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PPI #103: The 5 LESSONS In Life People Learn TOO LATE

Eric Partaker


  • Pursue Your Dreams! – Don’t find yourself in a situation later in life disappointed that you didn’t chase what you wanted
  • Don’t Work Too Hard! – When it comes to the end of your life you certainly will not be looking back wishing you had five more minutes to clear out your inbox or finish a project, make time for what matters
  • Express Your Feelings – Not expressing how you feel can lead you to stay in relationships, business arrangements and situations that you don’t really want to be in
  • Friends are the Family we Choose –  Stay in touch with friends. Maintain contact with at least one person on a weekly basis
  • Choose Happiness – You cannot control all events that will occur in your life but you absolutely can choose your reaction to them.


Today I want to take you through five lessons that people learn far too late in life. And as a result, they don’t end up living the life of their dreams, don’t end up living the life that they wanted to live. And I don’t want any of that to happen to you. So please stick around for the whole message today so that you can make sure that you’re not committing any of these grave errors in your life. 

Hi, my name is Eric Partaker. And I’m on a mission to help people reach their fullest potential in both their business and life. So let’s dive straight into it. So five lessons that people learn far too late in life. And these lessons, by the way, are inspired by a book called The Top Five Regrets of The Dying. 

So lesson number one is people effectively don’t follow their dreams. They fail to believe in themselves. They fail to pursue the things that they had always wanted to do. And they get to the end of their life or somewhere through during the course of their life, they look back and they ask themselves, “Well, yeah. But what about me? What about my dreams? What about the things that I wanted to be doing with my life?” Perhaps they’ve been living in the shadow of someone else, or perhaps they just don’t have the courage to express the things that they really want to be doing and going after in their life. I’ll share a dream, for example, from my life, I’ve always had the dream of being able to help people become all that they’re capable of being. I’ve always had that dream of helping people close the gap between their current self and their best self. And it was a dream that festered away in me for years, more than a decade.

And I wasn’t really doing anything about it. And then one day I decided to… Now, I’m going to do something about this. It’s a journey that I’ve been on trying to become my fullest in both my business and life. And that’s a journey that I want to help others do as well. That’s a journey that I want to help you complete as well. And so I started to dive into the space. I started to make videos. I started to write blog posts. I started to coach and mentor entrepreneurs, leaders, individuals, anybody who had an appetite for trying to close that gap between their current and their best self.

I wasn’t going to allow myself to sit there and watch my dreams pass me by. I didn’t want to commit that grave error, that grave mistake of not following my dreams. So a question for you is, do you have any dreams that you’ve had in the past that you currently have that are unfulfilled? Is there a risk of you getting to a point in your life where you’ll look back with regret and ask yourself, “Why didn’t I pursue those dreams?” Don’t let that happen to you. Don’t let life pass you by without pursuing the things that have always been on your list that are more… that are very important to you. 

Number two lesson that people learn far too late in life is don’t work too hard. So this is another one that unfortunately I learned the hard way as well. About 10 years ago, I was on a plane returning back to London. I started to feel very unwell in my chest.

A lot of pain going through the left shoulder, down the left arm. A friend sitting next to me realized that I was unwell, got the attention of a stewardess who frantically called for a doctor on board. Doctor rushed over, took my vital signs and said, “We need to land the plane immediately. I think he’s having a heart attack.” Now, luckily I’d be saved or else this would be the most amazing trick of the book that I’m talking to you here from the grave. No, that’s not happening. I am still alive. But the plane emergency landed and I was taken into a waiting ambulance. They administered nitrates to open up the arteries and increase blood flow to my heart. And the next day I woke up and I realized, what am I doing? I’m working way too hard.

The 10 years prior to that had been absolutely obsessed with achievement, working my tail off at McKinsey and Company, helping build up Skype before we sold it to eBay with several of my own businesses. And it was all in this endless pursuit of achievement and I was working way too hard. And then after that point, I realized that I had to pursue life in a more balanced way.

I couldn’t just maximize myself on the work front. And I also had to do my best in the health department. I also had to do my best with my relationships. So I would really encourage you to ask yourself, are you working way too hard? And if you are working way too hard, what are you going to do about it? Because when you get to the end of your life, you certainly won’t be looking back and thinking, I wish I had five more minutes to clear out my inbox or to finish a project or to work on my next goal. You’ll be wishing you had five more minutes, for example, to spend with a loved one. So are you working too hard? And if so, what are you going to do about that?

Number three lesson that people learn far too late in life is not expressing their feelings. So this can relate in part to the first one about not pursuing your dreams and perhaps not sharing those dreams with others. But more generally, this is just about not expressing how you feel about certain things and allowing yourself to stay in perhaps relationships, business arrangements, situations that you don’t actually want to be in. That you want to be as far away from as possible perhaps, or maybe you just don’t feel comfortable with it, but you never express those feelings. And those feelings fester away.

It destroys your motivation, your happiness, and it leads to ultimately a sense of regret or even worst case scenario, it leads to some loss. Perhaps you lose a business or you lose a relationship or you lose a very important element of yourself. So don’t make that mistake of not expressing how you feel about something. Your feelings are real, and they always deserve the right. They always have a stage to be expressed, and you should always feel that you can express those feelings. So if you have anything that is within you that you are not sharing with others, and it doesn’t represent you at your truest self, then make sure you’re expressing those feelings because they are the truth and they do deserve the light of day. 

