25 Things I wish I’d Learned Sooner in my Life

Back in 1998, fresh out of Grad school and working in my first ever “real” job as an Account Executive in an Advertising agency in New Delhi, I knew.

I knew that I was going to quit the corporate world within 5 years.

I lasted 4.

Out of which, I probably only worked a total of 23 months and took a lot of time off to travel or experience being in between jobs.

I should have known then, that life in a cubicle wasn’t for me.

It STILL took another 5 years for me to start my personal development and awareness journey with many twists and turns, to bring me where I am today.

A place of understanding, expansion, trust, happiness, knowing. I have learned, experienced, struggled, loved, lost and finally come home to me.

To the voice that was waiting to be discovered, to the courage I’ve always had but never known, to live life boldly on my own terms.

I don’t regret anything that I did or experienced, not even the painful events of my life and yet, when super awesome blogger Abubakar Jamil asked me to write a post on Things I Wish I’d Known or Learned Earlier in my Life, I was in like Flynn.

While I believe that our experiences are necessary for us to grow and evolve, there are a few gentle reminders that I wish I could have given myself – or should I say, started believing much earlier in my life. I probably wouldn’t have listened, but here goes.

What would I have told a much younger Tia (then known as Tina), to absolutely know and trust? What do I want to tell you?

1) It’s okay to not know what you want to be when you grow up. Not being able to pick a career or know what you want to do does not mean that you aren’t “living up to your potential” or wasting your life. One day, it will come together.

Till then, be okay with not knowing. Or, like me, never “grow up” and pick one thing to do for the rest of your life –keep sampling everything you’re passionate about and interested in.

(If you don’t think that’s possible, think again. I’ve made a career out of it. Ask me how tia at coachtia.com)

2) You always have a choice. Even when life isn’t panning out the way you want, you can choose how to respond. Even when you feel completely helpless, you have a choice!

Don’t spend your time thinking you have to do what’s expected of you, wanting to be liked and making decisions based on all the wrong things.

3) You are Loved! When you think you’re all alone in this world, you’re not. You’re never alone or unloved as long as spirit lives within you. If you ever feel alone and needy, step outside and look up at the sky, the zillions of stars above you and think of me thinking of you.

4) Enjoy the in between spaces. The time it takes to make your dreams come true. The periods of singledom. The time spent in relationships. Don’t be in one situation and wish for it to be something else. That is truly a sad waste of time.

Cos you’ll look back one day and wish you were more present, instead of worrying about when things would change. And believe it or not, those are the things you’ll miss 🙂

5) Everything will be fine in the end. If it’s not fine, it’s not the end. I really truly wish I’d known that when life sucks, it isn’t going to suck forever and all one has to do is wait the wave out. Or better still, grab a surf board and ride the damn thing!

6) Your heart will get broken time and again and just when you feel you can’t take it any more, it will heal. And you’ll find love again.

7) Being selfish is not a bad thing.

8. Trust that feeling in your gut. Those times you said something but felt something else? INTUITION! Your inner guidance system that will never do you wrong. You already know. Trust yourself.

9) Don’t make excuses for who you are. Don’t pretend to like music your friends like, or change your mind, behaviour or tastes to become someone you’re not. If you don’t want a 6 figure salary or the life they want, own it. If you want to make a million dollars, own that too.

Whoever you are, whatever you want, is valid!

10) Scrap some words from your vocabulary – like should, must, but. Create your own. “Happying” “Vortexualising” “Magicking” (some of my faves)

11) It can be scary to be you – but if you stand up and say “this is me”, you give permission to yourself and others. It’s the highest form of self love and acceptance! Embrace your quirks. Be brave. The world needs you to be YOU.

For inspiration, check out Vancouver’s SPANDY ANDY, a man who embodies this 1250%.


12) Make decisions based on what you want to experience next, NOT on the basis of pros and cons. This is taken from one of my favourite personal development bloggers, Steve Pavlina.

13) Travel will change you. Be prepared to expand and grow like you never thought possible. Oh, and travel – the earlier, the better.

14) Create your own values. Make them yours. Know what makes you happy.

15) You are beautiful, you are loved, you are special. Never let anyone tell you you’re not.

