Advertising
Advertising

8 Life Lessons You Should Learn Today

8 Life Lessons You Should Learn Today

    You grasp many life lessons only after making a mistake and realizing, “Oh crap. I wish I’d done something very different.” For some lessons, that’s not that big of a deal. In other areas, you’d be a lot better off if you could get started working to counteract the problem before it happens.

    Here are eight of these life lessons you should consider addressing now, while you don’t need to:

    1. Cut your living expenses – dramatically.

    If you’re in the US, there are so many material goods so readily available it’s easy to get caught up in accumulating as much stuff as you can. As long as your income is rising, that can be manageable in the short-term. Sooner or later though, there’s a very real possibility you’re income won’t be rising for at least some period of time.You then have to make quick (potentially painful) decisions about what in your lifestyle gets cut to avoid accumulating debt.

    Advertising

    Far better (although maybe not easier) to pare back elements of your lifestyle well before you need to do so. Not only does it curb potentially over-ambitious expectations for you (and your family) about what is “necessary” to be happy and fulfilled, every dollar of expense you eliminate is a dollar to be saved or invested for the proverbial “rainy day.”

    2. Ask for help from your professional and personal networks.

    It’s one thing to build a network and accumulate hundreds of contacts on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere online, plus those which exist in real life. But having a name and skeletal contact information in an online list isn’t really an active network. A functioning network comes from knowing you can reach out to people for help and they’ll actually recognize you and respond. It also means first doing your part to benefit those within your network.

    So before you find yourself out of a job or in some type of jam where you need help RIGHT AWAY, get active with individuals in your network sharing ideas, offering help, and asking for their assistance in areas which aren’t critical. Getting a comfortable and regular dialogue going with specific people will make it much easier to make the “big ask” when you’re in a real pinch.

    3. Seek out a career change.

    The last few years have obviously seen a tremendous amount of uproar and change in the career prospects of millions. Jobs which seemed secure (in part because particular employers and industries appeared secure) have turned out not to be. With so many uprooted at once in tremendously challenging economic times, finding that next job has taken much longer. That’s why it has been important (and will likely remain so) to anticipate what your first steps will be if you’re suddenly out of work.

    Advertising

    When you don’t really need to, create a plan B (and maybe even a plan C) and work multiple options so if a potential career derailment strikes you, you’re able to transition as seamlessly as possible to your next best alternative. Sure this means more work and effort, but better to be prepared ahead of time than thrown into a life crunch with no realistic preparation to exploit.

    4. Hone your selling skills.

    Many people not in sales jobs have the mistaken belief they aren’t salespeople. In reality, if you work, live, or interact with others in any way (that should include everybody reading this) then you are certainly trying to convince people to adopt your point of view. That means you’re a salesperson.

    The implication is you’ll benefit from doing some reading and practicing selling skills right now. Doing so will help you improve at understanding others’ points of view, identifying what needs and benefits are important to them, and being able to anticipate and respond to objections they pose. Plus, if you ever find yourself needing to more actively sell (i.e., you want or have to start your own business), you’ll be so much further along in achieving sales success.

    5. Get smarter.

    Do you hear that popping sound? That’s your knowledge about whatever it is you do evaporating as new technology, new practices, new marketplace realities, or any of a thousand other things render your knowledge ineffective or downright incorrect. What do you do? Make an active and very concerted effort to continue learning during and after you are in school. Social media both makes ongoing learning easier (through ready access to experts and information you’d never have been able to reach before) and harder (since many “experts” have no clue what they’re talking about).

    Advertising

    As a result, use every means you can to not only stay current on what you’re doing right now, but also try to anticipate what you may be doing in the future to get a head start on learning in newer areas. Pay particular attention to techniques on how to learn more effectively and faster, which apply across multiple fields of study. Far better to have a familiar command of a new discipline than learning from scratch in an accelerated time frame.

    6. Exercise.

    I always hated exercising, so I never did any in my 20s and most of my 30s. My resistance was bolstered by the fact my weight was manageable, although my waist size slowly increased by 6 inches in the years after getting married. When my wife finally got me to work out and then signed me up with a trainer, the initial physical assessment showed I was out of shape and had about 25 pounds to lose.

    Slowly but surely over the course of a couple of years, I lost all the weight and dramatically reduced my body fat percentage. Only problem? There are areas (such as “love handles”) that show no signs of going away no matter how well I eat and work out. If I’d been exercising all the way through, I’d have been in a lot better shape, controlled some of those problem areas, and had much less of a hurdle once I started exercising way too late.

    7. Pray.

    Don’t you hate when you only hear from someone when they need something? Me too. And we’re not the only ones either. When things are going well, take a little time to work on your spirituality, irrespective of what or wherever you choose to do it. Getting in touch with something bigger than you even if it only lies within yourself always helps put things in the proper perspective. And understanding the consolation spirituality provides when everything’s going your way allows you to understand the kind of spiritual second wind that can be yours when nothing’s going as you planned.

