LIFE – How To Be Successful

How To Be Successful

Simple, though not always easy

Someone once emailed me to ask,

“What belief, behaviour, or habit has most improved your life? And what two things do you think makes people so successful?”

Bud, I don’t even have to give you two. I only need to give you one. (And actually, you know what? I’ll break that one into two just to humor you and really get down into it. See “how to get” it, below.)

It’s not planning. It’s not passion. It’s not introversion or extroversion. It’s not intelligence.

The number one thing is PERSEVERANCE / GRIT

Taking action, regardless of setbacks, rather than making excuses. Pushing through. Relentlessness. Work ethic — but even in the face of adversity. Hunger.

I read a shit-ton of biographies, autobiographies and memoirs, and one thing I’ve noticed across all of these amazing people? Their response to incredible challenges, situations where most people would fold — but they kept going.

The difference with successful people isn’t that they never experienced setbacks — it’s that they didn’t stop.

I know a lot of readers just skimmed this post for “the one thing” answer and a lot checked out after reading it, like: “yeah yeah yeah okay — I get it!” Which is adorably ironic, because they don’t. Many of us — myself included, often — don’t internalize what perseverance, grit and relentlessness means enough to harness it.

Perseverance is not surface-level.

If you think perseverance means making a show of productivity, or working half-heartedly, without alignment with a deep underlying goal, then you’re wrong.

Perseverance isn’t stand-alone. It’s always rooted in something stronger than itself.

In other words:

Grit and relentlessness may be the number one CAUSE of success, but they themselves are EFFECTS of something deeper.

How to get grit

The two things that make it up:

1.) Knowing with absolute specificity what you want.

2.) Wanting it more than you want anything else.

Get those two things, and the rest resolves itself. You won’t need plans, you won’t have to fall back on or recall your “passion.”

What “want” looks like

It means not having to be told what to do. It means ownership. Most of us slack on this — myself included.

As Tim Grover wrote in Relentless,

“Tell yourself what to do, and stop waiting for others to lay it all out.”

Desire is intrinsic and instinctive, not extrinsic or authority-based. It’s action and ownership over excuses.

It’s not thought. It’s not even emotion, really. It’s energy; certainty; flow.

How do you “know what you want?”

Fam, I don’t know what you want. I can’t tell you that, because I’m not you. You need to work out the details for yourself.

But: you just know. Engage and see where you lean. Whatever is authentic; whatever makes you energized; whatever gives you flow and certainty and power.

What “specificity” looks like

It either has metrics defined in the goal (lose 50 pounds) or parameters are defined by external systems (win a chess tournament.)

But “lose weight” is not a goal. “Start a business” is not a goal. “Be the best basketball player” is a goal, but “play a sport” is not. Be a top chef, yes, “learn to cook” no. “Find a hobby” is not a goal, and neither is “discover my passion.” If you think any of those are, your real goal is “figure out your shit.” And the solution isn’t to sit around daydreaming up a big plan, or “soul-searching,” because that quickly becomes navel-gazing. The solution is to chase what interests you.

What wanting it “more than anything else” looks like

Here’s what people don’t internalize:

Wanting it ‘more than anything else’ means: making sacrifices.

If you are truly “all-in” on one thing, you give up other things. So: what are you willing to sacrifice to get what you want?

This is why I have absolutely zero patience for people who claim to be “100% focused” on things like “finding a spouse by [x age]” — but then immediately cite a checklist of total bullshit.

Fam, no. It’s adorable to hold out for both when you have time. But as you get down to the wire, you have to decide: you either want someone within that timeframe — and you’ll relinquish your lame checklist, or you’re willing to hold out for perfection — and risk never finding them. You are always choosing one of these, whether you actively do so or not.

And it’s the same with any goal.

Perseverance is not inspiration or motivation or “feeling like it”

Serrriously fuck off with this shit.

I say this all the time, but:

‘Inspiration’ and ‘motivation’ are the greatest crocks of the universe.

Too many people think that successful people are more “motivated.” Dawg, I don’t even know what that means, but if you mean “relentless hunger,” then go get it — you have everything you need.

Anything who’s accomplished anything of value does it outside of the hours of feeling “motivated” to do so. Successful people do it regardless. I’m not saying you don’t get inspired — that’s wonderful, Susan — but inspiration is never what carries anyone to the goal line.

Elizabeth Gilbert called it “working like a mule.”

In his book Relentless, Tim Grover wrote, of the hard work required of excellence:

“I’m not telling you to love it. I’m telling you to crave the result so intensely that the work is irrelevant.”

He also wrote,

“You can read clever motivational slogans all day and still have no idea how to get where you want to be. Wanting something won’t get you anywhere. Trying to someone you’re not won’t get you anywhere. Waiting for someone or something to light your fire won’t get you anywhere.”

So what will, you ask? It’s like you didn’t even read, because the answer is:

  1. Knowing with absolute specificity what you want.
  2. Wanting it more than you want anything else.

And how do you know “what you want?” To reiterate:

It’s either screaming in your face, or others are. Sometimes it’s both, but you only need one.

Do the work — even when it’s hard

Be uncomfortable with the uncomfortable.

Keeping going when things get hard. Because they will.

And if you want it badly enough, you will.

Habits That Have A Huge Return On Life

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10 Small Habits That Have A Huge Return On Life

habits return on life

Over the years, I’ve adopted many different “positive” habits.

To me, a habit is positive when it improves the quality of my life. A lot has been written about forming habits.

How hard is? How long does it take? What’s the best way to break habits? How do we adopt new habits?

My experience is that everyone can adopt any habit they want. There’s only one condition though: You need a good reason to make a change (I talk about that in-depth on this podcast episode).

And in 99% of cases, the reason to change comes from personal suffering, sadness, and hurt. At some point, you can’t stand your current behavior anymore.

Don’t worry about how you will change. Focus on what habits you want to form and why.

After one of my friends recently asked me about my current habits, I decided to share them here—with a brief explanation of what the habits are good for.

1. Do a full-body workout with weights 3 times a week

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Strength training has several benefits. It protects bone health, muscle mass, keeps you lean, increases energy levels, and prevents injuries.

I’ve been lifting weights since I was 16. It’s the only habit on this list that I’ve been doing for that long. Like many people who lift weights, I started with split routines.

That means you work out different muscle during every session. With most routines, you’re training a specific muscle only one time per week. It turns out that muscles need more stress to become stronger.

Ideally, you want to train all your muscles, 3 times a week. That’s why I’ve been doing full body workouts. It’s simple, practical, and it works.

2. Set 3-4 daily priorities

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This is one of the best productivity strategies there is. We all know that focus is what brings us results.

No focus? No results. So how do you focus? By limiting your options and tasks. Elimination is the key.

Be very clear about what you want to achieve every single day, week, and year.

Every day, work on 3-4 essential (and small) tasks that will bring you closer to your weekly and yearly goals.

3. Read 60 minutes a day

Woman Sitting on Grey Concrete Pavement Reading Book

I get it, you’re too busy to read. Or maybe you just don’t like to read.

Well, you’re not getting off that easily.

Reading is essential for your cognition. But you already knew that. How about this? Reading will also turn you into a better thinker and writer.

“But I still don’t like to read.” Well, there are many things in life we don’t like, but we still do them. Instead of telling yourself you don’t like to read, learn to enjoy it by doing it every day.

And like magic, one day, you’ll love to read.

4. SLEEP 7-8 HOURS A DAY

Photo of a Woman Hugging a Blue Pillow

I never sacrifice my sleep for anything. I recently canceled a meeting in the morning because I slept late. The night before, I was reading a good book that totally consumed me.

After reading, I started taking notes. And before I knew it, it was 2 am. I had to wake up at 7 am to make the meeting.

I canceled the meeting. I’m not going to sleep for 6 hours so I can make a meeting when I know that I’ll be tired the whole day.

Some people can perform well with 5 hours of sleep. But most of us need more. If you’re part of the latter group, make sure you get enough sleep. And be dead serious about it. If you’re not in a position to cancel meetings etc, sleep early.

5. Walk 30 minutes a day

Three Women Walking on Seashore Under Blue Sky

If you can’t MAKE the time to go for a daily walk, you’re not in control of your life. I don’t even walk for the health benefits. Sure, walking keeps the body moving and is good for you.

But I go for a daily walk because it breaks the pattern of our mundane lives. Look, we can’t deny that life is routine. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

But when you walk outside, you’re forced to be one with the world. It heightens your senses. You can go alone or with someone else. You can have a good conversation. Or you can simply enjoy the surroundings.

6. Follow the intermittent fasting eating pattern

Woman in Brown Classic Trench Coat Eating Mcdo Fries during Daytime

 

I don’t eat anything after my dinner. And I skip breakfast. That means I “fast” for 15-16 hours every day.

There are some health benefits associated with intermittent fasting. But we have to be careful with making claims.

The reason I like it is that it makes me feel and look better. Plus, I can eat whatever I want during the day without gaining any weight.

