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Last Updated on August 27, 2019

20 Ways to Strive for Excellence in Life

20 Ways to Strive for Excellence in Life

Most of us are trying hard to juggle it all in life: career, work, family, and self-care. We believe that in order to be our best selves, we should “get the most out of it”, and be on the ball in all fields of our lives.

Although this article deals with excellence, you might be surprised that I am not urging you to be at the top of the game in every single aspect of life. Instead, I would like to invite you to excel in those fields where you really can make a difference, so that when you move on, you shall have left behind a better world for those who follow.

This is an invitation to find your voice and leave a mark in the world; an invitation to surpass the average and aim for higher levels of excellence; an invitation to tap into your talents more deeply than before and turn yourself into a radiating powerhouse. It is time to live your purpose in life and share your unique, beautiful gifts with all other beings.

In essence, excellence is the very opposite of perfectionism. Perfectionism is losing your true self in the demands of society, and trying to emulate a person who is not you and whom you can never become. Excellence, on the other hand, is becoming the center of your own universe, and from that grounded, centered position, shining your light into the world by using your unique talents.

Living a life of excellence takes effort, but at the same time is rewarding and gives you energy so that you can keep up your work. Here are 20 ideas that you can implement to strive for excellence:

1. Identify Your Values

To make the right choices in your life, you need to know what truly matters to you.

Keep a list of your core values, and write your observations on how you and others live according to these values as well. Revisit your list often to focus your energy on what you value most in life.

2. Stand up for a Cause

Sometimes we’ll hear something in the news that seems to pull a string deep inside of us—we feel that the cause at hand is truly worth to fight for.

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Express your opinion, and become active. Whether it is protecting animal rights, fighting street harassment, or ending the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, find what truly makes you tick and throw your weight into the battle.

3. Truly Listen

Connect to others by listening to their story. Hold your advice and similar experiences, and go deeper into the experience the other person is telling you, sensing his/her emotions and reactions. In this way, you will learn more about other people; about their needs and values.

This guide can help you become a better listener: How to Practice Active Listening (A Step-By-Step Guide)

4. Feel Your Emotions

Stop muffling your emotions underneath a big blanket and putting your fake-happy-neutral face all the time. Learn from children, who are sad, happy, excited and tired over the course of less than an hour. This is Why Negative Emotions Aren’t That Bad (And How to Handle Them).

Feel what truly goes on within yourself, and simply accept it.

5. Be a Cycle

Ebbing and flowing, turning in cycles and circles—that is the rhythm of both our planet and our lives.

Society, however, seems to think that life is a ladder that we need to climb, step by step. Instead of trying to go up, up, up all the time, learn to live with the cycles of the moon and the seasons, and feel the waxing and waning energies in yourself.

6. Meditate

Meditation is the single most powerful personal development tool out there, so practice it daily. Cling to your meditation practice when times get busy and the going gets tough: those are the moments when you need it the most.

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If you’re new to meditation, take a look at this article: Meditation for Beginners: How to Meditate Deeply and Quickly

7. Journal

Journaling improves your mood and your productivity. Here’s how: Writing Journal for a Better and More Productive Self (The How-To Guide)

So let your thoughts out on a sheet of paper or your screen, and use your journal as a place to reflect on your day, your progress in life and all observations from the day that might need to leave your mind so that you can relax.

8. Define Your Limiting Beliefs

What is holding you back? What cultural conditioning is keeping you from stepping out from the crowd? Do you think you can’t do it because you’re too old, because you haven’t gone to college or because you are a woman?

Define your limiting beliefs, and then release them into the wide open: How to Overcome Limiting Beliefs That Hold You Back from Success

9. Practice Gratitude

Learn to be grateful for all positive experiences that come across your path on a given day. Keep a list of 10 things that you are grateful for, every day. When dark days are upon you, be grateful for your health, for life, for your pet… anything that can give you a little spark.

If you need a little reminder about what to be grateful for, here it is: 32 Things You Should Be Grateful For

10. Smile

Light up your face and the heart of another person with a smile. There’re many benefits of smiling. Sadly enough, smiles nowadays can be misinterpreted as an attempt to seduce someone, an expression of naivety, or even dumbness.

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Put smiling back where it deserves to be: an expression of joy and positive feelings and a way to connect with other humans.

11. Show Compassion

Stop judging others when they make mistakes or hurt you. Instead, try to put yourself in their shoes, and think: “There I go, being rude/inattentive/etc.”. By thinking along these lines, you understand how all human beings are similar; how we all have are flaws and bad moments that can be forgiven.

12. Learn from Your Dreams

First, learn how to remember your dreams. Write down your dreams too: How Keeping a Dream Journal Can Change Your Mindset

Then, start to analyze the symbols that occur in your dreams and explore your subconsciousness. I don’t believe in the lists of dream symbols that you can find online—I think that every person’s subconsciousness makes different connections between our experiences, and thus brings forth these symbols from a different background in each individual.

13. Teach

Use your unique gift to teach others. Spend time with people who try to learn your language, share a craft that you master, organize a workshop about a new software package at work or volunteer at a local school—the options for teaching are as abundant as the diversity of talents among us all.

14. Face Your Demons

What happened in your past that left a rotten piece in your heart? When you feel like the time is ready, fasten your seat belt and face your demons. Only when you can address the darker parts of yourself can heal your past and move more freely into your future.

15. Take up a Difficult Task

Step forward when a difficult task is handed out. Lean into the opportunity, choose the spotlight, be realistic, and discuss with your mentor or coach what you are about to take on. Ask others for advice and help, and don’t beat yourself up when you make a mistake.

Still not sure if you should take up a difficult task? Take a look at this article: Is It Really Better to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone?

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16. Celebrate Your Body

Your body is beautiful, regardless of your size, shape, and medical condition. Celebrate your body by giving it wholesome foods, time to exercise (just like caring for your dog means letting him out for a walk), and additional care, such as massages and sauna visits.

17. Honor Your Intellect

Find the boundaries of your understanding, and explore from there. Take up an online course, join a conversation group, solve difficult puzzles—anything that gets your mental machinery going and feels like a challenge is a good way to honor your brain.

Also try these 15 Ways to Cultivate Continuous Learning for a Sharper Brain.

18. Forgive

Forget past transgressions and forgive yourself, your loved ones, and everyone else. A very powerful way of letting go of grudges and negative feelings is to practice meditation on forgiveness and loving-kindness.

Here’re also some tips to help you learn to forgive: How to Forgive and Live a Happy Life Again (A Step-By-Step Guide)

19. Focus on Being, Not on Having

Consumerism is the blood of our economy, but with scarcer resources, the time has come to define ourselves based on who we are instead of what we have.

20. Ask Yourself Every Day: “Did I Give the Very Best of Myself to the World?”

Stand in front of the mirror and ask yourself: “Did I give the very best of myself to the world today?”

If the answer is “yes”, explore what motivated you and how you feel at the end of the day. If the answer is “no”, don’t beat yourself up, but reflect on what happened today that took you out of your balance.

More About Living Your Best Life

Featured photo credit: Azrul Aziz via unsplash.com

More by this author

Eva Lantsoght

Eva is a university professor and a professional structural engineer. She writes about achieving excellence and success in life on Lifehack.

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Published on August 4, 2020

How Smart Goal Setting Helps You Make Lasting Changes

How Smart Goal Setting Helps You Make Lasting Changes

SMART goal setting is one of the most valuable methods used by high achievers today to actualize their life goals time after time. SMART goal setting is the inverse of random or carefree goal setting without strategy.

Perhaps, you’ve always wished to get back in shape, get an annuity, or take control of your finances, but you failed to act. When you approach your goals with a care-free and nonchalant attitude, you’re less likely to achieve them.

You should have a strategic goal setting method in place, and learning how to set smart goals is imperative in this case. The method is time-tested and purposeful, meaning it can help you achieve your goals now.

To achieve your goals consistently and join the pack of high achievers out there who have consistently achieved many of their goals, you must be prepared to do what these people have been doing, and be ready to do the right thing: SMART goal setting.

What Is the SMART Model for Setting Goals?

SMART goal setting is a goal-setting method that considers certain factors about a goal relative to the person setting it. These factors are simply the five different letters in the SMART acronym for goal setting.

It is relative to the person setting the goal because what is true for A may not be true for B; or what is possible for A or within A’s ability to achieve may not be possible for B or within B’s ability to achieve.

What does the goal setting acronym SMART stand for?

  • S—Specific
  • M—Measurable
  • A—Achievable
  • R—Realistic/Relevant
  • T—Time-bound

Is it possible that this acronym can make a long lasting impact in your life?

Is it possible that a mere goal setting metric like SMART can help you achieve so many of your unfulfilled goals?

Is it possible that if you practice SMART goal setting, you will be able to have faster results, understand your goals better, overcome the habit of procrastination, and achieve a lot?

The power to achieve your goals is in your hands.

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It is important to extend the inquiry by asking: How many times have you said you’ll do “X,” but failed to do so?

We all have goals, and we all have 24 hours each day at our disposal. While some people find it easy to achieve their goals without procrastinating, some find it difficult to do so.

For some people who have succeeded again and again in achieving their goals, they have simply found an easy way of doing this. Is there something they know that you don’t?

How Smart Goal Setting Makes a Lasting Impact

Smart goal setting examples can be found all around you. Through SMART goal setting, Stephen Cooley was able to grow his real estate business to the point of closing at $110 million in sales when the average price point of homes was between $100,000 – $200,000 in South Carolina[1].

Through SMART goal setting, Steve Jobs was able to improve the fortunes of Apple and prevent the company from going bankrupt, even when it had barely 90 days left before being declared so.

SMART goal setting can make a lasting impact in your life in several ways.

Make Your Goal Clearer

When you use the SMART criteria to set goals, it is easier for you to understand the various phases of your goal.

By using SMART goal setting, you’re able to ask yourself relevant questions pertaining to your goal.