    Advertising

    8. Be humble.

    When things are booming, you’re not typically thinking about what life might be like when your situation isn’t going as well. That can lead to overlooking others who are important contributors to your success, especially if they tend to stay in the background and embrace a servant leadership approach to how they conduct themselves. The irony is that at those times when things are going super for you, you’re best served by noticing the “little people” and adopting some of their orientation to humble service. Doing this will reduce the number of people who will be rubbed the wrong way by you reveling in your success. It will also ensure you’ll have many more friends should your fortunes turn because you’ll be supported by others who care about you and not what you’re accomplishing.

    Summary

    My advice? Select at least a few of these areas to begin addressing right now. Which ones to select? That’s up to you based on what’s going to be most important to you when things aren’t going like you hoped!

    More by this author

    Top 10 Ways to Lead More Effectively with Humor 8 Ways to Recharge a Tired Old Job How to Be Successful When You Can’t Plan Ahead 9 Strategies to Make Selling Your Ideas More Successful 8 Life Lessons You Should Learn Today

    Trending in Communication

    1 When Should You Trust Your Gut and How? 2 What Is Life About? 9 Ways to Find Your Meaning in Life 3 7 Things To Remember When You Feel Broken Inside 4 Focus On Yourself, Because Most Of The Time No One Really Cares 5 10 Principles for Success to Live Your Dream Life

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on August 12, 2020

    When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

    When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

    Learning how to trust your gut, otherwise known as your intuition, can keep you safe. Your gut can guide you and help you build your confidence and resilience. My own gut instinct has saved me on more than one occasion. It has also guided me into making sound career choices and other exciting, big decisions. I’m also aware of the times when I’ve gone against my instincts and really regretted it later, wondering why I didn’t tune in to that valuable internal voice that we all have within us.

    In this article, we’re going to explore why and how you should listen to your gut, as well as some concrete tips on how to make sure you’re making the most out of your gut instincts.

    How to Listen to Your Gut

    The key when making any big decision is to always take a minute to listen well to yourself and your inner compass. If you hear your actual voice saying yes while inside you’re silently screaming no, my advice is to ask for some time to think, or simply take a breath and pause before the yes or no escapes your mouth.

    Use that moment to breathe, check in with yourself, and give the answer that feels congruent with who you are and what you want, not the one that always involves following the herd. Trusting your gut means having the courage to not simply go with the majority. It can be about holding your own. Here’s how to hone that skill for yourself and reap the rewards.

    1. Tune Into Your Body

    Your body gives you clues when you’re faced with a big decision. There are many visible and obvious symptoms that we feel in uncomfortable situations. Our body’s reaction is often something that we might try to hide, for example, blushing, being lost for words, or shaking. There are things we might do to try and hide that physical reaction, whether it’s wearing makeup, having a glass of wine or coffee to perk us up a bit, or learning to control our nerves.

    However, paying attention to your body when you experience these feelings of anxiety can teach you so much and help you to make sound choices. Some people will experience an actual “gut” feeling of stomach ache or indigestion in an uncomfortable situation.

    Ask yourself what’s really going on here, and explore what is happening behind your body’s response to the situation. What can your reaction or instinct teach you? Understanding that can be a clue and can help you either learn something about yourself, the situation, or other people. The answers are often within us.

    Advertising

    Sometimes we’ll get this “something’s not right here” feeling and cannot quite put our finger on it or explain it. That can still be incredibly useful and really guide us away from danger, even if we don’t know the reason.

    In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell also argues this, making the point that sometimes our subconscious is better at processing the answer we need, and that we don’t necessarily need to take time to collect hours and hours of information to come to a reliable conclusion[1].

    2. Ensure Your Head Is Clear Before Making a Decision

    Energy, sleep, and good nutrition are so vital to nourishing our minds, as well as our bodies. There are times when your instinct could lead you astray, and one of these is when you are hungry, “hangry” (angry because you’re hungry!), tired, or anxious. If this is the case–and it may sound obvious–do consider sleeping or eating on it before making an important choice.

    There is, in fact, a connection between our gut and our brain[2], which is where terms like “butterflies in the stomach” and “gut-wrenching” originate from. Stress and emotions can cause physical feelings, and ignoring them might do more harm than good.

    3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think and Feel

    Listening to your gut and really paying attention to it might involve standing up and being counted, calling something out, or taking a stand. As someone who works for myself, I’ve become used to following the less-travelled road, and that’s given me the chance to strike out on my own in other ways, too.

    As they tell you in the planes, “put your own oxygen mask on first,” and part of that self-reliance is knowing what you really want and like and what is safe and good for you, including what resonates with your personal and business values. Making good decisions with this in mind means making choices that do not go against your own beliefs, even when it may mean taking a stand. This is part of trusting yourself and trusting your instincts.

