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6 Eye-Opening Messages You Needed To Know Yesterday

6 Eye-Opening Messages You Needed To Know Yesterday

Alexa Tanney made a great point in her recent article: “In life sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you can reach your destiny.” Lanney is commenting on the difficulty of being a twenty-something in this day and age, where it seems like everyone is depressed and in debt. In my short time on this Earth, I’ve been able to stumble into 6 fundamental ideas that guide me in my own path, allowing me to live my dream and actually make a living doing it. Impossible, you say? Actually, I’m very proud to report that it is in fact very do-able – it’s just a matter of following these thought-provoking messages.

1. You Are An Idiot (And That’s Okay)

Aristotle once said, “I only know that I know nothing.” These wise words comprise one of the most important messages that anyone seeking to better themselves needs to understand. If you’re reading this, you’re probably fairly young, in your late teens or twenties. I’m in the same boat. One thing I’ve noticed in myself and my peers is the sense that we know everything. However, the fact of the matter is that a lot of us simply don’t have the life experience to really know what’s best at all times. Of course, we can make reasonable decisions, but we should always be willing to consult others to see what valuable information they might have to share. The sooner you realize that we all are far more stupid than any of us could possibly imagine, the sooner you’ll be able to move on with your life.

The fact of the matter is that we are all limited in our own very human ways – and this is totally fine! We just need to be willing to accept this if we want to move on and have meaningful lives. You can’t be right about everything, or even most things for that matter. Instead, you need to be willing to be humble, hedge your bets, and trust in others so that you can go on to fight another day and help build your future!

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2. Discipline Trumps Motivation

I know a lot of people who look at all the hard work I put in every day towards building my career as a musician, promoter, and writer, and ask: “How do you manage to get all that crazy stuff done? I can never get motivated to do anything!” Those people; of course, have not understood one of the fundamental truths of this world. Discipline is a far greater force than motivation. Do you think that I like writing a couple of reviews a day and spending time learning to produce viral content? Not really. I definitely enjoy my work, but some days I really don’t feel like doing it.

That being said, I make sure to do it anyway because I know that the minute I let myself slip like that is when I will keep making excuses and slip down the path of apathy. I’ll be the first to admit this discipline can be unhealthy at times. When I was 18, I got ridiculously drunk at a show and was vomiting for hours on end. Regardless, I had a show review up within 12 hours of the last band’s performance. I didn’t want to write the article while I was hungover and puking, but I did it anyway. Why? Because I had managed to get myself into the unbreakable habit of producing content like that on a daily basis. No matter what.

3. Living Your Dream Isn’t Always Fun

This kind of builds on something I pointed out in the previous entry, but I feel like it should be elaborated on. Yes, I live my dream. I spend every day in a decent sized apartment, in an extremely fashionable Brooklyn neighborhood, and almost every night I go out and hang with heavy metal bands and party. It’s basically all I’ve wanted to do since I was 14 years old and first saw Almost Famous. That being said, my life isn’t all cocaine and groupies. There are a lot of thankless hours, mean clients, and miscommunications that define my day-to-day life.

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However, I’ve taken one of the core messages from Bob Lugowe (head of Relapse Records) to heart: “Just be glad that you get to be here, man!” The fact of the matter is that if something is truly your dream you probably researched it and had a decent idea of what it would require beforehand. You know what your dream entails and you have to embrace ever aspect of it, even the hard parts. If you got to a point that you are to any degree “living your dream” this probably means that you’ve been able to accomplish some pretty great things. This just so happens to lead us nicely into our next point.

4. Be Grateful For What You Have

One thing I’ve found to be almost unanimously true is that people appreciate grateful people. If you can show an attitude of perpetual contentment with what you have, people will admire you and want to work with you. I think that in this world of struggle people really like it when they find someone who just takes life’s lemons and make lemonade. Living your dream isn’t easy and the path is almost always hard, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be happy to be where you are. Yes, you might be torn down repeatedly, but if you can show that you are grateful for everything, whole new worlds of opportunity can open up.

Part of this is because you tend to become whatever you put out. So, if you exude positive vibes and show yourself to be a person of merit, and demonstrate that you are someone who pushes themselves to new extremes with a smile on their face, you will eventually become that person. That’s one of those weird life hacks that make sites like this one so special. If you keep pushing for something, and doing it in a way that takes other people along with you and helps spread the beauty of whatever you are doing, then people are going to be much more likely to help you out, rather than if you just put your head down and work on your own.

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5. People Take Note Of Your Hard Work

Now, a lot of people might claim this particular point isn’t true; however, in my experience it almost always is. The people who claim it isn’t true are doing one of two things wrong. The first (and most likely) is that they aren’t doing their work with gratitude and the desire to help others. That makes people less likely to want to help them in turn, so of course they will end up hitting a glass wall. The other reason it might not work out is because they haven’t been working at it long enough. A concentrated burst of work over the course of a week is good, but creating a body of work over a few years is even better. In the end, longevity tends to be what gets people moving somewhere. For example, I ran my blog for four years and more than two thousand posts before I ever got hired for a “real job.” However, in some ways I am grateful for that because it led me to appreciate the value of hard work.

This is perhaps the hardest of these messages to put into practice because oftentimes it doesn’t pay off for a very long time. That being said, when it does pay off then you know that you are onto something special. You’ve got to keep going at it and keep proving to the right people that not only do you really want it, but you also want it more than anyone else. I know as well as anyone, you don’t need to go to college to get a good job. That said, you need to want it, and the only way that you can prove that to people is through tangible hard work.

6. Things Tend To Work Themselves Out

There is a popular meme running around the internet these days that says: “At 23, JK Rowling was broke, Tina Fey was working at the YMCA, Oprah just got fired as a news reporter, and Walt Disney was filing for bankruptcy.” The point being; of course, that even mega-stars faced some serious adversity and you will also be able to overcome what you are struggling with. Your parents probably had a similar struggle in their lives and ended up figuring it out too.

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This doesn’t mean that you don’t need to keep working and fighting. You need to have all of these awakenings for them to fulfill their potential. That being said, if you’re suffering from anxiety and the looming sense of your own mortality, realize that most people have these kinds of problems at some point in their lives and most people manage to overcome them. As Alexa Tanney said in her article, “It’s okay to not be okay.” A lot of people around you who seem to have their crap together don’t. So, smile and face a new day. I know it gets better!

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Last Updated on August 4, 2020

The Gentle Art of Saying No For a Less Stressful Life

The Gentle Art of Saying No For a Less Stressful Life

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here’s how to master the Gentle Art of Saying No:

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1. Value Your Time

Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”

2. Know Your Priorities

Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time?

For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.

3. Practice Saying No

Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.

4. Don’t Apologize

A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.

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5. Stop Being Nice

Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets.

Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.

6. Say No to Your Boss

Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no,” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning.

But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.

7. Pre-Empting

It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting,

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“Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”

8. Get Back to You

Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them:

“After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.”

At least you gave it some consideration.

9. Maybe Later

If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say,

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“This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].”

Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.

10. It’s Not You, It’s Me

This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often, the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time.

Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

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Featured photo credit: Kyle Glenn via unsplash.com

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