My 18 Biggest Lessons Learned In Life

A year is a long time to learn life lessons. These lessons learned in life will transform, inspire and empower you to reach for your dreams – and succeed.

Here are the 6 biggest ones.

Lessons Learned In Life #1:

Friends Matter

Friends Matter

I passed out of medical school over 30 years ago. There were 204 students in my batch.

In the course of 2017, I met nearly 50 of them in person at least once.

That’s 25% of a group of friends I’ve known for three long decades!

It’s amazing.

In a world where the rush and hustle makes most interactions and relationships transactional, having good friends who go back a long time is truly special.

I’m blessed. And value this connection deeply.

It extends to ‘virtual’ relationships I have over social media, email and other digital channels with many thousand others across the world.

I spend a LOT of time in my day engaging in interactions with these friends – because friends matter.

Friendships are my most precious, prized asset.

And you, my friend, are what makes life so special.

Thank you 🙂

I wish you many new friendships that last for years and years.

Lessons Learned In Life #2

Health Is Everything

Health is Everything

For years, I’ve eaten right. Exercise regularly. Take care of my health and fitness.

As a doctor, over 30 years I’ve seen the ravages disease and degeneration wreaks on the human form. And postponing it for as long as possible always seems a worthy goal.

Last month, I caught a nasty virus.

It knocked me out of action for 3 full days. I slept like a baby through most of them. And then, it took nearly a week to recover from the onslaught.

During this time, I was SUPER non-productive.

And that’s scary. Because despite living a healthy lifestyle, a stupid microscopic bug can lay you low – and keep you down for days!


If you’re in good health, rejoice in that fact. Treasure it. Be grateful.

Then, do all you can to sustain that state.

If you’re not, and it’s because of a lifestyle choice, make a new choice this coming year to change whatever you can to get healthier.

Then, do whatever it takes.

It’s THAT important.

I wish you good health and cheer all through the next year!

(Hey, that sounded like a mini-poem!)

Lessons Learned In Life #3

Time Flies

Times flies

It’s amazing how, as you grow older, time speeds up. A year used to last 12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days.

Now, it’s just half as long!

Or, at least, that’s how it feels.

Last week, I was getting some ice-cream with my wife. Watched a young mom hold her 2 year-old boy’s hand, as the little one licked excitedly on his treat. And it brought back fond memories of how I used to take my little girl out for ice-cream when she was that age.

It was 3 years ago. Or was it longer?

5, maybe. Or 10. Or even 15.

Time flies.

Seems just like yesterday – but magically, it’s years and years since.

So don’t put off for “tomorrow” anything you want to (or can) do now. Before you realize it, time’s flown – and it’s “too late”.

Today is a great day. Now is the best time.

Do it.

Build those memories.

Then you have the rest of your life to pull them out, enjoy them, cherish them, and add new ones to the collection.

Time flies.

Don’t forget that. Ever.

Do It NOW!

Lessons Learned In Life #4

It’s Hard To Let Go

Growing up

When they’re very young, every first is a happy one.

A first smile. The first step. First word.

When they’re older, though, the firsts aren’t so much fun.

A first goodbye. The first sleepover. First trip alone.

Maybe it’s because the younger firsts build a bond; the later ones weaken it… in preparation for a final break.

It’s bittersweet to raise a chid – and then let her grow!


Lessons Learned In Life #5

Focus Gets Things Done


I started last year with a bang – by pruning down my extensive activities to a core set of 5 projects.

Everything else was placed ‘on hold’.

A few months later, a couple more things got onto the list, because they seemed interesting enough.

And then, before I knew it, there were far too many to devote time and energy to – and complete.

Reviewing progress this week revealed how important focus can be.

On December 6th, I resolved to write my latest book (on how to form new habits that last a lifetime) and publish it by the 21st. I beat that deadline by 24 hours. It only happened because of focused action-taking.

And in the real world, you’re only rewarded for actions taken – NOT fond wishes, hopes or dreams.

Not even for firmly stated intentions and resolutions taken.

Only for actions taken.

Without focus and concentration, those actions will be scattered, undirected, incomplete.

Lessons Learned In Life #6

Passion (Still) Trumps Other Stuff

Passion Rules

If you haven’t yet read my PASSION Manifesto, get it here: for free!