    This does not always mean taking the “safe” option, although keeping ourselves safe is an important part of the process. This is how we learn and grow, by following our own inner compass. When you do take risks, go outside of your comfort zone, or choose the less popular option, spending some time researching the facts can stand us in good stead, too.

    Advertising

    4. Do Your Research If Something Feels Off

    As well as listening to our instincts, we can also back up the evidence for our chosen course of action before taking the leap. I had a gut feeling about the need for a learning and development network when I noticed my clients getting stuck with the same problems. I set up and now run such a network, but instead of simply going for it, without evidence, I followed up on my instinct with research.

    Having confidence in your gut instinct through these kinds of tests can help to minimize your risks, as well as spur you on. It will encourage you to trust your gut again in the future and trust that you are an expert with foresight and experience. You are!

    5. Challenge Your Assumptions

    When you look at the assumptions your making, this could be the clue to mistakes you are making.

    In order to check that our instincts are wise, we need to ask ourselves what blanks we might be filling in, either consciously or unconsciously. This is true not just when it comes to our own decision-making. It’s also true when we are listening to someone explain a problem or situation, and we’re about to jump in and give some advice. If we can learn to be aware of our own assumptions, we can become better listeners and better decision makers, too.

    A useful tool to become more aware of your assumptions before making a final decision is simply to ask yourself, “What assumptions am I making about this situation or person?”

    6. Educate Yourself on Unconscious Bias

    Unconscious bias is something we all have, and it can trip us up big time!

    There is a vital caveat to bear in mind when wondering about whether you can trust your gut and the feelings your body gives you, and that’s having an awareness of your unconscious bias. Understanding your own bias–which is hard to do because it literally does happen in our subconscious–can help you to make stronger, better, decisions instead of re-confirming your view of the world over and over again.

    Advertising

    Bias exists, and it’s part of the human condition. All of us have it, and it colors our decisions and can impact on our performance without us realizing.

    Unconscious bias happens at a subconscious level in our brains. Our subconscious brain processes information so much faster than our conscious brain. Quick decisions we make in our subconscious are based on both our societal conditioning and how our families raised us.

    Our brains process hundreds of thousands of pieces of information daily. We unconsciously categorize and format that information into patterns that feel familiar to us. Aspects such as gender, disability, class, sexuality, body shape and size, ethnicity, and what someone does for a job can all quickly influence decisions we make about people and the relationships we choose to form. Our unconscious bias can be very subtle and go unnoticed..

    We naturally tend to gravitate towards people similar to ourselves, favoring people who we see as belonging to the same “group” as us. Being able to make a quick decision about whether someone is part of your group and distinguish friend from foe was what helped early humans to survive. Conversely, we don’t automatically favor people who we don’t immediately relate to or easily connect with.

    The downside of that human instinct to seek out similar people is the potential for prejudice, which seems to be hard-wired into human cognition, no matter how open-minded we believe ourselves to be. And these stereotypes we create can be wrong. If we only spend our time with and employ people similar to ourselves, it can create prejudices, as well as stifle fresh thinking and innovation.

    We may feel more natural or comfortable working with other people who share our own background and/or opinions than collaborating with people who don’t look, talk, or think like us. However, diversity is not just morally right; having a mix of different people and perspectives that can be genuinely heard is also a valuable way to counter groupthink. Diversity stretches us to think more critically and creatively.

    7. Trust Yourself

    It is possible to learn how to truly trust yourself[3]. Like any talent or skill, practicing trusting your gut is the best way to get really good at it. When people talk about having great intuition or being good decision-makers, it’s because they’ve worked at honing those skills, made mistakes, learned from them, and tried again.

    Advertising

    Looking back at decisions you’ve made, what you did, what the outcome was, and what you’ve learned can help you become a stronger decision maker and develop solid self-trust and resilience. Making a mistake does not mean you are not great at decision-making; it’s a chance to grow and learn, and the only mistake is to ignore the lesson in that experience.

    If you are in the habit of asking others for their input, then the trick here is to choose your inner circle wisely. Having a sounding board of people who have your best interests at heart is a valuable asset, and, combined with your own excellent instincts, can make you a champion decision maker.

    The Bottom Line

    The above tips are all actionable and easy to start immediately. It’s simply about switching your thinking around, slowing down, and taking great care of this amazing machine that is your body and mind!

    Learning how to trust your gut is one of the most fundamental ways to make decisions that will help you lead the life you want and need. Tune into what your body is telling you and start making good decisions today.

    More Tips on How to Trust Your Gut

    Featured photo credit: Acy Varlan via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Science of People: Learn to Trust Your Gut Instincts: The Science Behind Thin-slicing
    [2] Harvard Health Publishing: The gut-brain connection
    [3] Psych Central: 3 Ways to Develop Self-Trust

    Read Next