post written by: Marc Chernoff
How To Be The Best You Can Be
This guest post was written by Celestine, author of Personal Excellence.
Do you expect nothing but the best from yourself? Well, you are not alone. As someone who’s highly committed to personal excellence and growth, my motto in life is to ‘be my best self and live my best life.’ I strive to uphold this motto every single day. In doing so, I have adopted ten simple principles which help me stay on track:
Follow Your Heart
Follow your passion. Life’s too short to spend it doing something you don’t love. When I made the decision to leave my brand management career last year, I faced varying levels of resistance from people all around me - my parents, friends, managers, colleagues, mentors, etc. Some thought I went crazy. Some thought I was undergoing a strange life-phase. Some thought it was a waste to give up a Fortune 100 career with excellent prospects and a sizable paycheck. And others thought I was just being rash and wasn’t thinking things through.
If what you are doing now is not your passion,
then you have nothing to lose.
The truth is, it was a decision two years in the making. I had already discovered my passion before I graduated from college. After two years of working, I had reached the point where every day I spent at my job was making me unhappy. And I knew I could be doing something I really loved instead. So I quit my job to pursue my passion, and I haven’t looked back since.
Today, I’m happier than I’ve ever been, pursuing my passion in full throttle - touching lives through my personal development blog, coaching people and speaking at related events. The story doesn’t end here either - I have huge plans in the future to transform even more lives and I can’t wait to make this a reality. Now that I’m in full control of me, there are no limits at all to what can be done!
So what’s your passion? What are your goals and dreams? If you absolutely knew you couldn’t fail, what would you do with your life? To aid your goal achievement process, check out my seven-part goal achievement series.
Prioritize and Focus
One of my core values is excellence, and I believe a key component of excellence is focus. I ensure that everything I do has a single-minded focus - it starts off first with my purpose in life, laddering down to my life goals, then my long-term goals, my short-term goals, and finally down to my daily tasks. One of the tools which helps keep me focused is my life handbook. It’s a life manual I created back in 2007 that contains my purpose, vision, goals, strategies, and specific plans to keep me on track. It has served me tremendously over the years.
I’m also a strong advocate of the 80-20 rule - where 20% of the causes lead to 80% of the effects. Many outcomes in life are attributable to a few small actions, and once we get all those key actions right, we will gain phenomenal results. Thus, I’m always looking out for the most critical factors that require my attention. Once I identify them, I put forth my best effort to conquer them. As for the remaining factors, I either do them with lesser attention, delegate them out to others, or outsource the work. So in summary, I make sure that the things I spend my time doing are the things that have the most impact.
Look on the Positive Side
Probably cliché, but true nonetheless, you must stay positive. You can look at a half-filled glass from multiple perspectives. If you are positive, you will cheer at how the glass is half-full. If you are negative, you will sigh and resign at the half-empty portion of the glass. If you are a realist, you will simply see the glass as a glass.
At the end of the day, what you are faced with is simply the way it is. Everything else is your own perspective. Focus on the negative side of the situation, and you will be mired in negativity. Focus on the positive upside, and you will gain a positive outlook which will improve your experience and quality of life, giving you the momentum to move onward and upward.
Place Yourself in the Face of Uncertainty
Uncertainty is my compass towards growth. Whenever I’m faced with something that makes me feel uncomfortable or uncertain, it’s an indicator that there are growth opportunities inside me. In fact, the more uncertain I feel, the more it signifies the possibility for growth.
If I feel uncertain about a particular topic I’m writing about, it means I need to learn more about this topic before I continue writing. If I feel uncertain about a circumstance, it means I need to learn how to deal with it. It has become a natural reaction for me to explore feelings of uncertainty inside of me as they arise, work on them, and then emerge with an increased level of self-awareness.
Are you putting yourself in the face of uncertainty? Or are you snuggled away in your comfort zone? Personal growth only occurs when you are faced with an unprecedented situation that forces you to expand your comfort boundaries.
Think and Reflect
Introspection is pretty much my staple hobby. If there’s anything I’m grateful for, it’s the ability to think freely. Being able to think and reflect on our lives is a gift. Whenever you reflect on your own thoughts and actions, you gain a greater sense of clarity about yourself and the world around you.
Think about the things that make you happy and the things that make you sad. Why do these things make you feel the way they do? Think carefully when you answer these questions, and get comfortable with your answers.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should be thinking 24/7. Sometimes, detaching yourself from the reality and becoming an observer (through meditation, another one of my favorite hobbies) is needed as well.