16) Your parents are doing the best they can. Forgive them and quietly listen to your heart to tell you what to do with your life.

17) Failing at something does not make you a failure. Yeah I know how cliched this is and if only I’d believed that when I was younger … something I still struggle with sometimes.

Also, you WILL fail, without fail! And it’s fine to dislike it, as long as it doesn’t stop you from getting back on the horse!

18) Quitting IS an option. The sooner you accept that and stop trying to please everyone, the faster you’ll progress. Check out what Seth Godin has to say about quitting your job and when it’s a good time to quit on other things.

19) Throw tantrums in private. Express yourself fully but don’t take it out on people you love.

20) Some days, you won’t want to get out of bed. That’s ok. It’s normal. You will survive.

21) Nutella makes everything better. It really, truly does. Comfort food rocks!

22) Life is WAY easier if you go with the flow – row your boat downstream. If someone tells you you’re lazy, CELEBRATE. Love your “I’m taking the easy way or no way” attitude and if you don’t have one, cultivate it 🙂

23) Comparison is the deadliest disease. A little competition is healthy but know this – there is no race, you will not fall behind, there’s no one to catch up to, you have all the time in the world.

This one thing is probably one of your most consistent challenges & requires gentle reminders to self.

24) Don’t be mean. Just don’t.

25) Have more opinions and don’t be scared to share them.

And for a bonus:

Dream more, make up stories of how you want things to be. When people laugh, laugh back at or with them. Years later, they’ll come to YOU for inspiration, advice and insights.

Over to you – what’s something you wish you’d known earlier? If you enjoyed reading this post and think it could help inspire someone you know, please go right ahead & hit the share / “like” buttons. They & I will love you for it! Thanks!

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Xoxo, Tia

Facebook comments:



  1. lise says

    I love this, Tia!!! I read this on the perfect day… these pearls of wisdom are all coming together for me now. It just makes so much sense Maybe you could teach a course on this in high school… I’ll do my best to spread the word! *hugs*

  2. says

    Lise, just got goosebumps when I read “teach a course on this in school” cos just yesterday, I wrote my vision for the next 10 years and empowering young people to know this was on my list. Thanks for reading and helping share the message xo

  3. says

    Great lessons TIA and thank you so very much for participating in this Life Lessons Series and being as awesome and inspiring as you always are. I know your readers will definitely relate with this article.

  4. says

    Sunny, thank YOU for asking me to write this. The response has been overhwhelming with so many people saying it’s exactly what they needed to hear today. If it wasn’t for you, who knows when this may have been written? I’m looking forward to the ebook too.

  5. Parul Bhargava says

    Goose bumps ALLLLL the way, Tia. This post, I’m sure, “talks” to anyone who reads it.

    I’m sharing with friends and family… It’s too good not to be… 🙂

    Keep sparkling!!



  6. says

    Thanks for stopping by, Parul! I’m sooo happy to see you here 😀 This makes my lack of sleep from writing till 3am totally worth it. Appreciate you sharing the link, I especially really want youngsters to take it on board. Going to send it to my little cousins now. Cheers!

  7. Anna says

    Yes! Yes Yes Yes!!!

    You’ve certainly struck a chord with me, Tia. Reading it felt like I was telling it to me in high school. Moving away from everyone I knew – everyone who knew me – was the single best thing I ever did for me (not counting my surprise who’s finishing Grade 4). I guess some of us (OK – me) need to extricate ourselves from all preconceived ideas of who we are, in order to ultimately free ourselves.

    Travel is so important, even vital to our growth & evolving, I wholeheartedly agree! And it doesn’t have to be to other countries or exotic places (not that I’m crossing any of those off my list). Often, just venturing outside our personal “norm” or comfort zone can lead to great adventure – AND expansion. I like to think of it as The Scenic Route…

    On Failure: So true, so true indeed. My own personal definition of it has morphed with the concept of momentum – for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. So each time something I’ve done results in an F, I know that it’s giving my A (inevitable, because nothing beats perseverance) at least one more + (plus).
    I’ve been gathering +s for a while. I can feel the butterfly tickle in my belly… that last rejection? Giddy! Why? LOP! (Law of Physics) We all know LOA & Universal laws – this one is based in time-tested scientifically proven basic laws of physics. So for those who guffaw my dreams, ideas, thoughts, desires – I come back with “Momentum. Check it out.”

