Lifelong ‘Back to School’ Lessons

We all know that September is quite literally just around the corner. All the stores have had school supplies on the shelf for a while already, back-to-school clothing sales, and promotions for electronic devices to use for school. Similar promotions show up daily in e-mail inboxes every day at this point, and there are plenty of online ads related to this. Even if you have no children at all or no school-aged children, you still know what time of year it is.

Here is one of my all-time favorite back-to-school ads of parents joyfully shopping for school supplies while their children trudge along with them, thoroughly annoyed.

Back to School Funny Staples Commercial

For most people, going back to school carries a combination of trepidation and excitement. Fear the new school year will be terrible and hope that it will be wonderful. No matter how far past those years you might be, some of the life lessons taught by the process are always relevant in our lives.

Start as you mean to go on

Whether it’s starting a new grade, starting a new job, starting a new relationship, or just turning over a new leaf in your life, you should start as you mean to go on. Put thought into it and sincere effort.  Beginning with the right mindset and establishing good habits are some of the strongest ways to make sure you succeed, no matter what the endeavor happens to be.

Think of it this way … it’s much simpler to avoid shattering a crystal glass then it is to try to pick up all the broken shards and somehow glue them back together. Be thoughtful and intentional about how you handle things.

Don’t ignore problems; Catch them early!

Having a strong start to the school year means staying on top of things. Homework must be done, there needs to be classroom participation, and assignments have to be handed in on time. In other areas of life, the requirements are certainly different, but there are still requirements. Work needs to be done for any career or relationship. You have to be an active participant, you can’t just show up and expect everything to be fine because you are physically there. The longer you let things slide, the more damage you can do. It’s not a matter of perfection, because of course, nobody is perfect. It’s a matter of being intentionally aware and involved, and not ignoring issues or problems until they can no longer be addressed in a productive way.

Don’t fall so far behind that you get left behind

I think it’s safe to say that nobody likes the stressful feeling of trying to catch up. In a class where each stage is built on the previous ones, attempting to make up missed or misunderstood content can be overwhelming. When you’re in that situation at work and your paycheck is at stake, the stress is even worse. Maybe you feel that something’s going amiss in a relationship in your life and don’t know what to do about it.

In any of these scenarios, the worst thing you can do is to do nothing at all. Ignoring these issues doesn’t make them go away. Instead, you need to figure out a way to actively and proactively deal with the problems so that you can move past them and go forward.

Get help when you need it

In school, there is extra help and tutoring. Sometimes you can join study groups. You can find tutorials and guides online. Many jobs have handbooks and training manuals. Sometimes there will be people in your workplace who can offer advice, in-person training, or other practical guidance. Even with various relationships in your life, you can access all different types of advice and guidance. If you think something in your life could benefit from getting help, don’t hesitate to seek it out. Doing so is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Have a growth mindset


“Growth Mindset” isn’t some motivational speaker’s talking point. It truly applies to every human being’s ability to grow, develop, and improve. If a person has a positive mindset and believes improvement is possible, plus is willing to put effort into it, then that outlook becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  In other words, the right attitude + effort = results. The results may not always be what we want them to be. Different students can have different learning capacities in different subjects. Certain aptitudes or weaknesses can affect work performance and results. In a work environment, other people are also a factor. In relationships, a huge array of possible emotions also come into play. Still, the right attitude + effort will = some result. If you don’t like the result or can’t accept it, you might decide to look for a new job or end the relationship.

Good days and bad days both come to an end

No matter how popular or successful you are, you’re going to have good days and bad days. Both types of days come to an end. Yes, the bad ones feel longer, and the good ones feel shorter, but every day just has 24 hours. We can all learn from both. I think the challenge is figuring out how to shake off the bad stuff and not carry it forward, while still holding on to the good feelings from the good days. I know it’s easier said than done, but that doesn’t make it any less true.


What did you learn about life during your school days or by observing someone else’s? Send me an e-mail and share and you might find your words of wisdom in a future newsletter or blog post. E-mail me at I can’t always reply, but I always read everything.

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