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12 Powerful Life Lessons

Photo by Lucia Holm
Follow your dreams and transform your life ~Paulo Coelho

As my wife and I were planning our last vacation, one of the first things we did was get out a map and plan our route. Whether it was online maps or old fashioned paper maps – they all helped guide us to our destination. As I was looking at the maps spread across our dining room table, I thought, “wouldn’t it be great if there was a map of life” that could guide you along your life’s journey?

A personal motivation map giving you those life lessons that one typically learns way too late in life. Does such a “map of life” exist? It was then that I stumbled upon a tattered copy of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho in the bottom of my closet.

Paulo Coelho in his wildly popular book (65 million copies sold in 67 languages) tells the story of a shepherd boy and his quest to live his dream. Along the way, the boy meets an alchemist who has the power to inspire personal transformation. This Alchemist gives the boy a number of life’s lessons – lessons that are as fresh and applicable today as they were hundreds of years ago. The lessons by themselves are interesting, but it’s only when they are applied, that the power of personal transformation can be unleashed.

So what can Paulo teach us about life and pursing dreams in the face of obstaclesthat caused 65 million people to buy his book?


1. It’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary.

I believe this to be true and have experienced this with my own family. When I think of the times where we laughed the most or had the most fun – it was when we were doing the simplest things. Swimming in a pool, combing a beach for shells, playing a board game, or sharing a delicious meal – all simple things making up the best times we’ve had as a family.

Question: What were some of the happiest memories from your past? What were you doing?


2. Support your children in pursuit of their dreams.

In the beginning of the story the shepherd boy (named Santiago) tells his father he wants to travel and see the world. The father explains he wants his son to stay in the village and become a priest. But Santiago persists – being a priest is not his dream. What does his father do? He gives Santiago the small amount of money he had been saving for the boy and wished him well.

How many of us had parents who have – in not-so-subtle-ways – influenced us to take careers that were not in-line with our dreams? Be honest now, did you pick your current career because you’re passionate about the work or were you trying to make your parents proud? How do you feel about your career now?

As a parent, it’s difficult to accept when your child wants to take a path other than the one you had hoped and planned for them. But, it’s ok. Like my wife keeps telling me “give them roots and give them wings”. Give them a solid foundation of love, but give them the freedom to follow their dreams.

Question: What were some of your dreams as a child?


3. There is nothing to hold you back, except yourself.

There is only one question to ask yourself here: “What would you do if you were not afraid?” Think about it.

4. There is only one way to learn, and that is through action.

Trying to learn without doing is like trying to lose weight by watching someone else exercise. It’s just not going to work. We are all fundamentally hands-on learners.

Question: What would you like to learn? What next action step can you take?


5. Trust your gut (or Learn to recognize omens, and follow them.)

Many times our subconscious has already made a decision before we’ve caught up and made the same decision. Sometimes we don’t make the same decision and then ‘something does not feel right’ or there is a persistent naggingthat bothers us. Malcolm Gladwell wrote extensively about this phenomenon in his book titled Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking. Trust your gut – it may be more accurate than you think.


6. Follow your dreams.

There are many of us who dream our dreams without ever actually realizing any of them. For whatever reason we get locked in a “dream state” and never take action. We analyze too much and our dreams turn into giant mountains in our imagination that seem impossible to climb. As a result, we never learned that foreign language we’ve always wanted to learn, or traveled, or started that business, or written that book. Just think of the many bestsellers that would have been, but were never written.

The time is now, to awake from dreamland, to live the life we want and to achieve the extraordinary potential within us all.

Question: What are some dreams you’d like to realize now? Write them down on a piece of paper and make sure the success of their attainment is measurable.


7. Know what you want.

Set goals and make a plan to achieve them. It’s like the saying, “a goal that is never written down is nothing but a New Year’s resolution” – and we all know what happens to New Year’s resolutions.


8. Make a decision and dive in with massive action.

The river of life will take you to places that you have never imagined. Once you make a decision, take action. You’ll be surprised to find where it will lead.


9. Move on – always look forward.

It’s ok to look back once and a while, but don’t live in the past. You can visit “pity city” for a short time, but after a while you have to leave it all behind and walk on.


10. You will encounter obstacles and take detours while realizing your dreams.

As you strive to achieve your dreams, you can count on there being some setbacks and disappointments. Don’t get discouraged, the road to your dreams may not be an easy one. Think of these challenges as tests of persistence and courage that life throws at you during your quest. They were necessary and were meant to help you grow as a person.