    Sparkle On, Baby!

  8. says

    Thats exactly what I had in mind when I wrote this Anna – speaking to high school & college/uni students.

    “I guess some of us (OK – me) need to extricate ourselves from all preconceived ideas of who we are, in order to ultimately free ourselves.”

    I hear you on that – in the past, every BIG change in my life has come from moving away, uprooting my life and starting over. It’s like I needed to shake everything up or else the next phase of growth wldn’t happen.

    Now, I’m feeling those stirrings again but this time I’m going to be curious and see what happens if I stay. That, or I’m moving to Montreal, Argentina or Yaletown (10 min across where I currently live in Vancouver.. LOL!)

    LOP away Ms D!! You make me smile so 🙂

  9. says

    Everything on your list is spot on. When I was younger I took everything so serious but that ship has sailed. I like me and I like my life.

    We must talk again.


  10. says

    Indeed Linda! Everything’s a matter of life or death when we’re younger isn’t it! The 1st heartbreak, thinking your parents will never understand you, the 1st time a friendship ends, the 1st time we fail. Bless our little hearts! Thanks for dropping by & sharing 🙂

  11. says

    OH MY!!! Awesome article, I had goosebumps the whole way through! I am recently coming into my own and am actually kind of scared lol which I find funny since I am a bad a** muay thai boxer and willing to take a few punches in the ring… And I am finally living my dream of “being” the athlete I wanna be, feeling good about my body, and really starting to get comfortable in my own skin without caring what others think… AND I am finally much more able to take inspired action and trust in the outcome whatever that is…
    Thanks Tia!!
    big hugs,

  12. says

    I would love to see a demo of that badass Muay Thai boxing, Meredith!

    “Feeling good about my body, and really starting to get comfortable in my own skin without caring what others think…” – that is the biggest gift you could give yourself AND others! Yay for you!

    “AND I am finally much more able to take inspired action and trust in the outcome whatever that is…”

    This just makes me smile, I hope you found that Abe vid helpful, there are 2 more in the series! Thanks for commenting, great to see you here!

    ps: I just giggle when I see the sparkles on your About page 😀 Awesome! Yay SPARKLES!!

  13. says

    This is a great list! All lessons I’ve learned, some I’ve forgotten and learned again. 🙂 I’d add a corollary to #22 — never, ever put action before energy to pound things into place. To quote my step-dad, “If you have your ‘nose to the grindstone’ and your ‘eye on the ball’ and you’re ‘pulling yourself up by your bootstraps’, how are you supposed to get anything else done?”

  14. Anna says

    Thank you for being here and quoting your step-dad, Ande.

    I’m adding it to my personal collection of favourites – authored by “Ande Waggener’s step-dad”

    So true!

  15. says

    Ande, you have me hysterical with laughter! I LOVE what your stepdad says – that’s just freakin awesom 😀 Thanks so much for chipping in & sharing his wisdom.

    I’m with Anna, adding it to my faves to go along the visual of a hand on boot-strappin’ nose to the grindstone eye on the ball Ducky .. and it is HILARIOUS!!

    Everyone, definitely check out Ande’s post on Vortexing – it’s an awesome read! http://thesecretiswags.com/2010/06/25/hitting-high-notes/

  16. Parul Bhargava says

    This is what my Dad had to say about the post…

    What amazing stuff !!

    This to me is the sum – total of how to ensure uninterrupted happiness and cheer in life . Explains very simply how one can make one self and others happy under all and every circumstances / situations and turn every seemingly ( because there is no) adverse situation into a pleasant learning experience . At my age ( not that I am old !! ) , I have no hesitations in confessing “ I wish I’d learned these 25 things sooner in my life “.

    But then it is never late to start a journey which takes you to a beautiful destination ……I am starting to practice these from NOW ( and not even Today ).

    Many thanks and much love for providing a perspective which I am sure will make me a better person / father / husband / friend .

