80+ Life Lessons i have learned so far …

Karim Ouda
12 min readJan 15, 2016

Lessons i learned the hard way throughout my 32 years in life. The points mentioned here are NOT rigid facts & rules to be applied in general, i believe that each case should be handled differently.

Updated: 31/12/2016


  1. Focus and specialize in one thing, give it all yourself. Multitasking is counter productive
  2. Move, Change and Improve. Get out of your comfort zone regularly, do something new, change your environment/routine/yourself — “It is only there when unexpected things happen”, finally accept criticism so you can improve faster
  3. Limits. Don’t let people define your limits and capabilities (what you can/can’t do), they only see as far as their limits and capabilities. As for our “real” limits, i found that humans are always able to extend their initial limits until they reach the max human limits (ex: the max speed humans can run)
  4. Priorities and Choices. Life and success is all about priorities and choices, if you invest your time on trivia and silly stuff … expect silly life accordingly
  5. Aiming high and targeting impossible goals will lead to novel and unique achievements that were not expected or planned
  6. Timing. Some opportunities are time sensitive, don’t lose opportunities and “be proactive” and “bold”
  7. Boasting and illusion of success. Don’t allow people to delude you without intention. In your early phases of success some people will say all kinds of good things about you, the wise man at this point will ignore all that and keep moving. “Never think you have already reached your goal” else you will stop and get satisfied in the middle of the road
  8. Keep learning all the time, it should be a habit
  9. Invest in yourself, get more skills and education and spend generously
  10. Take some Risks. I believe you can’t achieve big successes without taking big risks
  11. Be Persistent. Life is not easy, things goes wrong all the time, be prepared to fight, “no pain no gain” … if it was easy, everyone would have done it
  12. Look ahead. Be ready, be futuristic and have Plan B for everything
  13. Work hard/smart. Make good use of your time, working smart is more productive since you can always do more in less time by doing things efficiently or in a different way (ex: automation/critical thinking)
  14. Travel as much as you can — i wrote a full article about why it is important https://medium.com/@karim_ouda/the-x-benefits-of-travel-912bc72c9084#.9n2yd1wqu
  15. You should gain as much experience as you can in Early age, travel work, engage, volunteer, make mistakes, take risks … all that will give you the skills you will need to succeed and you won’t have the luxury of time, energy and ability to take risks when you grow older
  16. Connections and other successful friends can be a significant factor in your success, choose who you spend your time with. Be more social
  17. Your Personality, life experiences and soft skills(Talking, presentation, negotiation, confidence) are far more important than your education and intellectual ability when it comes to success
  18. Take control and manage your Time, learn to Say No and don’t let anyone misuse you, unfortunately there are few people in this world who only care about themselves and they don’t mind misusing other people
  19. Be Flexible and Practical. Don’t get attached to things, if something is not working don’t keep trying all the time, leave it and do something else or do it in a “different way” “move fast, fail fast
  20. Don’t be a Loyal Employee, leave when you are not learning anymore. Changing positions and companies will lead to better salary, experience and “change” in your life
  21. Collaborate. You will never do big things by yourself, find the right people to help you
  22. Self discipline. Do the right thing … even if you don’t like it
  23. Sleep well & Wake-up Early. Create a habit of doing something small and valuable every day, you will be surprised of how much you have accomplished at the end of the year, for example read a book or run for 10 minutes after you wake up everyday
  24. Develop and use Mental Models to speed up and take more accurate decisions. A mental model is an abstract concept about your understanding and expectations of how the world works and transforming that into a set of rules and abstracts. Mental Model Example (Parkinson’s law): “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” … If you learned this model you will try to finish tasks asap without giving yourself much buffer which will make you more productive


Everyone wants to be happy :) it is the motivation/fuel of everything we do — the reward system — The ultimate short and long term goal of everyone regardless of how they approach it. Below are my thoughts about happiness gathered from personal experiences, deep consideration, reading psychology and people observation.