Motivate You Into Acting on Your Goals

When you use SMART goal setting and break down the goal into smaller goals or milestones, the bigger goal no longer looks intimidating or impossible.

Jack Canfield, co-author of Chicken Soup for the Soul, wrote in his book How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be about how they applied the rule of five in marketing their book, Chicken Soup, and were able to make the book a best seller after some months[2]. The rule of five simply means doing five specific things every day that will move you closer to achieving your goal.

In order not to be overwhelmed, you would have to measure your performance using the right metrics. Here we are considering the Measurable and Achievable aspects of the SMART acronym. It is critical that you measure yourself in terms of lead measures.

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What are lead measures? They are the things you do that leads you closer to your goals. On the other hand, you would have to avoid “lag measures.”

While lag measures mean a successful outcome that you wished for and got, they can be emotionally draining and deceitful because, whenever they don’t happen, you can become discouraged.

Therefore, it is better to stick to lead measures.

Help You Save Time

You can achieve more when you use SMART model goal setting.

To be strategic, your goal would have to be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. If you can’t identify any of these points in your goal, you probably will be wasting your time on a wild goose chase.

When your goals are written down, it’s easier for you to go into action mode.

Improve Your Self-Discipline

Self-improvement is an important thing for everyone to do periodically. When you set SMART goals, it makes you realize that you have to sit up and work on achieving them.

How to Set SMART Goals

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    To make your SMART goals work, use the following tips:

    Specific

    Every goal ought to be specific. It is important to guard against making vague goals because even when they have been achieved, you may not know. This is because you weren’t specific enough.

    For example, “I will start planning toward retirement” is vague. Rather than write that, you could say, “I will start planning toward retirement by starting an annuity plan.” This is more specific.

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    When you are specific on your goal, it’s easier for you to identify all its components and work accordingly toward achieving it.

    Measurable

    Your goals must be measurable. When they are measurable, it’s easier for you to follow through.

    A goal like this is not measurable: “I want to make millions of dollars.” You can make it more measurable by saying, “I want to make one million dollars selling one hundred thousand copies of my book at ten dollars each.”

    Also, using our SMART goal setting examples while explaining the Specific acronym, you can make the goal more measurable by saying, “I will start planning toward retirement by starting an annuity plan and saving $500 every month.”

    Achievable

    How realistic or actionable is your goal? Is it practical enough to fit into a given time frame? Is it something you are able to achieve in your capacity?

    You would only be setting yourself up for failure if you sets goals that are not reasonable.

    A goal like this is highly unrealistic and, therefore, not achievable: “I want to be the Governor of Texas in six months,” especially since the elections will be coming up in three years.

    Goals must be written down relative to the experiences of the one setting them. They must resonate with you. It is important that you have at least some of the resources needed to actualize this goal.

    It is also important that you consider your time frame. When the time frame to achieve a complex goal is too short, it is rare that such goal will be completed.

    Thus, using our previous example, if you write “I want to make one million dollars in ten days selling one hundred thousand copies of my book at ten dollars each,” you would only be setting up yourself for failure.

    This is especially true if you’re not a popular author or if you’ve never sold even up to one thousand copies of any of your previous books, whether e-copy or in print.

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    Realistic/Relevant

    Before you proceed to making the commitment toward that goal, you need think about how realistic and relevant it is.

    Being realistic means you should be willing to make all the commitments required for that goal to be achieved. If your goal is relevant, it fits into the life you’ve imagined for yourself.

    Time-Bound

    Every goal must have a commencement date and an end date written down. It is also important that you break down your goals into phases, chunks, bits, or milestones.

    The act of having deadlines set to your goals is ample motivation that drives you into action. Without a deadline, it is not possible for you to know if you’re making headway with your goals.

    “I will start planning toward retirement by starting an annuity plan and saving $500 every month for the next twenty five years” is a time-bound goal.

    Remember that some goals are short-term while some are long-term. It is important to always bear this in mind, because this will help you in making a clear and realistic strategy when SMART goal planning.

    Without SMART goal setting in view, much of our goals may likely end in our minds, on paper, or just midway into implementation. SMART goal setting reveals to us all the action points of our goals and helps us to have an awareness of every aspect of our goals.

    The Bottom Line

    What matters at the end of the day is what you do with the contents of this article because the power to achieve your goals is in your hands.

    It is not enough to have a goal. It is not enough to put it down in writing. It is important to have a strategy in mind while putting it down. This strategy is a guideline or set of rules that point you in the right direction. It is SMART goal setting in the given circumstance.

    After writing down your goals, you will have to be ready to take action. There should be a clear action point. Write down what you need to do on daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

    When your goals are realistic, they make them worth the chase. One of the things to bear in mind is that, in order not to be overwhelmed by the daunting nature of your goals, remember to always break them into milestones, chunks, or bits. In fact, take one day at a time.

    Do not bother yourself with the one-year, three-year, five-year or ten-year plan as this may likely overwhelm you with fear and doubt. Let your focus be on each day. What will I be doing today? Consider this and go for it.

    More on the SMART Model for Setting Goals

    Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

    Reference

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