I don’t eat junk food. I stick to whole foods with high nutritional value. Also, my first meal contains a lot of unsaturated fat and protein. And finally, make sure you consume the calories your body needs to operate (2000 for women, 2500 for men, on average).

7. Be present

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We’re so focused on our goals that we forget to enjoy the present moment. This is one of my biggest pitfalls.

I really need to remind myself EVERY SINGLE day that I should enjoy the now.

We’re always waiting until we achieve something. “I will be happy then.”

Nope, you won’t if you’re always stuck in the future. Find a trigger that brings you back to the present moment.

For example, I recently bought a new watch. During the same time, I was reading a lot about this spiritual stuff. Now, every time I look at my watch, I say, “What time is it? NOW.”

8. Practice kindness & love

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We all treat our love like it’s a depletable resource. That’s false. Love is unlimited and never runs out. You can give it away as much as you like.

But your ego stops you from doing that. You always want something in return.

So give this a try. Realize that you have an unlimited resource. Give some of your love and kindness away every day. Don’t worry about keeping score. You have enough love anyway.

9. Journal or write 30 minutes a day

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I need to get my thoughts in order every day. I do that by writing. That helps me to focus on what matters to me. That’s why I journal.

Even when I’m not writing articles, I sit down and journal—only for myself. I don’t write in my journal for others. Journaling is also an excellent tool to become a better thinker and person.

10. Save 30% of your income

Ballpoint Pen on Top of White Printer Paper Beside 100 U.s. Dollar Bill

If you can’t save 30%, save 10%. Saving is not so much about how much. It’s about how often.

You save by cutting out useless things you do daily or weekly. You don’t need to buy a latte every day. You also don’t need to buy “organic” cashew nuts for $10.

Save on the small things. They will turn into big lumps of cash in time. Especially if you invest that extra cash.

And that is also the secret to these 10 habits. They are all small. And the daily progress you make seems insignificant.

You will only see the return it has on your life over time. You must stick to these habits until your life gets better.

And when that happens, you’ll keep going—not because you have to, but because you want to.

Speculation is a dangerous pastime

How to Avoid Wasting Your Time and Missing Life

Speculation is a dangerous pastime

Photo by Seth Macey

“Time destroys the speculation of men, but it confirms nature.” — Marcus Tullius Cicero

Certainty is a dangerous game.

A poisoned arrow hit a man. Though a doctor was there to assist him, the man didn’t want the arrow to be removed. He was looking for answers first.

“Before you take this arrow out, I want to know if the shooter was a prince, a merchant, or a priest? What’s his name and where does he live? What kind of bow he used? Was the arrowhead an ordinary one or an iron one?” — he kept on and on.

The wounded man would rather die than not having all the facts.

Life is short. It must not be spent in endless speculation.

Worrying about possible ‘what ifs’ not only keeps your mind busy; it makes you focus on the wrong problem as it happened to the man who was shot.

Speculation doesn’t just steal your time; it drains your mental energy too.

The Time Thief

“There are two times in a man’s life when he shouldn’t speculate: when he can afford to and when he can’t.” — Mark Twain

When predicting the future, everyone claims to have the perfect answer. However, when looking in retrospective, very few can acknowledge that things didn’t go as they anticipated.

Perspective destroys certainty — that’s the effect of time on our speculations.

Oxford Dictionary defines speculation as “the forming of a theory or conjecture without firm evidence.”

Speculation is not just limited to predicting the future; this inefficient pastime also drives rumination about present or past events.

The hunger for certainty is one of the brain’s five functions. Uncertainty generates a strong alert response in our limbic system; that’s why we worry. Your brain doesn’t like not being in control — uncertainty is a pain that we try to avoid at all cost.

That’s why we love to speculate — we’d rather create a theory without evidence than not knowing what will happen.

The problem with certainty is that we adopt a scrutinizing mode — we are looking for evidence to prove our theory.

Dickson Watts, author of “Thoughts on Life” aphorisms, said: “Make your theories fit your facts, not your facts your theories.”

That’s the driver of financial speculation — people want to win big to be right big time. There are few things more unbalancing to the mind than the act of suddenly winning (or losing) large sums of money.

No one has explored the strange behavior of the American investor with more authority than Robert Shiller. In his book, ‘’Irrational Exuberance,’’ he departs from most economists’ assumptions that people are rational and fully informed.

The Yale University economist describes the group pressures and herd behavior that sustain investment — the amplification mechanism, as he calls it. People are prodded into the market, for example, by the ego-diminishing envy stirred by others having earned more in the market than on paychecks.

Speculation, in every aspect of life, is an irrational pastime. It’s much better to be vulnerable than to be right.

Jonah Lehrer coined the term ‘Information Craving’ to define our addiction to facts. We crave information for the sake of it. We don’t care if it will make us more effective or adaptive — it just reduces the sense of uncertainty.

A great example of speculation gone wild can be found on the talk shows. Rather than inform or report the news, they stray into guessing what might happen. The need to fill the void before real news unfold drives hosts to share their opinions and hypotheses as if they were factual.

The Danger of What Ifs

Speculation turns one fact into infinite facts.

Something happens (what) and we start asking ‘why?’ We fill the void with as many possibilities as we can create in the form of ‘what ifs?’ Finally, we end worrying about all the possible answers — one ‘what’ becomes infinite ‘whats.’

Counterfactual thinking is a concept in psychology that involves our tendency to create possible alternatives to life events that have already occurred. Most of the time, something that is contrary to what actually happened.

That’s the paradox of speculation — our desire to find certainty creates more uncertainty and worry.

What if speculations open up the past by demonstrating myriad of possibilities. However, we cannot change what happened. Speculation turns us into a prisoner of counterfactual — we get trapped by all the infinite chances that never happened.

The same happens when we get stuck trying to understand events in the present.

The dangerous side of speculating is that it keeps us busy while accomplishing nothing — rehashing every possibility prevents you from enjoying life.

John Lennon said it better: “Life is what happens when we are busy making others plans.”

Maybe you are waiting for feedback on a job interview. Or your best friend is not replying to a text you sent hours ago. Or your client unexpectedly cancels an important meeting without any explanation.

Your mind starts playing tricks — you get into an spiral of endless negative potential explanations.

When we don’t know, rather than wait for things to happen, our mind starts creating our version of what might have happened. Speculation turns into rumination — we can’t get past our thoughts.

Your mind gets stuck when you think about every possible ‘what if?’

Living in the ‘here and now’ is one of the most distinctive lessons from Buddhism. Western education, on the contrary, promotes speculation. We are told to analyze the past to learn lessons from it; we are encouraged to create hypotheses and use those learnings to predict future behavior.

What’s the point about worrying about the future if, when you get there, you will be worrying about some other future moment?

Buddhism invites us to recover the value of living in the present. Instead of being obsessed about what you don’t know (what if?), understand that life is in permanent transition. You cannot change the past; you can’t control what will happen in the future. Live the present.

When sharing his secret to happiness, the great philosopher Jiddhu Krishnamurti said, “Do you want to know what my secret is? I don’t mind what happens.”

Letting go of this addictive pastime is the first step towards recovering your time and stop wasting your life.

When in Doubt, Ask

“Confrontation is better than speculations.”
― Sunday Adelaja

Speculation is not knowledge — it’s just a waste of your time.

Knowledge doesn’t show up unannounced; you have to earn it — it requires dedication and sacrifice.

If you want to know what happened you have two options: ask or wait for things to unfold. Speculation creates imaginary problems; it’s the opposite of knowing.

We take an interview cancellation as bad news, but we don’t ask why — we fear a negative response. Ironically enough, we let our mind speculate about every possible negative explanation. We choose self-torturing ‘what ifs’ over confrontation.

Forming infinite hypotheses adds more complexity to a situation. Focus on what you know or what’s under your control.

Marcus Aurelius said, “Don’t let your imagination be crushed by life as a whole. Don’t try to picture everything bad that could possibly happen. Stick with the situation at hand, and ask, Why is this so unbearable? Why can’t I endure it?”

Rumors are another form of speculation. What makes one person’s gossip go viral is the desire to avoid uncertainty — that’s why everyone wants rumors to be true. The brain prefers an adverse, yet certain, outcome to not knowing what will occur.

It’s your call to fuel rumors or to wait until things really happen.

I’m not saying uncertainty is easy to deal with. However, trying to understand all possible routes will derail you from your destination. The way to solve complex problems is to get simpler perspectives.

Henry Thomas Buckle said: “To simplify complications is, in all branches of knowledge, the first essential of success.”

When we look at life in retrospective, nothing is as harsh as we speculated. Worrying makes things more complicated.


Embrace a maybe mindset

Nothing in life is permanent; even our worries change. Understanding that the future is out of your control is liberating. Focus on what you can manage. Experience events as they happen. To enjoy the present, you must empty your mind of what ifs.

maybe mindset will help you accept life as it comes and goes, as I explain here.

Most of all, we need peace and time to enjoy life. As Henry Thomas Buckle said, “In practical life, the wisest and soundest men avoid speculation.” Every time I found peace, is because I was focusing on the ‘here and now’ instead of speculating.

Please take a deep breath, put all your ‘what ifs?’ aside, and enjoy your life (not what might happen).

Start-ups – Give Up These Habits Immediately to Become A High-Achieving Person

Photo by Dino Reichmuth on Unsplash

Long-term success is much about what you give up as what you gain.

Every human brain has a built-in capacity to become, over time, what we demand of it.

Whatever you want in life, you can become if you want it bad enough. Once you have a WHY, you will find a HOW!

People have so much they can offer the world but they are afraid to even try.They feel inadequate.

Millions of people are still living in their comfort zones because they think a lot can go wrong.

The good news is, you don’t have to be perfect to start or achieve what you want in life.

“Few of our own failures are fatal,” economist and Financial Times columnist Tim Harford writes in his new book, Adapt: Why Success Always Starts With Failure.

According to Adapt, “success comes through rapidly fixing our mistakes rather than getting things right first time.”

If you have ever failed in the past but never gave up, you are stronger than you think. If you have failed recently and are considering giving up, don’t.

The obstacle is definitely the way.

There will always be a way out. You just haven’t found it yet. Keep on trying. Find out why and how you got stuck, and dig yourself out of the temporary setback.

Your life should have more value than just living comfortably.

What does it mean to really live? Deep down, you already have a sense of the direction where this answer lies for you.

Give up everything holding you back in life and live for what truly matters.

Start paying attention to the bad habits of your life you should let go to achieve anything worthwhile.

Stop pursuing too many goals

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“One of the greatest resources people cannot mobilize themselves is that they try to accomplish great things. Most worthwhile achievements are the result of many little things done in a single direction.” — Nido Qubein

You can master anything. Stop trying to do everything.

It is easy to get excited with goals and try to take on too much but if you do, you’ll be spending your energy all over the place.

The principle of success is focus. It is what makes the difference between those who are successful and those who are not, regardless of how much talent, resource and energy that they have.

The most accomplished and well known people in history were known for somethin uniqe to them. Einstein pursued the theory of relativity like his whole life depended on it.

Relativity is one of the most famous scientific theories of the 20th century. Mozart was incredibly passionate about music.

He was the very best for many generations before and after him. Even today, is there a second musician who could match his genius?

Spend most of your time on the right things and the rest takes care of itself. It’s not enough to just ‘work hard’.

Hard work is not necesarily a bad thing. But hard work can be a waste of your life when it’s thrown at the wrong things.

Decide what is good for you in the long term, and pursue it with all you’ve got.

Each time you have something extra to do or an additional goal to pursue, you further split your power.

You fear to even try

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“No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow you progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying.” — Tony Robbins

“You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” Wayne Gretzky could not have said that any better.

You can only make progress if you take a step.Overcoming the fear of failing is the first step towards success. Start confronting your fears today.

Fear is a habit, so is self-pity, defeat, anxiety, despair, hopelessness and resignation. You can eliminate all of these negative habits with two simple resolves,” I can! and I will!”

Take even the most basic step towards what you have to do. Never miss an opportunity to try. Show up as many times as you can. Share your best work even if it’s not perfect.

Dale Carnegie once said “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.

You give up too soon

Girl Lying on Yellow Flower Field during Daytime

“I have a motto on my bedroom wall: ‘Obstacles are what you see when you take your eye off the goal.’ Giving up is not my style. I just want to do something that’s worthwhile”. — Chris Burke

How persistent are you about pursuing your dreams and goals in life?

One of the most important secrets of success is learning to conquer your doubts.

Most of us give up on our passion too soon. Every successful person you know today has a perseverance story to share.

There is probably no better example of persistence than the story of Abraham Lincoln.

He failed in business at 21, lost a legislative race at age 22, failed in business again at 24 and lost a congressional race when he was 34.

At 45 he lost a senatorial race. And he failed in an attempt to become Vice President when he was 47.

But he was finally elected President of the United States at age 52.

Lincoln never quit.

He could have given up after several attempts but pursued his ambition to assume the highest office in America.

There is no substitute for persistence. As long as you are still actively trying after every failure, you have not failed yet.

“Commitment in the face of conflict produces character.” ~Unknown

By all means, keep moving.

If you don’t keep going, you’ll never know how far you could have gone.

If you do keep going, well, it’s like this quote: “Shoot for the moon, for even if you miss you’ll land among the stars.”

You are constantly telling yourself it can’t be done

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“The mind is the limit. As long as the mind can envision the fact that you can do something, you can do it, as long as you really believe 100 percent.” — Arnold Schwarzenegger

If you don’t believe in what you do, you will give up at some point. If you have no reason to believe it’s possible to achieve a goal, all the effort you are putting into it will be wasted.

You mind’s unconscious beliefs plays a significant role in the amount of effort you put into your life’s work. If you don’t see a successful outcome, you won’t push yourself further to get there.

Your progress depends on your decision to try knowing that you will overcome your failures and rise above them.

Break your big goal into actionable steps and focus on one step at a time.

If you’re having trouble believing you can achieve your most important goal, instead of focusing it, focus on a stepping stone goal you can believe in right now. That one step you need to push yourself further.

The closer your goal is to where you actually are today, the easier it will be to believe in it. Keep setting goals you are able to believe in, and when you look back, you’ll be amazed at how far you’ve come.

Give up the life of endless excuses

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“People spend too much time finding other people to blame, too much energy finding excuses for not being what they are capable of being, and not enough energy putting themselves on the line, growing out of the past, and getting on with their lives.” — J. Michael Straczynski

There will always be a reason why it can’t be done. People constantly explain away why they couldn’t, shouldn’t, didn’t, or simply wouldn’t do something.

When you make excuses, you are simply saying, “I’m not in control.”

But guess what — you are the only person who is fully in control of your actions and decisions in the world.

Making excuses robs you of your personal power.

People make excuses because of the fear of the unknown. Others are just afraid of change, rejection and embarrassment.

Fear locks you in your comfort zone.

And nothing magical or remarkable happens in your safe zone.You can stop making excuses if you learn how to eliminate all traces of fear from your life.

The next time you experience a setback, don’t make an excuse. See it as a challenge, learn from it and move on.

Excuses are distractions, and they reduce your confidence and self-belief.

You don’t want that — especially when you still have a lot to show the world.

Own your life; no one else is going to do it for you.

You think you have no talent

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“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” — Calvin Coolidge

What others think about you is none of your business. What do you think about yourself? Choose to live boldly and express your authentic self.

There are no hidden talents. The reality is often those at the top simply spent more time and deliberate practice on their chosen fields — plus experienced some luck along the way as well.

Everyone has the potential to be amazing at something.

People have strengths and weaknesses in the different functions and capacities of the brain.

It takes practice. A lot of it to be amazing at what you do. One of greatest impediment to creativity is our impatience.

The almost inevitable desire to see results in the shortest possible time can kill your desire to create anything worthwhile. What you lack is confidence in your abilities to do better.

Follow your curiosity and find yourself in the process. You will be amazed at what you discover about what you can do and what comes easily to you.

The story of your life isn’t written yet… you just have to start writing it. You’re not without talent, you’re without direction.

Learn a new way to see things. Go. Do. Live.

You’re afraid of being rejected or criticized

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“I don’t really have disappointments, because I build myself up for rejection.” — Nicholas Hoult

Rejection is inevitable if you intend to do anything original.

The fear of it creates a very damaging pattern of behavior that can stop you from starting something new.

Once you begin to feel that you are not good enough, you can never push past rejection to create your life’s work.

Being creative is about making fresh connections so that we see things in new ways and from different perspectives. You can benefit a lot from feedback to improve your idea or project.

Don’t take rejection personal

Learn from your criticisms and focus on making your work better than your first iteration. A rejection is nothing more than a necessary step in the pursuit of meaning.

You’re afraid your ideas are not good enough

Two Man and Two Woman Standing on Green Grass Field

“And above all things, never think that you’re not good enough yourself. A man should never think that. My belief is that in life people will take you at your own reckoning. “ — Isaac Asimov

Millions of people are trapped in the “not good enough” mindset. You’re afraid there’s no market for your work, and therefore no point in pursuing it.

Others are constantly beating themselves up and thinking that whatever they intend to create won’t be good enough or what they’ve created is not worthy to be shared.

Don’t allow the desire for perfection keep you from launching, publishing or hitting send.

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear explains:

“Perfection is the death of all good things, perfection is the death of pleasure, it’s the death of productivity, it’s the death of efficiency, it’s the death of joy.Perfection is just a bludgeon that goes around murdering everything good.”

Forget about all the reasons why you shouldn’t launch or start your life’s work, and focus on the one reason why people should know about it. If you genuinely believe in what you want to do, find a way to build it, create it, ship it or simply get it out. If it moves you toward your ultimate potential, do it.

Choose to do better

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“To achieve anything great or worthwhile, you must resolve, no matter what life hands you, to carry on, for there is nothing that can stop you from achieving the greatness for which you were created. Do not let anything stand in the way of you achieving your goals this year and every year!” — Brian Tracy

Never whine about your lack of skills or weaknesses.