  1. Have an Ultimate goal in life, a “cause”, a long term “project”, a big noble goal that spans beyond your life and your own interest. Have something to live for, a purpose for your life. Married people find this in their kids.
  2. Make other people happy . Making other people happy will make you happy, but only if you will not wait for something in return since you will eventually get shit from some of them and happiness will turn into disappointment !
  3. Gratitude. Make yourself aware of the things in your life that you take for granted such as your health — at this moment while you are reading this post, there are people in hospitals doing chemotherapy therapy and other people in the middle of conflicts and being bombed, burned and buried alive ! THINK
  4. Independence. Do not depend on people for your happiness — you know people will disappoint u all the time, you should be OK and happy by your own, the dose should come from inside not from outside — people should contribute part of your happiness, not all of it …
  5. Don’t be afraid. Find what is making you afraid or worried and kill it — ex: Religion makes people less worried about death because they believe in judgement day and better after life
  6. Let go and surrender to life. You don’t have to win arguments, you don’t have to/you can’t please everyone, you will never be able to control many things in life and usually those things are not worth fighting for, so … just let go
  7. Body and fitness. being healthy and fit lead to better performance in general which then leads to more happiness, gratitude and confidence
  8. Mental health. A major pillar of happiness. find what makes you depressed or unhappy and try to fill those emotional gaps and problems, visit a doctor, consult a friend, read articles about it … do some change in your life !
  9. Balance. your life should be a balance between work, family, friends, learning and growing, having fun and other activities