  17. says

    Parul and Parul’s dad – this is one of my fav comments ever.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. It means SO much coming from someone’s dad – I even told my dad, hey Parul’s dad said the coolest thing on my blog 😀

    Someone who is so open to learning and loving can never be old – you’ve got the spirit of eternal youth Mr Bhargava! Some of my biggest lessons and ones that I am now PASSIONATE about sharing with people is # 1, #4 and # 11.

    Truly, there is nothing more amazing in this world than seeing someone for who they truly are, and loving them for it without judgement.

    Thank you again Parul & dad, for reading, sharing and commenting. You’re awesome!

  18. says

    Hi Tia,

    A great list! The lesson that speaks to me most is #23.

    Sadly, parents, teachers and employers seem to reinforce comparisons so much that it becomes difficult to see beyond them. I call this having a “relative self.” We don’t see ourselves for who we are, but how we compare to others. Not the healthiest attitude to have in the world. 🙂

  19. says

    Haider, yes, that’s my biggest challenge even to date. Growing up in India it was all about getting the highest marks in school so you could get into the best colleges to get the best jobs and someone else’s child or neighbour was always doing better than you!

    I LOVE your #6 (chose Both/And over Either/Or). I learned that one last year thanks to my friends Jeannette Maw & Kim Falconer. They call it the AND-AND way 😀 I’ve always questioned the saying “You can’t have your cake and eat it too” – well what’s the damn point in having cake then? LOL!

    Thanks for dropping by Haider, off to check out your site properly now. Cheers!

  20. says

    Hi Tia

    I LOVE your list! There wasn’t one thing on there that didn’t deeply resonate with me… (okay, okay … I have to be honest #21… but my substitution for that is hazelnut butter with raw honey 🙂

    Truly, all things I can relate to and treasure that not only do I know them today, but I actually practice them, live them and grow thanks to them!

    Thank you for taking part in this and sharing your awesome stuff!

  21. says

    I’ve been feeling the same with all the lists I’ve read Evita – everything is so spot on. I love how almost everyone talks about the same lessons learned and things that we wish we’d known. Generation after generation.

    Fascinating! What if this was taught in schools, made a part of the curriculum “25 things you’ll wish you’d believed sooner”?

    What’s interesting is that some of the stuff is what my parents used to say but the majority of it is what I learned and discovered through my own experiences. I’m glad that this post serves as inspiration to people and yet, I have a feeling the same lessons will keep getting learned through time.

    I’ll let you get away with hazelnut butter – it’s in the same family! Hehe >: ) Thanks so much for sharing, it’s lovely to mee you as a result of this Life Post Series.

  22. says

    Heya Tia,

    epic post.

    There are tons of points which make absolute sense (travel, creating your own values etc.)
    but trusting your own guts is THE way for me. I wish I knew that sooner – that and having a laser-like focus.
    I’m totally in ambition mode, and I want to reach my goals (and inspire the world along the ride).
    And comparison really is the deadliest disease.

  23. says

    Mars, I’d say you’re SO on the right track & learning all this relatively early, probably years before I did. I love your ambition and emphasis on intuition, you’re definitely inspiring many people with your focus & clarity so carry on carrying on. And welcome to the blog, a real pleasure to hear from you, I smiled when I saw your name pop up 🙂

  24. says

    Hi Tia. Point No 1 spoke to me and how. I am from India and still trying to figure out what my ideal career is. Its a very hard decision to make. And one doesn’t really need to make it. It will find us, when its meant to. 🙂 Great list. Thanks for sharing

  25. says

    My 20000000 cents Uzma? Don’t. Don’t try to figure it out. The thing about making decisions, is that we treat them like a do or die situation sometimes – like if we decided on something then we’d HAVE to do that for the rest of our lives or be called a failure for giving up.

    There is a much better way – like I said in # 12, make decisions based on what you want to experience as in “do i want to experience this or not” – so much freedom in that question!

    As you let go of what’s “expected” of you and choose to do what makes you happy, you’ll find yourself being drawn to your true passions.

