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The A to Z Guide to a Rich Life

The A to Z Guide to a Rich Life

A is for Adventure, and B is for Bravery. But a rich life is mostly brought to you by the letter C, for the Choice is yours to make it happen.

This A to Z guide is a slippery slide down the letters of the alphabet. It is not a ride for the faint-hearted or for the superficial money-hungry beasts who preach gobbledygook. Instead, it’s for people who want to make a difference with their lives. If that describes you, then you’re in the right place.

So, buckle up and jump in. We’ve got a long way to go.

A is for Adventure

Life is an adventure. Or to be more precise: your adventure.

But where will I go? I hear you ask. What you’re really asking for is a map. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all. Each one of us carries our own map of where we want to go and what we want to do. You need to look within yourself and ask:

  • Where do I want to go? 
  • Why do I want to go there?
  • What is it about this mission that makes me feel excited and alive?

If you’re getting butterflies, then go. If not, explore more options.

It doesn’t matter if you travel alone or with someone else as long as you move forward on your quest. New adventures lead to more experiences. There is no such thing as a bad adventure. Remember, the adventure begins when you leave the village.

If you’re stuck, don’t despair. Remember this dialogue from Alice in Wonderland:

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
“I don’t much care where –”
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
― Lewis Carrol, Alice in Wonderland

What stops you from embarking on your adventure? Maybe letter B will be of some help.

B is for Bravery

Here’s a promise: you’ll face obstacles, challenges and people who will try to bring you down. Be ready for this. They don’t want you to live your adventure because they’re not happy with theirs.

You can safely ignore these people. Learn to stand up for yourself and your mission without a moment’s hesitation. This is your adventure, remember? Don’t let anyone take that away from you.

Have the courage to live a life that’s true to yourself.  Dare to be brave: you have nothing to fear. If you’re looking for inspiration, find comfort in these words:

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” ― Oscar Wilde

C is for Choice

Yes, this is the most important letter of the alphabet. It decides whether you’re going to live a fun and meaningful life or a boring and mediocre one.

It boils down to choice. For every living moment, you have a choice about how you will respond. No one expresses the value of choice better than writer and Holocaust survivor Viktor E Frankl:

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Yes, you always have a choice. If you can’t change a situation, you can always change yourself. I told you it wasn’t easy, but it can still be done with some help from letter D.

D is for Discipline

It can be difficult to follow through on some of your decisions. Procrastination and self-doubt too easily distract you from your path. But that’s why you need discipline.

No, I don’t mean military discipline. That’s too violent and scary for me. I’m talking about the kind of self-discipline that artists, athletes and scientists use to practice their craft and to stay committed to the task at hand. It’s willpower. It’s grit. It’s the discipline to make and keep a promise to yourself.

Indeed, discipline is hard because you’re competing against yourself. You are your own worst enemy. Don’t let this internal struggle bog you down. With a bit of discipline, you can pave the way for your adventure. It’s not sexy, but it works. Think of it this way:

“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” ― Jim Rohn

Of course, sometimes there’s a gap between what you know and what you need to know. That’s when letter E comes to the rescue.

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E is for Education

A rich life is shaped by education. When you stop learning, you cease to truly live.

There’s always more to learn about the world and the people and animals that live in it. If you feel ambitious, there’s always the universe to keep you busy. But let’s not go there today. It makes my head spin.

By all means, read more books, listen to more songs, and watch more movies. Talk to people and learn from them. Keep exploring.

“Education is not just preparation for life, but part of life itself – a continuous art.” ― Henry Ford

If your experience of education is anything like mine, it has involved several moments of fear and self-doubt, which brings us to the dreaded letter F.

F is for Fear

Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of looking dumb. You can’t escape your fears, but at least you’re not alone in having them.

So, what to do? Try to befriend your fear. Invite him over for dinner, share a glass of wine, but skip the small talk (your guest is very good at that). Instead do the unexpected and act in spite of your fear. See how quickly he leaves the room!

“Fears are educated into us, and can, if we wish, be educated out.” ― Karl Augustus Menninger

Remember: when you face your fear, you change your path. And when you change your path, you change yourself.

G is for Generosity

Do you want to know the secret to a rich life? Lean in; I need to whisper this: Generosity. I know it sounds counterintuitive at first, but consider this saying:

“There was a man, they called him mad; the more he gave, the more he had.”
― John Bunyan

Allow that to sink in for a moment. Then answer this question: do you fear giving away too much? 

Many people do. They live their life according to a scarcity model: the belief that there isn’t enough resources for everyone. They fear sharing (not to mention giving!) because that means there will be less over for them. In short, they have a fixed mindset. They think: If I win, you lose. In his book Enchantment, Guy Kawasaki calls these people eaters. They do whatever they can to finish the pie first.

The fixed mindset is heavy, frustrating, and annoying to carry around. It makes you anxious and grumpy. Keep it at your own cost.

Luckily, there is an alternative. Kawasaki calls these people bakers. They want to make a bigger pie. This growth mindset drastically changes their approach to life. They operate from an abundance model–in other words, the belief that there is enough for everyone to get by.

What stops you from adopting a growth mindset?  

Tip: Read Mindset by Standford psychologist Carol S Dweck for a more extensive explanation on the differences between a growth and a fixed mindset. You won’t be disappointed.

Bottom line: Choose your mindset carefully or it will affect your health.

H is for Health

Your body is your holy temple, and you’ll want to treat it with respect.

Prevention is the best medicine. So, eat well. Sleep tight. Exercise often. Meet more friends. There’s no excuse to ignore your health.

“To keep the body in good health is a duty… Otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” ― Buddha

Remember: your health is the biggest sign of your wealth. It grants you another day, another chance. The rest you can leave to the imagination.

I is for Imagination

Your imagination helps you plan and see your life in vivid detail. If I didn’t know better, I’d almost call it magic. Use your imagination to reach your goals more effectively. Remember to engage all your senses in this important enterprise.

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There’s only one downside to your imagination–without your actual input, it becomes worthless. So, act on your imagination; play with it, have fun with it, and get ready to be surprised. But don’t take my word for it. Here’s what the genius himself, Albert Einstein, has to say about the subject:

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” ― Albert Einstein

Well, who am I to disagree with a genius? Open up to your imagination and let it bring you joy.

J is for Joy

Don’t take yourself too seriously. What makes you laugh and smile? Do more of that.

Joy lasts longer if you let it seep into the depths of your being. Let it fill you up. Be grateful about the simple joys in life.

“Find joy in everything you choose to do. Every job, relationship, home… it’s your responsibility to love it, or change it.” ― Chuck Palahniuk

K is for Kindness

A rich life starts with cultivating a sense of kindness and friendship towards yourself and others. Remember to be brave: extend kindness to strangers, enemies, and people you find difficult. It makes a big difference.

Everyone makes mistakes, but it’s part of the journey. Save yourself the grief. Learn to forgive rather than to condemn. When you’re struggling, remember this quote:

“To err is human; to forgive, divine.” ― Alexander Pope

L is for Love

Love is the social glue that binds us all together. To a well-trained eye, love pops up in the most unlikely places. You just need to know where to look.

Everyone deserves love. The opposite of love is not hatred. The opposite of love is indifference. Love means that you care. When you stop loving, you stop caring. Your senses become numb and violence and injustice can take over. Now we can’t have that.

The more you love, the richer you become. It really is that simple.

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” ― Lao Tzu

M is for Mindfulness

It’s difficult to spend time with your thoughts, worries and feelings. Either you escape them or you get lost inside of them.

Mindfulness invites you to tune into your mind. This is a difficult but rewarding practice because it teaches you the art of listening to yourself. So, please take your time. Hurry slowly.

Sit down. Close your eyes. Breathe.

“The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.”
― Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

Remember: Listen more to yourself. After all, you have two ears and one mouth.

N is for Narrative

Everyone loves a good story. What we often forget is that we tell stories all the time: about who we are, what we do, and who we want to be.

You can’t always change what happens to you, but you can always change the story you tell yourself. In short, own the story line and tell a better story.

Ask yourself: Can I tell myself a different story? Then remember this quote from Stephen R Covey:

“The way you see the problem is the problem.” ― Stephen R. Covey

Change the story line and you change the way you see the problem. And that’s how you turn a problem into an opportunity.

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O is for Opportunity

Knock, knock.

Who’s there?

Opportunity!

Don’t be silly–opportunity doesn’t knock twice!

Do you make the most of the opportunities that come your way? 

P is for Principles

A rich life is guided by principles. Think of them as your internal compass. When you feel lost and astray, they’ll be there to pick you up.

Proactivity, honesty, integrity–these principles stand the test of time because they work. They also allow you to enjoy your success and not to feel guilty for cheating your way to the top.

