The first step to making the most out of life is deciding what you hope to accomplish. What is it you desire? There is no right or wrong answer. Maybe you aspire to do satisfying work that will allow you to add value to the world. Maybe you’re looking for a fulfilling relationship that brings you joy. Maybe you want to become fit and healthy so you can be a positive example that your children can look up to. Maybe you’re ready to eliminate the personal stress that is limiting your potential. The following timeless tips will help you accomplish all of these things. Are you ready to make the most of your life? Let’s do it.

1. Creativity trumps book-smarts every time.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” - Albert Einstein

The greatest minds are not filled with facts, but creativity. The ease-of-access in the information age has eliminated any need for people who fill their brains with facts that could be discovered VIA a simple internet search. Those who innovate will rise above those who regurgitate.

2. The rules are meant to be broken.

“If you obey all the rules you miss all the fun.” - Katharine Hepburn

Why should you follow a list of rules without questioning their validity? You shouldn’t. Policies and procedures do have their place in large organizations where quality control and compliance must be considered, but you should make a habit of questioning everything. Rules are meant to be broken. How else do you think progress happens?

3. You are “inferior” to no other person.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

That person you feel inferior to? Get it out of your head. They are not luckier than you. Their brain is not more powerful than yours. They were not blessed with a skill set that you couldn’t develop. Do you really think successful people got where they are today by sheer luck? Do you think they achieved their ambitious goals overnight without setbacks along the way? Michael Jordan was cut from his high-school basketball team because he “wasn’t good enough.” The Beatles were rejected from a studio label because they had “no future in show business.” Charlie Chaplin was rejected by Hollywood studios because he was “too nonsensical to ever sell.” J.K. Rowling, the author of the world-famous Harry Potter series, encountered rejection after rejection for a full year before a publisher finally agreed to accept her work. The difference between winners and losers is simple. Winners keep moving forward no matter what trials they face while losers give up at the drop of a hat. You don’t lose until you quit, so don’t quit.

4. Slow down and bask in the pleasure of living.

“There is more to life than increasing its speed.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Why are you in such a hurry all the time? The world will not end if you have to stand in line at the grocery store. Driving like a maniac to save two minutes does not make any sense. Tugging your dog on its leash and fussing at it to “hurry up!” is inconsiderate since it spends so much of its day indoors. Exercise your patience muscles by choosing to stand in the longest line at the grocery store, leaving your house ten minutes early so you can drive to work at a leisurely pace, and allowing your dog to explore the outside world to its heart’s content. Taking your time will give you a much-needed break from the constant hustle of the daily grind. Breathe deeply, quiet your inner-chatter, and take a moment to simply be.

5. Upset by wrongdoing? Do something about it.

“Now, we must all fear evil men. But there is another kind of evil which we must fear most, and that is the indifference of good men.” – The Boondock Saints

Complaining about the world’s ills on Facebook and Twitter does nothing to bring about positive change. If you are truly upset by what you see as evil or wrong, do something about it. Join a movement or protest that you are passionate about. Write blogs or create videos that will mobilize people to your cause. Call your congressman and tell him how you feel about upcoming votes. If you’re not willing to take a stand, you have no right to complain.

6. Regret nothing (and do all the things).

“I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than regret the things I haven’t done.” - Lucille Ball

Talking to a stranger you’re physically attracted to isn’t an easy thing to do. Writing a book or blog about that idea you can’t get out of your head requires hard work and dedication. Quitting your job to start a business you’re passionate about does carry a risk. Neglecting to do these things carries the temporary benefit of comfort, but failing to act on your impulses could result in permanent regret.

7. Less thinking, more doing.

“Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

You should educate yourself and consider your options before you make any decision, but don’t become stuck in an eternal state of limbo. The more you agonize over a decision, the more paralyzed you will become. Gather the most relevant information you need to proceed and get to work.

8. You are not alone.

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” - Michael Jordan

I have no doubt that you are a brilliant individual who is capable of accomplishing plenty, but your odds for success will be much greater if you harness the power of teamwork. No one has all of the answers and anyone who thinks otherwise is cocky at best and delusional at worst. Seek a mentor who can provide you with guidance and direction. Make a friend on a level playing field so you can bounce ideas back and forth. Offer your support to a newcomer who you can be a mentor to, growing confidence in your abilities. It is easy to stagnate when you are alone, so surround yourself with people who will help you develop.

9. View yourself from the eyes of another.

“Sometimes you can’t see yourself clearly until you see yourself through the eyes of others.” - Ellen DeGeneres

Any time there is tension between you and another person, take a moment to look at the issue from their perspective. This simple action will offer a fresh perspective that will help you avoid pointless arguments over nothing.

10. Be grateful for what is right in front of you.

“Life moves pretty fast. You don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller

When is the last time you expressed gratitude for all of your blessings? It is easy to take things for granted when we don’t pay attention. I’m happy and grateful that every day is another opportunity to improve myself. I’m thankful that I have a roof over my head, food on my table, a family that loves me, friends who care about me, the opportunity to write articles like this, an ability to express myself freely, a healthy body that can carry me throughout the world, and a dog who greets me with bursting enthusiasm every time I walk in the door. The next time you are feeling down, grab a notebook or pull up a Word Document and make a list of the many things that you are grateful for. You might not realize it right this second, but I bet you have a lot to be happy about.