Never use a lack of know-how as an excuse for not being able to achieve a goal.

If you don’t know how, learn how.

If you’re going to get anywhere in life, you must assume 100% responsibility for your choices.

Choose yourself today and start taking action. You will do something incredible with your life if you embrace these mindsets.

Ready to start a life-changing habit?

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I’m creating a habits mastery course to help you master the kaizen principles for starting and maintaining healthy life habits. Kaizen Habits will teach you how to make any change in life, one small habit at a time. Sign up to be notified when it launches.

You can also subscribe to Postanly Weekly (my free weekly digest of the best posts about behaviour change that affect health, wealth, and productivity). Join over 47,000 people on a mission to build a better life.

What To Tell Yourself During A Tough Time.

Image Credit: Dan Evans

We all go through tough times.

A few examples of mine are:

  • Multiple consecutive breakups
  • Walking away from a business that could have made me a lot of money
  • Having my career come to a grinding halt
  • Dealing with mental illness

The list is very long and I’m sure yours is similar. It’s not about the tough times we go through though because they are guaranteed and you already knew that before you clicked this article.

What matters during tough times is what you tell yourself.

This is what I say to myself during tough times — well there’s actually four things I say to myself depending on the tough time I’m facing:


“This will pass”

No event in your life lasts forever. Today may be a really tough day, but that won’t last forever. We delude ourselves at times by saying in our head “I’m always going to be like this.”

“Why does this always happen to me?”

“Here we go again.”

These negative phrases tell our brain that things are never going to get better. When we say these phrases to ourselves enough, we start to believe them. During a difficult period in your life, in that moment, things will suck.

Image Credit: OIVIND HOVLAND/IKON IMAGES/CORBIS

The way to get out of your head is to see the truth: this will pass. In one day, one month, or one year this tough situation will have passed and you’ll be onto the next part of your life.

Nothing lasts forever unless you allow your mind to trap you in the moment and believe a lie which is that this moment won’t pass. It will. You will come out the other side.


“I’ll be stronger having dealt with this situation”

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When you reframe your tough times into strength building exercises, they take a whole new meaning.

All of a sudden, your current situation that may be wearing you down becomes like reps at the gym. The reps are a struggle and it hurts, but if you keep moving forward, you end up with mental toughness and strength.

“Exchange your tough times for mental toughness”

See this challenging situation for what it is. It’s the chance to come out the other end stronger.

Stack your tough times up like gold medals.

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Have you dealt with cancer? Good, then you won’t take your health for granted ever again.

Have you lost a loved one? Then you’ll never take the rest of your family for granted and care for them more than you did before.

Did you lose your job? Amazing! Now you can work somewhere else and discover more of your hidden talents!

Without tough times, you won’t have the strategies you need to deal with the impossible. Your heroes are your heroes because they’ve used their tough times to become stronger.

Failure and rejection are the building blocks to whatever your definition of success is. Tough times make you hungry and that’s a good thing.


“Keep taking baby steps forward”

Tough times can feel like quicksand sometimes.

If you don’t keep moving forward though, you’ll eventually sink into the quicksand. The best thing you can do during the toughest of challenges is take baby steps.

Image Credit: François Coutu

When I battled severe anxiety, I took baby steps such as these:

  • Walked 15 minutes a day
  • Drank an extra glass of water each day to hydrate my body
  • Read one book a month on anxiety
  • Exposed myself to one small fear each day. It started with going two levels in a lift (something I couldn’t do before). Then I’d go three levels the next day and so on.

That last dot point is critical. Overcoming tough times requires you to take baby steps in the form of being uncomfortable. When you’re growing each day, you don’t have time to be too concerned about a particular tough time.

My battle with anxiety eventually led me to flying long distances (another thing I couldn’t do before) and then speaking on stages in front of a lot of people.

As you can see, the first few steps — like going two floors in a lift — are quite small. Then the steps get bigger and bigger until what used to seem impossible becomes a piece of cake.

Take baby steps.


“It only takes one person”

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Tough times often require someone to believe in you. From my experience, you only need one person.

One person to believe in your idea.
One person to love you.
One person who has gone through the same tough times as you.

This one person exists. You have to go out there and find them. That one person for me was a team leader when I was working in a call center. He believed in me enough to take me aside and coach me one on one.

He believed I was going to go on and change the world through personal development. He was right and I did!

Don’t give up. Your one person exists as well.

<<<>>>

These four things are what I tell myself during a tough time. One of these phrases will always be the right one depending on the circumstance.

Believe that there is a way out and you’ll find one. It’s during the tough times that you’ll develop the skills and experience to help others.

Image Credit: The Atlantic

What I’ve learned is that to get through the tough times, one of the best hacks is to focus on helping others. When you’re focusing on how you can serve, your own selfish problems become insignificant.

Seek out people who have even bigger problems than you do and listen to them. See if you can help them.

That’s how you deal with the tough times.

Tell yourself the truth. You deserve to hear it.

Intuitive Planning

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Effective Planning For Sensitive People
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Intuitive Planning.
How to plan if you are a sensitive person in a willpower world

How often have you heard about the importance of planning or power of manifestation? Have you ever wondered if everyone talks SO MUCH about planning, why it doesn’t really work for you? You probably thought (I definitely did) What’s wrong with me?! Don’t I have enough will power for that…? Am I lazy?? (yes, this scary question…) NO. It is just you are a different type of a person. Yes, planning is important, manifestation is possible and even ordinary for people who mastered a skill of it, but we can choose the way we plan that works for your personality, aligns with your Soul and makes your heart beats calmly, not crazy when you are in a panic, thinking “HOW can I do it all?

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Is there a way of planning and manifesting that fits you?  And how can we use our sensitivity not to be worried or overwhelmed, but manifest and plan what we want more effectively?

 

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Here where the spiritual ideas and (surprisingly)) physics come handy. Everything is energy. In this perspective, we have to consider feeling and emotions as solid parts of energy we use for realization and preparation.

 

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We realize a maximum of our potential when we plan with our feelings and sense, using our mind. Not vice versa, when we mostly try to think what is good, but don’t feel passion about it or even don’t believe it’s even necessary.  What does this mean? The core here is very simple. The Universe realize what we FEEL, our emotions are the impulses to the actualization. Planning and dreaming are good, but what we really FEEL and BELIEVE deep inside of us, this is what really come true.

 

 

“You manifest what you believe in” (Oprah Winfrey) 

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The effective planning is all about adjustment with your plan. Any successful coach or powerful book have never said: “Write it down and do it”. They all repeat the same thing: “BELIEVE in your plan and do it.”

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“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” (Napoleon Hill) 

 

 

 

Write it down with the main purpose – to believe in it. Structure your belief so you can act more effectively.

 

 

It leads us to important realization that we need to pay attention to our assumptions. As they are the main reason why we can’t believe with our heart in what we see in our minds. Any technique or boost of willpower can’t help in a battle with your own negative views.

 

 

This truth is even more powerful for women. For us everything is based on the perception, on the intensity of our emotions and feelings, on our belief in the capacity to transform a dream into reality. All of the greatest achievements started from the vision and strong emotion of faith. When we believe with all our hearts we start to see steps in the darkness. We program our subconsciousness to look for the answers and find them. We follow deep feeling of belief that in other words, I like to call intuition. 

 

 

Intuition is the core for many successful businesses, for greatest of books and pieces of art.

 

 

Believe in yourself+ believe in the idea + intuitive planning+ action = success. 

 

 

When you follow your intuition in planning or manifesting you first open doors in your mind and then in your life. Yes, it is easy to mistaken intuition with somethings else. I hear this concern very often and still repeatedly have it my mind. So here I want to give a very important hint:

 

 

When you try to distinguish whether it is an intuitive feeling or not, ask yourself: Am I feeling it from a place of fear or from a place of trust? What am I afraid of in this situation? Do I try to run away from something I am afraid of with this feeling? If your answer is yes, it’s probably not intuition. As our intuitive feelings always create, not destroy.

 

 

 

 

 

The laws of the Universe makes it clear: The manifestation and planning are more effective when you are a sensitive person! All we need to do is switch from our fears to best beliefs. 

 

The Purpose Of Life Is Not Happiness: It’s Usefulness

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The Purpose Of Life Is Not Happiness: It’s Usefulness

For the longest time, I believed that there’s only purpose of life: And that is to be happy.

Right? Why else go through all the pain and hardship? It’s to achieve happiness in some way.

And I’m not the only person who believed that. In fact, if you look around you, most people are pursuing happiness in their lives.

That’s why we collectively buy shit we don’t need, go to bed with people we don’t love, and try to work hard to get approval of people we don’t like.

Why do we do these things? To be honest, I don’t care what the exact reason is. I’m not a scientist. All I know is that it has something to do with history, culture, media, economy, psychology, politics, the information era, and you name it. The list is endless.

We are who we are.

Let’s just accept that. Most people love to analyze why people are not happy or don’t live fulfilling lives. I don’t necessarily care about the why.

