post written by: Angel Chernoff

15 Things You Have to Forget to Get Ahead

15 Things You Have to Forget About to Get Ahead

“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”
―E.E. Cummings

This morning, after back surgery nearly a year ago, one of my close childhood friends finally took his first few unassisted steps.  His doctor says he should be back on his feet full-time in about two months; he just needs to build up the muscle in his legs again.  When I asked my friend what he’s looking forward to most about being back on his feet, he said, “Long walks with my wife.”

His response resonated deeply with me.  It’s such a strong reminder that the simple things are often the most important, and that we sometimes let stifling thoughts and ineffective habits get in our way of being happy and productive.

Which is why it’s time to let go and forget about…

1.  The complicated ways of living.

Focus on the activities and people that make you happy, and filter out the avoidable opposites.  Truth be told, we often make our lives complicated when it’s really quite simple:  Find what it is that makes you happy and spend more time doing it.  Find who it is that makes you smile and spend more time with them.

Living your dream is really just a matter of proper lifestyle alignment.  It’s about being true to yourself, and realizing that where you are at any given moment is exactly where you want to be.  Thus, happiness and success in life is simply the gratifying combination of liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking who you do it with.

2.  Negativity and those who create it.

When other people treat you poorly, keep being you.  Don’t ever let someone else’s bitterness change the person you are.  Don’t let the silly little dramas of each day get you down either.  Stay positive when negativity surrounds you.  Keep calm and carry on.  It takes one positive thought to overpower an entire array of negative thoughts.  People who are able to find the one positive point in negative situations are the ones who never give up.

3.  Insensitive thoughts.

Always be kinder than necessary.  What goes around comes around.  No one has ever made themselves strong by showing how small someone else is.  Whatever can be done, can be done more effectively when you add kindness.  Whatever words are spoken, will always be more compelling when expressed with kindness.

The kind deeds you exert in just one moment can have a positive impact that lasts a lifetime.  Your days will be brighter and your years fuller when you add kindness to your purpose.  Choose to be kind every day, and you’re truly choosing to live in a better world.

4.  The belief that you’re too flawed.

Accept your humanness.  You can stop pretending.  It feels good to own up to stuff… to admit that you’re human – a work in progress – a beautiful mess.  Wanting to be someone or something else is a waste of your beauty.  You’re fine.  If you feel like you aren’t, you’re blowing things out of proportion.  Having a little anxiety is fine.  Being a little fearful is fine.  Your secrets are fine.  You’re a good person.  You’re intelligent.  You’re fine just the way you are.  (Marc and I discuss this in more detail in the “Self-Love” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)

5.  Your desire to win everyone’s approval.

Your ideas and choices don’t have to be on everyone’s “approved” list.  Regardless of the opinions of others, at the end of the day the only reflection staring back at you in the mirror is your own.  Make sure you’re proud of who that person is.  Approach others with the belief that you’re a good person, whether they respond positively or not.  It’s normal to want people to like you, but it becomes a self-imposed burden when too much of your behavior is explicitly designed to constantly reassure you of their approval.

6.  The big expectations clouding your mind.

Whatever you’re waiting for – peace of mind, contentment, grace, an inner awareness of abundance – it will surely come to you, but only when you’re ready to receive it with an open and grateful heart.  So be as grateful as possible, for small things, not just for big things – for the simple act of breathing, the time together, the conversations, etc.  Every moment counts.  Every second matters.  Whatever is given is a gift.  Make the most of it.

7.  What you don’t have, and may never have.

Focus on the resources you do have access to.  It all begins and ends in your mind.  What you give power to has power over you, if you allow it.  Too many of us are hung up on what we don’t have, can’t have, or won’t ever have.  We spend too much energy being down, when we could use that same energy – if not less of it – doing, or at least trying to do, some of the things we really want to do.  So focus on the opportunities you DO have and exploit the resources you DO have access to.

8.  All that stuff for sale you don’t need.

Too many people buy things they don’t need with money they don’t have to impress people they don’t know.  Don’t be one of them.  Stop buying stuff on impulse!  Avoid the mall!  The mall is not a source of entertainment.  It’s a source of personal debt.  There’s no reason to tease yourself by staring at a bunch of brand new junk you don’t need.  And as you know, the novelty of a new purchase wears thin long before the credit card bill arrives.

