Top 5 Life Lessons You Wish You Learned Earlier

The Survey Says

With age comes wisdom – or at least we all hope. 

How many times have we thought, “if I only knew that back then, it would have made things so much easier?”  Certainly, the advantage of having lived through many different experiences has made each of us wiser and better equipped to handle new challenges.

ESGI and ThinkFives surveyed hundreds of teachers to find out which of life lessons they wish they had learned earlier. Perhaps those newer to teaching might consider if following this advice may improve their personal or professional life.

Don’t Be Afraid

Don’t Be Afraid

One theme we saw throughout the comments of teachers was their regret for avoiding new challenges and letting the fear of failure or criticism by others guide their decisions.

As some teachers said, “don’t be afraid to choose the path that you think is best for you.”

Examples From Our Teachers

  • Don’t be afraid to try new things and step out of your comfort zone.
  • Don’t allow your voice of fear to be louder than other voices.
  • I wish I had better learned how to manage stress and anxiety.
  • Not to take things so seriously. Laugh a lot!
  • That it’s OK to make mistakes, that it’s a wonderful way to learn and grow.
Enjoy the Sweet Moments

Enjoy the Sweet Moments

We have all heard the expression, stop and smell the roses. Variations on this theme are apparent in many of the comments from teachers. With hectic schedules at school and juggling family lives, teachers did not often slow down to enjoy the sweet moments.

This is often easier said than done which probably means it’s good advice I never knew.  There are many times in our lives when we did not take the time to celebrate and enjoy our successes. Navigating from challenge to challenge may be the norm, but to truly elevate ourselves we need to celebrate success.

Examples From Our Teachers

  • Don’t sweat the small stuff…and it’s ALL small stuff.
  • Cherish everything you have in life.
  • Don’t be in such a hurry. Take time to enjoy your life. I’m still terrible at this!
  • Not to take things so seriously. Again, laugh a lot!
  • That success and happiness in life is not about the destination, but about the journey.
Do Your Best

Do Your Best

It would be hard logically for any person to do better than their best. But yet that’s the standard that some of us hold ourselves to.  Realizing our limitations, the hours in a day, and the other laws of physics are important, period!

We must try our best but also accept that we can never always be our best.

Examples From Our Teachers

  • Do not chase what is not meant for you.
  • Choose your friends carefully.
  • I wish I had learned the art of accepting my failures as learning experiences instead of allowing my failures to stop me from growing.
  • Not to be afraid of what people think.
  • Just do your very best and let the chips fall where they may.
Be Kind to Yourself and Others

Be Kind to Yourself and Others

Kindness is a virtue and teachers are often very good at that with students and parents. The advice that many teachers wish they had learned earlier was they should also be kind to themselves.

This type of kindness extends to our whole person: the spiritual, physical, and emotional. Providing the proper attention to our spiritual lives, exercise, and our emotional wellbeing allows us not only to be better people but bring that kindness to our students.

Examples From Our Teachers

  • Be your own beautiful.
  • Take care of your body, it is the only one you have. Live happily!
  • Don’t beat yourself up over mistakes.
  • I wish that I would have learned that getting exercise every day is important.
  • Do not procrastinate.  Don’t settle for less than you deserve!
Budget and Saving

Budget and Saving

Topping our list as the number one life lesson that teachers wished they had learned earlier, is budgeting and saving money. This advice not only at the top of the list but topped it significantly.

This might be because many teachers have focused their formal training in the liberal arts and English and much less in business or finance. Also, as mission driven professionals we sometimes don’t pay enough attention to finance and money matters.

Examples From Our Teachers

  • Learn financial literacy and how to prepare taxes.
  • Understand how important it is to be financially stable.
  • Learn to balance a checkbook, and how to pay for college.
  • How to establish credit!
  • Save money when you’re young and keep at least $1,000 saved up in case of emergencies.

What life-lesson do you wish you had learned earlier?


  1. Still working on stopping to enjoy the sweet moments. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the day to day trials that remembering to take time to enjoy the journey can be a challenge. 🤷‍♀️

What do you THINK?

%d bloggers like this: