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20 Things You Have To Know If You Want To Be Successful In Life

20 Things You Have To Know If You Want To Be Successful In Life

I know plenty of very successful people, but they all have different definitions of what success means to them. For some, success is money. For others, it means just being happy. No matter what your definition of success is, here are 20 things you need to know before you can live a fulfilling and successful life.

1. Money doesn’t buy everything.

“There are people who have money and people who are rich.”

Coco Chanel

Sure, you can purchase fast cars, large TVs and all of the amenities you could want in life, from shoes to gold watches; however, you can’t buy friendship, love, trust and faith. Trying to arrange your life around money won’t bring you happiness.

Instead of centering your life on how much you owe, how much you’ll make, and how much you’ll give, be rich and full in the world around you. If you don’t, life will pass by too quickly and all you’ll have to show for it is wasted time and energy.

2. Honor the code of responsibility.

“You will ever remember that all the end of study is to make you a good man and a useful citizen.”

John Adams

In life, we are always striving to be the best. We want to be better than our competition. We want to know it all and have it all. On the contrary, we have the principle that you have a responsibility to everyone and a responsibility for only yourself. Your life is multi-faceted.

Prioritize your life and see how you can contribute to your community. In return, gain insight, wisdom and skills that can help foster you as a person. Join a volunteer group, participate in a charity, or help someone in need.

3. Expect the unexpected.

“To expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect.”

Oscar Wilde

Be proactive and always think ahead. Like in any good game of chess, you want to anticipate any variation or move that may occur. With life, prepare for the unexpected. If you are waiting to hear whether or not you got the job, don’t set yourself up for failure and place it in an out-of-reach box. Also, don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.

Life is all about curveballs, twists and turns. Let’s be honest: if everything was expected, we’d be bored. Stay ahead of the curve and be prepared for any outcome.

4. Never let others define you.

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

Bernard M. Baruch

Why would we ever want to live in a world where we are like everyone else? Could you imagine never getting the choice of the clothes you wear, the music you listen to or the hobbies you love? We are all unique.

Yes, we all have our quirks, but at the end of the day, you can’t let others define you. Never let anyone tell you who to be or what to do. They can dictate their own life, not yours. If they try to, they are not worth your time. Surround yourself with people who love you for who you are.

5. Go big or go home.

“I live by ‘Go big or go home.’ That’s with everything. It’s like either commit and go for it or don’t do it at all. I apply that to everything. I apply that to relationships, I apply that to like sports, I apply that to everything. That’s what I live by. That’s how I like it.”

Paul Walker

Embrace your talents and strengths, and go beyond what is required. If you need to turn in a paper for your boss by Friday, have it edited, reviewed, and submitted on Thursday. If you want to bake for a picnic, try a new recipe and commit. If you want to land that big promotion, work hard and prove that you deserve it.

Aspire to be successful, and you will not fail. Maybe you won’t meet your goal or win, but at least you tried. You showed gumption, and that is a great feeling that cannot be duplicated.

6. Be present at all times.

“The past is a ghost, the future a dream and all we ever have is now.”

Bill Cosby

When we live in the present, we will keep our focus. We cannot change what has happened, and we cannot control everything that will happen. Therefore, enjoy the time you have and don’t fixate on what may be, what could be, or what could have been.

Live in the moment and love every minute of it. Capture memories with cameras, whether it’s your first skydive, first love, or first job.

7. Take risks.

“A ship is always safe at the shore—but that is NOT what it is built for.”

Albert Einstein

Don’t be afraid to get your feet wet and try new things. Think to yourself, “what is the worst that can happen?” For example, maybe you are not a fan of seafood. Your friend offers you sushi, but you are afraid to try it. Maybe this sushi is covered with fresh strawberries and lemon poppy seed glaze over white tuna. You love strawberries.

How would you know you hated sushi if you didn’t try it? What’s the worst that can happen? You spit it out. Life is about risks. You’ll never know until you try.

8. Don’t worry; be happy.

“Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.”

Anne Frank

Find the good things around you even in tough situations. Anne Frank, the young girl who chronicled her experiences while hiding from Nazi Germany during the Holocaust, saw beauty in little things. She never dwelled on the negatives, about dying, about being captured.

She endured so much at a young age. She focused her thoughts on her first crush, her first kiss, herself changing into a woman. Focus all of your attention on the things you have and the experiences you take with you. Cherish the good and leave your dark storm cloud behind.

9. Always seek a greater purpose.

“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.”