So as I’ve said before, live a comfortable life, not a wasteful one.  Do not spend to entertain yourself or impress others.  Do not fool yourself into thinking wealth is measured in material objects.  Manage your money wisely so your money does not manage you.  (Read The Total Money Makeover.)

9.  Old, comfortable routines.

Remember, the way you’ve always done it isn’t the only way.  It’s unlikely that one of the things you’ll regret when you’re 80 is not having consumed enough beer in your 20s, or not having bought enough $9 lattes in your 30s, or not having frequented the same chain restaurants for your entire 40s, etc.  But the regret of missing out on opportunities is a real, toxic feeling.  You’ve figured out drinking and going out.  You’ve had enough lattes.  You know what the hamburger at Applebee’s tastes like.  It’s time to figure something else out.  Every corner you turn or street you walk down has a new experience waiting for you.  You just have to see the opportunity and be adventurous enough to run with it.

10.  Senseless busy work.

Incessant busyness is often a sign of ineffectiveness and laziness.  Because it’s easy to be busy – just partake in a bunch of random activities that drains all your time.  Doing so justifies never having enough time to clean, cook for yourself, go out with friends, meet new people, etc.  Right?  Wrong.  Don’t just get things done; get the right things done.  Results are always more important than the time it takes to achieve them.

11.  Illusions of safety.

You have to take risks.  You will only realize the full potential of your life when you allow the unexpected to happen.  Living itself is risky business.  Every decision, every interaction, every step, every time you get out of bed in the morning, you take a risk.  To truly live is to know you’re getting up and taking that risk.  To not get out of bed, clutching to illusions of safety, is to die slowly without ever having truly lived.  Be a little risky and realize the full potential of your life.

12.  Fears of defeat.

A fear of being defeated is what warrants your defeat.  A fear of not being good enough is what guarantees that you never will be.  If you never pick up that keyboard, or pencil, or paintbrush, or whatever instrument you use to craft your work, because you’re afraid that someone else might do it better than you, your prediction will automatically come true.

Remember, defeat is not the worst of failures.  Not having tried at all is as bad as it gets.  And as far as failure itself is concerned, you’re not obligated to succeed or fail.  You’re obligated to keep trying – to do the best you can do every day.  That’s all.  And you’re always good enough to do that.  (Read Start: Punch Fear in the Face.)

13.  The dream that everything should be easy.

The ones who fall and get up are so much stronger than the ones who never fell.  Often it’s the deepest pain that empowers human beings to rise and grow into their highest selves.  The ones who win the race in the long run are usually not the quickest or slickest, but the ones who have endured the most.

14.  The way you expected things to be.

Life is about laughing and learning through good times and bad.  It’s about growing through whatever comes your way and looking back with a smile.  You’re stronger because of the hard times, wiser because of your mistakes, and happier because you have known sadness.  The same is true for everyone else.

So stay strong.  Even when it feels like everything is falling apart, you can either let it define you, destroy you, or let it strengthen you.  Things change for the better.  Just believe and roll with it.  It won’t always be easy, but it will be worth it in the end.  When you finally let go of the past and what did or didn’t happen, something better comes along.  Oftentimes what you’re looking for comes when you’re not looking at all.

15.  The excuses for why you haven’t started.

The feeling you get from taking the first step is far better than the feeling you get from sitting around thinking about it.  So get up and get moving.  Take the first step this year – just one small step forward.  The greatest miracle of your success will not be that you finished, it will be that you had the courage to begin.

The future starts TODAY, not tomorrow.

The floor is yours…

What do you need to let go and forget about today?  What’s one idea or habit that’s keeping you stuck?  Share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment below.

Photo by: Nick Kenrick

Download the ebook If you enjoyed this article, check out our new best-selling book.
Marc and Angel Subscription via Email And get inspiring life tips and quotes in your inbox (it's free)...

Enter your email address to get new articles delivered for free:


  • Angel, I’m letting go of my perceptions of how I ’should’ do things (like parenting or building a business.)

