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Live A Happy & Successful Life You’ve Always Imagined With These 4 Simple Steps

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Live A Happy & Successful Life You’ve Always Imagined With These 4 Simple Steps

Happiness and success are both subjective. There is no doubt about that. Despite having vastly different standards, few would be bold enough to call themselves happy and successful in life. So many of us set out to accomplish great deeds, only to be floored by the numerous meticulous tasks and ended up scurrying back with our tails between our legs, defeated.

Our goals became but words on a document. We keep telling ourselves “I will do this some time later”, then completely forget about them a few weeks later. Olin Miller had it right –

“If you want to make an easy job seem mighty hard, just keep putting off doing it.”

It is time to change, and there is no time better than now. But how?

The Westenberg Framework

Jon Westenberg is an entrepreneur, comedian, and writer. He also launched a coaching program to help people build their roadmap in life. Earlier in September last year, he introduced his life-changing framework in his article How To Invest In Yourself on Medium. With four simple steps, he set out to become more productive, efficient, and regret-free.

Let’s get a summary of what you can do!

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Step 1: A list of 100 things

In the first step, he said with much conviction –

“It’s not a bucket list, it’s not things I wish I could do — it’s things I really am going to do.”

Put down 100 things that you wanted to do but are not completely out of reach. It can be anything. From “finding a company” to “going surfing in Montauk” to “replacing the furniture at home” – it’s up to you. Just remember, these are things that you will eventually tick off your list. These are things you have always wanted to do but just never really had time for. This is a plan instead of a mirage.

Then, divide them into three categories:

  1. Things that I need skills for
  2. Things that I can do immediately
  3. Things that I need time for

    Tip: As you would see in this excerpt of my list, there are things that lie in between needing skills or time. Just think of it this way: the things that need time are those that you already have the ability to do but either takes a long time to complete or cannot be done right now.

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    There, the first step – done. Not bad, right?

    Step 2: A skill chart

    There are things on your list that you would need to acquire certain knowledge before you can complete them.

    If you want to build a mobile app, you need to know how to code. If you wish to make a cake for your mom on her birthday, you need to learn how to bake. If you want to write a poem to propose to your girlfriend, you need to master rhyme schemes, meter, and imagery.

    To keep track of the skills you need to learn, create a spreadsheet and put down the following into four columns:

    1. A column that lists the skills you have to learn
    2. A column for Research
    3. A column for Action
    4. A column for Progress

    Research and write down the things that you need to do to learn the skill in the “Action” column. Then, in the “Progress” column, estimate how far you are from learning the skill. For example, one of my goals is to relearn the piano after dropping it for five years. The “actions” I would need to complete in order to achieve this goal are things like learning the music theory, practicing the method books such as scales and sight-reading, etc.

    Personally though, I merged the “Research” and “Action” column to save time. When you completed one task, simply add an asterisk (or any way you would prefer) to said task in the column.

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    There is just one thing to note here: be honest. You may start slowly, but the pace will pick up as you get more used to the methodical approach towards learning different skills.

    Step 3: Immediate action

    You will have things on your list that can be accomplished right here, right now. Yet somehow, you never got to do it. Be it painting your room another color, or getting a new keyboard for your computer, these things are easy.

    So make a plan and get them done.

    They might be easy. They might be meager. They might not hold much significance.

    But accomplishing simple things like writing in the journal every day gives me the drive to tackle the more difficult tasks, such as studying literature and writing a book. That’s because every time I completed one of these tasks, it gave me a small sense of achievement, and as the list of completed things grows, so does your confidence.

    Step 4: The things you need time for.

    Finally, we have come to the things that would take relatively more time and patience. It may be learning how to play Mozart or Beethoven. It might be writing a book. Regardless, it requires the one thing you lack the most: time.

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    “Our schedules are already filled to the brim!” You protested vehemently.

    The way to tackle this is surprisingly easy. Spend a day taking detailed notes of how you’ve spent your time. You will notice that a lot of your time is wasted on things that are not particularly helpful towards completing your goals. I realized, halfway through, that I spend more than 2 to 3 hours scrolling through Facebook mindlessly on a regular day. Are you doing the same thing?