Learn to adjust the sails of your life to unpredictable winds, while keeping your focus clear on your destination.


11. Don’t fear the unknown.

As long as you’re resourceful and have a few skills, you’ll be able to provide for yourself (and your family). Have confidence in yourselfat all times.


12. Learn to understand the universal language – the language without words.

There is so much more said from a person than just words alone. You can read the expression on someone’s face, sense their body language, or hear the tone in their voice – these thingsare all part of the unspoken language. The more conscious we become at noticing them, the better we become at interpreting them.

Question: What are some subtle unspoken gestures from the language of love?


The Alchemist BookThe Alchemist is a deeply moving, yet simple fable about a shepherd boy living his dreams. Now that Paulo Coelho has taught us his lessons, can we, like an alchemist, change our lives from one of dreaming about our dreams to one of living our dreams? It’s up to us to take action…today!

What are some of your dreams? What are some dreams you’ve achieved, and how did you achieve them? Share your stories and thoughts with us in the comment section. See you there!

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76 thoughts on 12 Powerful Life Lessons

  1. I like the phrase “Give them a solid foundation of love, but give them freedom to follow their dream” – the most important element in parenting. Love this post!

  2. Nicely written. I’ve never read The Alchemist, but will now. Any book that has sold 65 million copies has got to be worth reading.

    In 1975, I had a dream to become a nurse, so I started nursing school and completed a year of prerequisites, plus the first quarter of actual nursing school. Due to lack of confidence in myself, I dropped out.

    In 1994, at the age of 44, I completed school and received my license to practice as a Registered Nurse.

    Since then, my wife and I dreamed of building our own house, and despite multiple roadblocks that almost caused us to stop, we did it in 3 years.

    Do I have new dreams? You bet I do.

  3. “There is nothing to hold you back, except yourself.”

    Learning to trust in life is great relief…

    Inspiring post +_+

  4. I’ts all about how you want to live your life, just do the things you want.

  5. These are powerful concepts indeed Tina, thank you :)

    Here are some powerful concepts that I use in life. The lesson I learned, is that these concept can be applied to anything:

    Being Honest – There are two main points in this one:

    * Discovering new truths about who you are and the reality you live, in order to accelerate growth. Gathering new ideas, information, and knowledge about yourself and reality. You are going to grow no matter what experiences you have, but you can consciously/deliberately grow through being open to ideas and seeing if they match your reality through own experience. Be aware of more truths that lead you to what you truly desire.
    * This concept is also about recognizing where you are at in your life right now and being 100% honest about it. No denying what is really happening in your reality. No pretending or make believe. Realizing that there is a problem and admitting to it. Acknowledging what you truly desire.

    Connection – This idea is about connecting with people and things that influence the life you desire. Connecting to the people/things you resonate with most and weakening the connection from people/things that do not reflect the shape or path of the life you prefer.

    Connect with people that match the desires you wish to achieve in life. For example, if your desire is to quit smoking, connect with non-smokers. If your desire is to pull yourself out of debt, connect with people who have already freed themselves from debt. If you desire to live consciously, connect with people who are conscious decision makers. Connect only with what you truly desire.

    Taking Responsibility – This concept is about taking responsibility for your life, rather than playing a victim. You only have the power to create the life you choose, once you start taking action. You will not take action or give yourself the power to create the life you desire (solving a problem) by giving your power away. Take action and move towards what you truly desire.

    I have to thank Steve Pavlina’s book for understanding that almost every problem can be solved through these concepts, which I see as a very value lesson in life.

    Thank you Tina, for your persistence and incredible insights with your fantastic words/ articles. Your presence is inspiring others to empower themselves.

  6. dorje

    Great article, thanks for sharing. I particularly love item #3…There is nothing to hold you back, except yourself.

    There is only one question to ask yourself here: “What would you do if you were not afraid?” Think about it.

    Very powerful – frightening, yet exhilarating!

    I’ve never read the Alchemist, but may need to pick up a copy now. :-)

  7. Sophia Pham

    It’s amazing how simple and commonsense these lessons are, but sadly we just never stop to think about them.

    Thanks for posting.

  8. Ian

    Great article! I have not read the Alchemist, but the lessons it shares sound simple and true. I have found a lot of simple and true lessons from a site I recently stumbled upon as well.

  9. Leigh

    Butch Walker is secretly Paulo Coelho??