    In reflecting on last year, I realize I have spent a lot of it doing things the way others do and it’s not really working for my life. Living by other people’s ’shoulds’ is stultifying and energy-sapping. No wonder I was so tired last year!!

    In contrast, when i do what I MUST do (in my own unique way :-) ) not only do I see success but it is energizing, uplifting and exciting as well.

    So here’s to more of following my own path in 2014!

  • Such a perfect post, as usual.

    I had been looking for a motivational guide to starting over from scratch. After a terrible divorce and simultaneous job loss last year, I really needed positive guidance more than anything. I needed a fresh start, with fresh ideas, away from everything I was but I couldn’t do it alone.

    Thankfully, I found a lot of the support I needed right here on your blog. And my best friend Jen helped fill in some of the blanks. Both of us love your site, your book and appreciate everything you have done for us.

    As for this post, right now it’s all about #1, #13 and #14 for me.

  • Excellent food for thought! Often we try to add things to our lives in order to achieve what we want. But sometimes letting go of what we don’t need, and what doesn’t serve us, allows the necessary space, time and energy required to invest more in the projects and people that truly matter.

  • Things that I need to forget about (along with others on this list):
    1. Feeling responsible and guilty for events of which I have no control over.
    2. Thinking I should put my own needs and interests behind those of others.

    Things I need to start doing instead:
    “Above all else, to thine own self be true” -Shakespeare

    Love your blog, and just bought your book. Looking forward to being inspired by you two in the upcoming year.

  • I am trying hard to get my on track. I’ve got to work hard on one and two. I’ve been betrayed by someone I loved… my own flesh and blood. It has knocked me down. I feel like I lost . Once again, right on the money. I am giving myself time. One day at the time.

  • I very much appreciate everything I read from you guys. Inspiring!

  • Loving this post, one of my favorites so far! It’s so seeded with all the key points of positive psychology too, so a lot of what you say does have a whole science behind it too.

    I really find your blog super inspirational & it helps me keep it going with my Happyologist blog too - so thank you for the positivity you share with the world, we need more of you in the world! :)

  • Words that need to sink in to everyone… But especially myself, I live in fear of everything and it’s time to let go and see where life takes me.

  • Good topic for a Monday!

    I need to let go and forget about people who don’t give me their approval and the drama in creates. Who cares? My opinion is the one that matters the most. And… I may have to let go of a certain activity that is filled with drama and people who can’t get along or respect the opinions of others. Don’t get me started on how people have “selective” listening and hearing skills.

    Like Kevin, I too have to stop putting my needs behind others. I’m done with that.

  • Above all else, to thine own self be true. Oh how I’ve repeated that to my children over and over.

    I’m now retired and happy to say with age has come some wisdom. What you speak of, I can attest to being true and very good advice. Just don’t forget to be thankful to your Maker is all I’d like to add.

  • Seemed like everything you had written was meant JUST for me. Wonderful insights on how to deal with your own defeating self doubts, along with with the ones driven by negative people around you. Thank you guys for what you do. You are truly ANGELS :)

  • I forgot to add that I have to stop caring so much that it hurts, and I have to stop trying so hard. I need to release these.

  • I need to let go of the fact that the love of my life is no longer IN my life. I need to let go of the continuous negative feelings I have towards him (and my ex best friend). I need to let go of the pain, anger, and sadness that they have both put me through. I cannot control the fact that they are now dating and living with each other. Although I feel so lost and alone (and severely betrayed) now that I have lost both of them, you have made me realize that I can’t dwell on the past any more. I want to be happy again. Heartbreak takes a long time to heal from. I have ordered your book and look forward to reading your very positive and inspiring words.

  • I stumbled upon your website a couple of months ago when I was going through a very hard time personally. It is exactly what I needed.

    Every post is wonderful but this one really hit home… letting go of the fear of never being good enough and letting go of people that bring me down. I have been off the last two weeks on holidays and am going back to work today. First thing on my list is to stop listening to the negativity at work and just let go of the toxic people around me.

