So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed). -Dr. Seuss, “Oh the Places You’ll Go”
We all want to succeed at what we do, whether in school, at work, or in our relationships. But sometimes, we get so caught up in wanting to succeed or fearing we won’t do so that reaching the moment of achievement seems impossible. Are successful people just luckier? Did they get a head start in life? Maybe, but more likely they simply step carefully, as Dr. Seuss advises, and learn from the lessons life offers. Here are 10 life lessons successful people always keep in mind.
1. Slow and steady wins the race
According to author Travis Bradberry, we can easily think we’re winning at life when we’re busy, but busy doesn’t necessarily mean productive. In fact, the more balls we try to juggle, the more we wind up dropping. Remember the story of the Tortoise and the Hare? The hare assumed, incorrectly, that the key to getting ahead was to be quick like a bunny, but the tortoise—and the hare’s own cockiness—caught up with him in the end, and he lost. Slow down, take your time, and remember that a job worth doing is done well, not quickly.Advertising
2. Conquer your fears
FDR probably said it best: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” All too often, the fear of failure rather than any lack of ability keeps us from succeeding. We worry about what others will think of us or how they’ll judge us if we don’t get a promotion or go to graduate school. Remember when you were learning to ride a bike? No matter how many times you fell and scraped your knees, you got back on. This rule applies to almost everything we do.
3. Learn from your mistakes
Let’s extend the bike-riding metaphor a bit here; not only did you get back on your bike because you conquered your fear, but also because you had to figure out what you did wrong in order to correct it. Maybe you turned too quickly or tilted too far to the right when trying to balance. Without the persistence of trial and error, you’d never have gotten it right.
Mistakes aren’t failures. They’re opportunities to learn. When you make a mistake, pause, reflect on what you did, and try things differently each time until you finally succeed.Advertising
4. Always exude confidence
You’ve probably heard it said that it’s better to strike the wrong note confidently than to strike the right one without confidence. I learned this from the twelve years I spent studying music. As a pianist, my greatest fear was striking that jarring note that would ruin the entire piece and send my audience fleeing the recital hall wishing for Beethoven’s deafness. As a result, when I practiced in front of my teacher, my family, or my friends, I’d always press more softly on the keys when I got to the point in the piece I felt least confident about, and this always made it sound worse—like I was playing dead air, which I basically was. I had to remind myself (or be reminded by others, more often) that playing well didn’t mean playing perfectly. If I played with feeling and with confidence, no one would notice one out-of-place sharp amidst the flats. When you make even your mistakes confidently, you show others that you don’t measure your entire self-worth by one single mistake.
5. Learn from others
Some of the most successful people get to the top not by climbing over others, but by cooperating with them. Part of cooperation involves listening to and learning from others; this includes admitting when you’re wrong or when you don’t know the answer to a question.
Formal authority doesn’t magically grant you superior mental acuity.Advertising
While I’m flattered when my students assume I know everything about the subject I teach because I’m standing at the front of the room, occasionally I won’t know the answer to a question. When this happens, I usually promise to find the answer before next class, and when I do, the result is mutually beneficial. I’ve learned something while teaching my students, and they respect me more for acknowledging that we never truly finish our education; there’s always something more to learn.
6. Surround yourself with positive people
According to Travis Bradberry, “anyone who makes you feel worthless, anxious, or uninspired is wasting your time and, quite possibly, making you more like them.” Surround yourself with people who energize you, who make you smile, and who support you in all of your endeavors. We feed off of the emotions of others, so if you want to absorb positive energy, spend your time in an environment that exudes it.
7. Stop comparing yourself to others
Each of us has a unique set of talents and abilities. Some of us are writers, some are teachers, some can fix cars, and others can take a computer apart and reassemble it in ten minutes. If you find yourself saying things like “She’s married; he got a promotion; they have four kids and a summer home in the south of Italy,” stop and realize that these are the benchmarks of their success, not yours. Focus on the things you have and what you can do, and then cultivate your own talents.Advertising
8. Be a trail-blazer
In his oft-quoted poem The Road not Taken, Robert Frost writes, “Two roads diverged in a wood and I—I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” Succeeding in life often means blazing a trail for others, boldly going where no man has gone before, as the mission of the Starship Enterprise reminds us. It can be scary to be the first to try something; think of how Neil Armstrong must have felt when he first stepped onto the surface of the moon. But without that one small step, we’d never have made the leaps and bounds we have made in space exploration.
9. Take time for yourself
Since successful people know that being busy doesn’t always equal productivity, they recognize the importance of taking time to recharge their batteries. When you overwork yourself, you perform poorly because your mind is less sharp, so you’re more likely to make mistakes and wind up taking twice as long to complete whatever task you need to accomplish.