I care more about how we can change.

Just a few short years ago, I did everything to chase happiness.

  • You buy something, and you think that makes you happy.
  • You hook up with people, and think that makes you happy.
  • You get a well-paying job you don’t like, and think that makes you happy.
  • You go on holiday, and you think that makes you happy.

But at the end of the day, you’re lying in your bed (alone or next to your spouse), and you think: “What’s next in this endless pursuit of happiness?”

Well, I can tell you what’s next: You, chasing something random that you believe makes you happy.

It’s all a façade. A hoax. A story that’s been made up.

Did Aristotle lie to us when he said:

“Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.”

I think we have to look at that quote from a different angle. Because when you read it, you think that happiness is the main goal. And that’s kind of what the quote says as well.

But here’s the thing: How do you achieve happiness?

Portrait of Young Woman With Yellow Flowers in Field

Happiness can’t be a goal in itself. Therefore, it’s not something that’s achievable.

I believe that happiness is merely a byproduct of usefulness.

When I talk about this concept with friends, family, and colleagues, I always find it difficult to put this into words. But I’ll give it a try here.

Most things we do in life are just activities and experiences.

  • You go on holiday.
  • You go to work.
  • You go shopping.
  • You have drinks.
  • You have dinner.
  • You buy a car.

Those things should make you happy, right? But they are not useful. You’re not creating anything. You’re just consuming or doing something. And that’s great.

Don’t get me wrong. I love to go on holiday, or go shopping sometimes. But to be honest, it’s not what gives meaning to life.

What really makes me happy is when I’m useful. When I create something that others can use. Or even when I create something I can use.

For the longest time I found it difficult to explain the concept of usefulness and happiness. But when I recently ran into a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, the dots finally connected.

Emerson says:

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

And I didn’t get that before I became more conscious of what I’m doing with my life. And that always sounds heavy and all. But it’s actually really simple.

It comes down to this: What are you DOING that’s making a difference?

Woman in Floral Headdress Sniffing on Red Flowers

Did you do useful things in your lifetime? You don’t have to change the world or anything. Just make it a little bit better than before you were born.

If you don’t know how, here are some ideas.

  • Help your boss with something that’s not your responsibility.
  • Take your mother to a spa.
  • Create a collage with pictures (not a digital one) for your spouse.
  • Write an article about the stuff you learned in life.
  • Help the pregnant lady who also has a 2-year old with her stroller.
  • Call your friend and ask if you can help with something.
  • Build a standing desk.
  • Start a business and hire an employee and treat them well.

That’s just some stuff I like to do. You can make up your own useful activities.

You see? It’s not anything big. But when you do little useful things every day, it adds up to a life that is well lived. A life that mattered.

The last thing I want is to be on my deathbed and realize there’s zero evidence that I ever existed.

Recently I read Not Fade Away by Laurence Shames and Peter Barton. It’s about Peter Barton, the founder of Liberty Media, who shares his thoughts about dying from cancer.

It’s a very powerful book and it will definitely bring tears to your eyes. In the book, he writes about how he lived his life and how he found his calling. He also went to business school, and this is what he thought of his fellow MBA candidates:

“Bottom line: they were extremely bright people who would never really do anything, would never add much to society, would leave no legacy behind. I found this terribly sad, in the way that wasted potential is always sad.”

You can say that about all of us. And after he realized that in his thirties, he founded a company that turned him into a multi-millionaire.

Another person who always makes himself useful is Casey Neistat. I’ve been following him for a year and a half now, and every time I watch his YouTube show, he’s doing something.

He also talks about how he always wants to do and create something. He even has a tattoo on his forearm that says “Do More.”

Most people would say, “why would you work more?” And then they turn on Netflix and watch back to back episodes of Daredevil.

A different mindset.

Mindset Opposite Positivity Negativity Thinking Concept

Being useful is a mindset. And like with any mindset, it starts with a decision. One day I woke up and thought to myself: What am I doing for this world? The answer was nothing.

And that same day I started writing. For you it can be painting, creating a product, helping elderly, or anything you feel like doing.

Don’t take it too seriously. Don’t overthink it. Just DO something that’s useful. Anything.

Ideas That Could Change Your Life

25 Ideas That Could Change Your Life

1. KAIZEN

jesus-in-taiwan-372790-unsplash.jpgA Japanese term meaning “improvement”.

I think of Kaizen as ‘continuous improvement’ or ‘continual change for the better, one small step at a time’, as this is how I first heard of the term.

A lot of the successful Japanese manufacturing companies in automobiles and technology have used this exact approach to obtain massive success over time.

What could you achieve if you just focused on taking one small step in the right direction today, and then another one every day after that?

2. BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE…

luca-iaconelli-242679-unsplash.jpgGandhi did not say “Be the change you want to see in the world” even though it is often attributed to him. What he actually said was this: 

“We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.” – Mahatma Gandhi

3. BE HERE NOW

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If we are fully present in the moment and aware of what is going on both internally and externally, we have a choice in what we decide to do.

If you do not feel present, meditate, ground yourself, get outside, move and connect with your five senses in the moment and the world around you.

“Awareness is all about restoring your freedom to choose what you want instead of what your past imposes on you.” – Deepak Chopra

4. CHOICES DEFINE YOUR LEGACY

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This happens through a lengthy process of choices becoming actions, actions becoming habits, and all of your habits informing your character and ultimate legacy. A quote along these lines has been attributed to a Mr Wiseman in 1856, and it tells us that whatever we sow, we must later reap.

It is therefore essential to engage in as many helpful actions as possible when we still have a choice and before they become habitual. The more engrained something is, the easier it is to do automatically, and the harder it can be to stop.

“Neurons that fire together, wire together.” – Donald Hebb

5. LIFE WASN’T MEANT TO BE EASY

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We often don’t appreciate things that just fall into our lap, and we tend to value things much more when we put in some hard work to get it. Even people that build their own IKEA furniture rate the furniture as being more valuable than people who see that same furniture complete but haven’t made it themselves.

I know I’d be more proud of the $3million I built up through hard work than the equivalent amount of money won through a lottery. How about you?

Anything in life worth having is worth working for.” – Andrew Carnegie

6. THE MAGIC HAPPENS OUTSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONE

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Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” – Brian Tracy

So many people want a comfortable life and therefore stick to what feels safe. Unfortunately, if you are not willing to feel uncomfortable, your life will only get smaller over time.

When you first step out of your comfort zone, it will be scary, you will feel awkward, and it may even feel unsafe. But is it really, or does it just feel threatening because it is new? If at this moment, you run back to what you are used to, you won’t grow. However, if you can persist through the initial pain, it will only get more comfortable in time, and your comfort zone will continue to expand and grow.

7. RETHINK WHAT IT MEANS TO BE FREE

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What is real freedom to you?

Doing whatever your parents, school, bosses or government wants you to do? UMM NO. This is called compliance.

Being a rebel and doing the exact opposite of what your parents, school, bosses and government told you to do? STILL NO. This is called counterpliance and is always defined by what you have been shown to do, which means that you are still part of the system. Plus you may end up grounded, expelled, fired or in prison, which doesn’t sound too free to me.

Just living for the moment and indulging in all of your passions and pleasures whenever you want, becauseYOLO, right? NOPE. This is called hedonism, and may feel great for a night, but not for a lifetime. It can have some pretty nasty side-effects too if you aren’t careful, including weight gain, disease, debt, dissatisfaction and even death.

True freedom must come from making the choice that is likely to be the best for you in the long-term, even if it denies you that last alcoholic drink or dessert, or the fun that happens after 2am, or that extra TV episode, or the added snooze time in the mornings. If we can’t get ourselves to do things that are difficult or painful in the short-term but beneficial in the long run, we can never honestly be free in the long-term. As a former NAVY SEAL famously said:

Discipline equals freedom.” – Jocko Willink

8. GETTING STARTED IS ALWAYS THE HARDEST PART

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The secret of getting ahead is getting started” – Mark Twain.

In a book that I once read (the Willpower Instinct I think), I came across a 10-minute rule that I found surprisingly useful. Basically, if you are not sure if you are up for doing something, give it a go for 10 minutes, and if after 10 minutes you still don’t feel up to it, stop. I tried it a few times with going to the gym, and usually, once I get there and get into it, I’m fine, but my brain often tries to tell me that I am too tired before I go.

The reason the 10-minute strategy seems to work is that it is much easier to get our brain to do something for 10 minutes than it is for a considerable chunk of time. This is because it requires much less energy when we are forecasting our capacity to do the task. Human brains are cognitive misers, which means they are always trying to “help” by conserving energy. If you want to get started or you feel tired, think small. Also…

9. THE FIRST DRAFT OF ANYTHING IS RUBBISH

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Don’t get discouraged because there’s a lot of mechanical work to writing. There is, and you can’t get out of it. I rewrote the first part of A Farewell to Arms at least fifty times. You’ve got to work it over. The first draft of anything is shit. When you first start to write you get all the kick and the reader gets none, but after you learn to work it’s your object to convey everything to the reader so that he remembers it not as a story he had read but something that happened to himself.” – Ernest Hemingway

This quote is fantastic because too often people think that the need to produce a masterpiece the first time they try or do something. If one of the most famous authors of all time produced crap on their first draft, why should we expect more on ours? The solution is to focus on the process, not the outcome, and just produce work before trying to edit, review or criticise what you have done.

