Forty Lessons I Learnt Before Turning 40: Lesson Thirty-Nine

Mitch Robertson
4 min readOct 10, 2021


I’ve learnt that Paulo Coelho’s ‘The Alchemist’ is like that reliable friend, who is always there for you with the right words of wisdom anytime you need it. A dear friend of mine gave me a copy of this book many moons ago and is one that I’ve returned to many times since. I remember the first time reading it, feeling a sense of affirmation in parts of my journey up until that point and the decisions I had made. It also gave me a sense of direction, helping me see where I needed to go next. Each time I pick up this book, I find something new that I connect with. The latest was only a few weeks ago and it reminded me of so many of the lessons I’ve written over the course of this reflective project.

The Readers Guide at the end of the story describes ‘The Alchemist’ as being “about the faith, power and courage we all have within us to pursue the intricate path of a Personal Legend, a path chartered by the mysterious magnet of destiny but obscured by distractions. We learn to trust our hearts, read the seemingly inconspicuous signs and understand that as we look to fulfill a dream, it looks to find us just the same, if we let it.” We can only learn the lessons that life throws us if we are open to looking and listening. So much of what I rediscovered when recently re-reading ‘The Alchemist’ I realised I’d shared over these last thirty-eight lessons.

“When each day is the same as the next, it’s because people fail to recognise the good things that happen in their lives every day the sun rises.” — Lesson 4: Never let a bad day turn into a bad week, month, life

There is only one way to learn, it’s through action. Everything you need to know you have learned through your journey.” — Lesson 5: Enjoy the journey as much as the end point

“Don’t think about what you’ve left behind; everything is written in the Soul of the World, and there it will stay forever.” Lesson 10: Sometimes the wrong turn puts you on the right course; Lesson 28: When you think it’s the end, something magical and new comes along

The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world, and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon.” Lesson 13: The importance of living in the moment and creating memories

And when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve.” Lesson 19: Continually dream and be aspirational

She knows that men have to go away in order to return.” Lesson 20: When we feel lost we are discovering a new version of you

Omens are the individual language in which God talks to you. My omens are not your omens. They are this strange, but very individual language that guides you towards your own destiny. They are not logical. They talk to your heart directly.” Lesson 24: Pay attention to the signs

No matter what he does, every person on earth plays a central role in the history of the world. And normally he doesn’t know it.” Lesson 27: Power to write your own story and change the narrative

Wherever your heart is, that is where you’ll find your treasure. Your heart is alive. Keep listening to what it has to say.” Lesson 15: Being defined by the things you love; Lesson 30: Being unapologetically ME!

When we strive to become better then we are, everything around us becomes better, too.” Lesson 32: Use effort and energy wisely

You will never be able to escape from your heart. So it’s better to listen to what it has to say. That way, you’ll never have to fear an unanticipated blow.” Lesson 33: Acknowledge and embrace all emotions

If you start out by promising what you don’t even have yet, you’ll lose your desire towards getting it.” Lesson 35: You only get out of life what you put in

The fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. Don’t give in to your fears. If you do, you won’t be able to talk to your heart. There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” Lesson 36: Not hiding from fear

Every day was there to be lived or to mark one’s departure from this world. Everything depended on one word: “Maktub.” (Arabic popular saying that means “It was written!”, meaning it was always meant to happen/to be) Lesson 38: Can’t possibly prepare for everything

Life will throw us many obstacles, challenges and curve balls. It’s only when we recognise that these happen for us to learn and grow into a better version of ourselves that we become better at dealing with them. We will never be the exact same version of ourselves as the day before and that’s an amazing realisation. What’s important is being aware and in tune with the things going on around us. I believe that to live a better life, we must continually reflect on things going on around and within us.

They understood that when something evolves, everything around that thing evolves as well.”