General Thoughts

  1. The more you learn, the more you suffer, the more you know you are weak and ignorant and realize how much you have been manipulated before
  2. No one is complete or perfect, no mater how shiny people may look, they are vulnerable, they have other problems and flows, life is designed this way — everyone will get his share from the good and the bad
  3. It is so dump to assume that other people are dump and you are smarter than them
  4. It is not wise to assume you totally understand people … they are so complex and unpredictable
  5. It is not wise to assume in general btw … never trust your assumptions, find a practical way to confirm them
  6. Extremism is wrong and destructive in all aspects of life, even if it is expressed as “over-caring” ! Balance is a base of both happiness and success, i found lack of balance to be causing all kinds of problems, you should balance “work and family” , “ study and fun”, “health and leisure” “too nice vs too bad” .. anything in excess in one direction is dangerous and counter productive — for men: don’t be a nice guy
  7. There are things in life we think we can’t give up or lose, i learned that this is bullshit, you can live without all those things — from coffee to people you love — it is just a matter of time
  8. Life without limits is a Mess ! — Why ? because it will lead to an extreme and people sometimes do harmful things to themselves (Smoking/Alcohol) in the name of total freedom and limitless life. Create some limits for your life (not for your dreams)
  9. Money is power, although it doesn't bring happiness on its own (long term i mean) it can be used to achieve it. If you wan’t to be rich, you will need to think and live the way they live. read rich data poor dad
  10. You never know … in general .. and specifically
    - How bad the things you lost(or got) can be
    - Who are fake or real from everyone you know or trust
  11. Exercise and sports improve your overall life … your general health, brain and work performance, confidence and self control
  12. Although life is horrible in many ways, there are good people and good things happening everywhere
  13. Reading, listening and watching is never like real experiences
  14. To gain people’s trust, be genuine (be yourself), be consistent, caring, open, reliable, be a good listener, share your vulnerabilities, don’t have hidden agendas — but really, why should you do all that !! :) choose wisely and don’t over care
  15. Always Revisit everything you currently know/believe — specially if it is about yourself
  16. You don’t know people well until you spend at least one year with them, you see them in different situations — specially stressful ones — and much better travel with them
  17. Your real age is the age of your soul, you can always be younger if you keep the youth mentality
  18. Maturity and experience is not proportional to Age, i have seen old people who are less mature and less knowledgeable than younger ones
  19. Changing your habits and routine will lead to creativity, discovery and improvement
  20. Don’t underestimate a “Single” idea, advice, video or word you say to other people or post on Social Media, these simple things can change your life and can change others too “don’t underestimate the power of words
  21. Related to the point above, take care of the effect of what you say to other people (specially children) … you can demotivate them and waste their lives (Think about what you say)
  22. Write as much as you can … share your experience, Why ? 1- You have ideas and experiences other people don’t have 2- Leave something behind 3- Give back to the community, help other people (next generation who will read it someday as they grow) 4- Read it again someday, remember and build on it
  23. Life will never be consistent !, it will always go up and down, one day when i was attending a stock technical analysis course, we were told that many things in life will always follow the stock trend pattern (below) … which i found very true
  24. To succeed or to master anything you should give it enough effort, time and focus whether it is a hobby, a profession or a relationship
  25. Everyone you know may unexpectedly help you someday in many ways .. even if you can’t perceive it at the moment, you will need them at some point
  26. Don’t give time to people who don’t treat you well and appreciate what you do for them, keep distance and save your time for yourself
  27. Every effort you do will be fruitful someday even if it doesn’t work or give you any returns at the moment, you will benefit and make use of it someday
  28. The more love you take the more love you can give, this is specially important for children and their future
  29. Life is like a game, you need to know the rules and play accordingly, accepted this fact and know that you can’t always control and change everything
  30. Thank people for the good they do, motivate them to continue doing it
  31. Don’t take anything for granted specially good people and also don’t let anyone take you for granted, people understand the value of things after loosing them
  32. Plan early. Looking and planing ahead will always lead to better offers and opportunities (think of plain/train tickets)
  33. Don’t take decisions when you are emotional, delay and hold the urge of taking the decision for hours or days, you will find yourself thinking in a better way and taking different decisions …. and above all not regretting at the end
  34. When engaged in a conversation where the other side is emotional, never talk logical and never give the impression that the problem at hand is not that important (If it lead the other side to speak out of frustration then it is important for them) if you did that it shows lack of compassion and respect
  35. Keep distance with new people (set boundaries), don’t expose yourself too much, only deepen your relationship with them if they reciprocate, appreciate and respect you .. one-way relationships of any type will fail at the end
  36. Don’t give advice or try to fix people without being asked, 1- some people will find it offensive as if you are putting yourself in a higher position 2- people don’t appreciate what they don’t ask for 3- usually people needs listeners more than problem solvers
  37. Talking confidently lead to better results than talking accurately, this is important if you want to be a leader or need people to listen to you, and it is scientifically proven
  38. Only fools will use Social Media to discuss and handle critical and emotional issues. In chating setup, people don’t see your expressions and voice tone, so most likely they will misunderstand or interpret your real intentions
  39. Many times people will give many clues and micro expressions that reveals a lot about themselves, but we usually try to be nice and ignore those clues and find excuses for them
  40. A smile doesn’t always mean acceptance, a smile is not always a sign of enjoyment and happiness
  41. Appreciation is shown by both speech and action … action is more important and speech is the minimum
  42. Life is not “binary” 0/1 … people are not all good or all bad, there is a Grey area (levels) in everything
  43. Don’t Regret anything you missed and don’t be “so” happy with whatever you got, the first will not help in anyway and you don’t even know if it was the best thing for you, the other “may” not be a good thing for you too, as time goes you may see things differently — be Moderate and know that there are still too much in this life for everyone
  44. Take Responsibility for your actions and their consequences, what is happening to you is because of you not because others did so and so, “most of the time” you have the choice. As i read it before “ if you don’t plan for yourself — you will be part of other people’s plans”, if something goes wrong learn from it and move on. Read “no excuses
  45. Be honest and ask for what you want and make sure you Satisfy your needs — don’t expect others to do what you don’t ask for ! “be assertive and clear
  46. The most important asset in your life is your Health
  47. Every now and then, Zoom out and see things from the outside, sometimes we are taken by the flow and we might be in the wrong direction
  48. Sometimes you have to be Tough, kindness won’t work all the time (Balance again)
  49. Love yourself as you are, be yourself, don’t try to be what others want you to be — except if they care about you and what they say is valid (be wise) — people usually don’t care much about what you do or say so don’t give much weight on how they see you, if people don’t like you … it is their problem, but usually if you didn't (like yourself) … no one will
  50. Don’t try to control people, give them space
  51. Don’t be afraid of Conflicts, sorting things out — and losing — is better than keeping them in your heart forever, do the right thing regardless of the consequences
  52. Talk to yourself positively, if you don’t believe in yourself and that you can do anything you aim for then you will not find the energy/confidence to do it, break those self limiting beliefs
  53. Thinking quick, being able to take decisions as fast as possible will improve your life in different ways one of which is growing faster, Thinking critically will make you take the right deep/decisions. Improve your brain performance by playing brain games and doing a variety of hard things regularly
  54. As i grow older i found that most people are “wounded” and some prefer not to know more people so that they don’t get disappointed again … this is not healthy …
  55. Consult other people for help if needed, they are definitely less biased — compared to you when it is about your personal issues - and will see things from a different perspective
  56. Superficial Judgement, sometimes our brain may take mental shortcuts to save time and energy, this may lead to under/over estimating things. When a critical decision is needed make sure you invest enough time and consideration to avoid superficial judgement and confirmation bias
  57. Persistence in the wrong direction is persistence to failure
  58. When planing something in the future don’t assume that everything else will stay the same, the world is changing rapidly and people as well
  59. Re-assess. Your skills and experiences grows by time, the thing you are doing now might not be the right thing you should be doing after 5 years …

I hope you found this post useful.
Please share any other point from your own life experiences …



Karim Ouda

Freelance Consultant — Data & Product. Writing about Data, Entrepreneurship and Life. https://karim.ouda.net