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If someone wants to obtain a driver’s license, become a certified public accountant, or practice law, they must pass a test. The test verifies that they’re at least minimally qualified to proceed.
But what if there was a test to practice life?
A test given to indicate one’s preparedness to face the responsibilities and challenges of life.
What would be included on such a test? What would you need to know to have the best shot at a meaningful life?
What if there was an evening class you could take to help you pass this test? What would the syllabus look like? Probably something a bit like the list below.
These are the things you should know to make the most of life.
This class syllabus can’t cover everything, but it covers enough so that you can pass the test of life with flying colors.
1. No one will get out of this life alive.
The first thing we should acknowledge is that life is finite.
We only have so many days allotted to us. One day we will wake up in the morning and begin our very last day on earth.
Acknowledging that life is temporary is a wise way to approach life. It will help you live each day more fully, and focus on what matters most.
2. Life is unpredictable, but a plan is a good idea.
Nobody can predict the future – their own or anyone else’s. Events and experiences we cannot foresee will come our way with some frequency.
But a well-ordered plan can help us navigate the unknown waters ahead.
Think of a plan as a preferred future. It’s not a guarantee of a certain outcome, but a plan can remove many of the obstacles to our desired future.
Carrying an umbrella won’t prevent a storm, but it can minimize the consequences of the storm.
Make a plan. And expect to revise it from time to time.
3. Great friendships enhance the quality of life.
We’ll meet many people during our lifetime. Some will just be temporary fellow-travelers on the journey. Others we’ll want to join us for the entire journey.
Deep and lasting friendships don’t just happen. They require focus, energy, patience, and skill to form and maintain.
But, boy, they’re worth it.
Good friends will enhance your journey through life in more ways than you can imagine.
Invest in a few. You don’t need a lot. This is one of those cases when quality is more important than quantity.
4. Healthy relationships make life richer.
As for romantic interests, it’s okay to acknowledge that not all relationships will last, but it is wise to try to make them as healthy and as free from conflict as possible.
When in a relationship, you’ll spend a lot of time with your partner. How much you enjoy that time will depend a great deal on your attitude, expectations, and actions.
Just like friendships, they require work to maintain. And they are a team effort. You must be willing to contribute an equal amount to your partner.
Eventually, you may find a life partner. Even when you do, don’t neglect to keep putting in the effort.
5. Expect to have setbacks.
Everyone has setbacks from time to time. Some are annoying, others are debilitating. But they will come, that is certain.
The best approach is to expect them, acknowledge them, work through them, and move past them.
Some setbacks may have lasting consequences, but they need not derail you or cause you to despair. Whether you like them or despise them is not the issue. What matters is that you learn to move forward in spite of them.
Few setbacks block your progress entirely. Though they may require a detour. Embrace the detour. You may even discover some unexpected blessings while you deal with the setback.
6. Life is better when lived within your means.
You don’t need to be materialistic to recognize the important place of money in life. We all need some of it. And we all need to manage whatever amount we have.
In fact, the less you have, the more important effective management becomes. As soon as you have some income, you’ll want to set up a budget that reflects both your income as well as your anticipated expenses.
It takes months to adjust a budget so it will work for you. But once you have it in place, stick to it.
A budget has the same relationship to money as a schedule has to time. A schedule doesn’t create time, it helps you manage time. A budget doesn’t create money, it helps you manage the money you have.
7. Core values should be known and honored.
Life gets complicated at times. It comes down to wise decisions that are consistent with what you consider right and true.
Because decisions often carry emotional baggage, it helps immensely if you know in advance what is most important to you.
That is, what values do you hold most firmly and most deeply?
Once you settle what’s important to you, you’ll be better equipped to make choices when confronted by them.
As they say, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”
8. Life is better when you invest in your health.
Unlike your car, which you can trade in or ditch when it becomes unreliable, you’re stuck with your body. You can’t trade in your body for a replacement. So you must figure out how to maintain the body you have so it serves you an entire lifetime.
Someday we may be able to pick up new body parts like we do water pumps or brake pads. But that day has not arrived.
So learn what makes for good health habits. Then practice those habits every day. Your body will thank you. And your body will serve you well your entire journey.
9. Actions determine outcomes.
Believe it or not, there are people who see little connection between their actions and the results.
But with few exceptions, the correlation is direct and unmistakable.
The sooner you understand the intimate relationship between your thoughts, choices, and actions… and their consequences, the better off you will be.
When you’re thinking about doing something, it’s a good idea to ask what the likely results will be if you actually do it. Or what they will be if you choose not to do it.
If you plant corn, expect corn to come up. If you plant wheat, expect wheat to come up. If you plant nothing, expect nothing to come up.
10. Unhealthy relationships make for an unhealthy life.
Life is hard enough when you have several encouraging, supportive, and helpful fellow travelers. How much more difficult it is when you allow toxic people to join you on your journey.
Toxins are poisonous. So are toxic people. They will sap your energy, discourage you, generate anger in you, frustrate you, and in a myriad of ways, make your life more difficult.
Avoid them if you can. If it’s impossible to avoid them, figure out how to mitigate their destructive potential.