12 Important Life Lessons People Wish They Knew Earlier in Life

🌺  Written by Brittany Ann

If you could go back in time and change the past, would you?

Are there any mistakes you would avoid or missed opportunities you would take advantage of, if only you could have a do-over? Or would you be too worried to change anything, for fear that the butterfly effect could irreparably damage your life (or the world) as we know it?

Recently, on a popular social platform, someone asked, “If you can get back to past, then what advice would you give your 17-year-old self?”

Time machines may still be a thing of the future, but there’s no time like the present. If you haven’t learned all 12 of these lessons yet, now’s your chance to make a positive change.


1. I Would Get (and Stay!) in Shape

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Several people responded that they wished they had gotten or stayed in shape at a younger age. After all, it’s much easier to lose weight when you’re younger with fewer responsibilities than when you’re older with a slowing metabolism.

This doesn’t mean getting in shape is impossible. But it does get much harder the longer you wait.

One person commented, “It’s much harder to get back in shape once you’ve let it go too far.”

Another person agreed, saying, “Yeah, absolutely. Not just for physical reasons but even more so mentally. It can become extremely difficult after you let yourself go for so long.”

The good news is: Getting started is the most difficult part. If you can get past that initial resistance, exercise does become much easier and more enjoyable!


2. I Would Not Date that Person

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While dating around can be a lot of fun during your younger years, the choice of who to marry is easily one of the most important decisions of your life. After all, you’re essentially giving one person a 50% say in what the entire rest of your life will look like, from where you’ll live to how many children you’ll have to how you’ll raise them.

While one bad relationship may not ruin your life, it’s easy to end up with the wrong person or waste a lot of time (thus narrowing your options considerably) if you choose to stay in the wrong relationship for too long.

Unfortunately, this was something many people had personal experience with.

One person said they could tell their younger self: “Stop spending time with him; he isn’t worth it.”

Another person replied, “Whatever you do, don’t date her. She will ruin your life. As low as you feel now, the temporary high she gives you isn’t worth it.”


3. I Would Spend More Time on Myself

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One reason people stay in the wrong relationship for too long is that relationships can help numb us or distract us from negative feelings we don’t want to deal with. However, rather than solving our problems, they often simply delay the inevitable.

Many people wish they would have taken the time to work on themselves when they were younger and had fewer responsibilities, rather than later in life after many years and opportunities had already passed them by.

One person commented, “People have a lot of influence on you. Sometimes you forget yourself. And when the time passes to have fun with these friends and you are all alone, you feel worse.”

Someone else said, “Please love yourself. Please take care of yourself and put yourself first!”


4. I Would Study More

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Most people don’t like to study. It’s much more fun to hang out with friends, go to parties, and generally enjoy being young!

However, taking the easy route when you’re younger can really set you up for a harder life later on, as a few commenters learned the hard way.

One person said, “When you get to college, study more and party less.”

Another person shared, “Build a habit for reading and study. Because college isn’t like high school.”


5. I Would Be Kind

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You would think most people naturally know how to be kind from a young age. However, with pressures from friends, family, news, and social media, it can be all-too-easy to forget this important lesson, especially when it comes to being kind to ourselves.

A few commenters learned this lesson the hard way.

One person shared, “Be kind. To yourself most of all.”

Someone else said, “People will want to be your friend if you make them feel good with you around. This is what the phrase ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it’ means.”


6. I Would Save for Retirement

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It can be incredibly difficult to think about the future when you’re doing your best to simply make it through today. However, if you can spare a little time, energy, and money to put toward retirement when you’re young, it can make an incredible difference when you’re older.

We all wish we could win the lottery, but statically, that isn’t likely to happen. Instead, for most of us, a better plan would involve discipline, consistency, and baby steps. (Though if we could go back in time and give ourselves financial advice, we would!)

One person shared, “Open up that Roth IRA like smart kids do.”

A few people said, “Buy BTC (Bitcoin).”


7. I Wouldn’t Drink Alcohol

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Are you able to handle alcohol well? While some people are able to enjoy a few drinks with friends to relax, unwind, and have fun, not everyone is able to enjoy a little liquid courage in moderation.

This is why it’s so important to know your own limits (even if they are simply the limits you’ve decided to set for yourself. It’s not worth ruining your life or your relationships over, as some people found.

