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Balancing Contentment with Inspirational Discontentment

Balancing Contentment with Inspirational Discontentment

One of the seventeen principles of success in the book Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude by Napoleon Hill and W. Clement Stone is that of “inspirational discontentment.” The idea is that a person needs to be just discontented enough with his or her income or standard of living that it inspires them to greater success. At first glance there is a lot of logic in this statement, and probably most self-improvement comes about ultimately because a person isn’t happy with the status quo.

However, the greatest self-improvement book of all time, the Bible, makes the statement that “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” We probably won’t arrive at a consensus as to what constitutes “godliness,” but think about the rest of what this statement says. Contentment is valuable! A person who has contentment has something that equals great gain, or wealth.

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Everyone has heard stories of multi-millionaires who were never satisfied regardless of how wealthy they became. They always had their heart set on the next dollar. The very essence of a joyous life eludes people like this. Discontentment inspires them to work hard and achieve wealth, but there is a very real possibility they will never advance far on the fundamental quest we all have for happiness.

Every individual needs to answer this question for themselves. With what aspects of my life am I discontented? How can this feeling inspire me to improve in these areas? And how can I taste the joy of living right now, in spite of the imperfections or even needs in my life?

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The popular radio personality, Dr. Laura (Schlessinger) wrote a book called Ten Stupid Things Men Do to Mess up Their Lives. One of the stupid things she writes about is “stupid ambition.” Ambition in and of itself is a good thing – a very valuable thing, in fact. But it becomes stupid when pursuing ambitious dreams takes up so much time that the more satisfying things of home, family, and relationship are crowded out. Sometimes self-help writers push the idea of saving some time out for oneself, but Dr. Laura says that the busy career oriented schedule is already dedicated to oneself! What about the spouse and the children? The time spent building relationships will ultimately contribute just as much to the overall quality of life.

Here are some suggestions for living now while pursuing lofty goals. First, schedule in some time each week for a date with your special sweetheart. Make it a priority. You don’t want to succeed in business but miss out on life. If you have children, you can schedule an evening or afternoon to play games and spend time with them. Start this habit now. Don’t wait until you meet your next financial or career goal.

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And, yes, there is a place for self-time. It can include your daily time of spiritual reflection or prayer, exercise, or other things you do to be good to yourself. The thing to remember is that it is possible to let yourself be content in some areas of life, while pursuing a greater level of skill or performance in other areas. One thing that helps a person develop contentment is the old-fashioned attitude of gratitude. Take the time to count your blessings often. Then let discontentment inspire you in areas where growth is needed.

A very tangible example of this principle from my own life is in the area of neatness. It is possible for me to enjoy my family while little by little building habits that help me keep things neater. I don’t have to sacrifice people for personal growth!

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Barbara Wood

References:
Complete Audio Holy Bible: King James Version (1st Timothy 6:6)
Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude by Napoleon Hill and W. Clement Stone
Ten Stupid Things Men Do to Mess Up Their Lives by Dr. Laura Schlessinger
Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives by Richard Swenson

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Last Updated on August 12, 2020

How to Plan Your Life Goals and Actually Achieve Them

How to Plan Your Life Goals and Actually Achieve Them

Where do you want to be 5 years from now, 10 years from now, or even this time next year? These places are your goal destinations and although you might know that you don’t want to be standing still in the same place as you are now, it’s not always easy to identify what your real goals are.

Many people think that setting a goal destination is having a dream that is there in the far distant future but will never be attained. This proves to be a self-fulfilling prophesy because of two things:

Firstly, that the goal isn’t specifically defined enough in the first place; and secondly, it remains a remote dream waiting for action which is never taken.

Defining your goal destination is something that you need to take some time to think carefully about. The following steps on how to plan your life goals should get you started on a journey to your destination.

1. Make a List of Your Goal Destinations

Goal destinations are the things that are important to you. Another word for them would be ambitions, but ambitions sound like something which outside of your grasp, whereas goal destinations are certainly achievable if you are willing to put in the effort working towards them.

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So what do you really want to do with your life? What are the main things that you would like to accomplish with your life? What is it that you would really regret not doing if you suddenly found you had a limited amount of time left on the earth?

Each of these things is a goal. Define each goal destination in one sentence.

If any of these goals is a stepping stone to another one of the goals, take it off this list as it isn’t a goal destination.

2. Think About the Time Frame to Have the Goal Accomplished

This is where the 5 year, 10 year, next year plan comes into it.

Learn the differences between a short term goal and a long term goal. Some goals will have a “shelf life” because of age, health, finance, etc, whereas others will be up to you as to when you would like to achieve them by.

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3. Write Down Your Goals Clearly

Write each goal destination at the top of a new piece of paper.

For each goal, write down what is it that you need and don’t have now that will allow you achieve that goal. This could be some kind of education, career change, finance, a new skill, etc. Any “stepping stone” goals you removed will fit into this exercise. If any of these smaller “goals” have sub-goals, go through the same process with these so that you have precise action points to work with.

4. Write Down What You Need to Do for Each Goal

Under each item listed, write down the things that you will need to do in order to complete each of the steps required to complete the goal. 

These items will become a check-list. They are a tangible way of checking how you are progressing towards reaching your goal destinations. A record of your success!

5. Write Down Your Timeframe With Specific and Realistic Dates

Using the time frames you created, on each goal destination sheet write down the year in which you will complete the goal by.

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For any goal which has no fixed completion date, think about when you would like to have accomplished it by and use that as your destination date.

Work within the time frames for each goal destination, make a note of realistic dates by which you will complete each of the small steps.

6. Schedule Your To-Dos

Now take an overview of all your goal destinations and make a schedule of what you need to do this week, this month, this year – in order to progress along the road towards your goal destinations.

Write these action points on a schedule, you have definite dates on which to do things.

7. Use Your Reticular Activating System to Get Your Goal

Learn in this Lifehack’s vlog how you can hack your brain with the Reticular Activation System (RAS) and reach your goal more efficiently:

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8. Review Your Progress

At the end of the year, review what you have done this year, mark things off the check-lists for each goal destination and write up the schedule with the action points you need for the next year.

Although it may take you several years to, for example, get the promotion you desire because you first need to get the MBA which means getting a job with more money to allow you to finance a part-time degree course, you will ultimately be successful in achieving your goal destination because you have planned out not only what you want, but how to get it, and have been pro-active towards achieving it.

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Featured photo credit: Debby Hudson via unsplash.com

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