    Read “Refuse to Choose” and “I could do anything, if I only knew what it was’ by Barbara Sher – these book are changing how I used to view careers and choices and I have a strong feeling you’ll find it very enlightening indeed.

    Thanks for dropping by!

  26. says

    Ah Tia, what a great, fun, fabulous, awesome list!!!! Nutella, quitting, escaping the cubicle farm, not picking ONE career, knowing things will be fine in the end, being selfish, ah I am feeling like a little cloud, light and happy, after reading this….I am going to do the same as per Abubakar’s request….wish me luck :))!
    Thank you SO MUCH for this!!!

  27. says

    Farnoosh, after reading your post on jungleoflife.com, I just know you will have powerful, fun and evocative things to share. Maybe you can write it from that cloud you’re on 😀 I am REALLY looking forward to reading yours. So happy to see new faces at the blog, thank you for reading, writing and sharing x

  28. says

    Hi Tia,

    Very nice post. I usually like a few steps from a list, but I must say that I like all of the steps that you have listed, especially number 2. We all do have a choice, but unfortuanetly not many people believe that. Thanks for sharing

  29. says

    Tia: What a great post and great list. I really thought this idea Abubakar suggested was great and this post was such a great read. I really liked #22. Life really is so much easier when you go with the flow. Sometimes we really do need to just sit back and take things with ease. I must admit this is a lesson that I learned later in life 🙂 Great post and thanks for sharing these great insights.

  30. says

    @Dia The thing with choices is that even when we know it’s true, sometimes we just forget. Still, better to believe and lapse sometimes than to believe we have none at all. Thanks for checking the post out!

    @Sibyl I loved yours so much, still laugh when I think of them 😀 If we don’t take it easy, then our bodies make sure we do by getting sick & run down, that’s been my experience. Plus, I’m just lazy 😉 Thanks for stopping by, much appreciated.

  31. says

    LOVING this list! There are so many things I wish I’d learned earlier. Having just escaped the cubicle farm after 20 years, I’d say I wished I’d learned that the conventional route isn’t usually the most interesting. Life is what you make of it – and creativity shouldn’t be only for childhood – get your fingers back in the paint and color outside the lines and remember that seeking joy is the best career choice!


  32. says

    Hey Tia,
    This post feels so “you”…and…so filled with goodness and wisdom!

    I am particularly drawn into #11. You know, there’s a level of comfort in seeing that here…as we (read: I) take those steps…

    So good to know you, Tia…and today, to let these words you’ve written soak into my soul…

  33. says

    @Laura Congratulations on the big escape!

    You’re so bang on when you say the conventional route isn’t the most interesting – you know what really made the difference for me? Leaving my country 10 years ago and going travelling. I feel so blessed to have had the travel experiences I’ve had and am now passionate about inspiring others to do the same.

    I LOVE this “Seeking joy is the best career course”!! I even wrote a blog post about how my mission in life is to spread joy 😀 Thanks for dropping by, a real pleasure to hear from you 🙂

    @Lance You’re a big ole sweetheart, you know that? I love having you in my tweet stream and am so glad we’re cheering each other on as we spring # 11, our true selves on the world. Can I get a woohoo!? Woohoo! Talk soon my friend, cheers x

  34. says


    New to your site, found you from Abubakar’s Life lessons series post. I like your 25 points here. Everything will be fine has such a reassurance that it helps when we have screwed up or made a major mistake. Failures are important as it teaches us something new. I know I am good at learning new always as I am making mistakes often 🙂

    Glad to found your blog. Great list, thanks for sharing.

  35. says

    Welcome Preeti! Love your attitude around making mistakes 🙂 Life would sure lose its challenge if we never messed up. The contrast is what makes the successes even sweeter. Thanks for chipping in, please come back & visit!

  36. says

    I have to say this was an absolutely amazing list. You and Farnoosh both really nailed it with your lists! So much clarity and insight.

    Actually after reading your post, I realized i took a lot of things for granted like being an entrepreneur. I’ve never really had a “real job.”

    Comparison is a deadly disease. OMG so true. After reading your list, I could really dig in and add about 12 more things.

    Oh the power of 2 minds coming together to stimulate and create a 3rd more powerful mind. Love it!