10. DON’T PUT THINGS OFF TIL LATER

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If something takes less than 2 minutes to do, don’t write it down or add it to your to do list – do it now.” – David Allen, Getting Things Done

Most people have so much stuff to do at any one time that it is very difficult to ever get their to-do-list down to zero. This can cause anxiety and stress for some people, but the key is to have an excellent system to manage everything that comes in so that you don’t have to keep worrying and thinking about all of the things you need to do. Getting things done, or GTD is one such system. And the two-minute-rule from GTD says that small tasks should never go on your to-do-list if you can just get them done now. This rule alone means that my email inbox rarely has any unopened or unreplied emails.

11. BE YOURSELF; EVERYONE ELSE IS TAKEN

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Some believe that Oscar Wilde first said this, but the fascinating quote investigator website said that they could not find it in any of his writings. Keith craft said something similar that I like better, in announcing that we all have a unique fingerprint and that we can, therefore “leave a unique imprint that no one else can leave.”

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

12. WE REGRET THE THINGS WE DON’T DO MORE THAN THE THINGS WE DO

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When making a decision about the future, we tend to think about what we may lose if we take a risk. However, when reflecting on the past, we feel more regret about what we missed by not taking a chance. The question then becomes, do we:

  1. Play it safe, and not put ourselves out there because people may judge us or criticise us for giving something a go and not succeeding? Or
  2. Criticise others for being brave enough to try something that they believe in? Or
  3. Throw caution to the wind and give it our best shot, knowing that we will learn and grow more from mistakes and setbacks than we ever would have by sitting back and criticising others?

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt

13. FEEL THE FEAR AND DO IT ANYWAY!

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Susan Jeffers was my hero back when I read her top-selling self-help book. I couldn’t believe that I didn’t have to get rid of the fear before I acted fearlessly.

The Confidence Gap by Russ Harris then further highlighted to me that the action of confidence tends to come before the feeling of confidence, not the other way around.

Fear was designed to keep us safe as a hunter-gatherer but holds us back more in modern day life than it helps us sometimes. We need to instead assess the real level of risk whenever we feel fear, and go for it if the situation feels scary but is actually pretty safe. This could be horror movies, roller coaster rides, plane flights, or public speaking.

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” – FDR inaugural address, 1932

14. WYSIATI

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What you see is all there is.” – Daniel Kahneman

How you are thinking and feeling in the moment is very much influenced by how you are thinking and feeling at the moment. If you feel on top of the world, you are likely to be feeling happy, thinking positively about yourself, others, the world and the future. Anything may feel possible. Then the next week you have a setback or get sick, and you start to feel depressed and hopeless and think negatively about yourself, others, the world and the future. Both can’t be true, if they are only a week apart, so it’s important to understand the power of WYSIATI.

Don’t think too big picture if you are feeling flat and down, and try not to shop if you’re too hungry. The choices you’ll make once you’ve picked up a bit and have eaten something are likely to be very different.

15. MEMENTO MORI

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Latin: “Remember that you have to die.

In many cultures around the world and through history, the acknowledging of our own mortality through prayer, meditation, reflection, ceremony, or celebration is much more common than it is in atheistic modern-day Western life.

The phrase memento mori helped people to consider the transient nature of earthly life, our goods and our pursuits and enabled them to become humble and clarify what was really important to them.

16. THINGS FADE; ALTERNATIVES EXCLUDE

Two things that are inevitable in life are:

1. no matter what we do, time passes and things erode over time (also known as the second law of thermodynamics), and

2. if we go down one path, we cannot go down another track at the same time.

– “Decisions are difficult for many reasons, some reaching down into the very socket of our being. John Gardner, in his novel Grendel, tells of a wise man who sums up his meditations on life’s mysteries in two simple but terrible postulates: “Things fade: alternatives exclude.” […] Decision invariably involves renunciation: for every yes there must be a no, each decision eliminating or killing other options (the root of the word decide means “slay,” as in homicide or suicide).” – Irvin Yalom (1991). Love’s executioner. p. 10. Penguin Books.

17. PARKINSON’S LAW

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Ever wondered how on some days, when you are super busy, you manage to get way more work done. Then on quiet days, you don’t have much work to do, but struggle to get it all done. The reason for this is Parkinson’s law:

Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.

The Stock–Sanford corollary to Parkinson’s rule is better in my opinion, and it is something I used a lot when studying at uni:

If you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute to do.

If productivity is what you are going for, give yourself a closer deadline and someone to hold you accountable if you don’t meet it, and voila, productivity and efficiency improve!

18. THE IMPORTANCE OF MEANING AND PURPOSE

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He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Nietzsche was a nihilist, which meant that he didn’t think the world had any meaning in it. Irvin Yalom said that even if the world is meaningless overall, it is still essential for each of us to find things that are personally meaningful to us, either as an individual or as a group. Viktor Frankl showed that in the concentration camps in WWII, those with some higher purpose beyond the camps were the ones who could manage to survive the horrible atrocities they faced every day.

What’s personally meaningful to you? Where could you find purpose?

19. DON’T LISTEN TO THE DOUBTERS

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Impossibility is not a fact – it’s an opinion.” – Muhammed Ali

Think of anyone who has done something groundbreaking or is still trying to do something pioneering today – Henry Ford, Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, Richard Branson, Elon Musk, Bill Gates. I wonder how many of them were told to give up, grow up, stop being deluded or to think realistically? I’d say most of them.

Just because something hasn’t been done before, doesn’t mean it can’t be. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have had the massive amount of progression that we have had over the past 200 years.

20. CLARIFY YOUR VALUES AND MAKE DECISIONS BASED ON THESE

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(Some people spend) their lives doing work they detest to make money they don’t want to buy things they don’t need in order to impress people they dislike.” – Emile Gauvreau

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your life has to be a certain way just because everyone else is doing something a certain way and telling you that you should too.

By clarifying your own values first and building your own hierarchy, you can then see if what you are currently doing is consistent with what is really important for you. If not, what changes could you make, that you’d be willing to make, that would help you to start heading in the right direction? The earlier that you make these changes, or at least concrete plans to make them, the higher chance there is that you will be happy with the path that you are on.

21. RELATIONSHIP WARMTH IS THE NUMBER ONE PREDICTOR OF LONG-TERM HEALTH AND HAPPINESS

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“Love people, use things. The opposite never works.” – Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus – The Minimalists

The minimalist movement has really picked up in the last 20 years in response to most of us in the Western world having way too much stuff and realising that it doesn’t make us any happier. If anything, it causes us more stress. Clothing used to be a scarce and valuable thing. Now wardrobes and houses are overflowing, and storage facilities are popping up everywhere to help clear some space.

What if we just bought fewer things, and focused more on what really matters: our connections with the important people in our lives. Robert Waldinger, director of the Harvard study of Adult Development, found that in the end, close relationships are more critical to our health and happiness than anything else.

22. OCCAM’S RAZOR

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Given several possible explanations about something, the simplest one is probably right.

Is the dog above trying to read, or is it merely sniffing the book?

Occam’s razor is why conspiracy theories are never likely to be true. Think about the moon landing, or 9/11, or the Illuminati, flat earth theories, or any other conspiracy out there. For the plot to be real, there are so many added levels that would have all had to run flawlessly for them to work out, and so many people would have had to keep this a secret for such an extended period of time without turning themselves in or trying to make money out of it in a tell-all. It’s much more likely that there is no conspiracy.

Occam’s razor can also be applied to losing weight, sleeping well, getting stronger, or improving any skill. Some people have complicated theories, but usually, the answer lies in relatively simple explanations. Doing too much, or complicating things beyond what is necessary often backfires.

Reduce things back to the bare essentials, and see what happens.

23. LAW OF DIMINISHING RETURNS

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The law of diminishing returns says that each time we do something to receive a benefit, the benefit will be less and less.

Let’s say you order this massive stack of pancakes in the picture above. The first pancake may taste amazing, and the pleasure received is a 9 out of 10. Each bite is likely to be slightly less enjoyable than the one before, especially after you become full. If you somehow managed to get through the whole stack, the last bite could be a 1 out of 10 on the pleasure scale. Come back for pancakes again next month, however, and pleasure bounces back up to a 9 out of 10 again.

The solution is to wait for long enough between doing the same thing twice so that you enjoy it just as much the next time.

Variety is the very spice of life, that gives it all its flavour.” – William Cowper

24. BE KINDphotography of a man and woman laughing

 

If you’re kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.” – Mother Teresa

If you know why you are doing something, try not to worry about what others think. People who do not understand why you are doing what you are doing will choose to see it from their point of view. If they could not do what you are without getting something in return, they will assume the same intention is within you. But being kind is a reward within itself. If you can give just for the sake of it, do it. You can thank me later.