  • Thank you for yet another great post!! Last year, life had its twists and turns but I’m prepared with my faith to go with the flow. We can not let life get us down to the point where we are unmotivated to change for the better (which happened last year to me). The fact that we are alive and breathing is a positive foundation for us to change and grow for the better.

  • The need to be prepared before starting something new. Preparation can help things in several aspects, but most of all it quiets your fears to an acceptable level.

    Let go of the old stuff to make room for the new stuff. I just got a bunch of new winter clothes for Christmas, and my drawers are literally overflowing now. So the next charity clothing drive will have a big bag of my old clothes. The same thing will happen with my mind, I have a lot of waste product in there that HAS TO GO.

  • This reminds me so much of the V-8 commercial - “Wow, I should have….” Thank you so much for the simple and wise strategy. I am grateful.

  • I SO agree with David Rapp’s comments!
    Thank you SO very much Marc and Angel for your insights!! I get a lot of practical thoughts to keep me moving forward in life.
    God bless you both!!

    Also, I’m enjoying your book, ‘1000+ Little Things HAPPY SUCCESSFUL People Do Differently’.

  • We bought a house a year ago, and after the driest year on record in LA, our front lawn looks awful. Someone stole our sprinkler box so it withered and died rather suddenly. I want a nice front yard. My primary motivation has been to make my neighbors happy. I need to ‘let go’ of that ’saving face’ impulse and calmly use the opportunity to begin xeriscaping with native plants.

  • Fear of getting out of bed… never before happened to me, but now it is part of my routine. What to do? It’s hard. But I keep telling myself “Lets do it!” Thanks a bunch for your motivational words.

  • #3 Insensitive thoughts. I really need to work on this. So much of what I say comes out differently than how I meant it and I don’t realize it until after-the-fact and it’s too late, and it’s led to a lot of misunderstandings and hurt feelings. I’m making a point to think before I speak from now on. I read somewhere to wait just ten seconds before you speak, and that makes all the difference. I’m heeding this advice.

    #7 That opportunity just showed up last weekend and I’m heeding the call, focusing on the resources and opportunity that presented itself and allowing myself to live in the exciting possibilities. It’s been a while since I felt that kind of magic and I intend to enjoy it thoroughly. :D

    #10 So true. I hate senseless busy work. It’s such a waste of time, but I love being busy and productive. So I guess it’s about figuring out the difference between what’s “senseless” and what you’re doing simply because you actually like and want to do it, even if it’s not all that important in the grand scheme of things.

    #11 & 12 I’m about to take a huge risk (not dangerous) that puts myself out there again in a really bold way, risking failure and being humiliated. I’m scared to death and my stomach is in knots, but if it works out, if it falls into place like I want, it’ll be one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. A couple of days ago, when the fear got to the point that I almost talked myself out of it, I asked myself one simple question: What do you have to lose? The answer was nothing, absolutely nothing, and fear wasn’t a good enough reason not to at least try. So now I’m giving it my best shot and hoping like hell the shakes and knots in my stomach aren’t obvious to everyone else. Haha!

    This is a great list with perfect timing. Thank you.


  • @David Rapp You are so right. I’ve been preparing for days, and the more I do, the more confident I feel about it. But I still have to keep reminding myself I AM prepared, that I KNOW what I’m doing, and that I CAN do this, because at some point you just have to DO it and accept that nothing is ever going to be perfect. Otherwise, you’ll get lost in the land of excuses about that “one more thing” that needs to be done, and you’ll never feel fully prepared, and you’ll never gain any momentum on it. It’s way too easy to get bogged down in the preparation to the point that you never move beyond that stage into the stage of action. I think the solution is to create a deadline for the preparation to avoid getting bogged down. Luckily for me, I’m in a time crunch. So it’s now or never. I’m either prepared or I’m not, but either way, I have to seize this opportunity and give it my best shot.

  • Thanks for the reminder to let go of things that are holding us back in the New Year. For me? I’m giving up any idea that I’m not good enough! ~Kathy

  • Letting go of the monsters that inhabit my hamster wheel that’s spinning around my brain at any random moment. It’s all good if I just look out the window and watch the rain, and breathe.

