19 Hard Truths About Life

The earlier you learn these life lessons, the better.

Crap I've Learned So You Don't Have To Farknot Architect/Shutter Stock

As I read yet another "off the cuff" quote from a world leader, I am filled with an overwhelming feeling of bewilderment, frustration, and a healthy dose of maternal concern for all mankind and even for him. As a coach, it is not my role to give people the answers they’re in search of, rather I help them find their way, shift perspectives, and break down barriers. It is a powerful partnership of exploration.  


However, in this forum, I can express myself and my opinions. As my maternal mojo is overflowing, I’d like to impart some of the life lessons that I’ve learned along my journey. Thus, I share with you the stuff I’ve learned, so you don’t have to. Some of these are significant life lessons learned the hard way. Some may seem rather obvious but there is evidence all around us that not everyone got the memo. 

Full Disclosure: I did not make all of these mistakes personally, though some were narrow misses. For others, I had a front-row seat to witness very smart, responsible, level-headed people I loved, try and fail, and struggle in their way to figure it all out. A born sponge and curious about all things human, I've made it my mission to learn, from my mistakes and everyone else's.


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Here are 19 hard truths about life:

1. You are responsible for yourself

The health of my relationships with others is directly proportionate to the health of my relationship with myself. In other words, my emotional well-being and spiritual growth are my responsibility.  

2. Learn how to say "no"

For all those people pleasers out there, the ones who just cannot say "no" to an invitation or request, I say this, "A plan to do nothing is still a plan." I have a friend who wants to embroider this on a pillow.



3. You can do anything

I can accomplish anything I set my mind to, with the following notable exceptions; dance in Swan Lake, split an atom, math without numbers, or move things with my mind. To be fair, the last one I might still be able to do…if I just focus a little harder.


4. Follow the Golden Rule

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Yes, it’s from the bible. If you didn’t read it, that’s okay. There was likely a version of this included on your first day of orientation guide for Kindergarten. If you look back at every exchange you’ve ever had that went pear-shaped, it’s because either you or the other person blatantly ignored this rule. Seriously. Think about it.

5. Be open

Being open (to people, to experiences, to change) can be scary...hard, even. But I promise you, swimming against life’s current is much, much harder. To surrender is to be truly free.

6. Always bring an umbrella

If you don’t bring an umbrella with you, it will rain. This is true…and also a metaphor, for basically anything.

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7. Not everything is about you

This applies to marriage, parenthood, and life, in general.

8. Emotional and spiritual growth are both uncomfortable

If you’re never uncomfortable, guess what? That's not how you grow.

9. When someone invites you over to dinner or the weekend, bring something.

Anything simple, thoughtful. Extravagant gifts are unnecessary and only lead to the burden of reciprocity.

10. Everything is temporary

Everything. We are temporary. The sooner we truly understand this, and embrace this, the endings look very different.

11. You have a choice

When making big decisions, exchanging ideas and opinions with others can be worthwhile, even advisable. But, at the end of the day, it is your choice.


12. Leave bad jobs

Bad bosses, if endured for too long, can be the manifestation of your inner critic. If it’s changing you, or worse, making you sick, you can leave. You really can.

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13. You don't need to feel stuck

Feeling stuck is terrible but feeling stuck does not mean you are stuck. We always have choices. Always.

14. Pay yourself

If you want to save money, pay yourself first. Make saving one of your monthly "bills."



15. You don't have to open the door for anyone

If someone shows up uninvited at your door with a clipboard, you are not obligated to let them check your furnace, water meter, or your bill. You’re not. Better yet, don’t open the door.


16. Learning how to genuinely love oneself is not always an easy feat

Tip: It has nothing to do with the ego and everything to do with your soul.

17. Failure sucks

It hurts. It shakes your confidence. Failure is also necessary. It is how we learn and grow. I have learned far more from any missteps than any successes and I am richer for it.

18. Try new perspectives

A fresh perspective is like opening a door or blowing down a wall.


19. Screenshots lasts forever 

If I may, I’d like to recommend the following guidelines when weighing your decision to post on social media:

  • If you have any issues whatsoever with cognitive behavior (e.g. impulse control), do not post
  • Have something meaningful to say.
  • Bottom line, think of it as a superpower, to be used only for Good and not Evil.

Falling, flailing, and failing, just makes you human. We all make mistakes. The trick is, to be able to step back from the mess and find the lesson. Some lessons are hard-earned and the cost can be dear. But never forget, it is not the mistake that defines you, it is how you rise from it that counts. 

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Sharon Coldwell, ACC, CPCC is a personal development coach who has  20+ years of experience working with and leading global cross-functional teams.