  10. Paulo Coelho’s writing is timeless. This article invites readers to reflect on universal messages and how they can resonater or touch the soul.

  11. Jesse Taylor III

    Very inspiring article…

    I am fortunate that at the young age of 24 I have completed one dream and am working on another.

    My 1st dream was to graduate college with a degree in Computer Science and to then get into the video game industry. I have done so and now enjoy a great job at a prominent video game company on the West Coast.

    My 2nd ( and most important! ) dream is to publish a comic book that I have been working on for the past few years.

    I have been lucky enough to have parents who support whatever it is I do as well as an unyielding determination to make my dreams a reality.

    I intend to use my story and success to inspire others and help them realize their potential and capacity for doing the things they dream of.

  12. I would like to answer the question you have put forth, honestly! I have never done this before publicly!

    Well, when i was young, I wanted to become a scientist. It was a childhood dream. Well, Now i am an Electronics and Communication Engineer and i don’t repent one bit what i am doing. Life is amazing. I have a job at hand and i do what i like the most-blogging. What more can i ask for?

    Pardon my pointing this out, but dreaming alone isn’t enough to achieve goals. It’s visualising that matters the most. I always make it a point to program my mind before i want something to happen. People technically call it hypnosis. And in the end process, if i don’t achieve something, i don’t feel all blue. Well, i might feel depressed for an hour or so but not more than pity. I do a lot of self-talk and motivate myself. That way, i feel rejuvenated again. I hate indulging in self-pity.

    I would also like to add another important point here, with your permission. “Never ever pray to God for material needs, ask Him to provide you the mental strength and fortitude to meet anything in life”

    I enjoyed having my say here! Cheers!

  13. I liked what you said about the importance of action. Sometimes we navel-gaze so much, we forget to actually act.

  14. I have loved this book since the age of 10. It is inspirational and always heart-warming, although Paulo Coelho’s ideas have slowly began differing from mine as I grow older, probably because of our religious differences.

    The hardest part of life is knowing what we want from it. I have realized lately that I am in a point in my life when I should be answering this question. The answer seems simple enough: write. Why then, am I so frozen in the fear to fail?

    Everyone should sit down and think about it. If you are not doing what you want now, stop it! Drop it and search for passion. Life is not worth anything without passion.

    Thanks for a great post

  15. The Alchemist was a very inspirational book. I read it in high school, and it must have made a strong impression on me because I often think back to it.

    This was a great highlight of the book and brought a smile to my face. :)

  16. I have not read the book (Alchemist) yet. Seems like it is a good book that I must pick it up soon.

    Personal Development Blogger

  17. This is one of those books that’s been on my list forever and I just haven’t got around to reading it. I think that it’s just made number one for my trip to the bookstore tomorrow. Right now I’m reading another great book, Living Life as if Thinking Matters by R. L. Wysong. I’m finding it really eye-opening in many ways.

  18. “3. There is nothing to hold you back, except yourself.”

    So true… we have so much potential but many of us are held back by limiting beliefs of what we “can’t achieve”.

  19. biz

    Good lessons. I think that it would be good to learn such lessons in early school, in order to form kid’s way of thinkin in time. When we get old it is difficult to change habits.

  20. I remember when I read the Alchemist I was in France on a vacation this past summer. I wanted to see what the big deal was because I had heard the book was this amazing transformative story that would change my life.

    I finished the book after two or three nights of reading into the wee hours of the morning (jet lag) and finally when I put it down, I looked at the wall and said: “That’s it?”

    I remember thinking how simple the lessons in the book were. I thought this can’t be the book people are raving about and that sold 65 million copies all over the planet. At the time I didn’t get it. I’m starting to understand it a little better though. The simplicity is the key.

    All the things I think I need, all the things I think I need to accomplish, and whatever else goes on ad nauseum in my head on a daily basis is mostly noise. The simple life is the easier life. Thanks for the article.

  21. These are great lessons to learn and to carry with us. I haven’t read The Alchemist yet; it’s on my list for the new year. Rules 3 and 9 are playing a big role in my life right now. It’s time to move on and make some serious life changes, and to allow myself to heal. That’s one thing I’ve learned reading Deborah King’s Truth Heals – that it’s important for me to find my own truth, to stop living the lies that are holding me back.

  22. Intuition is a wonderful thing. Sometimes it takes years to figure out how to listen to it properly, but once you do, you open up all kinds of doors.

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