17 One Sentence Life Lessons From My Dad

When it comes to pep talks, my dad nails it every single time. Since I was a kid, he has always been trying to teach my siblings and I things about life through repeating short, easy-to-remember mantras over and over and over. We used to roll our eyes and brush him off, but at the age of 24, I now cling to these mantras like they’re oxygen. I’ve also found myself passing these mantras off to others who are in need of encouragement, whether they were friends, co-workers, or the sandwich-maker at my local Potbelly (this last one only happened once, but I’m optimistic for the future). These life lessons might be short and simple, but they always help me when I’m not in a good place.

1. You’ll never get anywhere if you’re unwilling to be uncomfortable.

Part of growing up means stepping outside of your comfort zone – sometimes constantly. It may seem overwhelming at first, but the more you put yourself out there, the more you will grow and the more you will experience. 

2. Effort is more important than talent.

Talent’s important. But there are plenty of talented people that never amount to anything because they’re afraid of trying. The people that are willing to sweat and swallow their pride and put in all the work are the ones who end up going places. 

3. Never bury your talents in the sand.

This one comes from a favorite Bible story of my dad’s, but it can be applicable to anyone from any background. The basic message is that if you’ve been blessed with a gift, don’t let it go to waste. It’s not enough to just have a knack for something. You have to develop it and work at it if you ever want it to amount to anything. If you’re not going to do that, you might as well just bury your talent in the sand. 

4. Respect money, but don’t worship it.

Dealing with money is inevitable. It’s part of being an adult. What you need to remember is that it’s important to be careful with your money and handle it wisely, but you should never get to the point where you’re putting money above everything else. That’s when you start getting into trouble. 

5. Do the thing you fear and the fear will disappear.

Sometimes the scariest part about something is the apprehension that we build up inside our own heads. It doesn’t mean that the thing we’re dreading isn’t scary. Most of the time, it’s terrifying. But if you hide in a corner and never face it, the fear is only going to get bigger and more powerful. So shine a light on it by facing what you’re afraid of. 

6. Vacation is the absence of deadlines.

Having a vacation doesn’t mean you have to jet off to some expensive paradise location. Vacation just means that you are temporarily freeing yourself from the demands of your everyday life. When you take a vacation, make sure you are putting yourself in a situation where you are answering only to yourself and doing what you want to do, not what you think you should be doing in order to have an experience. 

7. Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes.

Sometimes I forget that Billy Joel said this and not my dad. Either way, it’s an important one to remember, especially as you get older. It’s going to be hard to remain close with every single friend you have for the rest of your life. You get busy and people move and things change and you meet new people that seem to wander into your life at the most perfect moment. You’re always saying goodbye to someone and hello to another. Embrace this early on and be thankful for the time that you do have with people.

8. Listen to your body.

If you’re tired or sick or exhausted, take care of yourself. There’s a reason you get headaches and sore throats and sore muscles. It’s your body telling you to slow down and take it easy. Never mistreat your body. It’s the only one you’ve got. 

9. People’s favorite sound in the world is the sound of their own name. 

You’re going to get a lot farther with people if you remember their name, whether it’s the person who’s interviewing you for a job or your waitress. Using someone’s name is a way to signify to them that you think they are important. It’s the simplest thing in the world, and yet people never bother to do it. 

10. Be a rebounder.

Everybody fails at some point. Most people deal with failure regularly. It’s not about how much you fail, but how you handle that failure. Don’t wallow in self-pity. Instead, get up and be a rebounder. Force yourself to keep trying and keep working at it. Eventually, you’ll get there. It might not be the there that you initially intended, but it’s somewhere. 

11. Settling for less than you are capable of is being lazy.

It doesn’t matter if most people think you’ve already achieved a lot. If you’re not reaching your full potential, you’re giving up on yourself. Don’t settle for less than you know you can do and be. 

12. You have to go in with the right mindset, or you’ve already lost.

People tend to underestimate the power of their own thoughts. No matter what challenge you are facing, if you go in feeling defeated, you will be defeated. Whatever you are doing, be sure to enter the arena with the mindset that you can accomplish what you came to do. Or else you don’t stand a chance. 

13. People who worry about how their life “appears” to others are the least happy.

The illusion of happiness is not the same thing as happiness. Someone may look like they have the most amazing life on their profile, but that doesn’t mean anything. Most of the time, the people that are trying the hardest to make their life look impressive are the ones who are trying to fill a void. 

14. There’s nothing more satisfying than achieving a goal you never thought you could achieve.

It gives you confidence and fulfillment that you never thought possible. It’s one of the greatest feelings in the world, and one worth fighting for. 

15. Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it.

Alright, so this one goes out to Bill Cosby. My dad has a knack for giving great pep talks, but he also has a knack for sharing great quotes of the day, and this is one of his personal favorites. Anything worth having or achieving is scary, and that’s why not everyone reaches this point. So if you want it, decide that you’re willing to go through a lot of shit to get there. 

16. The path to success isn’t glamorous, and it isn’t overnight.

The movies make it look easy, with a quick montage and some inspiring music. But real success comes from the late nights where you just want to relax but instead you keep working. It comes from getting out of bed morning after morning when all you want to do is hide under the covers. It’s a long road that consists of many repeated days of sweat and effort. But the end result is worth it. 

17. Habits are much more important than big one-time actions.

It may seem like giving one amazing, life-changing presentation is your answer to that big promotion at work, but it’s not. The way to get noticed at your job or through your work is through the little things: showing up every day on time, working hard, giving it all you’ve got, getting things in on time, helping your team, and putting in the effort when no one’s watching. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

image – girl/afraid

I’m a staff writer for Thought Catalog. I like comedy and improv. I live in Chicago. My Uber rating is just okay.

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