10. Do what you love
There’s nothing more fulfilling than taking pride in a job well-done, especially when it’s a job you love. While money is a basic necessity without which we can’t pay bills and sustain ourselves, money, as the Beatles remind us, can’t buy love or happiness. In order to truly succeed in life, you need passion: passion in your work, passion in your relationships, passion in your hobbies. You won’t ever become the next Julia Child if you hate cooking because you won’t put your whole heart into it, so find something you love to do, and do it!
How do you succeed in life? Have any other tips? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Featured photo credit: High Five via pixabay.com
Last Updated on January 2, 2019
Better Alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions to Reduce Your Stress
The end of the year is the time when everyone tries to give you advice on how to live healthier, look better, and earn more money.
It’s understandable if you find yourself lost among all the tips and opinions. Sometimes you no longer know what you truly want to achieve next year – and what’s just imposed by society.
To help you out, we’ve made this article about the things you should remove from your new year’s resolution list – instead of adding to it – to make your daily life more harmonious and peaceful.
So just make sure you cross these off your New Year’s to-do list – your body, mind and soul will be thankful.
1. Stop Buying Meaningless Gifts
We all know the sense of obligation – when we have to buy a gift for an event or celebration that’s already tomorrow, but we still have no idea of what to give.
Take these tips close to heart for all upcoming holidays, including birthdays, weddings, graduations, etc.:
Stop focusing on the material objects
Instead of focusing on what material object to give, think about the emotion you want to evoke in the gift recipient, and then pick a symbolic gift that can support or represent that emotion. For example, you can gift coziness by presenting a “comfort set” with warm socks, tea, candles, etc. Or give motivation by presenting a beautiful planner or notebook.
Plan gifts in advance
We know this is easier said than done. But if you try to plan which gifts you’ll need in the upcoming months (try making a list three or four times a year), ideas will more likely come to mind and you’ll avoid that last-minute shopping. Not to mention, you’ll be able to keep an eye on sales to get the best prices.
Suggest a better way
If you’re tired of exchanging gifts for birthdays and holidays, initiate a different approach. For example, draw names among family members and agree that each one only buys a present to that one person they got. Alternatively, you can agree not to share gifts among adults, and only give presents to kids of the family. Or, ask friends to donate to charity instead of buying a gift for you.
Go for common experiences instead of exchanging gifts
You can agree (with your partner or the extended family) to go on a common trip, dinner or another activity, instead of spending money on gifts.
Sometimes you’ll have to be the one who initiates breaking the rules that have been accepted in the family for years. But if you suspect that you’re not the only one in the group who’s tired of gift-hunting, you’ll surely find support for your suggestions.
2. Don’t Exaggerate with Diets and Fitness Resolutions
It’s no secret that TV shows, article headlines, and ads (not to mention our healthy diet-obsessed friends) make us feel like we need to look better, slimmer and younger than we actually are. But going on yet another diet or starting a fitness plan with the wrong motivation rarely leads to great results.
If you are like many people, you have probably signed up for an annual gym membership at least once in your life – only to drop it one month later.
How do you balance a good resolution for a healthier life without pushing yourself into commitments that won’t last?
Here’s what you can do:
Set a healthier pattern
For example, do meat-free Mondays or reduce meat consumption to three days per week (less saturated fat for you and better for the environment). Or choose to eat only healthy food at least three days a week or only on weekdays (e.g. make sure your meals contain vegetables, fruits, whole grains, dairy products, and protein). This way you’ll already have a healthier diet while still being able to treat yourself with a snack on weekends or parties.
Get a fitness watch
Fitness watches like Fitbit or MiBand are tiny accessories that will count your steps, calories burnt and will serve as an excellent motivator to move – or to take the stairs instead of the elevator.
Find a physical activity that you enjoy
Even if you are not that fond of doing sports, you can definitely find an activity that you’d do with pleasure. Think about what you’d like – from taking up Nordic walking to pilates or even exercising at home.
Try intermittent fasting
This is an alternating cycles of fasting and eating. For example, stop eating at 8 pm and restart not sooner than 12 hours later. This approach has been proven to have numerous health benefits, in addition to weight loss.
Skip cabs or driving to work and opt for cycling or walking instead
You’ll burn calories, breathe some fresh air, and save money – win-win!
3. Put a Cap on Your Daily To-Do List
In today’s busy world, planning your day in a stress-free way is actually an art in itself. It’s natural to want to be a loving parent, a diligent employee, an active member of the local community and probably several other individual roles.
But playing all these roles requires energy and meticulous planning. How not to lose yourself amidst all the appointments and responsibilities? And – most importantly – how to still find time for relaxing and recharging yourself?
These daily planning tips will help you have more stress-free days:
Leave bigger intervals between meetings
If you schedule too many appointments or chores in a day, you’ll probably end up late at some point, and as a result – more stressed. There are many different reasons why people are late, but poor planning is a major factor too.