11. Stay true to your authentic self.

“To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” – William Shakespeare

Your daily life is not a theatrical performance, so stop treating it like one. You wear all these masks depending on your current surroundings and it has to be so very exhausting. Why do you feel like you have to put on such a charade? You are amazing as you are and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Share your unique thoughts, ideas, quirks, and personality traits with the world without an ounce of shame.

12. No one cares how much “stuff” you have.

“We spend money that we do not have, on things we do not need, to impress people who do not care.” – Will Smith

No one is impressed by your bank account, wardrobe, or elegant choice of home decor. Sure, you might get some “oohs” and “ahhs” the instant you show off your stuff, but do you think these people are so impressed that they think any better of you for it? Live with truth and integrity. Show the world you care through your words, actions, and behaviors. The size of your bank account and the style of your outfit impress no one. You know what is impressive? Your strength of character.

13. Don’t merely expect more from life. Demand more from life.

“You can’t move mountains by whispering at them.” - Pink

While you are complaining about how unfair your situation is, other people are hustling hard in the direction of the better life they desire. Wishing with all of your might will do nothing to improve your life if you’re not willing to back up your words with monumental action.

14. The things that are most challenging are often the things that prove to be most rewarding.

“Being a mom has made me so tired. And so happy.” - Tina Fey

Just because something is difficult doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing. Raising a child is harder than any job you could imagine, but it also comes with an immense amount of satisfaction. Seeing a baby grow up to become a passionate and productive adult is a joyful experience for any mother or father. The same may be said for any ambitious goal that comes with a high cost in the form of time or effort. Instead of getting caught up in the long hours and mental energy it takes to write a book, imagine how amazing you will feel when you have a finished project to share with the world. Instead of concerning yourself with the pouring sweat and rushed breath you experience during a tough training session, imagine about how strong and confident you will feel when you’re the proud owner of a new-and-improved body that turns heads and attracts compliments everywhere it goes. Focus on the end benefit to stay encouraged when the going gets tough.

15. Exercise your power of belief and crush it.

“Do. Or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda

“I’ll try” is a weak statement that should never escape your lips. Expressing that you will “try” to do something is like accepting failure before you even begin. Believe in yourself with every ounce of your being, because you are capable of accomplishing anything you set your mind to.

16. March to the beat of your own drum.

“Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.” - John F. Kennedy

Forget about what other people are doing. Getting caught up in the rule-book used by others neglects a key ingredient in the pursuit of success: you. Just because something worked for another person does not guarantee it will work for you. Be an innovator. Make your own rules that are relevant for your unique knowledge, skills, and abilities.

17. Failure and pain are life’s greatest teachers.

“Where there is no struggle, there is no strength.” – Oprah Winfrey

There is little incentive to improve ourselves when life is nothing but rainbows, cute puppy dogs, candy drops, and sunshine. Have you ever learned much about yourself during the best of times? Struggles aren’t fun when they are happening, but they tend to be followed by bitter pills that we need to swallow.

18. Knowledge is useless without action.

“It is better to create than to learn! Creating is the essence of life.” - Julius Caesar

Employers are typically more impressed with experience than education. What good is an impressive GPA if it isn’t accompanied with high level performance? The best way to get better at any activity is to take action and do it. Who do you think will be better at writing: a person who spends ten hours reading about writing or a person who spends ten hours writing? I would be willing to wager my bank account on the second one.

19. The worst of times can bring out the best in people.

“It is a curious thought, but it is only when you see people looking ridiculous that you realize just how much you love them.” - Agatha Christie

Have you ever gone through a nasty scuffle with your partner that resulted in such anguish that you broke-up for a whole day or two, but then you realized how empty you felt without this person in your life and reunited immediately? If so, you’re aware of the fact that the worst times have a way of strengthening a relationship in the long-haul. 

20. The world needs the special gift that only you can offer.

“Why are you trying so hard to fit in when you were born to stand out?” – Ian, What a Girl Wants

You are a special person unlike anyone else on this planet. Those personal quirks about yourself that you can’t stand? You know what I’m talking about: that booming laugh that you think is obnoxious, those freckles on your face that you find unappealing, or the way you can’t resist doing a little dance in a restaurant booth if your favorite jam plays (that last one describes me but I can’t be the only one)? Your laugh is wonderful and full of feeling, your freckles are gorgeous, and dancing is always a good idea. The world is full of people trying to fit in, so the best way to stand out is to let your true personality shine (quirks and all). There is nothing more beautiful than a person who is totally comfortable with who they are.

I hope these timeless tips help you make the most out of life

Your life is what you make of it, so I challenge you to aim high and expect the best of yourself. Reach for the stars because life is too short to do otherwise.

A little more reflection will change your life: 31 Questions That Will Change Your Life

Featured photo credit: Fey Ilyas via Flickr

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