    Work to make it suit you.

    Like I said earlier on, this is merely a framework. There is no need to follow it to the letter. Feel free to edit and customize it to suit your needs. But don’t stop there. Take initiative to make your life as enjoyable as possible, because –

    “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”

    ― Mae West

    Featured photo credit: Aeipathy via aeipathyattire.com

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    Eamon Suen

    Student, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

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    Last Updated on November 18, 2021

    10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

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    10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

    We all fall into the trap of judging a person’s character by their appearance. How wrong we are! All too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event hits them or you. Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock.

    A truly frightening example is revealed in the book by O’Toole in Bowman called Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. A perfectly respectable, charming, well dressed neighbor was found to have installed a torture chamber in his garage where he was systematically abusing kidnapped women. This is an extreme example, but it does show how we can be totally deceived by a person’s physical appearance, manners and behavior.

    So, what can you do? You want to be able to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances and new friends who might even become lifelong partners. You want to know if they are:

    • honest
    • reliable
    • competent
    • kind and compassionate
    • capable of taking the blame
    • able to persevere
    • modest and humble
    • pacific and can control anger.

    The secret is to reserve judgment and take your time. Observe them in certain situations; look at how they react. Listen to them talking, joking, laughing, explaining, complaining, blaming, praising, ranting, and preaching. Only then will you be able to judge their character. This is not foolproof, but if you follow the 10 ways below, you have a pretty good chance of not ending up in an abusive relationship.

    1. Is anger a frequent occurrence?

    All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Do not think that every person who just snaps and throws his/her weight around mentally and physically is just reacting normally. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst when driving or when things go pear-shaped.

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    But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior. You do not want to be near someone who thinks violence can solve personal or global problems.

    2. Can you witness acts of kindness?

    How often do you see this person being kind and considerate? Do they give money to beggars, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to share the planet with about 7 billion other people?

    I was shocked when a guest of mine never showed any kindness to the weak and disadvantaged people in our town. She was ostensibly a religious person, but I began to doubt the sincerity of her beliefs.

    “The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

    Abigail Van Buren

    3. How does this person take the blame?

    Maybe you know that s/he is responsible for a screw-up in the office or even in not turning up on time for a date. Look at their reaction. If they start blaming other colleagues or the traffic, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

    4. Don’t use Facebook as an indicator.

    You will be relieved to know that graphology (the study of that forgotten skill of handwriting) is no longer considered a reliable test of a person’s character. Neither is Facebook stalking, fortunately. A study showed that Facebook use of foul language, sexual innuendo and gossip were not reliable indicators of a candidate’s character or future performance in the workplace.

    5. Read their emails.

    Now a much better idea is to read the person’s emails. Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

    • Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
    • Frequent errors may indicate apathy
    • Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
    • Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
    • Too many question marks can show anger
    • Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of  people still use them.

    6. Watch out for the show offs.

    Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of his/her achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility. What a pity!  Another person to avoid.

    7. Look for evidence of perseverance.

    A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

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    Great achievements by scientists and inventors all bear the hallmark of perseverance. We only have to think of Einstein, Edison (who failed thousands of times) and Nelson Mandela to get inspiration. The US Department of Education is in no doubt about how grit, tenacity and perseverance will be key success factors for youth in the 21st century.

    8. Their empathy score is high.

    Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

    People with zero empathy will never talk about the disadvantaged. They will rarely ask you a question about a difficult time or relationship. They will usually steer the conversation back to themselves. These people have zero empathy and in extreme cases, they are psychopaths who never show any feelings towards their victims.

    9. Learn how to be socially interactive.

    We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

    “One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

    Stendhal

     10. Avoid toxic people.

    These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

    • Envy or jealousy
    • Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
    • Complaining about their own lack of success
    • Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
    • Obsession with themselves and their problems

    Listen to these people talk and you will quickly discover that you need to avoid them at all costs because their negativity will drag you down. In addition, as much as you would like to help them, you are not qualified to do so.

    Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge a person, what about yourself? How do others see you? Why not take Dr. Phil’s quiz and find out. Can you bear it?

    Featured photo credit: Jacek Dylag via unsplash.com

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