I once spent a lot of time with someone who was wildly successful in his career. As a result, many things came to him in the form of opportunities, quality people and cool toys. Sadly, with all the gifts in his life, he was constantly in search of happiness. I watched him read countless books on the subject, talk to his peers, dig into movies about the subject and always think his life was missing something. Happiness was within his grasp yet he was doing everything wrong.
I often wondered how a smart man could be so clueless. And then I realized that he and many people, including myself, make the common mistake of taking action to accomplish something but this action is not getting them to their goal.
When you stop doing the wrong things, you make more room for the things that make you happy.
So, starting today, join me in making a personal commitment to quit and then eliminate counter productive behavior and open our time up for the right behavior. Personally, I have been practicing this concept over the last 24 months and I have never been so happy or fulfilled in my life. You CAN live the life you want and it can start today if you set yourself up for success. Here are some things to quit:
1. Quit procrastinating on your goals.
Some people dream of success while others wake up and work hard at it. Action and change are often resisted when they’re needed most. Get a hold of yourself and have discipline. Putting something off instantly makes it harder and scarier. What we don’t start today won’t be finished by tomorrow. And there’s nothing more stressful than the perpetual lingering of an unfinished task.
The secret to getting ahead is simply getting started. My secret to avoiding procrastination is to engage in the habit of clustering. When I have a project with a due date approaching I start to cluster my ideas, thoughts and resources on individual sheets of paper as they pop into my head. I drop them into the project folder. Now when it is time to work on the project I have a file full of first steps to roll with. Suddenly I am motivated because the mountain does not seem so high. This can also be done by typing emails to yourself on your smart phone. Put the name of the project in the subject line. Now when you are able to start the project you can simply do a search for those key words and all your thoughts will be sorted in your inbox.
2. Quit blaming others and making excuses.
Stop blaming others for what you have or don’t have, or for what you feel or don’t feel. When you blame others for what you’re going through, you deny responsibility and perpetuate the problem. Stop giving your power away and start taking responsibility for your life. Blaming is just another sorry excuse, and making excuses is the first step towards failure; you and only you are responsible for your life choices and decisions.
Picture two circles, one inside the other. The inside circle is all the things you have control of in your response and action. The outside circle you can influence but not change. Spend time on the inside circle where you can make a difference. Too many people live in the outside circle making excuses and not taking action by controlling their behavior.
3. Quit trying to avoid change.
If nothing ever changed we would still be using flip phones, or worse, the fax machine! Most of us are comfortable where we are even though the whole universe is constantly changing around us. Learning to accept this is vital to our happiness and general success. Because only when we change, do we grow, and begin to see a world we never knew was possible.
And don’t forget, however good or bad a situation is now, it will change. That’s the one thing you can count on. So embrace it, and realize that change happens for a reason. It won’t always be easy or obvious at first, but in the end it will be worth it. This is knowledge that was given to me in my high school years and it made all the difference in my attitude. My best friends’ Mom said to me that this world I am struggling in will not last forever. She encouraged me to see beyond today and look forward to the changes in life. I later learned how I could control my destiny and this has been the source of my power.
4. Quit trying to control the uncontrollable.
If you try to control everything, and then worry about the things you can’t control, you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of frustration and misery.
Some forces are out of your control, but you can control how you react to things. Everyone’s life has positive and negative aspects – whether you’re happy or not depends greatly on which aspects you focus on. The best thing you can do is to let go of what you can’t control, and invest your energy in the things you can – like your attitude. If you are still fighting this concept, refer to item #2 and discover what circle you are living in.
5. Quit talking down to yourself.
Nothing will bring you down quicker than berating yourself. The mind is a superb instrument if used right, but when used incorrectly, it becomes very destructive. Be aware of your mental self-talk. We all talk silently to ourselves in our heads, but we aren’t always conscious of what we’re saying or how it’s affecting us.
As Henry Ford once stated, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.” One of the major causes of why we fail is due to self-doubt and negative self-talk. The way to overcome negative thoughts and destructive emotions is to develop opposing, positive emotions that are stronger and more powerful. Listen to your self-talk and replace negative thoughts with positive ones, over time you will change the trajectory of your life.
