Most of us will start the New Year with a list of goals we would like to achieve over the course of the next year. Making New Years’ Resolutions has become an American pastime. Unfortunately, a majority of us will end up falling far below our initial expectations. For some reason we either lose interest, become distracted by other things, or find the goals end up requiring more than we are willing to give to get there. Over the years I’ve observed a much smaller number of people who actually achieve what they set out to do. From this experience, I’ve developed the following tips to help you become one of these lucky few:
I feel fortunate to have made it this far in life. Not everyone gets to have this much time. As we age it becomes more obvious that time is finite. I wish you well on your own journey and that the time you have left is well spent.
Whenever I encounter someone who is failing or struggling inevitably they have convinced themselves that this is their lot in life. They spend a considerable amount of time thinking about worst case scenarios and everything that is going wrong. Sometimes they even start to believe they deserve their misfortune and/or easily fall into the role of victim. More and more energy is taken up by negative thoughts and this only deepens their woes and solidifies self-doubt. When this mindset takes hold for any prolonged period of time they actually begin to sabotage their own success and happiness. It is a vicious cycle. People don’t have black clouds over their heads they just become consumed by dark thoughts. My own observation of others is that depression doesn’t happen to someone all at once instead it happens gradually over time…
I often worry about people who read too many self-help books and/or set lofty expectations for themselves based on what others think or espouse. Many of these books or speakers attempt to create and communicate a common definition of success and/or happiness that resonates with everyone and is applicable in all situations. They also tend to engender flawed comparisons of reality and potential. It’s almost as if who you are doesn’t matter and that everyone is equally capable in all situations and that there is a proven recipe for managing all life has in store for you.
Growth and improvement as a leader doesn’t always involve heavy lifting or hard work. Here are 15 relatively easy things you can do right away to improve your performance and results
As a boy growing up pretty much all my public role models were the strong silent types. John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Steve McQueen were all men of few words but vigorous action. Men didn’t show their feelings; they just dealt with whatever came their way in the most expeditious fashion. Problems were meant to be solved not fretted over. Real men weren’t vulnerable. They were strong for all of those around them and kept their feelings to themselves. My dad very much lived up to this expectation. I can’t remember even one example of him telling me how he “felt” about something. He just did what he was supposed to do and that was that.
It’s sad and frustrating how many people talk themselves out of success. I see it all the time. If comparable energy was given to figuring out how to overcome obstacles as is given to identifying them, many more people would live happier lives. It’s important to always remember that what we focus on expands and what we ignore contracts. You should only listen to that little voice in your head when the self-talk is positive and constructive not negative.
It’s important never to get too full of yourself or expect good times and success to be never-ending. The laws of gravity apply in all aspects of life: what goes up must come down. No one lives at the peak for too long. I’ve always believed that it’s not just what happens when you are on top that matters, but also the grace with how you manage the inevitable changes and decline. Life is about cycles and reinvention. It is not a continuous upward sloping straight line.
The secret to happiness has always been through giving not getting. There are few things more important than being there for other people in your life when they need you. Life can be a hard at times. At some point, everyone will need a shoulder to lean on, someone they can confide in and maybe even a helping hand.
Sometimes in the smallest ways we impact other people. Less frequently but more powerfully are those actions that over time have a significant impact on others.
Maybe it’s my age and being more aware of things, but I am convinced there are more egocentric people today than when I was a younger. You meet people like this all the time. Whatever happens is always about them regardless of the situation and its consequences (for others). Sadly, they have been buoyed in their attitudes by a cottage industry of self-help gurus and marketers that continue to reinforce the worldview that everyone should be the center of their own universe and each individual’s primary concern should be their own happiness and self-satisfaction.
In our very hurried and fast paced world these days it is often very difficult to be “in the moment” of what you are doing at any point and time. Distractions abound as people and responsibilities clamor for your time. There ends up being very few thoughtful focused moments in the course of a day where you can simply concentrate on the person, task or situation at hand.
Be wary of trying to fix people. If in fact they are broken, they will need to fix themselves. It is often easy to get “sucked into the vortex” of someone else’s problems especially if you care about them. However, the most important thing a good friend can do is simply listen and only offer advice when it is requested and then do it carefully and sparingly.
I continue to be fascinated and a bit troubled by people who claim an unwillingness to grow or change. They seem to live by the Popeye motto, “I am what I am” and assume everyone else will simply accept this point of view whether they like it or not. Our actions and behaviors will always have consequences both good and bad. The goal should be to maximize the good and limit the bad.
There is nothing wrong with having moments of comfort and predictability in our lives. However, we must also learn to become more comfortable with being uncomfortable. In fact, we should seek out things that push us to our limits and challenge our preconceived notions of what’s possible.
I do believe we all have a purpose and something to share in this world regardless of the time we may or may not have. In fact, the lives of those who are unfortunately cut short can be even more instructive.