One person stated, “Avoid alcohol like the plague.”

Another person simply said, “Don’t drink alcohol.”


8. I Wouldn’t Be So Serious

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While some people waste their younger years on partying and dating instead of studying, others fall into an opposite trap: taking life too seriously.

Yes, it’s good to be responsible, but you don’t want to be so responsible that you miss out on all that life has to offer. There has to be a balance. You want to be responsible enough to be a productive member of society, but not so responsible that you wind up being a grouchy stick in the mud.

One person wished they could tell their younger selves: “Don’t be so serious. Enjoy and explore more get out there and get to know people don’t be hesitant and anxious!”

This isn’t always easy to do, but it’s definitely something to be mindful of.


9. I Would Say Yes to New Experiences

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Have you fallen into a boring rut or routine? While there’s something to be said for maintaining self-discipline, you don’t want your daily routine to prevent you from experiencing all that life has to offer.

There’s a whole world out there, and if you aren’t brave enough to take risks and chances, you’re like to miss out. And unfortunately, that’s time you’ll never get back.

One person said, “Find a hobby and try to experience more things.”

Another person agreed, saying, “You will be stuck if you don’t put yourself out there. People are included and in the know when they are around others.”


10. I Wouldn’t Smoke

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It’s fairly common knowledge that this common habit is terrible for your health. Unfortunately, that didn’t stop many people from picking up the bad habit earlier in their life, when they were too young to fully appreciate the negative side effects they’d face later on in life.

Multiple people commented that they wish they had never started. One person said she would tell herself, “Smoking is bad, m’kay?”

Someone else simply said, “Don’t start smoking.”


11. I Would Learn from My Mistakes

Upset woman outside
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Everyone makes mistakes. They’re unavoidable.

However, we can dramatically cut down on the number of mistakes that we make if we’re humble enough to learn our lessons earlier rather than later. Admitting you’re wrong or what you’re doing isn’t working isn’t easy, but it can lead to tremendous growth.

One person shared, “Don’t let your past chase short term satisfaction. Work those hours, learn those skills. Life is cumulative. All your actions add up over time. Focus that in a positive direction and you will be good.”

Another person said, “Your failures right now are something that would teach you a lot of life’s lessons. Get back up and don’t let one failure determine your entire life and decisions in haste.”


12. I Would Listen

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Finally, multiple people shared that they would be better listeners if they could go back and do it all again.

There’s just something about those younger years when we all think we know it all and we don’t need to listen to anyone else. Thankfully, most of us grow out of this phase, but for some of us, it can take longer than others.

Many people admitted that their 17-year old selves “wouldn’t listen.” 

And one person shared this great advice they wish they had known earlier: “Listen to yourself. Eventually you end up doing what you knew was right anyways.”


What is God’s Will for Your Life? Here’s How to Find Out

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Have you ever wondered, “What is God’s will for my life?”

Yes, God has a plan for every single person on Earth. And no, the plan doesn’t have to be a mystery. You can know for certain exactly what God wants for you and from you. The process is easier than you think.

How to Know God’s Will for Your Life


10 Common Bible Misconceptions Too Many People Believe

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Of all the books in history, the Holy Bible is among the most available and most translated. For a text this ancient and common, it is surprising to realize that there is a lot of faulty thinking surrounding it.

Even lifelong Christians can be told one way of viewing Scripture and cling to that belief without realizing that it is tradition or cultural rather than truly Biblical.

Here are 10 common misconceptions about the Bible way too many people believe that can create confusion and withhold a deeper enjoyment and trust in God’s Word.

10 Common Bible Misconceptions Too Many People Believe

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Brittany Ann is an ECPA bestselling author and founder of Equipping Godly Women and Monetize My Ministry. She’s also a Christian speaker, podcaster, and conference host. Her work has been featured on numerous TV, radio, and online ministries, including CBN, MSN, Christianity Today, Evangelical Alliance, Patheos, Crosswalk, and more.

Brittany Ann Equipping Godly Women

About the author

Brittany Ann is an ECPA bestselling author of “Fall in Love with God’s Word” and “Follow God’s Will” and the founder of EquippingGodlyWomen.com, a popular Christian-living website dedicated to helping busy Christian moms find practical ways to go "all in" in faith and family. Her work has been featured on CBN, The Christian Post, Crosswalk, and more.

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