    Great work Tia and yes I can’t believe it’s been a years since Project Mojave! So cool to watch you grow! Keep up the greatness my friend!

  37. says

    Thanks Tony! This post definitely took me the longest to write – from 11pm to 3am! Felt like I’d journeyed back into my past and was picking up little nuggest of lessons learned along the way.

    How blessed are YOU!? Never had a real job? And also, how courageous. Most people are freaked out at the thought of being entrepreneurs, I know I never thought I’d be one but here I am today 🙂

    One heck of a ride but we wldn’t change it for the world, would we my friend. YAY for self employment! Thanks for your presence, you’re awesome.

  38. says

    I often think that it would be very useful if we had all been born with a users manual or life guide. You get them with everything from your dishwasher to your phone.

    However this is the first time that I have ever found someone who could actually write the guide.

    Well done. Excellent post

  39. says

    Go the interwebs! All the manuals we need in the form of self growth and inspirational websites 😉 Wouldn’t it be so amazing to see that in schools? A life empowerment class would go a long way.

    Marion, thank you so much for your wonderful comment, you honour me.

  40. Amanda says

    Lovely post, with lots of similarities to my thoughts on life lessons. I would add that it’s okay to be optimistic and think positively every once in awhile. After all, you are the only factor determining your outlook on life. Why not let your thoughts sparkle, and attitude inspire no matter where you are in life? (& this is coming from someone unemployed!)

  41. says

    I would say it’s okay to do that ALL the time, esp when you’re unemployed! LOL! Great to meet you, new friend. You do sparkle!

  42. Maitreyi says

    I balked at the idea of being an entrepeneur. But looking at you — Oh My, Am I challenging to change my mind!!!

  43. Mandira says

    Wow Tina! Love this list! Truely inspirational. I am going to have to save this article for Anya and Diya as they grow up. When do we see you in NY?
    Love you babe,,

  44. says

    Yes! I love hearing that, Maitreyi 🙂 Maybe you could call yourself a Freedomist instead, if that helps?

    MandyRA, the day is not far .. I’m thinking it will happen in the next 12 months. NY is my fave US city, you know that and I so want to meet the girls before they grow up! Thanks for reading & commenting xo

  45. Anubha says

    Tia, I’ve had a book with me for a year (maybe more now) by Ellyn Spragins, ‘What I Know Now’ and I’ve read it often..its truly fascinating and there are some wake up calls and some Ahas in there and it is somewhat, kinda on similar lines. But the simplicity of your statements in this blog is far more touching and real to me…same things different approach, just the way i needed to hear it..love it! These hit home faster than you can say ‘wow’ 🙂

  46. says

    You are so right, Anubha! Sometimes we need to hear the same things over and over in a multitude of ways till the penny drops. Often, that happens when we’re embrace a certain message or learn a lesson Till then we’ll just keep hearing but not listening.

    Privileged to be the one clunking that penny for you. Thanks for letting me know!

  47. says

    Tia (or should I say little Tina :)), reading this tonight as I pick our “best of” quotes for the Life Lessons series ebook with Abubakar and I liked your story so much….You have come such a long way! I am so happy we are friends and I learn from your spirit of optimism all the time, believe me I do!

    • says

      What a sweet thing to say Farnoosh! Thank you my dear, so glad we got to know each other last month and that we’re playing together this year. Looking forward to seeing the book out soon, yay!

  48. says

    These are wonderful. I was pregnant and 17 when I married and I had 4 daughters by age 22. I sure as hell wished I knew then that everything would turn out great;) When I did know it was age 27 and I got my butt into some major counseling! Girls are all in mid to late 30’s now and we’ve been married 40 years. Isn’t life grand? And sparkly?

    • says

      Wow!! all I can think is, you look 40ish to me! FOUR in 5 years?! Phenomenal. Yes life is sparklicious even when the shine’s been dulled for a bit 🙂 Thanks for sharing, Tess!

  49. says

    So many great things in this list to live by.
    I have really taking on being me and not making excuses.
    Going with my gut feeling is big too.
    I’ve never beat to the same drummer as most and because of it I’ve done some really cool things!
    Mahalo for a motivating list.


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