I recently reviewed my year’s earnings.

Over 95% of my income came from things I’m most passionate about.

Being a doctor. And being a writer.

My time management program (Rescue Time) says that I’ve spent 2,779 hours just on the online component of my work in 2017 – which works out to around 7.5 hours daily.

Rescue Time report

What’s interesting is that I don’t recall feeling like I worked that much!

Because… I didn’t.

I was having fun!

YES, even while ‘working’.

Guess the wise (wo)man who said this (Confucius? Mark Twain? Someone else?) was right:

“Choose a job you love, and you will never work a day in your life!”

I got lucky that way!

And I hope you do, too, in the coming year. So that, when you look back after 12 months on the lessons learned in life over the 365 days since you read this post, you’ll smile!

3 Precious Lessons I Wish I’d Learned In My Twenties…But Am Glad To Know Today!

3 precious lessons I wish I'd learned in my twenties

As I cruise into ripe ol’ middle age, I’m growing wiser. Every day. And wonder… what took me so long?

I mean, so many of these powerful lessons learned in life are blindingly obvious – once they are learned.

Lessons Learned In Life #7:

Security is a Myth

I have a diary from the 1980s. On one page of it, I see notations, in rows and columns, of figures, estimates and calculations. They are the fruit of an exercise which took a few weeks, trying to estimate how much money I’d need to save up to live a retired, comfortable life.

The computation factored in inflation, “reasonable” interest rates, income growth, and such like. It didn’t factor in reality, though. Or the scary, roller-coaster nature of change.

Once, with the Indian rupee plummeting to decades’ long lows and stock prices crashing, the value of my investment portfolio sunk by over 10%, literally overnight.

But that didn’t bother me too much. Because of my lessons learned in life.

Security – especially financial security – is a myth.

You don’t scrimp and save today just so that you can live “in peace and comfort” some other day. No. You live today.

Sure, you should stow away a bit for a rainy day – just don’t get obsessed about it and put your life on hold for a tomorrow that never comes. Otherwise, you risk becoming like the captain of a cruise liner who dreamed about retirement all through his career – and on his last trip, had a heart attack out at sea, and died!

Lessons Learned In Life #8:

Control is an Illusion

We engage in mighty struggles and fight impassioned battles at home and at work, just to gain “control”. Nations arm militarily and go to war for the same reason.

We crave control. Authority and influence over others. The dream of having people jump to fulfil our slightest wish is a seductive constant in many of our lives.

Yet, when you consider it in cold blood, just how much control do you really have over what truly matters?

You walk carefully on the sidewalk – and a rotten branch from a tree could crash down and break your neck. You drive cautiously, following every rule in the book, and an angry or drunk maniac, or text-happy teen, might smash into your automobile and put you in a hospital – or in your grave!

Control is an illusion.

There’s one thing you can control, though. It’s not outside. It’s within you. Yourself. That’s who you have control over. (Sadly, too many aren’t looking for that – or want to get better at self-control.) Without it, everything else is a waste. That’s another of those important lessons learned in life.

Lessons Learned In Life #9:

Happiness is a Choice

A ubiquitous and pervasive media advertises the price of happiness as being ownership of a gadget, brand or asset. Mindlessly, we believe the shrill, insistent marketing – and feel miserable.

Until we manage to get hold of what was advertised.

That’s when we realize, for a fact, that it doesn’t really make us happy (It did? Lucky you!)

We don’t learn this life lesson the first time. Or the second. Even the third, fourth and fifth times are ignored in the heady pursuit of newer, costlier and shinier toys. But sooner or later, it dawns upon a weary mind and body that happiness ought to be different.

It is.

Happiness is a choice.

There are people living in hovels that would horrify the most tolerant and broad-minded of us, who still manage to laugh and smile, enjoying their time on earth. And we’ve all known or heard about mega-rich, super-famous, hyper-successful depressives who do outrageous things in a desperate search for happiness. Or even end up killing themselves when they can’t find it.

It isn’t necessary. You can choose to be happy, wherever you are.

Those are three lessons learned in life that I wish I’d been wise enough to absorb when I was in my twenties. Anyway, I’m glad to have learned these life lessons today. You?

Lessons Learned In Life #10:

How Muffin Taught Me To Seize Life

Muffin Exploring
Muffin, our Lhasa-Apso/Terrier half-breed, is the sweetest natured puppy I’ve ever known. Not only am I blessed with her affection, I’ve gained many precious lessons learned in life from watching her grow up.

Such as how to seize life’s many opportunities.

There are a few things Muffin loves more than anything else. Riding in a car. Playing on the terrace. Wandering around the garden.

She has learned to associate certain key words and phrases with these opportunities. When she hears them, a remarkable transformation comes over her. She might be deep in slumber, happily at play, or sitting morosely on her couch chewing on an old toothbrush, but when the magic words are uttered, she’ll change dramatically.

A quiver runs through her little body. Her tail begins wagging furiously. She’ll jump up and race you to the door, and stand leaping at the latch, scratching eagerly at the barrier, ready to streak out the moment you open it for her.

This happens every time.

Every. Single. Time.

She never seems to grow tired of it. In her universe, opportunities to have fun abound. And she’s raring to seize each of them, never missing her chance.

No Missed Opportunities

Even when she knows we’re teasing her, she’ll react the same way. Her enthusiastic antics only cease when she’s convinced beyond doubt that we’re only kidding, and that she isn’t really missing a potential opportunity.

In fact, there are times when her sheer excitement has prompted me to carry her upstairs for a game on the terrace, or even put her in the car and back up to the gate and come back.

Yes, she creates her own opportunities – through pure energy. That’s among the more important lessons learned in life.

What’s even more amazing is that these mini-adventures, which might only last a couple of minutes, are just as fulfilling and satisfying to the little canine as a fuller one.

As I pace the terrace watching Muffin explore the same ‘interesting things’ that she has for almost three years, I wonder…

How many opportunities are we missing out on because we’ve grown tired, jaded and bored.

How much more deeply will we experience and enjoy life by being as curious, excited and passionate about every little opportunity we get… as this little puppy does.

Then, I thanked Muffin for these lessons learned in life – and wanted to share this with you!

5 Hard Earned Time Management Life Lessons

Some time management lessons learned in life came only after years of struggling to manage my time better.

And because these lessons learned in life have the potential to completely revolutionize the way you think about managing your time, this section might well be one of the most important you’ll read.

Without any further ado, let’s talk about these 5 hard earned time management life lessons.

Lessons Learned In Life #11:

Make Lists

Drawing up lists for everything is a very effective time management method. You can have a list on which only major projects are added, and then work your way through it. A sub-list of things to do today helps you stay focused on the most important projects.

While having too many lists, or too many items on each list, can be a problem, it is easily solved by setting priorities and deciding what goes on your list.

Unimportant tasks that have no bearing on your long term goals should be ruthlessly eliminated. Writing down your list is helpful because you can cross off items as they get done. This gives you a sense of completion that reinforces your behavior of sticking to the list.

Lessons Learned In Life #12:

Clear Away Clutter

Organizing your files and workspace can be a precious time management lesson. Look at the items that clutter up your home or office. Do you really need to keep those papers, documents, sales brochures and other material? If not, get rid of them. Or keep digital copies and eliminate the physical clutter.

While this may be hard work, it is very rewarding when you get done. You’ll often be able to destroy 75% of papers, bills, receipts and other things without significantly impacting your work or efficiency.

Lessons Learned In Life #13:

Take Control Over Your Schedule

To organize your time, you must first realize what is holding you back. One of the powerful time management lessons learned in life over the years is that nothing is wrong with you, or out of control – it’s just the way things work, at their own speed and in their own nature.

Getting frustrated about it is wasteful. Instead, take control of as much as you can.

Manage your email, voice mail, phone calls and in person meetings. Avoid interruptions, and factor in time wasted on unexpected delays into your work schedule. Pick specific times of the day to tackle particular tasks. Unless you schedule work, it never gets done.

If your project seems too big to complete, break it down into smaller chunks and then begin working on the first chunk. Sooner than you realize it, you’ll get everything done.

Lessons Learned In Life #14:

You Can’t Do Everything Yourself

You may like to think of yourself as being capable of handling everything on your own. You might even think others cannot do as good a job as you will. And you may be right, too.

Except that, by going it alone, you will significantly limit the nature and amount of work that you can get done.

