marvelous articles and keep the readers like me inspired.

  • I love your blog so much; you guys are so positive and inspirational. I teared up a little bit when I read the last point in this article; it really hit home and gave me a new perspective on some things in my life. Much love. <3

  • Hi Marc. Thank you so much for this article. I’m normally not a big fan of “10 things” articles. But I really enjoyed this one.-)

    Your last point [Time and Experience Heal Pain] made me think. A lot. It made me think of where I am in my life, what I have gone through and what it has taken in the past to get through tough times. I realized that gaining experience is a crucial component in dealing with tough circumstances.

    But I also realized that gaining experience isn’t always the only way for pain to be healed. I realized that my perspective on the most difficult times in my life didn’t change over time but rather through accountable relationships with men of wisdom.

    Getting through pain might be one wise man away and not necessarily 10 years of experience…

    I did a blog post on your last point and redrew your Circle Graphic a bit. You are more than welcome to check it out:

    If you feel that this is valuable enough to share with your followers, you are more than welcome to do so. I also see now that you create the space for Guest Bloggers. I would love to contribute to your blog if possible!

    Thanx! Keep up the great blog! This is influence. Even if it shifts people by one inch it is worth it. That one inch might be enough for someone else to be moved by a million inches.

    Ok. Enough for now.-)

    Steyn Viljoen

  • Thank you for posting this. I’ve been feeling stressed/tired and this morning I was looking for some motivation to keep the momentum - one foot in front if the other - when I came across your blog. It’s true - a few kind words - and thoughts do the body and soul good.

  • Thanks for your messages, they are really changing my life.

  • Over the past 6 months since finding your site by accident ~ I start my day reading the Life Lessons.

    Some ring louder for me than others ~
    In all there is some “Oh Yeah”… factor ~
    Todays “Responsibility” hit the Heart Spot for me!

    I have shared your thought provoking site with a few friends & my Sister and we have all benefited from your insightful writings.

    Just to let you know that right across the world in Western Australia you change the path of my Day & make Me make More of it - Thank You!

  • Great post I really like it.

    “This moment is your life, Failures are only lessons…” that is so true, we should all learn to live in the moment. I don’t have words better than what Denis Waitley said: “There are no mistakes or failures, only lessons.”

  • Helpful to overcome depression. I am feeling good after this read… nice really.

  • I love it hope you will have translate these amazing insights in Spanish so I can share with lots of my friends, but I am sure I will practice in my own life either way.

  • Your best post to date. Thank you. X

  • Simply awesome!

  • Through perspectives and life lessons, what we will take to our grave is the everlasting happiness and the chuckles at our many mistakes and failures. What I don’t understand, is a quote you stated…. ” Live without regret and fears”. That makes us human, makes us real. Without the fear of fearing, accomplishments and little successes don’t seem as noteworthy.

    As a young teenager, I am thankful for my schooling, friends, family, and opportunities to show my numerous talents. I’ve made educational mistakes, mistakes according to my relationships, mentally and physically, athletically and artistically. But at the end of the day, I appreciate my past, embrace the present and hope for an even greater tomorrow. I’ve wanted to be a mother, a wife, a teacher, a pharmacist, a professional soccer player, professional dancer, actress, singer, musician. Realistically, I’m just hoping to be a great life liver. Dreams are similar to imagination, they might not come true, but are meant to help you live with a smile on your face.

  • I would like to thank you for the efforts you’ve put in penning this website. I really hope to view the same high-grade content from you in the future as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has encouraged me to get my very own blog now ;)

  • I really loved this post! I’m 24 this year and in the midst of figuring out what to do with my life. Things are kind of comfy right now but I definitely want more out of life. In that line of thought, I’ve decided to maybe make a huge move to somewhere new and start from scratch. Suffice to say, I’m feeling nervous and kind of stressed out.

    I somehow stumbled upon this article just as I was feeling a little down and restless. Definitely made my afternoon. Thanks! :D

  • Happened upon this website and really liked what I saw! For nearly 27 years, I was blessed with a dream job and a means to enjoy a life of extensive world travel. That all changed three years ago by “office politics” and a “connected” colleague who made it her job to make others’ work lives miserable. Fortunately, her reign of terror recently came to an end, but my life has never been the same since signing on elsewhere as a “new” employee. I think living a simple life with few expenses in order to enjoy/experience the real pleasures of life is the way to go!

  • Thanks for such a wonderful blog. Every time, I feel overwhelmed I just read your blog and it refreshes me completely! Thanks for sharing this - it is simply amazing!

  • Good article. I liked the circles analogy. Thanks.

  • Touching tips…

  • Number 6 is absolutely true. If we are not at peace with ourselves then we can’t be at peace and open to others. Thank you once again for your thought provoking article.

  • Thanks for all of this; I really needed to reorganize my priorities. Sometimes life goes too fast and we forget about our values and the important lessons we should be following.

  • I’d better print this out, put it in front of my office desk and read this everyday! Some of the best advice I’ve read for the long time.

  • Wow! You just woke me from my limbo. I really feel inspired. Thank you.

  • This website is awesome!

  • What an inspiration. Thank you.

  • So needed to see this today. I’ve seen and read your blog before but I needed it at this moment. Thank you.

  • I am thanking God for leading me to see this post. It’s helping me a lot.

  • Today Robin Williams died. It is also the 7 year anniversary of the death of a friend’s son who died at 18, in car wreck. Another friend of mine buried his son at 20, from cancer a few weeks ago. And yet another friend just decided to part with her sons ashes. Another mom I knew that I changed diapers with side by side with my babies passed at 50. All within about 3 weeks of each other. This moment IS your life! And a lifetime is not very long! And compassion always wins! We never know the struggle someone is dealing with. #1 & 2 ring out strong to me today. Live if you have life, enjoy each day, take one step closer to your goal, get back on track if you found yourself slightly - or even more off course, while you are here, it’s not too late, love those close to you and give grace whenever you can. This moment is your life right where you are now! I have a lot on my plate, I know some quite challenging struggles, but I cannot nor can anyone afford to wait to live, wait to enjoy life, wait to forgive someone, wait to show love & grace until we get it first, or “feel” like it.

    Indeed, this moment is your life and if you are reading this it’s never too late :) just one step forward.

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