Many people invest years of blood, sweat, and tears and thousands of dollars into earning a degree, a diploma, or a certificate. In a credential-crazed world, That’s not just smart; It’s often a matter of survival. No one would dispute the long-term payoff in terms of earning potential, quality of life, personal satisfaction, and career trajectory.
But many of us have gone on to earn an even more useful designation. It may not come with a parchment or cap and gown. It almost never includes convocation, speeches, or a big party. There are no acronyms to identify the program of study.
Indeed, quite often any sign of this accomplishment is invisible to others. Unfortunately, sometimes It’s marked by a battered bank account, a broken heart, or a loss of face or friendship. The School of Hard Knocks doesn’t issue paperwork. Instead, its students might hunker down to lick their wounds or go to some silent place to try to absorb the lesson. Because surely, the lesson is the message of this real life school.
So what should we all know by now? Read on for just some of what I’ve learned first-hand or by osmosis:
1) don’t chintz out on cheap paint. For a great, long-lasting finish that reflects the hours of effort, go with a brand name like Benjamin Moore.
2) It’s not what you get paid per hour; It’s what You’re expected to do in that hour. What’s the use of earning a big wage if it is soul-destroying work that is slowly eroding your health or sending you home an angry, frustrated mess each day? don’t hang in there for five years, three months, and two more weeks just for the pension. If It’s hell and if you’ve long since stopped caring or contributing, get out now.
3) Wear sunscreen and don’t smoke.
4) Vote. Better still, run for public office.
5) Surround yourself with beauty and don’t assume it can only be found in your next must-have purchase. It may be no further than the bird feeder, the fresh green of unfurling buds, or the sweet skin of a baby.
6) Know in your gut that, in the end, It’s family that matters. Invest time and love in nurturing those relationships first, because those closest, dearest people will choose your nursing home. (Kidding.)
7) Get thee to the nearest little kid and watch him learn, play, sleep, and grow. There is nothing more soul-nourishing, fun, and faith-building than being reminded of the miracle of little ones on the grow. Grady has added years to my life.
8) Sometimes, when nothing else works, remember that this, too, shall pass.
9) Never buy shoes that hurt.
If you can shortcut your learning curve by observation and focused listening, you really are a smart cookie, from where I sit.