Dalai Lama

Along the lines of responsibility, always seek a greater purpose in life. Know that you are one person and that there is a world full of people who can relate to you and feel compassion. Help others and see that we are all connected in some way to bring out the good in each other.

10. Keep your fire burning.

“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”

G.K. Chesterton

No matter where your life takes you—your career path, your interests, the people in your life—always be passionate about what you do. Avoid exhausting yourself over complaining about what is going wrong with life, and always do what makes you happy.

Keep your fire burning and ignite your inner spark to see what makes you feel and fall in love with what you do. If you’re a teacher, maybe seeing your students succeed is your reason for teaching. If you are a firefighter, maybe you’re saving lives. Find your passion and harness it.

11. Smell the roses.

“Rest and be thankful.”

William Wordsworth

Take a break every once in a while and stop to appreciate the world around you. You’ll be surprised at how the little things, like budding flowers, cracks in a sidewalk, and even the smell of rain, can inspire, encourage, and uplift. Never take these moments for granted and enjoy solace every once in a while. You will exercise your mind and body.

12. Exercise your mind.

“Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.”

Anthony J. D’Angelo

Become a life-long learner and expand your mind. Pick up a book, read a newspaper, or go to a library. Watch the news and talk about what you’ve learned. Expanding your mind can open yourself up to not only gained wisdom, but new skills and opportunities.

If you want to change your career path, you can find something that peaks your interest. Just don’t be afraid to learn about something that normally wouldn’t interest you.

13. Cherish your body.

“Growing into your future requires a dedication to caring for yourself as if you were rare and precious, which you are, and regarding all life around you as equally so, which it is.”

Victoria Moran

You have one life to live, so you should treat your body with respect. As the old saying goes, “your body is a temple, cherish it.” Eat healthy, sleep well, and exercise your mind and body. Take care of yourself first. Find your priorities and make them count.

14. Say “hello.”

“Sometimes just when I say hello the right way, I’m like, ‘Whoa, I’m so cool.'”

Robert Pattinson

Kindness is contagious and guess what? It feels good too. Be the first person to say “hello.” Greet your neighbors, a stranger on the street, your co-worker three cubicles down to the right. Spread happiness and make someone’s day. Believe it or not, it will make your day as well.

15. Be alone.

“The best part about being alone is that you really don’t have to answer to anybody. You do what you want.”

Justin Timberlake

Make time for yourself. Turn off the TV, step away from the computer, put down the phone. Embrace your “me time” and think about what  made you happy today. Or, do not think at all. That’s the beauty of being alone. The choice is yours.

Savor the moments where you don’t have an obligation or a place to go. Put a blanket outside on a sunny day and lay down and bask in the healthy glow. Remember that each moment is precious.

16.Establish a routine.

“The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine.”

Mike Murdock

Try waking up at the same time each morning. Enjoy breakfast and plan your day. Instead of feeling stressed or frazzled, find comfort in knowing you can control some things in your life. When you have your bearings, it’s easier to take on new challenges and kinks in the system.

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17. Put you and your family first.

“The love of family and the admiration of friends is much more important than wealth and privilege.”

Charles Kuralt

Sure, we all have deadlines and pressures at work and in our daily lives. However, they should never be put in front of your own health and your family’s wellness. You only have one family and they should always be a top priority.

Make a phone call and catch up. Have dinner or invite family over for a game night. If someone you love is in the hospital, go visit them. Cherish every moment you have with them.

18. Keep dreaming.

“Keep on dreaming even if it breaks your heart.”

Eli Young Band

Dream big. This means always strive for what you want out of life. Create a bucket list and organize your ideas so you know where to start. Maybe you’ve always wanted to run a 5k. Start out with the end in mind and work hard to reach your goal. If you fail, try again.

19. Reflect and react.

“Sometimes, you have to look back in order to understand the things that lie ahead.”

Yvonne Woon

Think of yourself as moldable. Your past experiences shape who you are. Take some time to think through your trials and errors, your successes. Then, see how they can propel you forward. Strive to improve and be the best version of yourself.

20. Be motivated.

“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”

Harriet Beecher Stowe

Never give up. Keep your drive, your passion and faith in yourself. Know you can accomplish your goals and reach for them. Ask a friend to help encourage you along the way. Whether it’s losing weight, finding a new job, or reconnecting with an old friend, a support system is priceless.

What does it all mean?

By adopting all or even some of these philosophies, you can have a positive outlook on life and a greater sense of where you fit in. Success is not monetary gain. It’s not pleasing others. It’s about making yourself happy in your life. So, go out there and really live it up!

 

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Featured photo credit: Namphuong Van via unsplash.com

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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