25. DESIGN YOUR OWN LIFE

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When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and (you should) just live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again“. – Steve Jobs

As far as I see the world, we only have one life to live. We can spend it doing what others expect of us, or we can spend it doing what is right for us. We can blame everyone else for how things turn out, or we can go our own way.

Regardless of what you decide, time passes, and eventually, you will either feel that you made the most of what you had, or you will accumulate regrets. I try to live my life with no regrets, and I wish the same for you too.

Choose your own destiny, live life to the fullest, and try to experience and enjoy whatever comes your way.

 

Dr Damon Ashworth

Clinical Psychologist

LIFE – Laws of Power

My 10 Favourite Laws of Power

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Since the book was first released in 1998, it has sold over 2 million copies worldwide, and has influenced many successful people, from Will Smith to Kanye West, Jay-Z and 50 Cent, who later co-wrote a New York Times’ bestseller with Greene.

It is also the most highly requested book in U.S. prisons, due to the easy to understand synthesis of Machiavelli, Sun Tzu and other famous writers key prescriptions for effectively managing power struggles in difficult environments.

Some of the 48 laws do seem contradictory, and others seem a little repetitive, but there are some truly great bits of advice for effectively managing situations where power may play a role. This might be a corporate environment, a difficult but smaller workplace, a large social group, to really anywhere where there is a power imbalance between people or a formal or informal hierarchy.

Here are my 10 favourite laws, including a description of each law from the following website. The parts that I especially like are bolded. Enjoy!

Law 4: Always Say Less than Necessary

When you are trying to impress people with words, the more you say, the more common you appear, and the less in control… Powerful people impress by saying less. The more you say, the more likely you are to say something foolish.

Similar to the Danish proverb that says “deep rivers move with silent majesty, shallow brooks are noisy”, law 4 reminds me to only say things that I believe will be of value. It also helps me to try to stay within my circle of competence, and not give advice on things that I do not know much about.

Law 9: Win through your Actions, Never through Argument

Any momentary triumph you think gained through argument is really a Pyrrhic victory: The resentment and ill will you stir up is stronger and lasts longer than any momentary change of opinion. It is much more powerful to get others to agree with you through your actions, without saying a word. Demonstrate, do not explicate.

A parent who smokes but tells their children not to is unlikely to be successful at persuading their children because “actions speak louder than words”. The better option is to not smoke or quit if you want to set a good example. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “you must be the change you wish to see in the world”.

Law 13: When Asking for Help, Appeal to People’s Self-Interest, Never to their Mercy or Gratitude

If you need to turn to an ally for help, do not bother to remind him of your past assistance and good deeds. He will find a way to ignore you. Instead, uncover something in your request, or in your alliance with him, that will benefit him, and emphasise it… He will respond enthusiastically when he sees something to be gained for himself.

As sad as this may appear, most people are self-motivated, and want to do the right thing if it makes them look good. For example, a hybrid car such as a Toyota Prius sells well because it is known as a hybrid car. It screams out “I care about the environment” in a way that the Toyota Camry Hybrid does not, because the hybrid version of the Camry looks almost identical to the regular Camry. The 2014 sales in the US of each car highlights this point:  Prius: 194,000; Toyota Camry Hybrid: 39,500; Toyota Camry (non-hybrid): 428,600. Figure out how what you want will benefit the other person or help them to look good before you ask for a favour, and you are much more likely to get them onboard.

Law 18: Do Not Build Fortresses to Protect Yourself – Isolation is Dangerous

The world is dangerous and enemies are everywhere – everyone has to protect themselves. A fortress seems the safest. But isolation exposes you to more dangers than it protects you from – it cuts you off from valuable information, it makes you conspicuous and an easy target. Better to circulate among people, find allies, mingle.

A lot of people that I see try to protect themselves at the cost of a real sense of connection and belonging with others. This law helps by reminding me of the dangers and costs of not opening up to people who are honest and can be trusted.

Law 23: Concentrate Your Forces

Conserve your forces and energies by keeping them concentrated at their strongest point.You gain more by finding a rich mine and mining it deeper, than by flitting from one shallow mine to another – intensity defeats extensiveness every time. 

This reminds me of the quote “jack of all trades; master of none”. If you want to make progress in anything, it is important to prioritise, and put your energy into the activities and thought patterns that are going to give you the best results. Law 23 also helps me to  build upon my strengths rather than worrying too much about my weaknesses.

Law 25: Re-Create Yourself

Do not accept the roles that society foists on you. Re-create yourself by forging a new identity, one that commands attention and never bores the audience. Be the master of your own image rather than letting others define if for you.

I often encourage my clients to clarify their most important values, and to see how these differ from what their family, friends, culture or society may want for them. The idea of working hard and not enjoying life until retirement is not a role that I want to accept, even though this is considered normal in many respects by society. It’s much better to create and live a sustainable life for myself, whatever that may look like. Then it won’t matter if and when I retire, especially if I keep loving what I do for work.

Law 28: Enter Action with Boldness

If you are unsure of a course of action, do not attempt it. Your doubts and hesitations will infect your execution. Timidity is dangerous: Better to enter with boldness. Any mistakes you commit through audacity are easily corrected with more audacity. Everyone admires the bold; no one honours the timid.

Law 28 reminds me to not doubt myself once I have settled on a course of action, and to fully commit myself to it for a set period of time instead of continuing to remain uncertain or indecisive. Once a decision is made, it is much better to give it 100% until the next decision needs to be made. Uncertainty only leads to more stress and anxiety, and less satisfaction in the long run.

Law 29: Plan All the Way to the End

The ending is everything. Plan all the way to it, taking into account all the possible consequences, obstacles, and twists of fortune that might reverse your hard work… By planning to the end you will not be overwhelmed by circumstances and you will know when to stop. Gently guide fortune and help determine the future by thinking far ahead.

This reminds me of the benefits of thinking into the future, and clarifying how I would want my life to look. If I had a 50th birthday and someone close to me stood up and spoke about the person I had been for the past 18 years, what would I want to hear them say? Based on my response to this, it is then important to see if my 1-, 5- or 10-year plan is helping me to head in that direction. If not, more planning and some big changes may be required, as long as my plans are also flexible enough to change as I continue to grow with time.

Law 35: Master the Art of Timing

Never be in a hurry – hurrying betrays a lack of control over yourself, and over time. Always (be) patient, as if you know that everything will come to you eventually. Become a detective of the right moment; sniff out the spirit of the times, the trends that will carry you to power. Learn to stand back when the time is not yet ripe, and to strike fiercely when it has reached fruition.

Patience is a massively underrated value, especially in today’s society. How often do you see people multitasking, or telling you how busy they are? I know I sometimes do. But slowing things down, and really making sure that my attention is 100% on what is most important in any given moment is a great recipe for long-term happiness and well-being. While it is important to “strike while the iron is hot”, I think it is also important to not be too reactive, and make sure that the decisions you make are really consistent with your values and long-term plans. Knowing how to say no to the wrong things in life is also a crucial element of success.

Law 45: Preach the Need for Change, but Never Reform too much at Once

Everyone understands the need for change in the abstract, but on the day-to-day level people are creatures of habit. Too much innovation is traumatic, and will lead to revolt. If you are new to a position of power, or an outsider trying to build a power base, make a show of respecting the old way of doing things. If change is necessary, make it a gentle improvement on the past.

Trying to change my eating habits has taught me this law better than anything else recently. As soon as I try to be too restrictive, I do rebel against any prescriptions. Long-term sustainable changes are again much better than short-term dramatic changes. The 20-minute walk that you manage to do is also better than the 10km run that you do not, so start small, and try to build up slowly. If you can do this, changes are much more likely to stick.

Curve in the road

If you want to see the remaining 38 laws, please click here or purchase the book. Some of the laws do seem pretty ruthless, but pretending that they don’t exist in power dynamics is much more dangerous than learning how they work.

I also recommend checking out my dealing with toxic people article for more information on how to successfully manage and survive difficult interactions.

Dr Damon Ashworth

Clinical Psychologist

Life – Steps to upgrade your life

Photo by Vinicius Wiesehofer on Unsplash

These 4 Mindset Shifts Will Give You Unprecedented Personal Growth By 2019

4 steps to upgrade your life

“Most people drift through life without devoting much conscious energy to figuring out specifically what they want and what they need to do to get themselves there.” -Darren Hardy

Your level of talent and “potential” is irrelevant if it’s trapped in a mediocre mindset.

Most people don’t put much energy into their fame of mind and how they see the world. As a result, most people are left with subpar mindsets that severely limit their ability to build wealth, develop relationships, and achieve far more than their peers.

But you have the power to choose. If you put in the work, you can change your frame of mind to allow yourself to accomplish incredible victories, very quickly. Sometimes, big changes come in small packages.

Mental visualization precedes physical achievement. Before you can accomplish anything significant, your mind must believe you can first. This is why most people won’t build wealth, won’t have great relationships, and won’t achieve their highest goals.

