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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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Last Updated on June 3, 2020

How to Write SMART Goals (With SMART Goals Templates)

How to Write SMART Goals (With SMART Goals Templates)

Everyone needs a goal. Whether it’s in a business context or for personal development, having goals help you strive towards something you want to accomplish. It prevents you from wandering around aimlessly without a purpose.

But there are good ways to write goals and there are bad ways. If you want to ensure you’re doing the former, keep reading to find out how a SMART goals template can help you with it.

The following video is a summary of how you can write SMART goals effectively:

What Are SMART Goals?

SMART Goals

refer to a way of writing down goals that follow a specific criteria. The earliest known use of the term was by George T. Doran in the November 1981 issue of Management Review, however, it is often associated with Peter Drucker’s management by objectives concept.[1]

SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. There are other variations where certain letters stand for other things such as “achievable” instead of attainable, and “realistic” instead of relevant.

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What separates a SMART goal from a non-SMART goal is that, while a non-SMART goal can be vague and ill-defined, a SMART goal is actionable and can get you results. It sets you up for success and gives you a clear focus to work towards.

And with SMART goals comes a SMART goals template. So, how do you write according to this template?

How to Write Smart Goals Using a SMART Goals Template

For every idea or desire to come to fruition, it needs a plan in place to make it happen. And to get started on a plan, you need to set a goal for it.

The beauty of writing goals according to a SMART goals template is that it can be applied to your personal or professional life.

If it’s your job to establish goals for your team, then you know you have a lot of responsibility weighing on your shoulders. The outcome of whether or not your team accomplishes what’s expected of them can be hugely dependant on the goals you set for them. So, naturally, you want to get it right.

On a personal level, setting goals for yourself is easy, but actually following through with them is the tricky part. According to a study by Mark Murphy about goal setting, participants who vividly described their goals were 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to successfully achieve their goals.[2] Which goes to show that if you’re clear about your goals, you can have a higher chance of actually accomplishing them.

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Adhering to a SMART goals template can help you with writing clear goals. So, without further ado, here’s how to write SMART goals with a SMART goals template:

Specific

First and foremost, your goal has to be specific. Be as clear and concise as possible because whether it’s your team or yourself, whoever has to carry out the objective needs to be able to determine exactly what it is they are required to do.

To ensure your goal is as specific as it can be, consider the Ws:

  • Who = who is involved in executing this goal?
  • What = what exactly do I want to accomplish?
  • Where = if there’s a fixed location, where will it happen?
  • When = when should it be done by? (more on deadline under “time-bound”)
  • Why = why do I want to achieve this?

Measurable

The only way to know whether or not your goal was successful is to ensure it is measurable. Adding numbers to a goal can help you or your team weigh up whether or not expectations were met and the outcome was triumphant.

For example, “Go to the gym twice a week for the next six months” is a stronger goal to strive for than simply, “Go to the gym more often”.

Setting milestone throughout your process can also help you to reassess progress as you go along.

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Attainable

The next important thing to keep in mind when using a SMART goals template is to ensure your goal is attainable. It’s great to have big dreams but you want your goals to be within the realms of possibility, so that you have a higher chance of actually accomplishing them.

But that doesn’t mean your goal shouldn’t be challenging. You want your goal to be achievable while at the same time test your skills.

Relevant

For obvious reasons, your goal has to be relevant. It has to align with business objectives or with your personal aspirations or else, what’s the point of doing it?

A SMART goal needs to be applicable and important to you, your team, or your overall business agenda. It needs to be able to steer you forward and motivate you to achieve it, which it can if it holds purpose to something you believe in.

Time-Bound

The last factor of the SMART goals template is time-bound (also known as “timely”). Your goal needs a deadline, because without one, it’s less likely to be accomplished.

A deadline provides a sense of urgency that can motivate you or your team to strive towards the end. The amount of time you allocate should be realistic. Don’t give yourself—or your team—only one week if it takes three weeks to actually complete it. You want to set a challenge but you don’t want to risk over stress or burn out.

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Benefits of Using a SMART Goals Template

Writing your goals following a SMART goals template provides you with a clearer focus. It communicates what the goal needs to achieve without any fuss.

With a clear aim, it can give you a better idea of what success is supposed to look like. It also makes it easier to monitor progress, so you’re aware whether or not you’re on the right path.

It can also make it easier to identify bottlenecks or missed targets while you’re delivering the goal. This gives you enough time to rectify any problems so you can get back on track.

The Bottom Line

Writing goals is seemingly not a difficult thing to do. However, if you want it to be as effective as it can be, then there’s more to it than meets the eye.

By following a SMART goals template, you can establish a more concrete foundation of goal setting. It will ensure your goal is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound—attributes that cover the necessities of an effectively written goal.

More Tips About Goals Setting

Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

Reference

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