If you get others to help you out, you’ll achieve more. You may have employees, volunteers or friends who can tackle specific elements of your work. By making a list, and then delegating chores to your team members, you free yourself up to concentrate on other important things.

Lessons Learned In Life #15:

Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself

One of the vital time management lessons learned in life is that it isn’t always your fault.

Even if you spend a lot of time training yourself in more efficient time management, there will be times when you slip up. Piles of paper will accumulate on your desk. Your email inbox will get cluttered. You’ll fall behind on your deadlines. Others will dump their work on you, forcing you to shelve your important projects until later.

Don’t beat yourself up.

Things will change and improve, as long as you stick to the time management life lessons you’ve learned and keep on implementing. If you don’t give up, you’ll get better at managing your time.

Life Lessons On How To Take Control of Your Financial Future – Starting Now

Why does a section on personal finance find a place on a post about lessons learned in life?

Well, most dreams are fuelled by money. Or at least you’ll want financial security first before you rush into a headlong pursuit of your dreams. After all, an army cannot march on an empty stomach!

And the hardest life lessons are taught and learned on the financial battleground… when you make (or lose) money.

When I started my career after finishing post-graduate medical school, my monthly income was around Rs.10,000 (that’s approximately $225).

How do you start from that point, and reach one from where it is possible to envision a secure future with passive income that covers your estimated needs, while leaving you free to follow a dream project that itself requires a significant amount of funding? And do it within 15 years?

I won’t kid you. It isn’t easy or quick.

It did take some discipline, some learning and some sacrifice. But not a lot. I didn’t have to live like a hermit, or count pennies over everything.

In a nutshell, I followed 3 simple guidelines.

1. Live within your means

2. Save regularly

3. Invest wisely

Let’s talk about each in a little more detail.

Lessons Learned In Life #16:

Live Within Your Means

In his book, “The Art of Money”, P.T.Barnum quotes the Charles Dickens’ character Mr.Micawber as saying:

“Annual income 20 pounds, annual expenditure 19 nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income 20 pounds, annual expenditure 20 pounds ought and six, result misery.”

That’s among the best lessons learned in life. It doesn’t quite matter how much you make. When you live within your means, you’ll be well and truly on the way to growing rich, even if only slowly.

I’ve followed a simple method that’s based on using envelopes. At the beginning of a month, based on our budget for various planned expenses, we put money into different envelopes, each labelled with the purpose for which it is intended – like ‘household bills’, ‘groceries’, ‘eating out’, ‘car’, ‘entertainment’ and so on.

By forcing ourselves to stay within the self-imposed limit for every category, we’ve done something only few people manage to (but every wealthy person I know does) – which is to stay out of debt. Borrowing becomes necessary only when your desires exceed your capacity. That’s when debt seductively appeals to your emotions, sucking you into the quicksand of financial instability.

But frugal living does NOT mean being stingy, or adopting a mindset of scarcity.

No. That kind of life is no fun at all.

Frugal living is about having the discipline and control to say “No, not now” to an impulsive purchase – but figuring out a way to afford it soon.

The easy lure is to reach out for a credit card, or take out a mortgage, or borrow the cash, and then indulge that craving right away. By resisting the temptation to do so, you’ll find it easier to meet your target for the next principle, which is to…

Lessons Learned In Life #17:

Save Regularly

It doesn’t matter how much you save, as long as you do it regularly. A good figure to aim for is 10% of your income. If that sounds too hard, start with 5%, or maybe even 2% – and then work your way up to 10%.

Here’s a simple way to make sure you have enough money to save – set it aside first. Yes, BEFORE you spend any of your income, put away the amount you’ve decided to save. Some people call it “paying yourself first”.

And if it’s possible to save even more out of your earnings, that’s great. You’ll get to your desired target for savings even faster.

What’s that target?

It will depend upon your personal needs and lifestyle, your plans for the future, your age and health, and many other things. More importantly, it will depend upon what you do with the money you save.

In general, there are two ways you can make more money. The first is to exchange your time for money, which means you must work harder (or longer) to earn more. The other is to put your money to work FOR you, earning more from itself.

And the way to do that is through investing your savings.

