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

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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    Published on April 7, 2021

    6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

    6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

    Some of the most manipulative people are so good at what they do that their words and actions can convince you into thinking they truly care about what’s best for you when in reality, it’s quite the opposite. The most common signs of a controlling person are rarely obvious to outside observers. And for someone enmeshed in a controlling relationship or friendship, it can be incredibly challenging to stay away from this toxic person, even if you’re aware of their emotionally abusive tendencies.

    While it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether to preserve or leave a lopsided, unfulfilling relationship, it’s nevertheless critical to understand the following six signs of controlling people so you can better advocate for yourself and mitigate the influence of their manipulative tendencies in your own life.

    1. They Push Their Own Personal Agenda

    Do you know someone who always tries to micromanage the words, behaviors, and attitudes of people around them? Does this person act like they have the right to know anything they want about you, including your location, what you’re doing in a given moment, who you’re talking to online, or any other private information about you? And when planning events and special occasions, does this person dominate conversations, steer plans in their own preferred directions, disparage others’ suggestions, and refuse to collaborate with anyone who might disagree with them?

    If you answered “yes” to some of the above questions, then those are clear signs of a controlling person whom you absolutely need to be cautious around. Controlling people are reluctant to even consider alternative ideas, let alone enthusiastically work with people who have differing views. They prefer to be the captain of every ship—regardless of how much or how little an issue personally impacts them—and they have an arsenal of manipulative tactics to deploy if someone stands in the way of them achieving their own personal agendas.

    In long-term relationships with controlling people, you may feel constantly pressured to meet their demands, follow their schedule, and focus on whatever they feel is most important. It’s not an exaggeration to say that these people act like the universe revolves around them, which can be exhausting to deal with for their family members, friends, and colleagues.

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    2. They Make Everything Transactional

    Controlling people aren’t always self-centered, but they’re not too empathetic either. Empathy for them tends to appear in the form of strategic concessions they use as a means to get what they want. They typically view interpersonal relationships as transactional opportunities to extract more value from people surrounding them, which can have a draining effect on those they interact with.

    For example, one sign of a controlling person may be their insistence on “keeping score.” This can involve doing nice things for you with the ulterior motive of demanding something from you at a later date in exchange for what you thought was just an act of kindness or a friendly support.

    Perhaps they shower you in praise (also known as “love-bombing”) or gifts then blow up at you if you don’t intuitively know they’re expecting something back from you. None of us are mind-readers, but controlling people behave as though everyone else should think and act like they want others to and those who fall out of line are punished for failing to meet their impossible expectations.

    A controlling person may also threaten to withhold support if you don’t adhere to their demands, but they do so in such subtle ways that the guilt they impose blinds you from the unreasonable nature of their behaviors.

    Some statements to be wary of include:

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    • “I did ___________ for you. What do you mean you can’t do ___________ for me?”
    • “Remember how I helped you with ___________? That took a lot of time and energy from me, but I guess you didn’t appreciate my help.”
    • “I always give you ___________. Don’t you care about my needs too?”
    • “You’re so selfish!” or “You don’t care about me at all!” (gaslighting if you respond with hesitation or politely decline their request for help for perfectly valid reasons, such as not having enough time or resources to assist them)

    3. They Criticize Everything

    One of the most common telltale signs of a controlling person is their capacity to criticize anything and everything, even small things that seemingly don’t matter. As with many toxic traits in relationships, these problems typically start out so small that you may not even notice. At first, you may even agree with their criticism or at least be able to understand their perspective when they bring up an issue.

    However, the criticism tends to get more intense, more constant, and more perplexing for people who maintain relationships with controlling people. You’ll likely notice how they rarely seem to criticize something they do. It’s almost always other-oriented and these types of people are so manipulative that any rationale they offer can seem plausibly legitimate.