Here are 4 mindset shifts that will give you unprecedented growth this year if you start developing them today.

A Wealth Mentality (Not a Poverty Mindset)

“Look upon your own mind as a garden. You are a gardener, and you are planting seeds (or thoughts) in your subconscious mind all day long, based on your habitual thinking. As you sow in your subconscious mind, so shall you reap in your body and environment.” -Joseph Murphy, The Power of Your Subconscious Mind

Growing up, I saw my family go through financial ruin. The family business went under, and we lost the cars and the house. My dad had to leave the country to find work when I was 17 because there was no work during the recession. The rest of us had to move in to my grandpa’s cramped 3-bedroom house.

This experience taught me a few things. First, I believed money would always run out in the end. Second, the best I could hope for was a guaranteed salary with benefits, protection from the imminent financial disaster waiting to strike.

This is a poverty mindset, and I had it for many years. I worried excessively about not spending a few extra dollars if I didn’t need to. I focused more on hoarding pennies than I did on earning more income.

The Poverty Mindset believes:

  • “Money doesn’t grow on trees”
  • You’ll never be rich
  • Job security is more important than career freedom
  • Disaster is imminent, you need to be ready
  • Rich people are selfish and oppressive
  • Money is precious and you need to grab what you can
  • Worry about today’s bills, not your legacy
  • Government aid is more important than developing personal financial literacy

In the words of Robert Kiyosaki from his book Rich Dad Poor Dad:

“Most people live their lives chasing paychecks, pay raises, and job security because of the emotions of desire and fear, not really questioning where these emotions-driven thoughts are taking them.”

The poverty mindset is shared by more people than not. There’s an old saying that says if you took all the money in the world and divided it up equally, five years later the rich would be rich again, the middle class would return to the middle class, and the poor would become poor again. The statement obviously a big generalization, but the principle is extremely important:

Most people will remain in their current status as long as they don’t have a fundamental mindset shift.

If you want enormous success in 2019, you need to start this mindset shift now. If you continue to embrace the poverty mindset — “money doesn’t grow on trees” and are more focused on getting enough government aid than developing your own financial skills — you’ll always stay where you are.

The abundance mindset shifts from the statement “I can’t afford that” to the question, “How can I afford that?

A wealth mentality enables you to think in 100x and 1000x magnitude. Most people are more concerned with getting their next 3% raise; having a wealth mentality opens your creativity and imagination to allow you to discover ways to make 100x your usual income.

What you truly believe about yourself is what you become. If you truly believe in your ability to create wealth, your mind will figure out a means how.

“Belief, strong belief, triggers the mind to figure out ways and means how to.” -Dr. David Schwartz, The Magic of Thinking Big

Photo by JD Mason on Unsplash

Be Open to Correction and Feedback (Most People Aren’t)

“We cannot change what we are not aware of, and once we are aware, we cannot help but change.” -Sheryl Sandberg

You don’t have to love it. You don’t have to smile or enjoy it.

But if you want enormous personal growth, you need to open yourself up to correction.

Getting negative feedback about yourself almost always sucks. At best, it’s uncomfortable. It’s exhausting to manage your emotions and instinct to defend yourself and hear how you weren’t good enough.

Back at my old corporate job, I remember insisting to my boss that I was totally open to feedback, and wanted to hear all about my shortcomings so I could address them and make them better. In her wisdom, she graciously responded that every time she had brought up feedback for me, I’d get defensive and sulky and bitter.

I could’ve sworn I was happy and cool about it.

I wasn’t. Most people aren’t. That’s fine. You don’t have to like it. But this mindset shift is one of the most important skills you can develop before 2019. If you want to see enormous improvement in any area of your life — from presentation skills to meditation to communicating with your partner — you need to be open to correction and feedback.

This is the core of Deliberate Practice. In his book Peak: Secrets From the New Science of Expertise, Anders Ericsson wrote:

“Once a person reaches an ‘acceptable’ level of performances and automaticity, more years of practice don’t lead to improvement.”

If you keep doing things the exact same way, you’ll just keep getting the same average result. Elite practice means getting feedback and learning from your mistakes. But naive practice is doing it over and over expecting repetition alone will help you. You need an outside eye to point out what you can’t see.

Here’s something that helps. Don’t take it personally, because it’s usually not. It’s professional. And if you want more money, more sales, more influence, more progress, more satisfaction, you need to tweak your professional abilities.

A mentor of mine once gave a sales presentation for his company. He boldly asked a peer to watch and give him feedback on his performance. After the presentation was over, his peer had plenty of negative feedback and notes to work on.

Most people would naturally get defensive and perhaps even deny the criticism. But my mentor took it in stride by telling himself, “It’s not personal. It’s business. I want to get better — this is how I do that.

He knew that if he wanted to be a better speaker, he’d need to learn more skills and techniques. The best and most efficient way to do that is getting immediate and detailed feedback.

You don’t have to like it. But if you (truly) open yourself up to hearing corrections about yourself, you set yourself up to improve faster than 99% of your peers.

“The right sort of practice can help pretty much anyone improve in just about any area they choose to focus on.” -Anders Ericsson

Focus on Learning and Creating, Not Entertainment and Distraction

“Every skill you acquire doubles your odds of success.” -Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert comics

Most people are distracted right now.

They’re distracted while they’re at work. They’re distracted when they’re with family and friends. They’re distracted at the gym, on their commute, and even in the shower.

The majority of people will continue going through life this way, never experiencing the fullness of a life filled with deep focus and purpose. They use their sharpest focus on the very things that don’t matter, and waste their potential.

In his book Deep Work, Cal Newport explained how people with the ability to do deep work — intense focus on important tasks for long periods of time — are exceedingly rare in society at the same time that the necessity of the skill is increasing. In other words, the best jobs, projects, and opportunities are given more and more to individuals who can focus.

Most people don’t prioritize learning and creating. They don’t care enough about any efforts to invest in their personal development and growth. To them, entertainment is more important. Most people have replaced achieving their life dreams and goals with TV, partying, and social media.

As a result, most don’t have close relationships. They’re stuck in jobs they hate, rarely doing work that truly excites them. Their life is on the fast-track to disappointment, and they don’t know what to do about it.

If you don’t want to end up living a life of mediocrity, focus on learning and education. It’s the fastest way to become extraordinary, wealthy, and successful.

Wrote best-selling author Hal Elrod:

“Your level of success will rarely exceed your level of personal development, because success is something you attract by the person you become.”

If you want enormous personal and professional success in 2019, you need to shift your focus from entertainment to learning and creating. Your level of success in any area of your life — health, finances, career, relationships — is determined by your personal development.

What you focus on is what you get.

“The goal of life is not to relax on the beach, sipping mojitos all day. The purpose is to find something you love that adds value to the world.” -Ben Foley

Treat Your Loved Ones Like You Actually Love Them

“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” -Ernest Hemingway

Low-quality relationships have a negative impact on every area of your life.

If you take your relationships for granted and never take the time to develop and nurture them, every part of your life suffers — your health, emotions, potential, even income.

The truth is, the quality of your relationships is totally in your control. Despite this, most people can’t be bothered to learn how to communicate. This is why most people will never have great relationships — they choose the easy way out.

It’s easier to take relationships for granted, even with those closest to you. But if you want enormous satisfaction and fulfillment in the key areas of your life in 2019, you need to develop your relational skills. In the words of Tony Robbins:

“The quality of your life is the quality of your relationships.”

You can’t achieve incredible leaps in success without working with other people. I used to think you could go as far as you wanted by yourself; I was wrong. There’s an old African proverb that goes:

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Here’s a personal example. I’ve been writing for a long time. Sometimes, I have great months where I reach a ton of people and get dozens of emails from readers who tell me my writing changed their life. I sell my courses and feel great.

But other months, it feels like I didn’t accomplish anything. No one emails me; no one buys my stuff. I feel like a failure. I feel like I’m not good-enough; I feel like the jig is up, and the truth is revealed — I’m a loser who just got lucky.

This is where relationships save my ass. My wife reassures me that the lies I’m believing are just that — lies. My best friends encourage me and tell me to keep writing. It’s not about what I feel, it’s about what I do consistently. I feel a little better. The month ends, and I feel refreshed and self-confident.

If you treat your loved ones like you actually love them, you receive exponentially more in return than you give. That’s how the world works: as best-selling author Derek Sivers once said:

“The world gives to the givers and takes from the takers.”

This mindset shift is extremely important. If you want to see unprecedented success in 2019, start focusing on this principle now. The quality of your relationships determine the quality of your life.

In Conclusion

“How much you improve is up to you.” -Anders Ericsson

Most people aren’t even preparing for next month’s progress, much less next year’s.

But the truth is, the world’s most successful spend enormous time and energy preparing for their future and improving their mindset. They know this is the difference between making an extra $1,000 this year, or an extra $100,000.

They know their ability to progress and grow is founded on their relationships, and focus their attention on developing and nurturing their relationships.

You need to start planning for the future now, and these 4 mindset shifts are some of the most important ways to do that.