Many people do not realize how incredibly nervous I feel prior to walking on a stage. The nerves would be debilitating if I did not overcome it with positive self talk. I remind myself that I am good at this and today this audience deserves my best. Sometimes I get a standing ovation when I am completed and that is an amazing feeling. However, 100% of the time, I finish my speech knowing I gave it my very best.
6. Quit criticizing others.
The negativity you bleed out toward others will gradually cripple your own happiness. When you truly feel comfortable with your own imperfections, you won’t feel threatened or offended by the imperfections you see in other people.
So stop worrying about the flaws you see in everyone else, and focus on yourself. Let the constant growth and improvement in your own life keep you so busy that you have no time left to criticize others.
Personally, I am having trouble with this one. I currently have someone I work with in my consulting practice who has some serious problems remaining professional and courteous at all times. I know he can be so much better than what he is. To be successful, I have to stop trying to criticize him by pointing out his failures and shortcomings as he will not change. My dear friend Mark recently quoted Tommy Lee Jones to me when he said “you never ask a horse or an actor do something they cannot do.” Wow, this is so true, thanks for the sharing the advice, Mark.
7. Quit running from your problems and fears.
Trust me, if everyone threw their problems in a pile for you to see, you would grab yours back. Tackle your problems and fears swiftly, don’t run away from them. The best solution is to face them head on no matter how powerful they may seem.
Fears, in particularly, stop you from taking chances and making decisions. They keep you confined to just the small space where you feel completely comfortable. But your life’s story is simply the culmination of many small, unique experiences, many of which require you to stretch your comfort zone. Be proud of your life story and remember your failures have everything to do with getting you to your successful self. They are the best learning opportunities you have. I have screwed up and failed many times. I have even been fired. As I look back over my adult years I would not remove that experience from my life story if I could. Letting your fears and worries control you is not ‘living,’ it’s merely existing.
Bottom line: Either you own your problems and fears, or they will ultimately own you and you are simply operating with excuses.
8. Quit living in another time and place.
Some people spend their entire lives trying to live in another time and place. They lament about what has been, what they could have done, or what might become. However, the past is gone, and the future doesn’t exist. No matter how much time we spend thinking and lamenting about either, it doesn’t change anything.
Our brightest future hinges on our ability to pay attention to what we’re doing right now, today.
We need to live more in the moment and be aware of reality. Living in the moment requires active, open, intentional awareness on the present. Don’t fantasize about being on vacation while at work, and don’t worry about the work piling up on your desk when you’re on vacation. Live for now. Notice the beauty unfolding around you. I lost my Father at a young age. I had the opportunity to visit him the week before he died but was worried about a pile of things that impacted my future. I made a decision I now regret because I did not live in the moment and reality that my Father was ill. I allowed my dream of the future to overshadow something incredibly important to me . Trust me, the future will always work itself out. Do what you need to do today.
9. Quit trying to be someone you’re not.
One of the greatest challenges in life is being yourself in a world that’s trying to make you like everyone else. Someone will always be prettier, someone will always be smarter, someone will always be younger, but they will never be you. Don’t change so people will like you. Be yourself and the right people will love you, and you’ll love yourself more too. I am a bit unconventional and don’t always deliver what people expect. This used to trouble me until I discovered what I deliver is better!
10. Quit being ungrateful.
Not all the puzzle pieces of life will seem to fit together at first, but in time you’ll realize they do, perfectly. So thank the things that didn’t work out, because they just made room for the things that will. And thank the ones who walked away from you, because they just made room for someone better.
No matter how good or bad you have it, wake up each day thankful for your life. Someone somewhere else is desperately fighting for theirs. Instead of thinking about what you’re missing, try thinking about what you have that everyone else is missing.
I am rooting for you and feel honored when you share your celebrations of success with me. My relationships with you will be part of my legacy. Go get ’em tiger and know that I am on your team! If you need support and encouragement, email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org and remember … you rock!
Read more from Kate Good here!