Most of us are trying hard to juggle it all in life: career, work, family, self-care and then some. 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. 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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
Light up your face and the heart of another person with a smile. Sadly enough, smiles nowadays can be misinterpreted as an attempt to seduce someone, an expression of naivety, or even dumbness. 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. 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.
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 boss/mentor/guide what you are about to take on. Ask others for advice and help, and don’t beat yourself up when you make a mistake.
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.
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 a meditation on forgiveness and loving-kindness.
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.
How do you strive for excellence in life?