  • Thanks! This is exactly what I needed to hear/read today. The platters I am trying out are not working out as I’d like so I am going to try a different approach. After some research from other’s experiences I think I have a few new tricks to try. Maybe I’ll make plates instead of platters too. It’s so interesting to me how one can tweak their approach to a project and be successful after all. I’m really grateful to have run across your writings. I have learned that gratitude can lift me up above my circumstances every time!! Thanks!

  • My goal this year (and forever after) is “Keep It Simple!” Beautiful article. Several of these really resonated with me.

  • Great reminders all around. For me, learning to let go of outcomes beyond my control is important, as is cherishing surprise moments even when they completely ruin the planned to do list :-)

  • A few years ago after surviving a horrific auto accident, and the subsequent years of living through back surgeries and unbelievable chronic pain, I can now happily and confidently say I love where I am in life. My past, my experiences taught me I can only prosper if I am true to myself. One of my favorite quotes -”Be yourself; everyone else is taken.”
    ~Oscar Wilde

  • Good post, although I think it would have been easier to read if it was a list of ‘things to remember’, not things to forget.

  • Enjoyed the read, and I look forward to more of this kind of content. Inspiring!

  • “…be as grateful as possible, for small things, not just for big things – for the simple act of breathing, the time together, the conversations, etc.” –yes.

  • @Carol, I can’t tell if you’re being metaphorical or literal, but awesome insights! Being flexible and trying different approaches until you figure out the right fit works out more often than not, and sometimes better than you ever imagined.

    “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken” Haha! Great quote.

    I really love the comments on this blog. They lift me up every week. Thank you all for this.

  • Truth…I used to be critical of my father when we would have conversations and he would stop and say, “I really don’t get this. I’m a simple person.” We often misunderstand complicated for complex. It’s not that my dad wasn’t (or isn’t) smart. It’s that he doesn’t feel the need to overcomplicate his life with stuff that just isn’t important. It leaves room for layers of good, important stuff. Great article!

  • $9 lattes? ;-)

    I’ve been reading your posts for awhile & turned others on to them. Thanks! Always helpful & motivating.

    Hang in there all other postees. The better it gets, well…the better it gets. Cheers to an amazing 2014 to all!

  • Marc and Angel,

    You two have truly inspired me and I’ve found myself constantly checking your blog all of the time. I have found myself and why I’ve been placed on this earth. I’ve learned so much about myself with a open mindset while tackling life’s adventures one on one with my beautiful capable mind. I now wake up everyday counting my blessings with a smile on my face ready to pursue the present course of my life… displayed to me as seconds, hours, while nothing has gone to waste and here I am now with positive foresight to the unpredictable days of our lives.

    You are my philosophers as it seems to me as though we see with our eyes and interpret things similarly… and as they say, great minds think alike. Thank you ever so much for redefining my life.

  • I usually look at a positive start to the New Year, and am doing so this year, but this post has reminded me of what is most important and some of the areas I should pay more attention to. So thanks for the reminders and a BIG thank you as my life has changed dramatically over the past two to three years and your website and recommendations have helped a lot. I now own several M Scott Peck’s books which have helped me a lot. If you’re thinking of buying one I’d say go ahead. He is a truly inspiring and challenging writer.

    Many many thanks

  • Marc and Angel I’m choosing to fully let go of past mistakes, relationships, fears anger and more. I’m ready to start fresh with a new outlook on life and continue to stay positive even in dark times. It has worked out so far so I should keep moving forward.

  • A little follow-up article that my brother (who’s a therapist) posted that I thought went well with yours:

    Thank you for the article…I have many things to let go of! :)

  • I’ve been concentrating on letting go of focusing on preventing failure and putting my attention on cultivating successful habits… a subtle shift, but one that’s making a significant difference in my productivity and outcomes.

    A great list, thanks for sharing it Angel.

  • Thank you for this article. I have just started reading A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle and this article seems to have a similar message for me. It seems like the right thing shows up when I need it.

  • Today I’m letting go the perception of HOW my love-life SHOULD be. It’s not quick and easy and a fairy-tale ending. It’s slow, hard but worth it, and the beginning of a wonderful story. I’m letting go of that childhood fantasy and living in the mature more responsible relationship with my man.