Plan time to relax
As weird as it may sound, you should try and schedule your resting time. For example, if you only have one free evening this week, and a friend tries to squeeze in a meeting, feel free to say no. Don’t feel obliged to specify the reason for your refusal, just say that you are busy.
Try to be a little pessimistic
We’re often packed with plans or running late for errands because we tend to be overly optimistic – about the traffic, the time it takes to do things, etc. Instead, try an opposite tactic — assume you’ll hit traffic or the meeting will take longer.
Try waking up earlier
Sometimes even waking up 30 minutes earlier can give you the much-needed head start for several errands of the day. But remember to get enough sleep every night, even if it means going to bed earlier.
Plan your day the day before
Chances are your day will be much better organized if you pack a lunch and lay out an outfit before going to bed.
Designate a time for checking emails and social messages
If you start checking your messages between appointments, you risk getting lost in a sea of messages that need replies. Designate a time for this activity or do it in case you arrived early to a meeting.
4. Let Go of Unhealthy and Time-Consuming Habits
If there’s one thing we should get rid of in the new year, it’s the habits that steal our time, provide instant gratification but don’t offer any value in the long term. Or even worse, leave a negative impact on our health.
Here are some common (and pointless) habits along with tips on how to get rid of them:
Binge-watching TV series
Even if most online television platforms offer you lists of “Best TV Shows to Binge Watch”, being addicted to series is a major time-waster.
You can manage this addiction in several ways, for example, watch one episode per day (or a few per week) as a reward, only after you’ve finished an assignment or done a house chore. Or try replacing this habit with exercise or reading a book – this will be hard at first but should stick after a few weeks. You can also try to track how much time you spend on TV or movies – seeing how much of your life you are wasting might urge you to do something about it.
Running on coffee
Being a coffee addict is kind of a stylish addiction nowadays, but it’s not that innocent as it may initially seem. Besides addiction being a problem in itself, drinking too much coffee (more than 500-600 mg of caffeine a day) may lead to nervousness, insomnia, an upset stomach, a fast heartbeat, and even muscle tremors.
As a solution, try switching to tea or edible coffee – a more sustainable, healthy, and productivity-enhancing alternative. For example, Coffee Pixels are solid coffee bars that generate a more even energy kick throughout the day without the coffee-induced abstinence and dehydration.
Fighting procrastination requires some serious willpower. If it is a problem in your daily life or work, try ”eating the frog” in the morning – get over your biggest or hardest tasks first, then tackle everything else.
Alternatively, use time tracking software to monitor exactly how much time you waste on unproductive actions, websites or apps. Once you know exactly how much time you’re spending unproductively, try to limit your time on social media, for example to just 20 minutes per day.
If nothing else works, try bribing yourself — promise yourself to do something fun or pleasant when you finish your assignment.
Whichever habit you want to give up, consider using some habits building tools to make a contract with yourself and reward yourself for milestones achieved.
5. Stop over-consuming
We live in the age of consumerism – huge manufacturers with their promise of a comfortable life on the one hand, and growing environmental threats – that are the direct result of our modern lifestyle – on the other hand. There’s only one solution – try to consume less whenever and wherever you can.
Before making additional purchases, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I really need it? Did I need it yesterday?
- Can’t I buy it used or borrow it from friends?
- Can I rent it?
- Can I make it myself?
- Am I buying the most sustainable version of this product?
For example, check if the brand you chose is conscious about the environment, for example, are the products they manufacture energy efficient? Do they try to use less packaging?
Also, if you often find yourself buying too many groceries, promise to buy only the amount that fits in one shopping bag (that you bring along). If you often forget to take your shopping bag with you, get yourself a 2-in-1 wallet with a built-in shopping bag for more eco-friendly shopping.
6. Learn to Unplug from Your Phone
Today’s world is crammed with information, and many people struggle to keep focus on what’s truly important. There’s just too much going on in the world – too much to read, to watch, to know, too many conversations to participate in.
But how to refuse the temptation to check the phone and start using social media in a controlled, not a compulsive way?
Some tips for managing your phone-dependency:
Spend only a limited amount of battery per day
For example, start your day with 50% battery life, and manage your phone usage so that you’ll make it till the evening.
Block distracting apps and notifications on your phone and computer
Choose one-hour, two-hour or longer blocking sessions and enjoy the positive impact this will have on your mood and productivity.
Set your phone on flight mode
When you start doing an important task that requires full focus, set your phone on flight mode so that nobody can disturb you.
Leave your phone at home or in the office when you go for lunch
You’ll see that the feeling of being unreachable for a moment is actually very liberating.
The Bottom Line
As a new year begins, we’re all excitedly looking forward to what adventures await ahead of us.
But this year, promise yourself this:
Instead of having a never-ending list of tasks and commitments, focus on the truly meaningful ones. And cross-out all the rest without feeling guilty.
Less is more. Make this year count. We’re all rooting for you.
Featured photo credit: Brooke Lark via unsplash.com
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