Lessons Learned In Life #18:

Invest Wisely

The word ‘invest’ may excite some, scare others, and leave many simply confused. There’s so much hype and drama around the term that a novice to the world of personal finance might be forgiven for simply throwing up his or her arms and giving up.

But don’t. I too was a novice at investing 15 years ago. But one of the lessons learned in life is that it is mandatory to learn how to do it – and do it well.

Educate yourself. Read some great books about investing. There are investment options that fit any style, risk profile and budget. Pick the ones you find most relevant and practical for yourself. Make sure you really understand what you are investing in.

For instance, I do hardly any real estate investing. That’s because I don’t understand or know much about it. But I invest heavily in the stock market. I’ve studied books and courses by various experts like Warren Buffet and Ben Graham, Peter Lynch and Jhunjhunwala.

Once you’ve learned enough, invest cautiously and see how it works for you. As you gain experience, you’ll feel more comfortable investing larger sums, and in slightly riskier ventures. It’s just like any other life lessons, like how exercise strengthens your muscles. Investing makes you a better investor, as long as you learn lessons from every transaction.

The Snowball Effect

When you apply these 3 guidelines in your financial life, the effect is like a snowball rolling down a hill.

It’s small to start with. But as it progresses on its journey, more snow sticks to it. The ball grows bigger, and moves downhill faster. As it gathers momentum and gains mass, the tiny snowball becomes an irresistible force that packs an enormous punch.

That’s what will happen to your finances too.

Each of the 3 components – living within your means, saving regularly and investing wisely – will make your savings swell and grow huge… until, in time, you’ll find yourself the proud and happy owner of a nest egg that’s robust enough to take care of your expected needs.

At that point, you are financially FREE.

Passive income will cover your requirements. You will have all the time and energy you need to focus completely on your dreams.

Ultimately, that’s what money and wealth are really about.

Setting you free to live your dreams.

How To Win – Always

How To Win

“I cried because I had no shoes…
Until I saw a man with no feet”

Life lesson: Much about being a winner is to do with how you think.

We can view a situation, circumstance or event and color it any way we wish – and though it objectively is the same, the perspective we give it can differ.

A glass that looks half-empty to a pessimist is seen as being half-full by an optimist. What matters is that the way you think about things controls how you feel, how you behave and how you believe in OTHER things related to it.

Of many winners I’ve met in the course of my life, there are a few common traits that stand out…

  • Daring to dream
  • Celebrating success
  • Being grateful

An important lessons learned in life is that there’s a reason so many of us are willing to settle. To accept a mundane, dreary, routine existence rather than striving to stand out, excel, WIN at the game of Life.

It is uncomfortable. Unfamiliar. Challenging.

Yes, many of us are afraid to win.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest
fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light,
not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves,
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?

— Marianne Williamson

Daring to dream, to aim for huge achievements, to break off the shackles of limiting beliefs to truly follow our hearts is not easy.

It is scary. Nerve-wracking. Even terrifying.

But it is also infinitely fulfilling… no matter if you ‘win’ or ‘lose’.

Because a winner does not KNOW failure. To a winner, it is just a temporary setback. One to learn lessons from. To chalk up to experience. To improve upon – the next time.

“Today, we will do the tough things.
Tomorrow, the impossible ones.
And the day after that, we will perform miracles.”

And that’s why winners celebrate success. Even small ones. Seemingly trivial ones.

They are the seeds of greater success in the future.

Think Like A Winner

Winners understand the philosophy,

“Aim for the stars, you may reach the rooftops”

More important, and the single biggest trait I’ve observed in winners, is their constant ability to cherish, value and respect their accomplishments. Lessons learned in life.

Winners are grateful. Always. For everything.

I can often tell if someone will succeed long-term just by watching how often they express gratitude for the things they have, and have attained.

Daring to dream.
Celebrating success.
Being grateful.

Three traits that are the forerunner of success.

No excuses. No explanations. No ‘whats’ or ‘ifs’ or ‘buts’.

Clear, concise and simple.

FEEL like a winner – because you ARE a winner.

Manifest it by making tiny tweaks to the way you THINK.

To complete the quote from Marianne Williamson above:

“You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people
won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as
children do.

“We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It
is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own
light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the
same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically
liberates others.”

Go change the world, you WINNER! With these lessons learned from life, you’ll be far ahead of any competition.



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