Most of us go through life on a sort of autopilot. Our habits and lifestyle roll along without much conscious thought. We do our daily things without examining them, we interact with others without stopping to ask ourselves; what does this mean? or why is this happening? why do I do this and why do I do this in the way I do? Or why did they really say or do that? We don’t stop to assess whether our actions and choices and the interactions we have serve our goals and dreams. We muddle along in bit of a fog. Begin to really pay attention to the moment, the thoughts, the habits, the interactions you have. You will be amazed at what you find out.
2. QUESTION YOUR ASSUMPTIONS
We all have assumptions about life that we have collected over the years. These form the template for our behaviour and choices, even if we rarely think about them. These assumptions form our beliefs about ourselves and about the world in general. Sometimes these assumptions are not entirely true and they can get in the way of our success. Examine your assumptions and beliefs. What might have been true for you at twenty frequently isn’t when you are thirty-five. Question your assumptions regularly. Keep what’s working for you and change what doesn’t.
“Begin challenging your own assumptions. Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in awhile, or the light won’t come in.”
~ Alan Alda
3. STRETCH YOURSELF
A great life is one that expands and grows, it never stagnates. Learning new things, trying new ways of doing things, opening your mind to unfamiliar concepts, visiting new places, listening to music you normally wouldn’t choose, and meeting new people are some ways to stretch the limits of who you are. Stretching yourself opens the door to fresh opportunities. Choose one new thing to try on a regular basis and soon you will see you are more than you ever suspected.
There’s a lot out there about the power of visualization. I find some of it kind of trite and simplistic, but there is a lot power in visualization. It’s like throwing a ball. You don’t concentrate on the ball in your hand; you envision it hitting the target. You look to where it is going, not where it is at. It’s the same with visualization. SEE where it is you want to be. Make it as real in your mind as if it was already around you. Use vision boards, or journaling, whatever works for you. Your subconscious is literal and will react as if your vision is the reality, working with your goals instead of against them. You still have to do the work but it will be much, much easier.
“You must see your goals clearly and specifically before you can set out for them. Hold them in your mind until they become second nature.”
– Les Brown
5. MAKE MISTAKES
There is something in us that believes that grown-ups don’t make mistakes. It’s bullshit. The most successful people will tell you that they make mistakes all the time, probably more than most, because they try more things. It’s how we learn. You will screw up. You will learn from it. It’s normal. Don’t be afraid of mistakes, be afraid of not making any because that means you aren’t learning anything.
6. IGNORE YOUR BUT
No, not that butt. …the ‘buts’, the ‘what if’s’, the ‘if only’s’. Here’s how to banish these nasty little gremlins. They look bigger than they really are – they are only your fears, the illusion that you can’t do something that probably comes from your assumptions (which you need to examine and adjust regularly). Don’t let the gremlins talk you out of your dreams. They are only signposts that point out your challenges, and that’s all they are. They need to be ignored while you dream and set goals. Set them aside for that time. When you begin to plan, then and only then should you let them speak, and then only to find creative solutions to the obstacles they represent.
7. FEED YOUR PASSION
In my post, The Secret of Inspiration, I talked about how to immerse yourself in those things that inspire. Your passions need to be fed to become the fuel for your great life. Don’t put them on a shelf hoping one day that they will still be there when everything is ‘perfect’, because that day will never come. Take them down and put them in front of you. Surround yourself with anything related that encourages and nurtures them. Write about your passion, journal, talk to your friends about them, read about them, go to workshops, practice your passion daily in any little way you can. Do whatever it takes to make your passion central to your life.
“There is no greatness without a passion to be great, whether it’s the aspiration of an athlete or an artist, a scientist, a parent, or a businessperson.”
~ Anthony Robbins
8. BE YOUR OWN BIGGEST FAN
So many of us look outside of ourselves for encouragement, and it feels wonderful when others believe in us. Positive feedback is a great thing, but we can’t depend on it. There will be days when we don’t get that from others, for whatever reason. You need to be your own best friend and when I say that I mean it literally. Treat yourself like you would your very best friend. Ask yourself how you would respond to your best friend in whatever situation you are in, and then treat yourself accordingly. Don’t beat yourself up, cheer yourself on! Give yourself the support and encouragement you would gladly give to your loved ones. Pat yourself on the back when you do anything that takes you one step closer to your goals. Be compassionate with yourself.
9. MAKE THE TIME
I heard once that the way to measure what is really important to someone is to see what he or she spends their time and money on, not what they talk about. Your dreams and goals need time and space to grow in. You can’t expect success to happen in a 30 minutes slot on a Sunday evening after the kids go to bed. It won’t happen. Sometimes that means something else has to go to make room for your dreams. Make a choice about what really matters to you, then give it the time it deserves.
“The great dividing line between success and failure can be expressed in five words: I did not have time.“
~ Franklin Field
10. HAVE FUN
This is my favorite because I believe a great life is a joyful one. Yes, sometimes achieving our goals takes hard work but hard work doesn’t have to be dull, or dreary or painful. Your passion, your goals should be something that you want to do, something you would do even if you didn’t need the money. Living a passionate life is more like play than work, and play is the way to creativity, and creativity is where solutions come from. So have fun with what you do, and how you live. Be silly, be absurd, dance around the house, and make a game of things when you come up against something that seems daunting. Use crayons, if that’s what it takes.