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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. This is a great list of life lessons. I like all of them, but I think #1 is something that is overlooked so frequently. It is all about the simple things in life.

  2. Hi Vic, luv the quote by Paulo Coelho.
    I got one of the point : If we have known what we want, then take actions to achieve that with all costs.
    Great post, Vic.

  3. Big thank for these 12 really powerful life lessons. Not to be afraid of unknown and understanding the universal language are the most important lessons for me.

  4. Michael Williams

    Maybe I missed it or just didnt read the entire posts but in your 12 LIFE LESSONS you mentioned Parents supporting their kids but never ever mention a Husband/Wife supporting their spouse. Seems strange.

  5. LN

    The lessons are very good. But it is sad that you can find the here and on a few places more. Some people even do not know about them.

  6. Rachel

    You know that picture at the top is Butch Walker. :)

  7. Prashant

    It’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary
    Follow Your Dreams.
    Treasure belongs where your heart is.
    No matter how much you run and how much you accumulate.
    What really matters is satisfaction.
    No satisfaction no life. Know dreams Know life.
    Cheers…! Take Care.

  8. Yes it is a good book… I read it 4 yrs back and the story is still fresh in my mind. I still tell parts of the story during conversations….

  9. Gerald Rodarmel

    i have been going through almost everything you can in a life time and im only 17 so the thing i live by is if it doesnt kill you it only makes you stronger

  10. tim

    the alchemist is sadly a failure because of its great success it is becoming such a cliche. I like learning from a religion which has so much hardship still to this very day (scriptures)
    i have learned so much from this to better my life

  11. Wow. Superb post. I also love writing lifely post. Number 2 and 3 are the best points, I read here. All points are superb indeed.

  12. Enjoyed the article. Thanks for posting – some very important things are mentioned that we sometimes forget! HighFive Your Life!

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