The Biggest Lesson I’ve Learned Over the Past 10 Years


Sit down and think hard over the past ten years or so of your life. Where were you ten years ago? What have you accomplished and learned since then? Thinking about your past like this can be really life-affirming if you’re in the right mood for it. Not only that, but it can be interesting to see just how far you’ve come and to figure out what lessons you’ve learned.

The Most Important Lesson I’ve Learned

In fact I was doing some self-reflection over the past few days. I started with ten years ago and worked my way from there. That was in 2002 and a lot has changed since then.

If I reached a low point in my life, 2002 was it. I had little self-confidence and no goals for myself. Without a life direction, I was drifting aimlessly from job to job. I wasn’t exactly unhappy, but I wasn’t happy either. I wasn’t living; I was existing.

Since then I’ve had a lot of wins and a few losses. I’ve met some great new friends and made a few enemies. Most important of all, I met a wonderful woman and married her. Overall, my life has transformed into something absolutely wonderful; I’m finally living.

The funny thing is that this transition started really small as just a couple of thoughts. From there it gradually formed into somewhat of a philosophy on how to live a better life and improve myself. Since I’ve developed it, this philosophy has motivated me to push myself and do greater things.

This is what it is:

“Believe in yourself. You are better than you give yourself credit. There are more similarities between you and people who are doing things you want to do than you realize. You have greater abilities than you know and if you just put in enough effort, you can achieve almost anything.”

It’s hard for me to put these words down since I’ve never really articulated these thoughts until now. But this is as close as I can get to how my thoughts have developed over the past ten years so I could achieve so much.

Let me dive into what I think are the two key points to this philosophy.

The First Key Point – Believe in Yourself

Self-belief was a hard thing for me to do ten years ago. I lacked self-confidence and didn’t think I was capable of doing much of anything right. It was so bad that my lack of confidence and self-belief directly led me to fail at things which just reinforced that belief into a one gigantic circle.

What I noticed was that everyone around me wasn’t all that confident either but worked through it to success. For instance, a friend of mine wanted to date this girl but was afraid she didn’t really like him. I was really surprised because to me her interest was sincere. Eventually he worked past his doubts, dated her and eventually married her.

At that point I realized that everyone has doubt on occasion. It’s when you push past those doubts and continue to work hard when good things happen. It’s really important to believe things will work out well.

It reminds me of a quote:

“Belief in oneself is one of the most important bricks in building any successful venture.”
– Lydia M. Child.

I wasn’t succeeding at a lot of things because I lacked self-belief. Instead of believing in myself and working my way to success, I was waiting for success so I could believe in myself. Self-belief must come before you can succeed or you won’t get anywhere.

The Second Key Point – You Have Greater Abilities Than You Realize

The second key point about this lesson is in the realization that you have greater abilities than you realize. It’s the idea that people who are doing the things you want to do have way more in common with you than you could ever know. Very little separates you from them.

It’s easy to get into the habit of looking at someone successful and coming to the conclusion that they were born with an ability to do what they do. That doesn’t take into consideration all the hard work and effort they put in. Plus, there is all the failure and setbacks they had to go through.

It’s like looking at a successful comedian telling jokes. They make it look so easy and effortless as if they had divine inspiration. In actuality they sweated and toiled for several years to come up with twenty minutes worth of good jokes they’ve modified hundreds of times.

I could do that if I put in all the time, effort and energy to make it work perfectly. And you could too. Don’t sell yourself short because someone else makes it look easy. In all likelihood, it wasn’t easy for them, they just put in the time and effort to make it work.

The Evolution of My Philosophy

This life philosophy has been the general guiding principle for me over the past ten years, but it certainly won’t be the final one. I’m always looking on ways to improve it and new thoughts to alter how I see success and goal-setting to achieve more in life. Who knows, maybe ten years from now I’ll have completely changed this philosophy. Well, I guess all I can do is wait until 2022 so I can look back and see.
photo credit: Caveman Chuck Coker

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  1. Nice post Steve. I think what holds most people back from accomplishing their dreams is fear, fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of financial hardship. It is hard to leave securities behind and leap into the unknown but it is also SO worth it!

    • Hey Liv, I know what you mean about fears holding you back from your dreams. It’s hard to leave your comfort zone and go towards the unknown. It’s scary so many people don’t take the chance. But it is also worth it when you do.

  2. Hey Steve,

    I think you touched on an important point there at the end – maybe the most important for me – that you’re always looking to learn and improve. Enjoying life (every moment of it), experimenting and learning are the things I live by.

    Can’t wait for the post in 2022!


    take care & best wishes,

    • Hey Alan, I think looking for ways to learn and improve are important too. When you’re open to experimenting, you can open yourself to new possibilities.

      I hope I remember to write something about this in 2022. It would be interesting to see just how much has changed since then.

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