There is nothing permanent in this world. Money, material possessions, success, circumstances, and people – each of these enter and leave our lives continuously. Thus, there is no reason to attach yourself to whatever you see. This includes the outcome of different situations.
If there is something happy in your life, relish in it, enjoy it, but don’t develop an unhealthy craving towards it. If there is something unhappy in your life, experience the emotion and smile at it at the same time, knowing that nothing is permanent and that this situation will dissipate in time.
Many of life’s disappointments and miseries come from attaching yourself to particular outcomes. When you realize that nothing is permanent and all that you see will be gone soon, then feelings of unhappiness and fear tend to dissipate.
Concentrate on Actionable Steps
Don’t waste your time on things that you cannot change. I generally classify things you cannot change into 2 categories - (1) The past (2) Other people. This means that you should focus on effecting the present, so you can shape the future and progress your wellbeing.
Harping on things that cannot be changed is just a waste of your time and energy. If something happened in the past that upset you, focus on what can be done to alleviate the situation in the future. If people are annoying you, focus on what you can act on to remove the annoyance.
There was a time at my previous job where I faced a difficult series of challenges. I became somewhat jaded and fell into a self-victimizing mode. After a short period of doing this, I just felt sick of it - the negativity, the inaction, everything. That’s when I realized that no matter what the circumstances are, or how tough they may appear, there are always actionable steps I can take to change the situation.
For whatever challenge you may be facing in life now, think in terms of actionable steps. What can you do in this situation? How can you act to move yourself closer to where you want to be? Check Marc’s excellent post 28 Ways to Slay the Delay to learn more about taking action.
Keep the Momentum Alive
Most people often spend copious amount of time thinking about things and planning things, but then defer the action stage perpetually. They justify themselves into inaction, citing reasons such as wanting to avoid failure. It’s a total cop-out. Here’s another favorite quote of mine:
Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.
It is by taking action and receiving feedback from this action that we expand our horizons. By constantly acting and moving, you are automatically gaining more knowledge just by virtue of the response you are receiving from your interactions with the world around you. Remember, information won’t walk up to you on its own. You have to go get it.
Learn From the Best
Many of the things you want to know have already been experienced firsthand by others. I have found that I can achieve so much more by studying what others have already done. Then I can build upon the knowledge I gain from them. In the process, I keep the best practices and remove everything else.
This doesn’t mean that you stop experiencing new things for yourself. It just means you aren’t reinventing the wheel a hundred times over. It’s a simple way to avoid making the mistakes others have already made. This cuts down the learning curve by a whole lot and gives you much better results in a much shorter timeframe.
- Surround yourself with great people. As Jim Rohn puts it, you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.
- Study the best practices of the people who are succeeding in subjects you would like to pursue.
I used to be quite a selfish person, keeping everything, including my knowledge, for myself. I had heard many talk about the benefits that come from contribution and giving, but I could never comprehend them until I gave it a try. In the past year after I left my day job, I have dedicated myself to serving others and helping others live their best life. It has been the most incredible and meaningful year of my life yet, and I just know there’s so much more to come.
When you help others, you not only help them grow, but you also grow yourself. Your generosity opens the floodgates to an abundance of love and resources that flow between everyone involved.
For example, I spend many hours every day working on my personal development blog and writing free articles for others. While I receive no direct monetary benefit for what I write, the universe pays me back indirectly - in terms of media coverage from journalists who heard about my blog and my story, speaking engagements by organizations which heard about me through word of mouth, coaching sign-ups from people who want to enlist my help in achieving their dreams, love from readers who have benefited from my writings, and much more.
Of course, the motivation to give should come from an unadulterated desire to want to give and contribute, and not for the benefits that follow. The joy of giving comes from giving itself; the other perks are just a bonus.
Apply these ten principles into your life, and I promise you’ll start seeing positive results. Please stay in touch and let me know how they work out for you.
Also, read these books for more on being your best self:
- Become a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day
- Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life
- Optimal Thinking: How to Be Your Best Self
Celestine Chua is a personal excellence coach who writes at The Personal Excellence Blog to help others like you achieve excellence. She has been featured frequently in the press and is a highly sought-after life coach. Some of her top articles: 50 Ways to Boost Your Productivity and Cultivate Good Habits in 21 Days.
Photo by: H. Koppdelaney