Words of wisdom

Perpetual Private Insights

What pearls of wisdom have Australians learned from the mistakes and successes of others? It’s a fascinating question and one we asked 2,400 people in Perpetual’s Lifetime Study.

Our research revealed some poignant life lessons that we’d like to share with you – along with a sprinkling of insightful quotes from those who took part.


When mistakes are mistaken

“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” Albert Einstein

Our research was extensive but we can’t claim Einstein took part. Yet his observation does support one of the main themes emerging from the study – that you should accept making mistakes in life because they are crucial for personal development.

Everyone makes mistakes – the most common answer to our survey question “How do you view your past?” was “I made some bad choices”. In acknowledging the mistakes they had made in life, many Australians emphasised what really matters is whether you learn from them.

“Turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones.” Perpetual’s Lifetime Study

The Lifetime Study gave people the opportunity to share their pearls of wisdom – their life lessons. When it came to learning from your mistakes, our favourite insight was that stumbling blocks should be viewed as stepping stones.

Here are a few more:

“Mistakes are just opportunities for learning.” “Not taking a risk is the biggest risk of all.” “A mistake is not a mistake if you learn something from it.”


Secrets of success

Our research wasn’t all about the mistakes people make. We also wanted to celebrate success – so we asked Australians what they had learned from the successful people in their lives. The lesson here was that there are no short cuts – persistence and hard work are the pillars of success.

“There is a lot of work and effort behind successful people.” Perpetual’s Lifetime Study

Many of the comments we received linked the importance of hard work with the courage to risk failure and give new things a go.

“If you always do what you always did you will always get what you always got.”

“Back yourself and give things a try.” “To succeed you must give it your all.”


Yet when asked how they felt about their career only 38% were positive, 20% felt negative and the remainder were neutral. Australians recognised the value of hard work but don’t necessarily enjoy the work they are doing. And that’s food for thought.


The planner

The importance of planning was a consistent theme in our research – both as a tactic to avoid making mistakes and also as a foundation for success.

“Plan for your retirement so you can enjoy it.” “It’s better to plan than hope for the best.” “Have a well thought out plan and stick to it.”


Having a plan in life focuses the choices you make – the challenge is sticking to your plan over the long term. When we asked Australians what stops them from keeping good habits, not sticking at things long enough was a common response. So despite recognising that persistence was an important lesson in life many struggle to stay on track.


We’ve been helping Australians plan for their future for more than 130 years. Let us help you to stay on track with a financial strategy that funds the lifestyle you deserve.

Perpetual Private advice and services are provided by Perpetual Trustee Company Limited (PTCo) ABN 42 000 001 007, AFSL 236643. 

This information has been prepared by PTCo. It contains general information only and is not intended to provide you with financial advice or take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider, with a financial or other adviser, whether the information is suitable for your circumstances. To the extent permitted by law, no liability is accepted for any loss or damage as a result of any reliance on this information.