“Failure comes only when we forget our ideals and objectives and principles.” ― Jawaharlal Nehru

Q is for Questioning

Feed your curiosity and never stop asking questions. One of Rudyard Kipling’s famous poems demonstrates this quality well:

I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew)

Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who

Questions often lead to more questions, which lead to some useful answers. So, start questioning.

R is for Relationships

Relationships enrich every tenet of our lives. Family, friends and partners support and unite us in our daily struggles. They make life more fun, meaningful and worthwhile.

New relationships mean new responsibilities. Do you remember the first time when you became a parent, a grandparent, an aunt or an uncle? These roles gave your life a new meaning, a sense of purpose that wasn’t there before.

Without relationships, life becomes futile. Create lasting relationships with others. It’s the most important investment you can make.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ― Maya Angelou

S is for Spirit

Spirit has many different meanings. The word itself derives from the Latin word spiritus and means “breath”. It suggests that there is a part of us that outlives our death.

Whether you’re religious or not, people leave a legacy after they’re gone. We remember them through their actions, words and deeds. A part of them stays with us. What is important is the legacy they leave behind.

What legacy do you want to leave behind?

“Every man casts a shadow; not his body only, but his imperfectly mingled spirit. This is his grief. Let him turn which way he will, it falls opposite to the sun; short at noon, long at eve. Did you never see it?”  ― Henry David Thoreau

Letter T helps you build the lasting legacy that you deserve.

T is for Teaching

Teaching enriches both your life and your student’s. When you share your knowledge and experiences, you pass on a part of yourself and you allow that knowledge to spread. Others can share your story and learn from it.

Teaching helps others avoid costly, dumb and painful mistakes. It’s your duty to pay it forward. As Oscar Wilde points out:

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“I always pass on good advice. It is the only thing to do with it. It is never of any use to oneself.”

U is for Uncertainty

Your adventure is always going to be uncertain. That’s OK because uncertainty is part of the deal. Embrace it. Never let the fear of the unknown scare you into a corner.

You fear uncertainty because you believe you don’t have what it takes to recover from it. Imagine your worst case scenario in vivid detail. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you? But don’t just stop there. Now write an equally clear plan on how you’re going to recover from it. Once you do, you’ll realize that you can recover from just about anything.

“Waves are inspiring not because they rise and fall. But because each time they fall… They never fail to rise again.”

V is for Values

What do you stand for? What do you find unacceptable? Speak up for your values. Let them walk by your side and guide you to do the right thing.

“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

W is for Win-Win

It’s clear that a rich life does not come from a win-lose mindset. Always think about what others can gain from your actions. This is what Stephen R. Covey aptly calls creating “win-win” situations. No one is a loser. There are only winners.

How does that change your outlook on life? And more important, how does it change your actions?

“The Law of Win/Win says, ”Let’s not do it your way or my way; let’s do it the best way.” ― Greg Anderson

X is for Xylatomy

Say what? Well, you try to find a good word that starts with X. There aren’t that many out there. So, why did I choose this particular word?

Because it’s fun to say and I want to reward you for your efforts! You’ve come this far down the alphabet with me, the least I can do is to teach you a new word. Xylatomy can be defined as:

“Preparation of sections of wood for microscopic study.”

Bet you didn’t know that one! So, what does xylatomy got to do with a rich life? Well, I believe it teaches us to find the joy in the small things. What’s your interpretation?

Y is for Yes

Yes is my favorite word. It says: “Let’s do this!” and it also requires you to take responsibility for your actions.

A word of caution though: don’t say yes to everything. Believe me, I’ve been there. Only say yes if the answer is: “I cannot not do it“. Don’t be afraid to say no to the rest.

“Learn to say ‘no’ to the good so you can say ‘yes’ to the best.”  ― John C. Maxwell

Z is for Zest

Have a zest for life! Stop talking, start doing. Go out there and make the most of it! Don’t be discouraged by the ups and downs. This is part of the journey itself, and there’s nothing you can do about it but to choose your response.

“True happiness comes from the joy of deeds well done, the zest of creating things new.” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Start your adventure today

Wow, that was quite the ride! What a mouthful of inspiration and advice you’ve taken in! I hope you didn’t get motion sick.

It’s time to unbuckle your seatbelt, jump out the car, and get started on your new adventure. But relax. Remember the wisdom of letter C: Choice. Choose to act on one of these letters and you’re well on your way to a richer life.

What does a rich life look like to you? What words have I missed that’s on your list? Please share your words and ideas to a rich life in the comments!

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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