    Some warning signs of a controlling person who’s overly critical to the point of abusiveness include:

    • Criticizing things about you that you have little to no control over (e.g., appearance, disability, family)
    • Criticizing your personal choices and interests, such as educational pursuits, career, clothing, favorite music, time spent on your hobbies, etc.
    • Punishing you for expressing vulnerability by invalidating thoughts and feelings you share with them
    • Attacking you whenever you express an opinion counter to theirs

    4. They Balk When Someone Criticizes Them

    We all know the adage, “what goes around, comes around.” But this statement doesn’t apply as much to toxic, controlling people. They’d much prefer to dish out criticism without ever having to take it in return.

    For instance, if your friend constantly talks about your appearance with little regard for your emotions but flips out if you make just a single comment about their appearance, there’s a possibility that they could have some hidden controlling tendencies left unchecked. Remember, these people aren’t just controlling in their behaviors towards others. They’re also actively trying to stay in complete control over every aspect of their lives, which includes how others view them.

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    This seemingly insatiable desire for control can prompt them to lash out against even the smallest bits of criticism, leaving people around them too weary or scared to speak up again in the future. While it’s possible they may suffer from something called rejection sensitivity dysphoria, this does not excuse them from the consequences of their words and actions. They should seek professional help to better manage their reactions to criticism.

    5. They Socially Isolate You

    Not all controlling people do this, but for manipulative narcissists, socially isolating victims is a go-to strategy for maintaining control because it’s effective at preventing people from truly understanding how toxic their partner, family member, or friend is treating them. Think of it this way—if you don’t talk to many other people in your life, there’s less of a risk that you’ll damage their reputation by revealing their abusive tendencies.

    Socially isolating others also gives the person more control over you and your life as it becomes more difficult to break away from them if you don’t have other healthier channels of communication and interpersonal support to turn to.

    This process doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it something you can readily recognize as abusive. At first, it may seem reasonable, such as asking you to stop engaging so often with family members with whom both of you disagree on major social or political issues. As the social isolation progresses, they may suggest cutting people out of your life—especially if they don’t like that person, regardless of how you personally feel—or even conjure up high-stakes problems like “it’s me or them” under the guise of saving you from people in your life whom they don’t like for whatever reason.

    In a controlling person’s life narrative, they’re always the protagonist who’s incapable of any wrongdoing. The blame is always redirected at someone else, whether that’s you or other people in your life. The more they isolate you from other supportive people in your life, the more susceptible you’ll be to falsely believing that they’re right and you “don’t need” your other friends and family when you have someone as perfect as this person.

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    6. They’re Emotionally Abusive

    It’s hard enough to be in control of your own emotions but when someone else is constantly belittling you and your interests or leveraging guilt and shame to manipulate you into saying or doing what they want, this can make it even more challenging to stay in control of your own life and emotional well-being.

    Emotional abuse is another sign of a controlling person that is often overlooked in relationships. After all, human personalities vary widely in terms of passivity, and it’s not uncommon for one person in a relationship to be significantly more passive than the other. This becomes an issue when the controlling partner or friend exudes signs of emotional abuse, which can start subtly and become much more pronounced over time.

    Concerning signs of emotionally abusive language or behavior to watch out for include:

    • Dismissing your needs and/or belittling your interests in counterproductive ways
    • Privately or publicly shaming or humiliating you
    • Making you feel as though you can never live up to their expectations or do anything right (according to their own vague, subjective standards)
    • Gaslighting you into thinking they said or did something that never actually happened (making you question your own reality)

    Final Thoughts

    It’s sometimes hard to see the negative things about someone with whom we have a relationship. We may sometimes unconsciously overlook the signs of a controlling person, especially if that person is someone we have known for a long time or are close to us. However, cutting them off your life is the best thing you can do for yourself. Just watch out for these six signs of a controlling person and take immediate action when you spot them.

    More Tips on How To Deal With a Controlling Person

    Featured photo credit: Külli Kittus via unsplash.com

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