What Life Lesson Did You Learn The Hard Way? [TableTopic #5]

This blog post is part of a regular series where I answer TableTopics questions. What's in it for you? Reading this answer may spark a new idea, opinion, or emotion. If this happens I would love to hear about it in the comments!!!

One of the hardest life lessons I ever learned is that plans, hard work, and good intentions are not always enough to achieve something I want. If you asked me ten years ago what I thought my life would look like now, I would probably say that I would be well off financially, be running a lucrative online business, own some land, have a long term girlfriend, and most importantly, have completed a round the world trip on a motorcycle.

My reality is very different. After a year of living in Bali, I now live at home. I’ve made some money online, but the lucrative online business I expected to have is still a goal rather than a reality. I don’t own any real estate, I don’t have a girlfriend, and I have no idea when or if I will will be able to do a round the world motorcycle trip.

The reason I learned this life lesson the hard way is because it required letting go of something that I thought I deserved to have. I thought that because I wanted to have a lucrative online business it would then automatically happen after a few years of hard work. I though that badly wanting to ride around the world on a motorcycle would somehow make that dream a reality within 10 years time.

I’ve had to let of the ideas that plans, hard work, and good intentions are enough to achieve what I want in life. They are a good start, but no where near enough. And this realization hurts. It hurts because it means the path from where I am now, to what I want is not linear. There are roadblocks, there are detours, and there are many dead ends.

While this lesson was very hard to learn, it caused me to learn a more valuable life lesson:

Having gratitude and seeing the vast opportunities life presents is more important than being future orientated.

In simpler terms, this means appreciate the moment.

In my self assessment about my current reality it sounds like I’ve failed at life. It’s an easy mental trap for me to enter, and the only thing that takes me out of it is having gratitude.

Although I didn’t achieve what I wanted as a 17 year old, I have had a great life. I’ve made time to travel and pursue passions. I’ve made great friends. I’ve even done a whole lot of motorcycle riding, just not around the world.

On a more basic level, I’ve never gone hungry, and I didn’t live in fear of violence. And being fortunate enough to have just these two things in my life deserves a whole lot of gratitude.

Ultimately, I don’t think it’s a good idea to shy away from things you want. Desire can be a tremendous catalyst for positive change. The trap is in thinking that the future is where you find success by getting what you want.

Your success is all around you. You just have to see it.

For the full list of questions + answers go to this post: 365 TableTopics Questions + Answers