Number four lesson that people learn far too late in life is simply not staying in touch with friends. I’ve certainly had this experience in my own life. We get so busy and we’re trying to work on and achieve and do so many things, and we get excited about all that stuff that we ended up convincing ourselves, that we simply don’t have the time anymore. At some point in the future, I’ll have some more time. I just need to get through this season in life. I just need to get to this next step. But that next step, that next part of the journey often doesn’t really happen. It is just replaced by another step or another leg in the journey. And what ends up happening is that our relationships fail, right? Our friendships dissolve, and suddenly we’re looking around and asking ourselves, “Well, where are my friends?” Where are the people that I enjoyed spending time with?

Where are all those people that I enjoyed having laughs with? So if you have any sense of that at all, if you feel that in any way whatsoever, then you need to ask yourself, “Well, am I spending time with the people that matter most to me? Could I be spending more time with my friends?” And how could you be doing that? It doesn’t mean that you need to suddenly organize lots of big dinner parties or huge events or anything like that. You could simply just be setting yourself a goal to stay in touch more with your friends. And I don’t mean by sending messages on WhatsApp or Facebook. I mean, true, genuine connection that doesn’t always need to be in person, but at least through a phone call. And you could set yourself a simple goal of maintaining, or at least connecting with one friend a week.

And if you did that in the space of a quarter, there’s 13 weeks in a quarter, that would be 13 friendships that you could be maintaining. That could be 13 different people. It could be contacting a person every other week and maintaining a relationship with just a couple of people. But make sure that you’re staying close to your friends and make sure that you’re creating whatever mechanisms or goals or reminders that you need to be reaching out and making those connections, keeping them vibrant, keeping them alive. Another nice thing that you could do in the friendship department is to think of your friends that create the most growth within you. Think of the friends that when you are together, one plus one equals three, you become greater. The sum is greater than the parts. And ask yourself, “Am I doing my best to really stay close to and develop those relationships?”

The late Jim Rohn, he said, you are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with. So are you spending time with the right people? And what are you doing, once again, to make sure that you’re maintaining those friendships. Don’t let this be a lesson that you’ll learn too late in life, where you suddenly get to a point in life where you’re asking yourself, where are my friends? Where are the happy times? Where all those laughs? Where are the great occasions that I missed? 

And the number five lesson that people learn far too late in life is that they can actually choose to be happy. You can’t control all the events that are happening to you, but you can absolutely choose your reaction to those events. And you can do that at a micro level and you can do that at a macro level.

So for example, at a micro level, there’ll be tons of things that happen in the course of the day that can frustrate you and throw you off, but you can always choose to be happy. And how can you do that? Well, just master the art of the pause, master the art of when something happens that triggers unhappiness in you, pause. Before you respond to it, just pause. That could be a deep breath, walking away, whatever it is, but take a moment to pause so you can diffuse your unhappy reaction to whatever it is that might be triggering you. Create a moment to pause between whatever that stimulus is and your response so that you can choose a happy response, choose a response that would be congruent with the best in you, not anything less than that. And if you do that, you’ll be a lot happier.

The other thing you can be doing on a macro level is, of course, there’ll be major things that happen to you that can impact your happiness. But once again, it may not seem obvious, but you still have a choice. You still have a choice. If something major happens to you, you can’t change that, perhaps. You don’t have a time machine. You can’t go back in time or you can’t change perhaps a circumstance. But what you can change is your choice around whether or not you want to be happy. Even if the worst thing in the world happened, you still have a choice. You can either choose to be unhappy. Where is that going to get you? No matter what’s happened, is that going to make whatever it is worse or will it actually make it better?

Of course, it’s not going to make it better. Or you can choose to be happy. So choose unhappy… choose happiness over unhappiness. And don’t let that be a lesson that you learned far too late in life. So I hope you’ve enjoyed that five lessons that people learn far too late in life. Remember those quickly again, one is, be sure to pursue your dreams. Don’t find yourself in a situation where later in life you’re asking, “Why didn’t I go for that? Why didn’t I at least try?” It’s better to try and fail than to never have tried at all. Always remember that when it comes to pursuing your dreams. Number two, don’t work too hard. You won’t be thinking in your final hours that you wish you had a little bit more time to work. You’ll be thinking, I wish I had a little bit more time to have spent with my friends, my loved ones, relaxing, having a good time, enjoying myself.

Number three, make sure that you’re expressing your feelings. Don’t keep them in. If you don’t feel good about a particular situation or a person or something is draining you of energy, make sure you express that. Or at least at the very least express your feelings by acting in accordance with them. So move away from a situation or a person or an activity or something that is draining you of your energy. That’s also an example, a way of expressing your feelings. Number four, as I said, make sure that you’re staying in touch with friends. You can be doing that on a weekly basis by just making sure that you maintain contact with at least one person. And number five, as I said before, make sure that you’re choosing happiness. No matter what is going on, you can always choose to be either unhappy or happy. And you obviously know which is the better choice. So I hope you’ve enjoyed that. And if you head over to my website at, you can also subscribe to my weekly Peak Performance Insights newsletter.

Eric has been named "CEO of the Year" at the 2019 Business Excellence Awards, one of the "Top 30 Entrepreneurs in the UK" by Startups Magazine, and among "Britain's 27 Most Disruptive Entrepreneurs" by The Telegraph.

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