  • “Old, comfortable routines” resonated with me.

    Over the last two years, I have been working to reflect on the way that I do things and the ways that I spend my time and asking myself, “why am I spending my time this way? why do I do things this way?” Some of the answers were valid, while others (many) were not, and I realized that I had been spending too much time trying to live out somebody else’s definition of success.

    One of the experiences that has grown out of that is that I finally started publishing my writing like I had always wanted to, and though I am still working to get it in front of more eyes, the fact that I am active in doing so and that I am writing creatively, makes me very happy.

    What else do I need to forget to get ahead? 2014 is going to be a year where I am embracing the loneliness that can accompany creating an website/online business, but it is something that I am committed to.

    I just found your site, and I am grateful and excited to see everything you have to offer. Based on this read, this spot is a jackpot!

    Thank you!


  • Thank you so must for this wonderful post. This is just want I think I need at this point of my life. Great ideas for leading an inspiring life and positive relationships.

  • Thank you for a great post! I am letting to of my fear of starting a new business! When I have in the past let my creativity run wild - I have made incredible strides towards creating my business…and in the past those crazy creative runs have also propelled me head first into so many “I’m not good enough” - “this won’t work” - “what if I fail?” fears….and I have allowed myself to be paralyzed by those fears.

    I need to let go and trust myself and the universe and invest my energy and heart in my business!

    Thanks for the reminder and the great inspiration!

  • Thanks for #8, I just finished reading Dave Ramsey’s updated book and listening to Financial Peace University on audio book. My goal this year is to simplify my life in many ways. We get so caught up in the “things” of life and all of our stuff. I want to live my life free of debt and enjoy all that life has to offer!

  • @All: As I read through every comment I can’t control the huge smile that spreads across my face. Every one of you identified a habit that was challenging, and every one of you committed to positive change with enthusiasm and joy. The amount of inspiration you provide us is indescribable, each and every day. Thank you for all the priceless insight and support.

  • Thanks Angel.

  • Thanks to, both of you, for making me find the positive points in my life at this moment of negativity. Each time I read your blog, my day brightens.

  • Very inspiring. Love your blog, thanks!

  • Truly enjoy your writing and point of views - everything here I agree with… and this is my favorite site to visit for uplifting advice. I have a 65% negative husband, but instead of it draining me, I am stronger than I have ever been… The only way is up for me and it’s because of my mind… my choices.

  • These are really amazing thoughts! I tweeted several of these. My favorite is finding what makes you smile and do more of it. And waiting time on things that don’t really matter is a huge issue of mine. If I can’t come home and tell my wife and daughter what I did today, it was a waste of a day!

  • Thank you for your nice work. This post helped me feel a bit more confident to move ahead.

  • Charity Muzondo
    May 4th, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    Needed to hear this, especially No. 4. Thank you so much!

  • At 67 I can tell you that every one of these suggestions is correct and will make you stronger and happier…. Go for a walk and a chat with someone you’re fond of every day; your mind and your body will benefit hugely! And on the subject of kindness: be as kind to yourself as you would be to any one you knew who found themselves in a similar position. But mainly - enjoy your life, it’s shorter than you think!

  • Hello! I used to know a lot of this information, but lost it (somewhere in the disempowering depressing depths of job hunting, or the pressures of school, or being a slave to my moods, or being unable to cope with worry). So I feel reading this was very helpful! I’m a lot more receptive to these ideas now that I know they aren’t just “nice little add-ons to a life that’s already good” but an alternative to a life that I don’t want to live anymore.

    I just had a moment of insight there after writing that last sentence… I looked back at it and caught a glimpse of the phrase “a life that I don’t want to live anymore” and did a double-take. That wasn’t me writing that! I’ve never been suicidal in my life (knock on wood). But it looks like things are bad enough that I’m willing to change. Like the lightbulb joke (how many psychologists does it take to change a lightbulb? Just one but it has to want to change.)

  • After I started on a really grateful and positive way of life, my Dad passed away in January this year and I feel so lost! Just looking for some positive thoughts to get me back on track. You make some very outstanding points that I will be pondering on. Thanks. :)

Leave a Reply